“When a guy gets dressed in a nice suit or a tuxedo and drives a sports car, he feels like Bond. I want every girl who puts on her little black dress with matching high heels and clutch bad to step out of her door… and feel like Scarlett Couture.”
That is Des Taylor‘s philosophy behind his new four part series Scarlett Couture, from Titan Comics. The titular character is described as a beautiful, intelligent, and deadly woman who uses her position as head of security for her billionaire mother’s fashion house as a cover for her real job as a CIA agent. In the first issue, we learn that several super models have gone missing—presumed kidnapped—on the eve of Chase Couture’s much anticipated fashion show. Never fear, her daughter is on the case, diving headlong into the frying pan without back up, which seems to be her modus operandi.
At fourteen, Scarlett was kidnapped and, after discovering her mother was actually a CIA agent, decided she would follow suit and deal with her trauma by fighting bad guys and preventing others from suffering as she had. Now, Scarlett steps into the comic world to join sexy operatives like Modesty Blaise and Black Widow. Like these spies, she is well trained to handle just about every situation, but her twist is of course the fashion angle, which, according to Taylor, allows her access to the most powerful criminals.
Not, perhaps, an entirely new twist—remember Model by Day? Unlike Famke Janssen’s Lady X, Scarlett doesn’t wear a funky vigilante costume while on duty. In her ongoing inner monologue, as she dodges bullets, she wishes that she had at least worn body armour and carried a more appropriate weapon for a fire fight. But this is a book about fashion and apparently, what we will be seeing is a whole lot of haute couture as Scarlett kicks bad guy ass. Sadly, aside from the promotional photos and a few pin ups of the missing models, we don’t get to see much of that in the first issue. Instead, it feels like a gimmicky opportunity for pin up poses from Scarlett and her compatriots, many of which will involve lingerie and low cut tops. Not that I mind admiring sexy female bodies. I’d just rather have more meat behind their constant display than “Mom’s a fashion mogul.”
Thankfully, what this book lacks in actual fashion, Taylor more than makes up for with his stunning art. His style is retro meets modern, with ’50s pin-up style women and clean cut men popping out of each colourful panel. Scarlett Couture is what I classify as a “fun read.” There’s over the top, campy intrigue and action, with a plot that is reminiscent of older James Bond movies. Pity about the sexist henchmen who feel the need to refer to Scarlett as “sugar tits” or offer her a whole seven inches of pleasure. Scarlett takes it all in stride, along with the complaints from her CIA buddy who is frequently frustrated by Scarlett’s refusal to wait for back up. Scarlett ain’t got time for back up. She’s got a job to do. In this case, rescuing those missing models—though frankly, beyond the passing comment about her time spent in captivity, I didn’t get a strong empathy vibe from Scarlett when she does find them.
If you’re looking for an entertaining, action-packed read, featuring gorgeous, vibrant art and a stunning, take-charge protagonist, then Scarlett Couture just might work for you. Hopefully the “couture” part of this adventure will play a bigger role in future issues, but in the mean time, let our WWAC ladies fulfill your fashion needs with our own interpretations of what they would expect a woman named Scarlett Couture to wear.