I’ve said this before and I say it again, Image’s Velvet keeps getting better with every issue almost without fail. Against all my expectations, this title has gotten better and better with time, and both the writing and the art have been the cause of that from the start. Velvet Templeton is a fantastic superspy who is so much better than any superspy in pop culture. This series has drama and action in equal measure while still maintaining he noir vibe that is at the heart of the series. Recently, she has taken some really drastic measures, and it is time for them to pay off now.
In this past week’s Velvet #8, we see what happens after Velvet kidnaps the Director of ARC-7, the spy organisation she was a part of until she seemingly went rogue back in the first issue. Ever since finding out abou the very recent death of an ARC-7 agent, she has been a woman on a mission, retracing his steps and also going back in time as she discovers some secrets about her own past and her field service for ARC-7. In the new issue, Ed Brubaker really ramps things up while Steve Epting and Elizabeth Breitweiser deliver some gorgeous visuals.
Having learned some rather disturbing things of late, especially that there might be a traitor within ARC-7 who has manipulated the agency and many of its top agents for years, Velvet Templeton decides to go all Jason Bourne on finding whoever the traitor is. And she starts at the top with ARC-7’s director, her mentor himself. And it is not pretty. Last issue, she kidnapped him, strapped a fake bomb vest on him and parked him in the parking lot of the agency’s HQ. Now, in this week’s issue, we see what her target was all along, and while I’m slightly confused about it, I’m also confident in whatever revelation will shake down next week since Ed Brubaker likes to play the long game, building mysteries up for 2-3 issues at a time before he lets something go.
In this issue, we finally get a big moment between Velvet and her mentor, and it helps to shed some more light on her former career as a spy before she agreed to retire from field operations and take up the job of the director’s secretary, which then created an illusion of who she was for the people who followed in her wake over the years. That’s what some of the people sent after her by the agency have been fighting against: the ghost of one of ARC-7’s top former agents who masqueraded as a flirty yet competent secretary for years, fooling everyone.
And I love all of it. While Brubaker doesn’t do anything too drastic in this issue, what he does is set up some more mysteries about what Velvet’s current top goal is, for the short-term. She needs answers, she needs truths, and everyone at ARC-7 right now is just standing in her way. This is a pretty badass issue with which Brubaker once again shows off how good an agent Velvet used to be, and how easily she has returned to her roots.
The only negative of this issue is that the meta-plot doesn’t really move forward all that much. This is a very “in the here and now” kind of issue that highlights a single moment from Velvet’s globe-trotting chase to find the truth of an agent’s murder and her husband’s death, and what I wanted was some answers. Regrettably, they aren’t found here, but this is still a damn good book. Velvet as a character is all you need to be buying this comic for, if I’m honest.
Steve Epting’s pencils and Elizabeth Breitweiser’s colours were absolutely rocking in this issue. Most of the series has taken place in the evenings and nights, in the shadows and alleys. But much of the second half takes place in broad daylight, and that’s where Elizabeth’s work really shines with the specific colour palettes she uses to highlight how the light filters in from windows and what not. And as always, Steve’s character-work is beyond compare, especially with regards to Velvet’s consistently confident body language and her dismissive facial expressions for the people she takes down. There’s a time when she reins in her emotions, and times when she doesn’t, and Steve is able to play that balance really well.
Damn good issue, but I feel that we as readers are ready for some damn answers by now.