Velvet #2: The Enjoyable Beat Down


With Captain America: The Winter Soldier due in theaters next year, the name Ed Brubaker will become synonymous with the first Avenger, which is both good and bad. Good because it means a light will shine on one of the greatest comic book writers of our generation. Bad because it might eclipse his creator-owned work, which is just as good if not better. Take Velvet, Brubaker’s love letter to ’60s espionage. Issue #1 was a gut-punch, and issue #2 continues the enjoyable beat down.

Velvet, or the artist formerly known as Miss Templeton, is in a heap of trouble. Having wedged herself in the murder of a top rate British spy, and the framing of another, Templeton has had to cast off her “secretary” identity and reclaim the mantle of Velvet. Who is Velvet? Apparently, she is a spy with a past. A spy taken out of the field early for reasons protected at the highest levels of the British government. Now she’s on the loose, and pissed off. Those who have suffered her wrath think she’s a double agent, but those who have dealt with Velvet know something else is going down.

Brubaker has never lacked in the ability to craft noir stories. Some might say it’s his specialty, and that he rarely ventures out of that comfort zone. Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Brubaker has yet to get repetitive, even if he does set his stories on a darker path. Velvet is nothing like Fatale, which is nothing like Scene of the Crime, which is nothing like Captain America. The shadowy world stays constant, but the structure, pacing and dialogue all take different dynamics. Velvet blends intrigue with action, both of which are held in place by Velvet’s own inner monologue and her murky past. The pacing is rapid fire as Velvet fights to escape her pursuers and solve the greater mystery.

Steve Epting’s art is on point, as always. Few artists can communicate so much in even a simple motion. On the opening page, where a high ranking British official is being requested to come to headquarters by a pissed off agent, the way Epting pencils the agent lighting a smoke shows his indifference towards the ranking officer. He’s lost men to Velvet and he wants to know who the hell she is. Throughout, Epting’s shading is impeccable, as are his action scenes. He knows exactly how to get maximum value out of each panel.

Stylish, exciting, and smart, Velvet is another win for the unstoppable force of Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting.

(4.5 Story, 4.5 Art)