Velvet, vol. 2

Summary: The white-hot spy series from the creators of Captain America: The Winter Soldier is back! Everything Velvet Templeton ever believed about the worst night of her life has turned out to be a lie, and now she’s coming back to London, taking the hunt back to the hunters, to find the truth or die trying. Don’t miss the second volume in the adventures of comics’ favorite new super-spy! Collects VELVET #6-10.

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Velvet, vol. 2, by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting and Elizabeth Breitweiser 8.0

Holy crap! Now I understand what happened at the end of the last book: Velvet was instructed to murder her own husband on the night of their honeymoon, under the false pretense that he was a double agent! That’s messed up! But it’s also messed up because there’s no way that I could have gotten that from reading the last issue. In retrospect, yes, it makes sense. But, at first glance, it was far too cryptic.

Anyway, I’m glad that’s sorted.

With this in mind, Velvet is now trying to figure out who was messing with her at the time and why. She’s settled on four potential suspects, all men who were active then and still are now – including her own boss. She’s very much convinced that only someone working on the inside could have had enough information to be able to play her this way, even to this day – she is being set-up for the death X-14, after all.

So who could be behind this and what could be their motivation?

Well, we’re not going to find out with this book, but the details of a greater conspiracy are starting to unfold, and it leads Velvet to a former agent by the name of Damian Lake – a man who was institutionalized nearly two decades ago. He alone knows the secret identity of the key player in this conspiracy, Pierre Duprey. And this may be the reason why he was put away – assuming that these aren’t the musings of a madman.

But this finds Velvet dodging the police and ARC-7 agents all over the place – after breaking Lake out and then trying to smuggle him into France. This inevitably leads to some double crosses and confrontations and much action. What I especially like is that Velvet isn’t perfect – she’s mellowed out in her years out of the field and recognizes it. It means that she sometimes makes mistakes that set her back, put her in a bind.

That feels real to me – forget the whole “super agent” thing (though she still is that).

Anyway, it’s a pretty exciting continuation of the story. As I read it, I couldn’t help but wonder how this story would translate to the silver screen – it certainly seems ready for the big time. The way the story is structured so far, it would be a perfect 1h40m motion picture, with equal parts enigma, action and suspense. I really hope that someone somewhere will give this book its due and bring it to life someday.

My only reservation, given that I know nothing about espionage and can’t comment on the plausibility of what Brubaker proposes, is in minutia like the French policeman’s handguns. It seemed strange to me that they would be carrying semi-automatic pistols given that, in the early-’70s, revolvers were still in common use. I looked it up and, indeed, it seems like it was a few years before they were issued to French police.

And, when they did get semi-automatic pistols, they were Beretta 92s and CZ 75s, not Colts, Smith and Wessons or Glocks (or whatever it is that we find in the book).

…but I guess I’m nit-picking, aren’t I?

Either way, I’d have to say that this book is more consistent than the first. While volume one started extremely strong right out of the starting gate, it then averaged out and the ending was far too muddled. With volume two, Brubaker and company have managed to serve an exciting, compelling read from start to finish. I simply can’t wait to see how the rest of the story will turn out in the third and final volume.

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