“The Man Who Stole the World Part 1”
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Steve Epting
Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Other Velvet reviews: Velvet v1: Before the Living End
It has been several months, both in the real world and in the world of Velvet, since we last saw our hero on her quest for answers and revenge. She has spent the time recuperating from her injuries, but also in doing some digging into the Titanic company which is most likely behind a vast conspiracy. Skipping over the monotony of routine information gathering is probably a wise move for the book since it can then jump straight into the action, which it is quick to point out makes up a minuscule part of an actual spy’s job. And this time around the action centers firmly around getting Templeton back into America.
Since this issue is the starting point of a new story arc there are a few moving pieces that need to be put in play before the story really gets going. For Velvet that means working her way into America and then tricking an operative into doing some of her work for her. The other main character this issue is Max, who we saw previously in volume one as a helper to Velvet, and who will apparently be playing a fairly major role over the next few issues (assuming he survives). With several core cast members killed at the end of the last arc there are significantly fewer threads to follow this time around, but the overarching specter of Damian Lake hangs over the issue without him actually appearing anywhere in it. There is both a sense of forward motion as Velvet pieces things together, and a sense of fear that terrible things are just around the corner.
What makes this issue an interesting start to the arc is that we get a sense that Velvet seems to have an actual plan in place, and perhaps even the means to pull it off. The first two volumes happened over a relatively short period of time so Velvet was scrambling through much of it and did not have the opportunity to breathe. In fact, both arcs are punctuated by her making some egregious errors which put her investigation, and life, in extreme jeopardy. While there are still four issues to go in this arc it is good to see that she is getting started off in a position of power, and we only get to see just how much control over the situation she has at the end of the issue. Whether or not she can maintain the momentum is another matter entirely, but she has clearly put her months laying low to good use.
The art continues to be steller from both artist Steve Epting and colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser. Although most of the series to date has occurred at night or in dark rooms there is never a lack of color or detail, and characters as instantly recognizable in any situation. What could easily have been a book of muddled, dark colors is actually a visual delight in almost every sense. I’m frustrated at the slow publishing pace of the comic, but if this is the result of the team taking their time then I am certainly willing to wait it out. This is one of those times where the quality of the work justifies the slower delivery schedule.
Although the book only comes out semi-frequently it is one that I eagerly await in my pullbox every time that it is due. This issue, along with one other from this past week, was the main reason I hauled my butt to the comic shop on Wednesday despite having to get on a plane at a busy airport mere hours later (as it turned out I had plenty of time to spare, but there was no way I could have known that in advance). It was worth the risk of missing my flight to get my hands on this excellent issue, and having it as reading material helped make the flight that much shorter. That said, this is not a book for people to just jump into with no knowledge of what is going on. Even though this is the start of a new arc there is little in the way of information being presented to bring readers up to speed, and neither Max nor Velvet get much of an introduction. If you are seriously considering trying this series out, and you should if you have any interest in spy books, then your best bet is to pop back to the first tradepaperback and start from there. Once you are all caught up this book will be ready and waiting.