VELVET VOL. 1: BEFORE THE LIVING END (Image, 2014; Softcover)
Collects Velvet #1-5 (cover dates October, 2013- May, 2014)
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Steve Epting
Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Some creators hit a high mark and then go on autopilot, phoning in respectable if unremarkable work that is the result of money and success. Ed Brubaker seems to be going in the opposite direction. The more success and money he gets, the bolder he gets. Sleeper was good but Incognito was stronger. Criminal was better than both, and Fatale buried them all. Velvet is every bit as good as Fatale, and in some ways it is even better.
Brubaker is no stranger to spies and espionage (see his entire Captain America run). This series is about Velvet Templeton, something of a spy's spy. She has fooled spies into thinking that she is a simple secretary until her cover is blown and friends and colleagues start turning up dead. This is white-knuckled, sophisticated adult reading high on action and low on humor.
Steve Epting's artwork has also continually improved, which is really saying something. Elizabeth Breitweiser's coloring is breathtaking, some of the best that I have ever seen. I am admittedly more of a flat color kind of guy since the bells and whistles often become a distraction, but Breitweiser practices tasteful application of the benefits of modern computer coloring. Things look vintage and fresh at the same time. The artwork and coloring work together and create the perfect mood.
This is the type of comic book that would appeal to people who may not like comics. If you know someone who is into James Bond or other hard-edged spy stories then this book would make a good gift. I read tons of comic books and it is hard to impress me, but Velvet has impressed me. A lot. Vol. 2 will be out within the next few months. I'm really looking forward to it.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- Image makes the nicest trade paperbacks these days. Solid.
Paper stock: Thick matte coated stock.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Thick waxlike lamination.