The greatest spy-thriller being written today that is not yet a television series continues in the second volume of Velvet by its creators Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. One of the more interesting facts about this book is that the other titles that Brubaker writes like The Fade Out and Fatale seem to overshadow this one and yet, this book could very well make a case for being just as good, if not better than they are. What this book does is more mainstream compared to Fatale and while there have been many books about spies, both in graphic and novel form, this one continues to be absolutely solid in terms of writing and artwork. Month in and month out, Velvet ratchets up the suspense and it keeps you hooked, anticipating the next issue with baited breath. This collection, which comprises issues six through ten for those that like to consume their reading in larger chunks, is no less thrilling than the previous volume and ups the ante for our heroine.
When you begin this book, Velvet is still on the run and being framed for a murder she did not commit. Being a book about a spy agency and the people who work for it, the story is one that features the classic game of cat and mouse, though just who is the cat and who is the mouse has yet to be determined. For the most part, Brubaker makes you believe that it is Velvet who is the said cat as she leads her former team and company at Arc-7 around Europe, always two steps ahead of them. Come the end of the story though, not all is as it seems as she starts to realize that there might be more to everything that has been happening.
What is truly fantastic about this series is that Brubaker and Epting have given the lead role to a woman, one that is more traditionally given to males in this particular genre. That is where Velvet stands apart as the book puts a twist on that old, grizzled spy stereotype and turns it on its head. Here, Velvet Templeton might be getting older, but she still has what it takes and more than gives her former handlers a run for their money. She is a smart and capable veteran who has been forgotten by most and she plays that to her advantage throughout the story. Not only is she a woman which gives her an edge, but she was trained by the best and those that seek to bring her in have no idea who they are dealing with.
The suspense and the tension in the book never let up and the pace starts to get unrelenting the further you get into the series. With a lot of twists and turns, our creators not only keep the reader guessing as to what is coming next, but the characters themselves. There is a new character introduced in this second volume, one who is your essential ‘spy left out in the cold’ type and he could very well be the mastermind behind everything that has been going on or he could just be another cog in the wheel, but the one thing he does do is make things very interesting for our heroine. The book also lets us get to know some of the other ancillary characters, from her boss to the men who are chasing her and it is nice to see her world get enriched by that exploration.
The book definitely has a cinematic feel about it and perhaps that is what Brubaker and Epting were going for. More than likely though, it is simply that Epting’s pencils have gotten so good that it is just a natural progression from the level he used to sit at. From the artwork to the writing, from those minor characters to Velvet herself, the book works and wins on every level. One thing you have to do is thank Image Comics for existing for without them, books as good as this would not have come into being. Even if you are not a fan of the spy genre, you will still enjoy these books, possibly more than you ever thought you would.