Velvet #8 Review

Written by: Ed Brubaker

Art by: Steve Epting

Publisher: Image

Velvet continues in grand fashion this month, with an amazing break-in by our heroine and a plan that is executed to perfection, as we’ve come to expect from Velvet. Velvet is still tracking down leads about Mockingbird this issue, but when the trail runs cold, she decides to go straight to the source—the agency’s headquarters. At the end of issue 7, we learned that Velvet had tied the Director up and had a bomb strapped to his chest, and this month we learn how she was able to pull this off. Brubaker and Epting are masters of this method: amazing heists and backroom dealings, then they slowly reveal to the reader how it’s all possible. It’s a tried and true method for keeping readers coming back for more, and it’s a trick that has been seen countless times in mysteries and noir pieces.

Fortunately for us, Brubaker and Epting know the histories they’re drawing from, but then they put their own stamp on them also. Brubaker does this with Sean Phillips regularly (the down and out  and femme fatale masterpieces found in Criminal, Incognito, and Fatale) and it seems he has struck gold once again with Epting here. Velvet is a dark and moody spy thriller, which I think serves as a type of counterpoint to Kot’s Zero, an issue of which I reviewed here. Where Zero is modern and brutally realistic, Velvet takes a much more “Bondish” approach to the spy game. Velvet has a stealth suit which allows her to glide for short distances and it’s also somewhat bulletproof. This type of gadget would be very out of place in Kot’s imagining of our near-future, but in the world of 1970s Velvet, it fits in perfectly. Brubaker seems to be having a blast with a heroine who is not only a former secretary, but a former spy who has been harnessing secrets for far longer than anyone suspected. She has been the camouflaged wallflower for so long that it’s great to see her remember her old skills with each passing issue.

The harvested secrets start to surface this issue when Velvet comes face to face with the Director for the first time since she went rogue (i.e. since she was set up to take a fall for someone). Brubaker handles the scene with excellent dialogue, and while the Director asks her to explain herself, I love the fact that there are no clichés here. Velvet treats the Director like anyone else on her path towards revelations and redemption—he is a suspect like anyone else. You can feel the respect that each character has for the other, but Velvet is not going to explain herself or go easy on him. Perhaps that’s the mark of a true spy, a skill Velvet never forgot: love when you don’t mean it and hide love when it can hurt you.

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Trust doesn’t come easy in Velvet

My only tiny gripes with the issue are focused on the one small fight scene in the book. At one point Velvet is on the ground, caught dead to rights, but she somehow gets up off of the floor and reverses the situation by the next panel. However, Velvet does get hurt in this issue, so it evens out and it’s good to know that not everything always goes Velvet’s way.

Velvet is a great take on the spy genre, the type of comic that these creators clearly wanted to make after creating the Winter Soldier character. If you like spies, gadgets, phones hidden behind paintings, strong female leads, and triple crosses, then you should absolutely be reading this book.