REVIEW: “Velvet #6” Spy Games at Their Best

Written by: Ed Brubaker

Art by: Steve Epting and Elizabeth Breitweiser

Published by: Image Comics

$3.50

Fresh off the release of the first trade paperback collection, Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, and Elizabeth Breitweiser are back with another stellar installment of Velvet. Picking up where the first arc left off, we reunite with Velvet on her mission for truth and vengeance. Brubaker’s deft dialogue and tight pacing are pulled off with his signature style and Epting is churning out what is possibly the best work of his career. Everything about this title is clicking into place and while it isn’t working on the world’s most original premise, it manages to turn common plot points into interesting twists and turns. Velvet is a frenetic and intellectual thriller that will have you more entertained than any of the summer’s blockbusters.

Brubaker is no stranger to the spy game—most recently, his run on Winter Soldier featured a heavily espionage influenced direction. His comfort with the genre allows him to turn convention on its head repeatedly in “Velvet #6.” Spy thrillers have relied on tropes for essentially as long as the sub-genre has existed. But the modern upheaval in story-telling has allowed Brubaker to relentlessly pursue a strong female lead character and lend a little bit of much needed diversity to the popular comics scene. “Velvet #6” relies on the protagonist’s strong narration to provide any needed exposition and gravitas. It’s refreshing to see Velvet as a worthy lead in a book that wouldn’t/couldn’t have existed only a few decades ago where female lead characters took their cues from James Bond films.

This issue is billed as the first entry into a new story arc but this does not make it new-reader-friendly. In fact, new readers would likely find themselves lost in the rich plot that they’ve missed. For long-time readers there is plenty of pay-off from the events of the previous installments and the thrilling climax is a fitting way to begin this latest chapter. The “find the mole in the spy agency” story has been done many times before but Brubaker and company have managed to construct a story that stands on its own two feet.

It’s hard to imagine what this book would look like without Epting and Breitweiser to create the uber-realistic visuals that make reading this book very much like watching a great period film. The atmosphere injected into the various globe-trotting settings make sure this series has a unique look. The distinct characters are easily recognizable, something that can be a problem for creator-owned comics which don’t have iconic designs to draw from. This visual team is creating a virtually unheralded masterpiece. This installment doesn’t necessarily exceed the heights reached by previous issues but does remain consistent. A distinct advantage that creator-owned comics have over their corporate counterparts is control over their release schedule making it virtually guaranteed that this series will always look great because the team will always be able to spend the time necessary to ensure its quality.

Verdict:

The return of Velvet as a “no-holds barred” hero results in one of the best comics of the week. Brubaker’s uncanny ability to capture the voice of each character through narration and Epting’s superb skills as an artist give this series an edge over the competition. For those that have enjoyed Marvel’s Black Widow this is a cut-above and shows no signs of slowing down.

“Velvet #6” earns 9.1 / 10

REVIEW: "Velvet #6" Spy Games at Their Best
(w) Ed Brubaker (a) Steve Epting $3.50 Image Comics