3. Velvet #1 By Ed Brubaker And Steve Epting (Image)
If you're a longtime Marvel Comics reader, this creative team will make you sit up - Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. Their previous work? Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Marvels Project, both epic superhero books I highly recommend. After years apart, they've reunited to tell the story of Velvet Templeton, unassuming secretary in a super-secret spy organisation whose spies begin to be killed off - and Velvet finds herself the patsy! Set during the Cold War, the story jumps from the early 70s to the 60s in a style that's reminiscent of popular spy stories from this time like James Bond, The Man from UNCLE and Mission Impossible. It does feature a lot of Bond-like characters but the focus is on the Moneypenny character, Velvet, who Brubaker imbues with the equal talents of Bond but, being a woman, was never given the same opportunities to use them. Bond is an obvious reference but Velvet #1 has more in common with John le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in its more realistic depictions of spy organisations and its plot complexity. Brubaker underlines this by introducing a Bond figure in the opening sequence only to brutally kill him off a couple of pages later - this isn't the kind of spy story you expect. If you know anything about Steve Epting, you'll know the guy draws insanely well. It's realistic, it's noir-ish - in keeping with the shadowy organisation motif - but he really brings it when the comic calls for action and energy. He's obviously also put an enormous amount of effort into making the comic look of its time with the technology and outfits reflecting the era. Unexpectedly, after the comic you get an afterword from Brubaker followed by a really insightful essay on spy fiction by Jess Nevins, who readers of Fatale will know also writes a lot of stuff for that book. This is something I've noticed about the other Image comics this month, that they're adding on these prose pages to give the reader more reading matter and the comic more value. Moreover, these prose sections are fantastic and I'd love to see more of these kind of features in comics across the board. Velvet is a really engaging series that starts off well, giving us a great character, story, and overall mood and look to it that's really something. It's Brubaker and Epting - did anyone expect them not to produce a great comic? Velvet #1 is a must read for all fans of excellent spy stories.