24th Apr2015

‘Scarlett Couture #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written and Drawn by Des Taylor | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp


Although I am familiar with artist/ illustrator Des Taylor, mainly through his fantastic retro Superman illustrations, I have not seen his work in a honest-to-goodness sequential art comic book before so approached this offering from Titan Comics with some excitement. Des Taylor is the writer/ artist, so the book succeeds or fails solely with him.

The set-up, although a lot of fun, is a little on the fantastical side. Scarlett, the title character, is essentially a secret agent for the CIA, though her cover is as head of security for a top fashion company, which happens to be run by her mother, who also worked for the CIA. The writing and dialogue help to fill us in with what we need to know about this world as we go along, even as Scarlett fights her way through an ongoing case concerning missing supermodels. Des Taylor makes sure we are aware she can fight right from the start, as we join her in the field as she takes out a half dozen kidnappers in her pursuit of the bad guys.

Issue 1 of Scarlett Couture was a quick read, partly because it lacked a little substance but mainly because it was great fun, and I sped through the book with ease. The artwork is spectacular and beautiful, bringing a real retro 60’s style shine to proceedings. The story always flows, as the art carries us along, and Taylor draws beautiful women that, shock horror, are actually anatomically correct. The colours are bright and vibrant, adding to the retro vibe, and the whole thing just oozes class, even the fantastic Bond-like cover.

But there are some negatives.

The art, although a solid 9/10 for these eyes, is at times too beautiful, if that makes sense. With the fight scenes sometimes you need down and dirty, murky buildings, shadows, but Taylor either doesn’t like that look in his world or is just uncomfortable drawing it. It is like Bruce Timm animation without the shadows, still lovely to look at but just missing a very slight touch of depth.

As we often find with artists that become writers, while adept at plotting (artists essentially do their own plotting even when working with writers, unless it is a increasingly rare full script) they fall short on actual script and dialogue, and that is something Des Taylor struggles with here. There is a fine line between homage and cliché’, and it is a line that can make or break a story. I found a lot of the dialogue very simplistic, lacking depth of character, and some of the characters were seemingly out of central casting ; for example, bad guys consisted of a psychotic torturer, rich evil financier, and crime lord of some sort.

I also found pacing a little off, and far too much time devoted to scenes of Scarlett fighting bad guys, perhaps a third of the book. Although Des Taylor needs to establish Scarlett is a tough super spy, endless fights scenes at best seem lazy writing, at worst a cover for not enough script to cover page count. All that being said, Des Taylor himself would probably agree his scripting needs some tightening, and that may come naturally as the book progresses, as would the development of the characters and concept.

So although a reservation or two, I would still recommend Scarlett Couture #1 as a worthwhile read. Looks great, and this is a visual medium after all!

*** 3/5

Scarlett Couture #1 is available in print or digitally from April 29th.


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