By Janina Scarlet, Ph.D.
Illustrations by Vince Alvendia
New Harbinger Publications, 2020, ISBN: 978-1-68403-174-0, 120 pages, $19.95
The importance of processing early life traumatic events is showcased in “Dark Agents,” the first in a series of comic books by therapist Dr. Janina Scarlet. The book opens with Violet as a young child being physically tortured and then her parents being killed. Despite surviving, Violet’s early childhood experiences follow her into young adulthood and cause her to struggle in her coursework and life. As part of her dark agent training, she is required to undergo psychotherapy, which starts to help her process the trauma she’s kept locked inside for so long.
Written as a superhero comic book, “Dark Agents” is a unique way for readers to relate their own traumatic experiences to Violet’s struggle with her trauma. The comic book format should appeal to teen and pre-teen audiences and open up opportunity for discussion that may not always be easy to break through with a young person. Author Janina Scarlet is a licensed clinical psychologist who has developed Superhero Therapy, inspired by the X-Men, to help patients with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. “Dark Agents” is a refreshingly unique approach to unpacking trauma that may resonate with certain people — definitely worth checking out for the hard-to-reach teen in your care.
— Reviewed by Kim Phagan-Hansel