Thursday, June 19, 2014

Guest Review - Velvet #5

   Taking the Guest Review post today is David Wright, who's part of the team hard at work while Chuck takes a short break.

Velvet #5 by Ed Brubaker, writer, and Steve Epting, artist.

   With the fifth issue of Velvet, Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting wrap up the conclusion to the first story arc or act, and I have to say, I've looked forward to each issue.   

   This fifth issue was a bit delayed, as Brubaker said in the back letters page, because he had to move twice, so it's understandable. Plus I'll admit, I feel like I really should have re-read issue #4, as I'd forgotten a bit about what had happened previously. 

   Even so, I think this is going to be a great story for a collected trade book once it finally gets completed and collected.  

   In the previous books, Velvet works for a British spy agency ARC-7, and she has been tracking down someone who murdered another ARC-7 agent - someone she was close to.  During her uncovering that mystery she has become a target set up by someone.  

   Book five opens with a flashback in the Bahamas in 1956 as Velvet and her husband, Richard, another agent of ARC-7, are on the beach. There are a lot of flashbacks in the story, but it helps to establish the characters' past lives, and story.  (Whenever things take place in the present, Epting puts a gray streak in Velvet's hair to clue in the reader.)  When Richard goes for a swim in the ocean, a waiter brings drinks for them both, but Velvet notices there's a note on a napkin for Mockingbird with a number. Could her husband be a double agent?  It seems there's a bit of treachery at hand.

   Another flashback takes us to Switzerland to 1946.  This early subplot fills us in when Velvet is 17. She is sent away to school and meets the headmistress and her mentor, Pauline.  This part of the story shows how Velvet was trained and brought up, and how she wishes to be like Pauline - independent, leading an intriguing double life. It's very seductive, though the illusion is always better than the real thing (as we find out).

   There are moments in the book like the previous books, that are quiet and hushed when there are espionage elements of the story happening. I like these moments where the story is told in the artwork alone with no dialogue where Velvet has to sneak around to track down certain people or to find out information. It adds a nice dimension to the storytelling, and Epting does well in these passages. And then wham, the next minute, you are thrust into an action sequence. It's all very James Bond at times with bits of other spy genre thrown in as well. It doesn't come off sappy or campy though, which I can appreciate.   

   So far the story has been fun - it's been a pretty complex plot, and the art has never been better. It looks like in the next issue, Velvet will be going back to London. I do think in the single monthly issues a synopsis on what has happened previously might be a good thing to include, but so far, I've enjoyed the ride, and look forward to future issues.  

Grade:  A


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