This week, my esteemed colleague/speaker of truth Jordan Richards hands me the reigns of Image’s breakout spy thriller while he spends more time being the only reviewer brave enough to criticize Hickman’s Avengers (seriously, the guy says what most of us are thinking, but too afraid to admit).
That means you’re stuck with my take on Velvet Templeton’s quest to discover which character on Mad Men has royally screwed her over. Is it good?
Full Disclosure: I asked Jordan if I could sub in for him because I’d already fallen in love with this series.
I was a bit concerned, however, about the last issue’s revelation that we’d be dealing with Velvet’s ex. Our heroine has been molded into such a great character that the use of such a clichéd spy troupe like this (especially with a former lover) had me afraid that we’d lose a little bit of that.
…or that their relationship would be undone by a lack of manscaping.
As usual, I should have trusted in Brubaker. He portrays Ms. Templeton’s relationship with as much complexity and real emotion as the genre can offer. At the same time, a parallel telling of Velvet’s inspiration and training to become a spy adds a brilliant parallel explanation of how a ‘normal’ relationship will never work for her.
Little Velvet during her adorable ‘Pre-BadAss’ stage
By the end of the issue, we’re left with a truly heartbreaking betrayal, but not in the way that a typical spy thriller sets us up to expect or receive.
As usual, Epting’s art is great, but the coloring work by Elizabeth Breitweiser does a fantastic job contrasting the idealistic Velvet Templeton of the past with the battle hardened warrior in the present.
Is It Good?
In a lesser creative team’s hands, this series would rely solely on cool action scenes framed by a paper thin plot and a buxom spy who looks like a pre-meth porn star. With Brubaker/Epting, however, we have a real woman who is as beautiful as she is dangerous and complex.
My only gripe is that we the book is starting to follow a bit of a pattern–“She thought she knew ____, BUT SHE REALLY DIDN’T KNOW _______ AT ALL!” – but some basic staples of the spy genre are bound to be utilized when you’re writing a spy book.
If you want a great Cold War era thriller, buy this book. If you want a story with a strong female character (where the writer isn’t desperately trying to prove that they’re writing a strong female character), buy this book. If you love great comics at all, buy this book.
Jordan may have to wrestle me in chocolate pudding to get this book back…or we could just do that anyway…whatever works. (Editor: I’m not paying for this. May charge for admission, though.)
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