The old adages of hiding in plain sight and not judging a book by its cover immediately come to mind while reading the latest collaboration between writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting. When we first meet her, Velvet Templeton is shown to be the highly intelligent secretary of the Director of Arc-7 (a secret government spy program whose agents and funding do not exist in any official records). The murder of an agent who Velvet was once close to has the middle-aged executive assistant thinking back on the past and doing some investigating of her own when she doesn’t trust the official story.
It’s while investigating Arc-7’s leading suspect, a retired spy who Velvet also spent some time with in and out of the bedroom, that the woman realizes she’s been played as the audience realizes Velvet is much more than your average secretary.
The twist of having Velvet be a highly-trained field operative in semi-retirement, without revealing much of her past, as she’s underestimated by those who choose to frame her for the murders, creates an intriguing set-up which I will happily stick around to read more of.
Spy stories, like revenge, are best served cold. Set in the mid-1970s, Velvet has the ability to draw on Cold War tensions and the nostalgia of old school espionage that should play into the strengths of the kind of story Brubaker and Epting wish to tell. The first issue sells me on both the character and the comic’s opening arc as Velvet left to her own devices to both clear her name and uncover the mystery of why two of her old friends were killed. Best of the week.