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    Have a monster in your midst? The Academy will send a member of their bounty hunting team to clear up your problem, lickety-split. The daughter of renowned monster hunters, Scarlett is already building a name for herself, which is a problem since underage monster hunting’s illegal.

    Scarlett’s parents died in the field and the Academy’s age restrictions don’t sound unreasonable, but with Count Stankovic using these laws to go after Scarlett and take credit for her kills, writer, Marcus Sedgwick, sides with Scarlett on this one.

    What we see of the Academy’s legal system isn’t fair, either. When accusations are made against Scarlett, she isn’t given a chance to defend herself. We know she’s guilty but that shouldn’t be assumed. Having succeeded this long thanks to her loyal butler, Napoleon, acting as the face of their operation, money is getting tighter as jobs get scarcer, and such financial realities have a direct impact on how Scarlet proceeds (unlike a certain other famous superhero-butler team). Money isn’t a given in this book but earned and, while Scarlett might not have a traditional job, she’s not looking to kill monsters for free. She’s trying to make a living.

    Scarlett Hart is a book that grew on me the more that I read. There’s never a point when Scarlett isn’t fighting monsters and that quick turnaround is to the story’s advantage. Sea dragons not your cup of tea? Better luck with the mummies that turn into zombies out of nowhere. Once a monster falls under Scarlett’s sights, she doesn’t stop until they’re taken out, and then it’s on to the next one.

    Scarlett isn’t squeamish about violence and the book makes no moral quandary about her disinterest in avoiding, or finding an alternative, to killing monsters. These creatures are dangerous (and we’re not made to feel attached), but this goes over better when Scarlett isn’t using guns or explosives. Even if the bombs have strings, like in Looney Tunes cartoons, outdated weapons are best. Better still are the tools Scarlett’s dad created. Steampunk googles get to be more than an aesthetic choice, while Scarlett’s greatest invention, used to get out of a tight spot, doesn’t cause bodily harm but is truly diabolical.

    Sometimes artist, Thomas Taylor’s, expressions feel a bit off and I remember at first being disappointed that the coloring was more realistic than the cover shows, but the unspoken details in his work are fantastic (as are the outspoken monsters!). Scarlett walks by a wall of family portraits and you can pick up on the inspiration for her coat and scarf uniform. There’s also the fact that Napoleon has wall hooks for his identical bowler hats that brings out a chuckle.  Taylor Esposito is the book’s designer and I love how the lettering turns each fight into an event, while a power struggle occasionally plays out in the size of the speech bubbles. Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter thrives when there’s action and will appeal to the adventurous of heart.

     

    Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter goes on sale April 3rd from First Second.

     

    Rachel Bellwoar
    Fueled by Coca Cola ICEEs, Rachel Bellwoar collects TV seasons, reads comics, and tries to put her enthusiasm into words. She also shares the same initials (and first name) as Emmy winner, Rachel Bloom. If that brings her one step closer to being a triceratops in a ballet (please watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), she'll take it. Contact: rachel.bellwoar@thatsnotcurrent.com

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