GRAPHIC NOVELS

Velvet. Vol. 1: Before the Living Dead

Steve Epting & Bettie Breitweiser (illus.). Image. 2014. 128p. ISBN 9781607069645. pap. $9.99. Rated: M. MYS/ACTION
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OrangeReviewStarBrubaker's latest espionage thriller is packed with assassinations, duplicity, and conundrums, just as any good spy novel should be. He pens the tale of a James Bond Miss Moneypenny-like character, who, unbeknownst to most of her colleagues, is more like Emma Peel or James himself than a simple clerk in a skirt. Velvet Templeton has long since retired from the field, but when she discovers something amiss in the investigation into the killing of top agent XO-14, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Someone in the supersecret ARC 7 office is already two steps ahead of Velvet, though, and she soon finds herself framed. Her only recourse is to flee so that she can use her skills and contacts to follow XO-14's trail in order to uncover the true traitor. Epting's artwork skillfully captures both the characters and action, with particular attention to Velvet's acrobatics and hand-to-hand combat, while Breitweiser provides suitably moody colors.
VERDICT It's no surprise that this is already a New York Times best seller. The creators have crafted the graphic novel equivalent of a big-budget spy movie of the early 1970s, complete with gadgetry, exotic locales, and mysterious characters, all led by a beautiful but deadly agent.

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