COMIC REVIEW: Velvet – Volume 1

From the bestselling creators of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” comes this smash-hit spy thriller with a unique new twist! When the world’s greatest secret agent is killed, all evidence points to Velvet Templeton, the personal secretary to the Director of the Agency. But Velvet’s got a dark secret buried in her past…

I was quite late to the party with Greg Rucka’s brilliant Queen and Country but after picking up and loving the first two volumes digitally  I found myself in need of a further spy fix. Luckily someone recommended I give Velvet from Image Comics a try and after devouring volume 1 which collects issue 1-5 I’m glad I did.

The comic is  set around a secretary called Velvet Templeton. Now if you were to think of Miss Moneypenny from the Bond series it would put you in a good mindset as to who Velvet is. Of course like all of the best spy stories nothing in this comic is what it seems and this most of all with Velvet.  As  issue 1 draws on and Velvet begins to look into some dodgy goings on around the death of the world’s greatest spy you begin to realise that there is a lot more to Velvet than just her shorthand. It’s tough not to say too much about what secret Velvet is hiding without spoiling the climax of the first issue, so I won’t. I will say that because I read the comic blind without seeing any of the publicity blurb I had no idea about the secret until it was revealed. It is a fantastic moment and a great way to hook a reader in for the rest of the ride. The remaining four issues did not disappoint giving me a fast paced, globe trotting spy thriller that while having traits of a Bond film had an serious grit and edge to it as is befitting a tale by Brubaker. The volume also works well as a character study with each issue peeling back the layers of Velvet’s character and her past. By the end of the volume you are left with the sense that we are only just scratching the surface of Velvet’s world and things are going to get a lot murkier.

The art by Steve Epting is fantastic with some brilliant visual touches which would be lost if someone with bags of cash decided they wanted to turn Velvet into a TV series. One such visual moment comes when one operative is reviewing Velvet’s history and we follow him down the rabbit hole of who Velvet is. The way this is done and his final reaction to the discovery are more proof that comics are a fantastic medium, full of emotional beats, to immerse yourself in. There also a masterful use of shadow and colour throughout the story.

Velvet, Vol. 1: Before the Living Comic Review by Geek Syndicate

The fight scenes and action have a realistic feel to them in that they are not portrayed as ‘cool’ but as ugly necessities in this twilight world where there is no such thing as right and wrong, just move and counter move. In a  brutal close combat fight scene at the end of issue 4  I actually winced at one of the panels. It has been a while since comic has made me do that and that is a testament to both the script and the art working in perfect unison. I also have to give props to the lettering by Chris Eliopoulos and his use of captions throughout the story which serve as a kind of idiot’s guide to Spycraft, in the same way a voiceover is used in the Burn Notice TV show.

Even though the world Velvet Templeton inhabits is a grey one and she is complicated character there is a moral certainty to her character and her goals that make you root for her. This moral compass is shown, in the comic, to be her greatest strength and a trait to be exploited by her enemies. One of the reasons I would read more of this story to get more of an insight into what makes her tick.

Volume 1 of Velvet serves up an exquisite starter platter of murder, secrets, betrayal and shocking revelations that will leave you hungry for the main course.

Rating: 5/5

GS Blogger: Nuge

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