Grim_Noir: On The Run With Velvet #10


Title: Velvet #10 (The Secret Lives of Dead Men – Part 5)

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Art: Steve Epting

Colors: Elizabeth Breitweiser

Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos

Published by Image Comics, Inc.

Reviewed by Grim_Noir

If you root for Scarlett Johansson characters at the movies and are leading the campaign for Agent Carter to get a second season, but have never read Velvet from Image Comics, then you are cheating yourself and I pity you.

Writer Ed Brubaker started out with a simple premise: What if Miss Moneypenny had been a better spy in her day than James Bond? What if every time Bond flirted with her, she was smiling, not out of flattery, but because she was like a teacher dealing with a schoolboy crush? And what if some fool tried to frame this seemingly helpless and over-the-hill woman for treason and murder?

These are the broad strokes for the story of Velvet Templeton. It is 1973 and Velvet has semi-retired from the word of espionage to work in London as the personal secretary to the Director of ARC-7, a super-secret spy organization during the cold war. Like Peggy Carter in the late 40s, Velvet spends most of her days being underestimated and fending off the advances of younger agents (or not, if she’s in the mood). This all shatters when Jefferson Kellar is gunned down at close range, while walking to his car in Paris. Kellar is X-14, ARC-7’s Bond; their most super of all the super-spies… and Velvet’s former lover.


When the agency’s murder investigation and hunt for an “inside man” slows down and begins to point toward a ridiculously unlikely suspect, Velvet uses the tricks and “toys” of the spy trade to look into the matter herself. This leads to her being in the room with a dead body and an unsympathetic ARC-7 investigative unit. Fleeing, she will discover a deep-seated conspiracy blocking her at every turn.

By the end of issue #9, Velvet has attempted the very Coulson-like maneuver of trying to recruit exiled former ARC-7 operative, Damian Lake. Lake has knowledge she needs and tells her a story about betrayal and a man named Pierre Duprey. This takes the duo to Paris…

Or, rather, it would have taken them to Paris, if Lake wasn’t running traps within traps for his own gain. Things get worse and worse throughout issue #10, which is basically an extended chase. Also similar to Agent Carter, watching ex-Agent Templeton get out of one lethal problem after another is the true pleasure of this release.


Brubaker is an old hand at lies, deceit, and multiple false identities. His work on Captain America, especially the Winter Soldier storyline, can attest to his expertise with spycraft. But it is his love of noir storytelling elements that really flesh out the labyrinthine cold war world of Velvet.

Winter Soldier artist, Chris Epting, joins Brubaker for Velvet. It is the near-instinctual combination of artist Epting with colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser that are the visual FitzSimmons of this book: It is almost impossible to tell where one’s influence ends and the other’s begins. And, frankly, who’d want to split them? Together, they have created an art style that reproduces the quasi-painted European comics of the 70s, while simultaneously reinventing the style with highly expressive faces, fluid action sequences, and mood & style for days.

One word of warning for some readers: Aside from the Bond movie levels of implied sex and violence, Velvet tends to drop the occasional scatological cuss word and/or “F”-bomb. Not because she is any sort of Kevin Smith character nor Tourette’s victim, more because she follows Mark Twain’s old adage, “When angry, count four; when very angry, swear.”

Thankfully, for us, it looks like Velvet will remain vexed for many years to come.




* GRIM_NOIR suggests you make sure you read the “post-credit”/ epilogue sequence in Velvet #10. It’s a killer. Please comment below and/or follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter or “Friend” on Facebook or Good Reads.

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