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Shadowhawk and Bane of Kings take a look at the second issue of Brubaker and Epting’s new series for Image Comics.
“Some nice revelations plus some great action all mean that the series avoids the sophomore slump and continues strongly.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
“Absolutely awesome. Velvet #2 gets a 5/5 stars and proves to establish itself as one of the best new series of 2013. If you missed the first issue then go back and check it out – it’s essential stuff” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
The first issue of this new Image series by Captain America: Winter Soldier veterans Brubaker and Epting proved to be a surprise hit for me. I wasn’t expecting the story to be as good as it turned out to be, and this in itself was a good thing since not a lot of new comics coming out these days are actually this good with their debut issues. But, Velvet is one of those and after a slight delay we finally have the second issue. The first one ended on quite a cliffhanger, after a lot of slow build-up of the mystery thriller story and the mystique of the character. The new issue is exceedingly good at building up on all those elements and presenting a female spy who is incredibly good at what she does and is quite a strong, three-dimensional character so early on. Much like Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus, another ongoing Image series.
Here, we see the fallout of events from the previous issue as the protagonist Velvet Templeton is placed in an incriminating light where her loyalties to her organisation, the most secretive British Intelligence service ARC-7, are brought into doubt. The fact that she runs away from agency men who set out to apprehend her causes even further doubt. But at the same time, while Velvet makes her escape through the crowded streets of London on one hand, on the other we see how her direct superior, the director of ARC-7 himself, reacts to the news that his secretary might have been compromised by an enemy. Through this, we also see more of her life as a spy before she got a desk job and I have to commend Brubaler/Epting for showing Velvet as someone who can most definitely handle her own in a fight. That’s what made this issue really good.
And where the previous issue was loaded with narration and monologue, Brubaker trims it all down for this issue. Velvet’s monologue this time around is a bit fancy but it is always short and direct. There’s not a whole lot of dialogue from her in the issue and this serves to heighten her mystique, even through the clipped narration. Most of the dialogue is handled between Velvet’s superiors and her peers, which expands on her background as mentioned and shows us just what kind of a field agent she used to be before accepting a desk job.
As with the previous issue, Epting’s artwork is pretty top-notch, especially in terms of how he draws Velvet with her various action poses and otherwise even. No sexualisation of any kind, just a straight up regular book that is its own beast and has its own rewards, so to speak. In particular and in general, Epting’s action choreography, given the way that he lavishes a lot of multi-panel attention on it, is also one of the strengths of the series for sure. Elizabeth Breitweiser’s colours continue to portray the characters in as best a light as possible and she also maintains the noir-feel of the entire premise at hand, appropriate since this is set in the mid-70s.
Overall, this was a better issue than the first one in fact and it improved on almost all the areas, except for the slightly off pacing and some other knicks and knacks.
Bane of Kings:
Art: Steve Epting | Colours: Elizabeth Brietweiser | Cover: Steve Epting
On the run from her own agency, Velvet must find out what really got Agent X-14 killed, and the only way to do that is retrace his steps… and that’s a pathway of dead bodies, ruined lives, and angry mercenary soldiers. And along the way, one of Velvet’s darkest secrets is revealed. Don’t miss the second issue of this white-hot new series, from the hit creators of the CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER saga!
Wow. Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting have done it again. I loved what the creative team did with the first issue of Velvet and I was really glad that the second issue didn’t let up in terms of quality – instead – it kept the ball rolling, continuing the form that it debuted in and that will hopefully make it a series that should be jumping high up the list of favourites anytime soon. If you’re not reading this book then you’re doing yourself a disservice, because Velvet is just that good. Seriously – forget all the superhero books out there on the market, because Ed Brubaker’s Velvet is as good as the best of them. It’s a must read series – and only two issues in I’d probably say that it’s one of the best new series of 2013.
Velvet, the titular character – is on the run, targeted by her own agency. She’s got to find out who really killed Agent X-14 and why. This means retracing his steps – leading her into a path of one mess after another. It’s a neatly written issue that remains action packed and between the creative team of Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting with Elizabeth Brietweiser on the colours then I can safely say that this book is in good hands. Each panel looks visually amazing and whilst I haven’t encountered anything with Steve Epting’s art in it before he’s certainly shot up my to-look-out for list, and of course – anything from Brubaker is an automatic must buy.
Whilst the scene may open in a familiar fashion (to readers of the spy genre) – two men in suits talking in the rain, the book is a lot more engrossing than its opening pages suggest. It’s very solid and incredibly strong – and Epting and Brubaker have excelled themselves here with a compelling and engaging read that paints a powerful portrayal of Velvet as a character. She’s memorable, kickass and not to be underestimated. Whilst she may be the only character in this book that is fleshed out well enough yet her development is coming on very well indeed and I’m doubting that she’ll stay exactly the same character throughout the whole of the series. Things are moving forward and changing, and what more could you want?
It’s a perfect read for fans of the spy genre, and even fans of comics in general. If you’re tired of the average superhero comic then Velvet is a must read – it’s a consistent quality in these two issues and is very strong indeed. Give it a few more and it will become a favourite – with the only problem being that we have to wait for the next issue. It’s something different each month and I’m looking forward to seeing what new thing Brubaker and Epting can bring to the table next – because #3 may have just shot to the top of my most anticpated list for when it hits shelves. I’ve yet to be disappointed by an Image book that I’ve read yet and I’m hoping that Brubaker, Epting and Brietweiser can continue the trend over the course of the series. If you enjoyed what Greg Rucka’s doing with Lazarus you’ll dig what’s going on here – it’s just as good as that series and it remains very different.
A must read, and one of the best comics of the year so far.