Scarlett Couture by Des Taylor

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Scarlett Couture by Des Taylor

Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A bright and breezy graphic novel – but one that really didn't convince me as to its non-visual qualities.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 112 Date: January 2016
Publisher: Titan Comics (UK)
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781782760627

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What, in the real world, would be the least likely cover for a secret agent but that of super-model? Apart from the advantage of everyone thinking you were gormless, there is the implausible clothing and having to run around after baddies in high heels to consider. But the world of comics isn't the real world, and so you have to ask the opposite – what would be the most visually appealing band of secret agents, if not for a whole cabal of them working undercover as bimbo-looking models? The Showroom is one such, and its main agent is Scarlett Couture, daughter of a male cop and a female fashionista-cum-agency boss. Looking wonderful is incredibly easy for her – but sometimes saving the world is quite a bit tougher…

It's the looks of Scarlett that I have to approve of – not for one minute do I regularly write about the lovely curves, unrealistic bazoomas and so on of comic strip heroines, but in this instance I have to – for the obvious reason there was little else to rave about. From the off she's just the most annoying company – her thought bubbles clearly directed at us, giving us infodump after infodump, and only sometimes are they successfully disguised as her actually mentally processing the case in hand. Captions elsewhere prove the whole script capable of outdoing Basil Exposition. So while the world is one of knowingness – the people who know they’re sexy, the scenario that admits it's not incredibly original but quite reverential of all that's come before, the over-arching feeling that the book knows it's disposable and daft – the writing doesn't help inspire any warmth or affection for the piece. Even the most serious part of the whole plot seems tacked-on to give it a bit of guts and to make us feel there are hidden depths.

So it is the look to which I must return. Des Taylor is verging on the unique for being allowed to write and draw his own comic for a house such as Titan while being one of the format's lesser-known, and while there is no lettering credit it really seems to be a one-man show. But he's stretched too far. Visually it's wonderful – the men look chiselled and cartoonish, the women look completely cosmetic and never before have so many digital airbrushes been used in the creation of so much digital cleavage, and the art direction as regards posing, mise en scene etc is fine – but story-wise it's a non-starter. I wanted a Dayglo, knowingly arch revamp of something from the realms of Modesty Blaise, but whereas she hits home every time and moves on without breaking pulse, this is less breaking wind, more like one big unnecessary fart of exposition and little more. It looks great – but just as in fashion, those looks can deceive.

I must still thank the publishers for my review copy.

Fashion Beast by Alan Moore and Malcolm McLaren is still by far the best thriller set in this world.

Buy Scarlett Couture by Des Taylor at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Scarlett Couture by Des Taylor at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Scarlett Couture by Des Taylor at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Scarlett Couture by Des Taylor at Amazon.com.


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