***SPOILERS, READ WITH CAUTION***
Whoever accuses this comic of being “James Bond, If He Was A Chick” in a negative tone can just leave now, for you have ruined any chances of us being friends.
I don’t have to tell you guys that first issues can be a mixed affair. Some do an amazing job at introducing the universe and characters that its authors have created, along with telling the story it wishes to tell. Other times, they suck, and the series’ subsequent issues tend to suck as well. Or it’s just the #1 issue that sucks and the subsequent issues do much better. Whatever, you get my point. But holy crap, did Ed Brubaker impress… wait, this is Ed Brubaker we’re talking about, why am I surprised…?
To start, Brubaker creates an amazing character in the titular protagonist, Velvet Templeton. A secretary for the Director of the Agency (ARC-7, I believe?), that’s as simple as she gets. You don’t know how she works, what makes her tick, etc. You just know she’s a secretary at a super secret intelligence agency, and that she slept with one of their best agents, who everyone at the agency discovers gets killed in the field (That ain’t supposed to happen!). TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU, VELVET!
Along with introducing us the series’ main character, Brubaker also does a great job of introducing us to the other characters at the agency, and and how things work over there. And Brubaker isn’t about talking down to you: he explains things in a precise way without handing everything to this readers on a silver platter. In fact, by the time you get to the last page, there’s a 99% guarantee you could fit in nicely as a mole for the KGB (NOTE: Please don’t actually do this, god). And I dunno’ if this is your schtick, but he also sets it against a ’70s Cold War era, espionage backdrop, because why not? That shit’s cool dude.
And can we talk about Steve Epting’s art? That man can draw, which may come off as a “no shit” to anyone who’s seen his work with Brubaker on their Captain America run. But this book reaffirms that. Carefully illustrated with the right attention to detail and thanks to colors by Elizabeth Breitweiser, this is one helluva piece of comic book eye candy. The IMAGE COMICS page for this #1 labels it “Sexy…” and I think it’s safe to assume they were mostly referring to the art.
What makes this #1 so effective is that it plays to Brubaker/Epting’s strengths, which involves not sacrificing story for gimmicks. It’s never too bloody nor too vulgar nor too gratuitous in sexual content (really, it’s just assumed Velvet did the deed with the top agent, and we get small silhouettes of Velvet in the shower without showing some serious skin). Velvet is not what you would call hot in a physical sense. To some people, I’m pretty sure grey hairs aren’t all that sexy. But she is strong, on the inside and out, and from what we’ve seen, intelligent, and she’s definitely not easy to figure out. Wow, I think I’m starting to fall a little bit for Velvet, and usually I love me some comic book babes… GURR, BACK TO THE REVIEW REN. No, what this is is an amazing piece of well-paced, gorgeous looking storytelling, pulling you in by setting the tension and then gobbling you up with some explosive moments. I was only confused in the beginning by the narration, as I had no idea was narrating, or who was being referred to. No, the real frustration is learning that November 20 is a looooooooooooooong time before we see #2, and you will want to continue the story. Dammit Ed and Steve, thanks a lot!
FINAL VERDICT: Velvet #1 is amazing. It’s the best comic I read not just the week of 10-23-13, but probably ever. It will grab you in, and refuse to let go. It wonderfully establishes its world and characters with finesse, and it makes these two characteristics a sight for sore eyes with gorgeous artwork. I think the only other time a comic has had me amazed with its debut is Morning Glories, and right now I seriously think Morning Glories is going to lose its place. If you’re doubting spending that $3.50, then take my suggestion and please doubt no longer. Buy two copies, one for framing and one for reading, and then thank me later. It’ll be the best decision you’ve made with your money in a long time, trust me.