Review: ‘Velvet’ #1

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A smart spy thriller, “Velvet” #1 will keep readers on their toes as each plot twist hits them hard. This is an exciting glimpse into a secretive world filled with gun-toting traitors, high-ranking schemers, and trained assassins. No one can be trusted as everyone is pretending to live a double life in the “Velvet” series.

WRITTEN BY: Ed Brubaker
ART BY: Steve Epting
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASE: October 23, 2013

The underground organization, X-Ops, has sent their top secret agent, Jeff Keller, on a dangerous assignment in Paris. With the Eiffel Tower behind him, Jeff ends up taking out his gun and shooting a room full of innocent civilians. After dodging the French police, Jeff jumps across the rooftops before finally reaching his parked car. Just when he thought the fiasco was over, Jeff suddenly sees the shotgun pointed at him. At point-blank range, the shotgun blast kills Jeff before he can take out his piece. At the X-Ops headquarters in London, Velvet Temptation has just been debriefed about Jeff’s murder. Velvet will have to go through her own team in order to find Jeff’s killer.

Writer Ed Brubaker takes his espionage-driven narrative through different foreign settings and time periods. What I liked most about Brubaker’s writing is how he transitions the timeline between Velvet’s past and present. With the story set amid the ’70s and late ’60s, Brubaker has a way with the hard-bitten dialogue as the narrative steers toward noirish territory. When a secondary character calls Velvet nothing more than a “secretary,” it automatically sounds misogynist and hateful.

During the time jumps, Brubaker is able to hint at the many layers behind Velvet Temptation. When Velvet is at the X-Ops offices, she is more of a bookworm, kind of like a librarian, as she goes through tedious amounts of paperwork. But when she is out in the field, Velvet lets loose her hair, becoming seductive and adventurous. And when she is at home, Velvet acts like a completely different person, living a comfortably quiet life. Notice in the bedroom how there is no personal item belonging to her.

Artist Steve Epting has an interesting character design for Velvet. When Velvet is at the X-Ops headquarters, her wardrobe is classy and business-like. To keep up the elegant look, Epting lets a white strand of Velvet’s hair curl around her face. Epting uses rain as a way to establish the noir themes. When Velvet is walking across the rainy streets of London, she uses a brown trench coat to cover herself, as if she is always hiding something.

Epting’s illustrations in the opening pages will instantly hook the readers. It’s an action sequence gone horribly wrong as Jeff finds himself suddenly comprised. A tribute to the James Bond movies, specifically the Pierce Bronsan ones, Jeff is wearing a black suit and a bowtie as he fights his way through security. The panels burst with red hues as Jeff is taken down by the hidden gunman.

“Velvet” #1 kicks off to a great start and I hope the excitement keeps up in the next issue. If you’re a fan of “24″ and the Jason Bourne movies, you’re definitely going to enjoy the hell out of “Velvet.”

4/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – Jorge Solis