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Velvet: Before the Living End (Image Comics, 2013; #1-5)

When a spy agency’s top operative turns up dead, Velvet Templeton—personal secretary to the agency’s director—realizes that the official investigation doesn’t add up.  After she discovers the dead body of a second agent, the lead investigator tries to bring her in.  But she’s a former agent herself, with a prototype stealth suit at her disposal, so she escapes to chase down leads across Europe.

Ed Brubaker has written some awesome women in other books, but Velvet takes the cake.  She’s confident, stays a step ahead of everyone, and even when she’s not at her most skilled is a physical force to be reckoned with.  And on top of all of that, she’s in her 40s, making her even more of a rarity in spy fiction or comics.  As always, too, Brubaker has a clear sense of her voice and character that drives the book’s story.

As opposed to the tight, noir style that a lot of Brubaker’s books have, Steve Epting and Elizabeth Breitweiser give Velvet a more cinematic feel.  It’s more James Bond than Sam Spade.  Shadow and mood still act as a stylistic filter for their work, but bustling settings, frenetic action, and elaborate car chases cut through the darkness.

If you’re at all into spy stories, you need to read Velvet.  Instead of the next James Bond movie, I’ll take an adaptation of this, please.

Collected in

  • Velvet, Vol. 1: Before the Living End (#1-5)
  • Velvet: Deluxe Edition (#1-15)


Writer: Ed Brubaker | Artist: Steve Epting | Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser | Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos | Editor: David Brothers | Production: Drew Gill

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