Review: Creepy Scarlett  - Book One

This book is like a fever dream. Now, when I usually say that I mean it as a compliment, but here it's just because the book is so structurally confused it frequently comes across as surreal, even though the elements are dramatically mundane. Let's see if I can summarize this easily. In the locationally challenged (American/European?) town of Sunnyville, a fugitive samurai arrives at a church, bearing an object of dangerous power, attempting to hide from his evil former master. The protector he finds is a fully grown adult woman with a juvenile mind who lives in the church with her teddy bear and seems to eat nothing but candy. The samurai trains her to be the mystical object's new guardian, under constant siege from an organization that hungers for magical power.

Creepy Scarlett Book One Cover 10.3.14The book seems to suffer from a Western appropriation of Japanese manga storytelling. Despite the straightforward assembled clichés, the story unfolds in a confusing and complex manner, featuring backstories that contradict each other at every new introduction, arbitrary rules regarding the characters and their abilities, and a wildly waffling tone. It doesn't take long to figure out that this story owes a debt to pop manga, but series like Naruto and One Piece managed to strike the right balance between their serious stories and ridiculous humor and exaggeration, as well as keeping their stories incredibly simple and relatable for many issues before introducing their infinitely spiraling plots. Here, the pastiche is a confused soup, and distinctly unloveable.

The art isn't terrible, though distractingly Western despite the clear Eastern storytelling influence. The compositions are passable, for some reason best done in the first book, but the characters are stiffly drawn and have a doll-like lack of expression. Again, the worst part of the art is the colors, an indie trend I'm getting sick of.

A lot of American readers are harshly critical of manga, citing the laziness of the writing and lack of Western attention to anatomy, as if somehow American pop comics show superior craftsmanship (they don't). If anything, the best contrast one can present is what happens when someone tries to write similar to the pop Japanese style without really understanding how it works. I don't hate this book, it doesn't make me angry, but it's Escher's kitchen sink approach did little but inspire passionless confusion.

Score: 1/5

Writer: Graeme Buchan Artist: Felipe Sanhueza Publisher: Last Sunset Comics Price: $8.08 Website