Velvet Templeton’s investigation takes her to Monaco with this issue, as Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting just get better and better and the mysteries get deeper. If you go see the new Captain America movie this month, make sure you go read Velvet afterwards, because it’s the same creative minds, only better.
After a brief opening sequence that informs us that Velvet’s fuck-ups in Belgrade have alerted ARC-7 back in London to her whereabouts, we’re in Monaco, as Velvet follows the next link in the chain that will lead her to the truth about Jefferson Keller. Just before she died, Marina told her that Keller had met a man with silver hair and a Russian accent before he died. Velvet knows who this is, it’s Roman, an Ex-KGB officer who went rogue back in the 50s and is now a mercenary spy for the private sector. Velvet knows that Roman will be in attendance at the ‘Carnival Of Fools’ event in Monaco, as, due to it being a Masquerade, is a popular haunt for spies. She spots him pretty quickly, but she also spots some Assassins that have been sent after him by his former employers.
I loved the scene where Velvet demonstrates her spying skills by being able to spot who’s who in the crowd, even with masks. Not only does it make her look totally awesome, but it also adds a sense of realism, like Brubaker is sharing with us real secrets about how spies work. I also really liked the joke about how Velvet has no idea how to play Baccarat, because, well, it’s true, and it’s the reason why the Casino Royale movie changed the central game to Texas Hold’em.
Roman leaves the game table, followed by the KGB Assassins, who are in turn followed by Velvet. I loved this fight scene, it was just brutal as hell. Velvet’s narration, about how she hate and tries to avoid any fight that lasts longer than 5 seconds once again sold how tough she was, and, when a fight that did last longer happened, ramped up the excitement and made the extremeness of her sticking her finger in the guy’s mouth and ripping out his fucking cheek fit perfectly.
I also really liked the way letterer Chris Eliopoulos depicted when the characters were speaking Russian, not only was it in italics, but some of the letters were backwards, so it did look almost Cyrillic. Very effective, and proof that Eliopoulos is one of the best letterers in the game. The whole art team is on the top of their game in this issue, Epting is excellent as ever, and the pacing of the fight scene was amazing, and I also loved how Betty Breitweiser adjusted her palette a little for the fight, it was less photo-realistic and more expressive of the bloody violence. So, basically, very red.
After saving his life, Velvet gets more information from Roman. It turns out that, back in the day, when he was still with the KGB, they had met before, and Velvet had drugged him and took his files. But luckily there’s no hard feelings. It turns out that Keller was asking Roman about a Company, and that the last agent who asked about them had ended up dead. Keller had thought that this agent was a Russian mole, but Roman told him that ‘Codename Mockingbird’ had nothing to do with them. But he did have everything to do with Velvet… because he was her husband. It looks like the present-day mystery has a lot more to do with the secrets of Velvet’s past than we thought. I can’t wait to see what the truth about Codename Mockingbird, and for some of the truth to come out next issue. This is a fantastic series and there are so many more twists and turns yet to come I’m sure, I don’t think before this issue we knew that Velvet had ever been married.