Style Trumps Substance in Spy Caper Scarlett Couture

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Scarlett Couture Des Taylor Titan Comics Critical Blast

SCARLETT COUTURE is a book that gets your attention through its stylish designs, eye-popping colors, and an overall unique approach. Many of the panels appear to be animation cels overlaid with blurred photo backgrounds that were then flattened to give the piece an overall unified appearance.

The titular Scarlett Couture, aka Scarlett Carver, is the daughter of Chase Carver, the mogul of a fashion empire, for which Scarlett serves as the head of security. However, Chase Couture has another business other than publishing magazines and selling high-priced clothing: it's a front for the Central Intelligence Agency, and Scarlett is simply continuing in the family business -- and looking fabulous doing it. In this first issue from Des Taylor and Titan Comics, Scarlett is chasing down a group of kidnappers who have taken some high-profile names in the modeling industry. One of those models happens to be another spy, hence Scarlett's involvement. The rest is ass-kicking, rule-breaking, order-disobeying mayhem, delivering scenes that tell us Scarlett is quite a capable agent, but not an infallible one who doesn't need her teammates.

"Project Stardust" is the first of four chapters inaugurating this series, and does a lot in the way of world-building, setting up the players on both sides of the conflict. The thing is, it's a first issue and some of the surprises that would normally have an ominous musical note of revelation behind them simply lose their impact because we aren't yet fully entrenched in the world. Taylor has his work cut out for him right from the start to get over the hurdle of comparisons with campy adventure series like SHE SPIES and DANGER GIRL -- never mind that we're watching the adventures of a slim, black-clad red-headed super-spy, just like we'll be doing in theaters this first weekend in May.

SCARLETT COUTURE deserves certain props, however. This series is a marked deviation from the status quo, in a very good way. Fans of certain Japanese animated adventures will certainly find some admirable qualities in this series, which deserves more than a quick thumb-through at the rack. This comic represents more than your usual risk-taking on the part of the creator, which will certainly be rewarded if the stories can get a little more complex.

Grade: 
3.5 / 5.0