Friday, March 31, 2017

Velvet:Deluxe Hardcover Edition (Velvet, 1-3), Ed Brubaker (writer), Steve Epting (artist), Elizabeth Breitweizer (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Drew Gill (designer)

Image Comics, ISBN 9781632159151, April 2015

Velvet Templeton is a secretary at the super-secret espionage agency, ARC-7, in London in the 1970s. Just a quiet, competent secretary, liked and trusted by her coworkers and the agents.

But Velvet has a past her fellow secretaries and most of the agents don't know, and when an agent is killed in circumstances implicating another agent as a double agent, she's not about to sit idle. She starts investigating on her own.

Velvet is a former agent herself, a highly skilled and dangerous agent, and her skills are still with her.

There's a reason she's not a field agent anymore; a reason she sits quietly behind a desk and very few know her professional past. And when she starts investigating the circumstances behind Agent X-14's death, she discovers that things she believed about that past were lies. That there's a bigger conspiracy than she suspected.

That she has no idea who she can or can't trust.

Velvet's past is revealed gradually, unfolding in well-crafted layers. We learn her career as an agent in the 1950s in flashbacks, and we follow her dangerous hunt for the truth of what happened then, and the truth of the death of X-14, and what is being covered up.

There's a lot of action, and a fair bit of blood, because neither Velvet nor her shadowy opponents are playing a game here. The character development is beautifully done, and the plot builds to a convincing climax. In memory, the images try to becoming moving images in my mind; something I watched rather than something I read. Velvet Templeton is going to stay with me.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this graphic novel from the publisher, and I am reviewing it voluntarily.