‘Scarlett Couture’: Genderbending James Bond

Scarlett main
Des Tayor’s Scarlett Couture puts the women in charge in this spy action adventure, and it is great fun. Image: Titan Comics.

The latest spy adventure series from Titan Comics by British comic writer and artist Des Taylor introduces us to special field agent Scarlett Couture.

The just-released first issue in the four-part series finds CIA agent Scarlett Carver, who works under the cover of head of security for her mother’s fashion giant, Chase Couture, investigating the disappearance of two models.

At first, the comic looks like the typical “damsel in distress” situation, with a kidnapped supermodel begging for rescue, while some random henchman slaps her around.

The difference is they aren’t rescued by the handsome prince or muscle-bound super soldier. It’s a head strong, butt-kicking female secret agent with a black belt in Aikido and Kung Fu, who can speak seven languages, knows her way around a glock, and is cross-trained in demolition and espionage. Yes!

As covert as Scarlett’s position is, her character inspirations are pretty overt from Black Widow to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and a touch of The Avengers’ Emma Peel, (from the mid-century television show, not the Marvel super team). Not to mention Scarlett’s actual name itself, “Agent Carver,” seems remarkably close to another female undercover agent I had been following, “Agent (Peggy) Carter.”

I also got a few flashbacks to J. Scott Campbell’s 1990s Image comic, Danger Girl, but I liked Scarlett much better.

What I really did like was Scarlett’s inner monologue. I appreciated her sarcasm, and her reference to Vulcan mini-guns. Her attire wasn’t as revealing as the cover pictures let on, or as other some other female heroines, at least not in this first issue. That was a nice touch.

I also thought Taylor’s artwork was excellent, but I always like his style. It’s sleek, clean and layered, giving it an almost animated, three-dimensional appeal. Scarlett Couture is a really snazzy looking book, worthy of the classic Bond-era type of story.

If anything put me off at first, it was the whole fashion industry angle. This particular world of pencil-thin women just isn’t my thing. And yes, Carver could easily pass as one of them. Keep in mind, though, Carver’s cover isn’t actually as a model, but head of security for the company.

I do understand Taylor wanting to use the seemingly unlikely world of high fashion as a good cover for these capable women. Plus, I realize in the literary world of espionage there is always that glamorous overtone.

The Forbidden Planet exclusive cover of Scarlett Couture pays homage to Mr. Bond’s classic Thunderball poster. Image: Titan Comics.

The idea of a sexy-yet-still-lethal woman spy had always bothered me…until I realized something about myself while reading this issue. I like my male spies and detectives a little sexy, too. Be it Sean Connery’s or Daniel Craig’s James Bond, Idris Elba’s John Luther or Humphy Bogart’s old school Sam Spade. There’s something about a nicely tailored suit or an overcoat just seems to make them much better at their jobs.

In particular, the concept of also being able to kick some serious bad guy behind in full formal wear is one of the things I absolutely love about James Bond. Admittedly, James Bond doesn’t have to maneuver the ballroom floor in heels hoping his girls don’t pop out of the top of an evening gown, but if James can emerge from a sewer line without a wrinkle in his tux, then I should be able to believe Scarlett can successfully juggle both ballistics and a ballroom gown.

Yes, she might later have to use her charms to weasel some info out of an unsuspecting target, but has James ever hesitated to use his British suavity to seduce a contact? No, he has not. Honestly—and I’m confessing this full on—I don’t want him to stop. Ever!

There are even male equivalents of Bond Girls, and that’s not such a bad thing, is it? The himbo is not my type, but it’s nice to see the woman in charge of a musclebound underling or two.

Are there some unbelievable moments in Scarlett Couture? Yup! Are there in Bond? Oh, there are a few. Bearing this in mind, I decided to just enjoy this story the same way I have always my male-dominated spy thrillers, as over-the-top action adventures meant simply to entertain, and allow us to cheer on the hero.

Except now we have a woman in charge, and she’s American!

Scarlett won’t replace James in my heart, but her story has so far gained my respect as a reader. That isn’t always an easy feat, especially in black high heels.

GeekMom received a copy of the comic for review purposes.

Lisa Kay Tate is a veteran feature writer with 20 years experience in newspaper, magazine and freelance writing. In addition to serving as Associate Editor for her local arts and entertainment guide, El Paso Scene, she has been a regular contributor to the site ihogeek.com and maintains her own blogsite at lisathegeekmom.wordpress.com. She and her husband, writer/photographer Rick, live on the edge of "New Texico" where they keep busy raising their two geeklings and sharing space with their dog, Sirius Black, and cat, Loki.