By Marc Strom
The celebrated team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev, who have already made an impression on the comics industry with their work on series such as DAREDEVIL and SPIDER-WOMAN, embark on a new journey this July with the debut of their first creator-owned series, SCARLET.
"This is a long overdue creator-owned project," explains Bendis. "My first since POWERS and Alex's first ever. We've been cooking it for a very long time, since before [we] even [did] HALO UPRISING. It just wasn't time yet, but now it is time."
The bi-monthly series will focus on the titular Scarlet, a woman who "is pushed down by a very corrupt government and finds herself with the strength she didn't know she had to fight back, and her fight actually sparks a new American Revolution," elaborates Bendis. "It's a book that
|SCARLET #1 variant cover by David Mack|
As such, Bendis sees a great deal of overlap between the real America and the America that Scarlet inhabits.
"You read the paper every day-and this isn't about politics or anything like that-but it does seem like, if we woke up and someone started a revolutionary war, I don't know how shocked we would be," laughs the writer. "We'd be a little like, 'Yeah, I can see where that was coming from.' I see the anger and some of it I understand and some of it I don't, and I just wanted to write about it.
"The book takes place in Portland to start. I live in Portland, and [it's] a town filled with protests. There's a lot of really sincere protesting, and I always look at it and go, 'Yeah, you feel better, but nothing will happen from this protest. Nothing has ever happened because of a protest, ever.' And I thought, what if one of these people-and I'm even one of these people-someone who's pushed like this, finds himself with the strength to push [back] farther than you could ever have imagined."
From that premise, SCARLET will explore the "grey area," as Bendis describes it that exists in its world.
"How would a modern society react to something like that? Could that happen in this country today? And how would it work? Would it be a political threat [or] would it be a corporatized threat? I mean, there's a lot that could happen, and I thought this was a strong enough, big enough idea that it was worth going ahead on. It's something I really wanted to write about, something I certainly wanted to read about, and I know some people will see this as some sort of statement about politics in this country and it's not, it's about this person. And much in the vein of ALIAS or my work on Jinx it's hopefully a very strong female protagonist who doesn't always have the right answer and struggles with it."
While Bendis has typically worked in a more naturalistic style, he plans on switching things up a little bit with SCARLET.
|SCARLET #1 variant cover by Mike Deodato|
The idea for SCARLET originated with Bendis, but the writer always had Maleev in mind for the story, so much so that the book would never have existed without him.
"I came to him with the idea, but if he didn't want to do it I just wasn't going to do the project," recalls Bendis. "His relationship with me creatively is one of the most important in my life, and [since] DAREDEVIL [we've planned on] doing a creator-owned [series]. When POWERS became such a hit and my other creator-owned stuff found an audience, it became clear that [our series had] to be the strongest idea and the [most] clearly focused idea that I have. This is written with him in mind from the first step. I give it to him and then he starts crafting his visual ideas, and they're immense.
"No matter how clearly I think I see the world through Alex's eyes, and I do think I see the world through Alex's eyes, what he hands me is always better. It's always more layered. Even today he finished another version of the cover to SCARLET #1, which I think will be the one you see [in print], and it's 25 percent better than what was in my head, and what was in my head was already pretty cool."
While the two have collaborated with one another regularly for the past 10 years, as Bendis noted this marks their first creator-owned series, something that Bendis finds incredibly rewarding.
"When we're doing [something like] HALO UPRISING, there are a lot of other people in the room," he says. "When we're doing a creator-owned book it's just us. If anything, it's simpler. Even though Marvel is gracious enough to publish it and C.B. [Cebulski's] our editor and Chris [Eliopoulos] is our letterer, for this part of it, it's just me and him. It's very good, it's very pure.
"You know what's funny, I know what it feels like to do this, but Alex isn't used to it. So, [for instance], our cover has a lot of red on it, and Alex [tells me he] hates the way red prints, even though I don't know what he's
|SCARLET #1 cover by Alex Maleev|
While Bendis doesn't know how long SCARLET will run, he does have an ending for the series planned.
"It's ongoing, but it is finite," he promises. "There is an ending. Like with ALIAS and Jinx even before it, or like Planetary. There is an end, but I'm not going to point to it and say this is a 12-issue, 40-issue [series], because I actually don't know how many issues [it will be]. I'd like for the characters to stand up and take over the book a little bit, and I don't want to rush it if I don't have to. Already there are plenty of stories to tell. [But] it will have an ending, and when it's done, it's done."
And to help launch the series in style, the first several issues will also see a number of variant covers from some of the biggest names working in comics today.
"I called in a lot of favors on SCARLET, and we have some really great, superstar alternative covers coming for the first few issues," Bendis touts. "Mike Deodato, David LaFuente [and] Leinil Yu [are each] doing one; David Mack, Mike Oeming, even Joe Quesada, we even squeezed one out of him. I thought that this is a great way to celebrate it. I called in some favors, and [we have] some other surprises coming too."
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