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Velvet #2 Review: On the Run Again

Velvet issue #2 again offers a suspenseful, mysterious journey, but with even more action. Writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting show us what Velvet Templeton can actually do when confronted. Although we do not get much more info about what’s going on behind this mystery, it’s still an exciting second chapter in the story. When we left Velvet in issue #1, she had just jumped out of a window after stumbling onto the murdered body of a former lover and agent of the mysterious ARC-7 espionage group. Framed for the murder of Frank Lancaster, Velvet has no choice but to run. Her flying-squirrel combat suit saves her after the window jump, allowing her to glide into an adjacent building, but she still has agents on her trail, which forces her to start a dangerous chase and eventually find an old smuggler friend.  

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  Although the core of the first issue of Velvet was set-up, laying out the riddle of why two X-Operatives had been murdered, the second issue primarily functions as action. There is a chase sequence that lasts for five full pages, where Velvet shifts from foot to car to motorcycle. This may sound like a lot of panels devoted to a chase scene, but it’s totally worth it. Brubaker and Epting make the chase exciting and Velvet pulls a number of improbable and incredible maneuvers that allow her to escape. A chase scene in comic books is different from one in film because comics are a static medium. Since comic books are a printed medium, there is no motion and there is no time, two elements crucial to a good chase scene. That’s why exciting and innovative chase scenes are relatively rare in comics – especially extended ones. So Brubaker and Epting should be applauded by the effectiveness of this one. It shows that they are able to use action sequences just as well as they use dialog scenes.  

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  There are also dialog scenes in this issue, primarily involving the head of the ARC-7 agency. Velvet has been his assistant for a number of years, but he also knows about her history as a field agent. Despite the fact that he’s receiving information that she’s involved in the murder of X-Operatives, he suspects that something else is at work here. However, we also get the sense that there are forces at play in the agency beyond his control, and his loyalty to Velvet could ultimately end up costing him. I like the way Brubaker and Epting handle Velvet’s history in this issue. It’s indicated in the first issue that Velvet used to work in the field, though we didn’t get much information about it. We get much more in issue #2. It seems like many places (such as the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show) treat any backstory as a super mystery to be doled out incrementally. In this issue, though, we get a short montage that explains some of Velvet’s history quite succinctly. See a panel of her with text labeling the where and when: East Berlin (1949), Monaco (1951), Northern Italy (1953), French Tunisia (1955), and Prague (1956). I appreciate that the creators of Velvet give us this data in a straight-forward and artful manner.  

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  These one-panel encapsulations are quite enjoyable and highlight Epting’s importance to this book. His style combines the best elements of cinema with a very strong sense of mood, characters and composition. The aforementioned chase sequence would be much less enjoyable if it weren’t for the storytelling decisions and excellent illustration Epting provides to Velvet.  Even his dialog scenes are interesting because of the complex facial expressions he gives to each character. Although we don’t get quite as many reveals or character interaction as with issue #1, I still feel like Velvet #2 reveals elements of Velvet Templeton’s character. We see how she handles a crisis. She remains calm and acts, even if her decisions are occasionally risky.  

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    So far, these two issues having given readers a lot of intense, fast-paced story, which is promising for the future. Although there are no guarantees, this seems like a book that won’t linger too long on a story element or scene. It will, if the first two issues are an indication, portray the moment well and then move on. Velvet #2 is another promising book to start this series.  
  • Great storytelling
  • Exciting chase scene
  • Shows Velvet in action
  • Not much new information on killers


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