This week, our indie comic showcase takes a dip into the supernatural side with Graeme Buchan’s Creepy Scarlett.
Its titular character, Scarlett, is an interesting mix between Cassie Hack (of Hack/Slash fame) badassdom and a typical little-girl-who-never-grew-up trope. While she isn’t necessarily anything new or revelatory (more on that below), Buchan maintains a deft balance of comedic dialogue and fiery optimism that keeps us rooting for her throughout every page.
The story itself, along with the other supporting characters, doesn’t really contain anything that rises above its genre cliches. However, when cliche is done well, it can still be a ton of fun to read. The first of three issues involves a powerful amulet and a tale wrapped around the beginning of the Meiji Restoration of Japan. Samurai, warlords and lots of bloody violence move the plot along at a brisk pace. Sadly, because this is an indie book, there isn’t much time to set up the story. I would have enjoyed a longer look at Scarlett’s training or a bit more exposition that fleshed out the Warlord’s journey. Being our grand evil presence of issue one, the Warlord and his cheesy lines never come off as more than a typical comic antagonist. That being said, the buildup towards the evil Red Sun corporation and their motivations is compelling stuff. Things improve mightily in each issue that follows, though there was never a moment in Creepy Scarlett that felt slow or boring. Each part flows perfectly to the next, making it easy to read the entire book from start to finish.
The second issue delves into the murky back-story of Scarlett and the priest that ends up raising her. Showcased in near-monochromatic beauty and crimson flourishes, the art is truly a sight to behold. Thankfully, the story backs it up as well. Instead of the requisite How-did-we-get-here? episode, Buchan sets up the future of the series in addition to building his universe. Aside from a slightly predictable familial revelation, each twist and turn leads up to a climactic battle ending on a snow-dappled church rooftop. Again, the artwork is fantastic in setting up every panel. Unlike the Warlord from last issue, Pumpkinface is a compelling and bizarre character with motivations that will be exciting to see fully realized. Story-wise and style-wise, this was my favorite issue of the entire series so far.
The final issue (out of the three currently published) plays out in a wacky carnival very befitting of the genre. Although it seems a little too easy in getting Scarlett to the main event, the idea fits well with how her character is portrayed (after all, she does love candy). Trixie and her band of clown misfits steal every scene they’re in, and the succession of battles against them feels very similar to a video game boss fight (not the only gaming reference for eagle-eyed readers). Whereas the comedy can feel hit-or-miss at times, this issue is definitely the strongest in that department. The carousel scene actually made me laugh out loud. Readers will be glad to hear that the tone never gets too serious at any point, keeping the series in a good position as it goes forth with the story. The ending is a defiant cliffhanger that almost dares us to lock in for what seems to be the rising action of this three-act structure.
Does Creepy Scarlett completely escape its genre trappings? Not really. Does the comedy find a mark every time? Not always. But Scarlett is an immensely fun character to follow, with writing and artwork that combine to deliver entertainment throughout each of the three issues. It certainly helps to have a sideshow packed with interesting characters and an amusingly macabre mystery to revolve around. The lively tone in Scarlett is what creator-owned comics do best. Where will our ghostly heroine go from here? Hopefully into as many more issues that this indie comic can produce.
Want to buy the book? Click here.
Want to support the Kickstarter for issue #5? Find it here.
Alex Smith is a news and reviews writer for Capeless Crusader. When not wasting away in class, he spends all his free time with comics, movies, and video games, and has been since birth. He can spend hours discussing Saga, Hawkeye, or Game of Thrones. Lying Cat’s number one fan. Random brain thoughts: @imapensfan