Sunday, January 14, 2018

Review: Velvet, Vol. 2: The Secret Lives of Dead Men

Velvet, Vol. 2: The Secret Lives of Dead Men Velvet, Vol. 2: The Secret Lives of Dead Men by Ed Brubaker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everyone at the super-secret British spy agency ARC-7 thought Velvet Templeton was just the Director’s secretary until their best agent was murdered, and she was accused of turning traitor and killing him. It also turned out that she used to be a top notch field agent.

See, that’s why you should always be nice to the admin in your office….

Actually, we know that Velvet was framed, and to clear her name she’s going on the offensive against her old organization to try and flush out the real traitor. Through the course of the story we’ve also learned the tragic event that took Velvet out of the field and put her behind a desk for years. Fortunately for her sake and our entertainment value Velvet hasn’t lost a step as she uses sneaky spy tactics and a general ability to kick ass to find out the truth.

This could be just your standard betrayed-spy-on-the-run story, but there’s two factors that make it seem fresh. First, the ‘70s setting was a smart choice and not just for the retro style it brings into it. The 21st century has given us all James Bond gadgets with the average smart phone acting as a handheld computer, camera, and tracking device, but by setting this back in days of yore it allows for some fun with classic spy stuff that modern technology has made commonplace. It also makes the things they do use like Velvet’s stolen bulletproof stealth suit with glider wings seem more inventive.

Velvet herself is the second thing that makes this stand out. The idea of essentially taking Miss Moneypenny and making her a bad ass was a nice hook, and in a time when females in comics is a hot topic having a 40-something woman be the fully formed hero of a series like this seems way more revolutionary then it should be. (It also probably means we’ll never see a movie version of it because Hollywood believes that old ladies such as Marisa Tomei can only play characters like Aunt May.)

Ed Brubaker is one of the best writers in comics, and here he teams up with artist Steve Epting to create a humdinger filled with spy vs. spy action.

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