Writer: Mike O'Sullivan
Artist: Phil Noto
Publisher: Devil's Due Publishing
Plot: While on the Staten Island Ferry, Shana O'Hara (soon to be known as Scarlett) tells her life story to fellow Joe member Snake-Eyes.
Commentary: The first thing I would like to do is thank Mike O'Sullivan and Devil's Due for not having as the title of this story, "A Study in Scarlett." It was just too obvious, and I appreciate, as a reader, the restraint. Thanks, everyone.
Scarlett has never exactly been one of my favorite members of the team, but I recognize her importance in the Joe universe and always had a soft spot for her and Snake-Eye's relationship. For that reason ,this book seemed like something I would want to check out, and thankfully this was a very satisfying read. Mike O'Sullivan broke her story down into a breezy narrative while still touching on the themes that make her special as a character.
There was the requisite amount of cliché in her back story. The rebellious teen-ager who has a personal tragedy (Dad gets crippled) and becomes bitter over events she can't control. What separated this story was that instead of going down a "dark path" and doing something silly like joining a gang, she went in the opposite direction and excelled in everything she did but could never relax enough to enjoy her accomplishments. The theme of accepting what you cannot change and rolling with the punches (so to speak) gave the story a deeper meaning, and I thought that Shana's relationship with her father was touching and genuine.
This book also made me a fan of Scarlet. I realize that one of the reasons this book was produced was to cash in on the G.I. Joe license, and I can't fault Devil's Due for doing so. Despite having said that, I do believe that Devil's Due has done a good job of putting a lot of heart and emotion into the stories as well as the required amount of action. Mike O'Sullivan did all of that in addition to fleshing out Scarlett's back story and making her a compelling character in terms of the Joe Universe. I also liked the fact that O'Sullivan tied the narrative into Snake-Eyes' Declassified series by showing them on the Ferry together and having Shana turn to him and ask what his story was. It made it seem like you could read both this special and that series and get one large story.
The art was amazing. Phil Noto's style has a rough quality to it, but it also has an amazing amount of energy in the action scenes. His pacing was flawless, and it is nice to see an artist use a page and panel layout to lead the reader exactly where he and the writer wants them to go. The coloring was great too, and the lighting and motion effects really enhanced the art in those panels.
In The End: This book was well worth the price of admission. O'Sullivan told Scarlett's story and along with Phil Noto made her more than a member of a larger cast. I'm not saying that I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Scarlett fan now, but I think that this special gave me an insight into her character or at least how O'Sullivan, Noto and Devil's Due currently see her. If you are a fan of the current G.I. Joe series published by Devil's Due, this book is well worth your time and attention.
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