Review: Velvet, Vol. 2: The Secret Lives of Dead Men (Velvet #2) by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting (Illustrator)

Velvet, Vol. 2: The Secret Lives of Dead MenVelvet, Vol. 2: The Secret Lives of Dead Men by Ed Brubaker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Velvet is back!
This time around she’s trying to piece together a list of suspects that would have been able to set her up, not only for the recent murder of an agent, but set her husband up as a traitor (and her to take him out) all of those years ago.

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This isn’t just life and death for Velvet, it’s personal.
Fortunately, there’s a short list of people who would have been alive and in a place to frame her husband, and yet still alive and in a place to frame her now. To get the answers she needs she’s going to have to think outside the box, take some pretty big risks, and maybe help break a dangerous ex-agent out of prison.

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Remember the agent who thought he was chasing down a glorified secretary in the first volume? Well, he’s still trying to figure out how to catch her.
And he might finally be realizing that things don’t seem to be adding up when it comes to Velvet’s actions.

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This was great! Brubaker shines when he writes these sort of stories!
The best part (to me), though, was Velvet herself.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for making a female character that’s kick-ass, smart, tough, and sexy…without making her into a skanky boob monster in high heels.
Yeah, that sounds like a no-brainer, but (evidently) it’s not.

If you haven’t had the chance to read this one, make sure you keep your eyes open for it. It’s definitely worth a read!

Thanks to NetGalley & the publisher for giving me a digital copy to review.

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Review: Velvet, Vol. 2: The Secret Lives of Dead Men, by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting

Velvet, Vol. 2: The Secret Lives of Dead MenVelvet, Vol. 2: The Secret Lives of Dead Men by Ed Brubaker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally. I’ve been waiting for something great to sink my teeth into, and who should become available on NetGalley? Why my old friend Ed…Brubaker that is. Alongside for the ride is his other frequent collaborator, Steve Epting. (Winter Soldier arc of Cap).

I read and loved Volume 1 of Velvet, who’s like Ms. Moneypenny if she’d been an even more lethal machine than Bond.

In the last volume, Velvet found herself framed for murders she didn’t commit…unfortunately for ARC-7 (The Agency) she retained all of her field training and experience as an asset from before her 10+ yrs as the secretary to the Director.

This time around, they’ve caught on and they’re coming at her hard, but tons of questions arise, and Velvet turns the tables on them. She finds someone who might be able to help her, but with her desire to work alongside someone else, has she lost sight of the most important rule? Trust No One.

It’s great to have a female hero who kicks serious ass and is still sexy, even in her 40s…We don’t have nearly enough characters like that, and when leading writers like Brubaker do it, you know there’s going to be copycats soon. It won’t be the same as Ed’s work, but it’s great that they don’t all have to be young men.

The twists and turns sometimes can be ridiculous and forced in many spy/thriller books, but here it feels natural and legit.

I’m so very pleased to have got a chance to read this, and a thank you to Net Galley for making the ARC available. This is my honest review I give in exchange for getting to read this fantastic book.

Go out and grab this now! If you haven’t, start with Vol. 1!


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Review: Black Widow Vol. 1 (The Finely Woven Thread) by Nathan Edmondson & Phil Noto

Black Widow, Vol. 1: The Finely Woven ThreadBlack Widow, Vol. 1: The Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmondson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


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Buddy Reads for the Shallow Comic Readers this week is “Red” Theme…Black Widow is…a Redhead. and Russian, which is…Red. And she makes people bleed…RED. And the art is heavy on the colour…RED. And I just..RE(a)D it!

Where to start…First off, I don’t love ScarJo’s movie version of Black Widow, she just doesn’t have any gravitas or tortured soul feeling. She’s just T&A. I wish she was more.
This version of Natasha is bang on, right up my alley.

The artwork by Phil Noto is ideally suited to this book and character, so bravo to him on this. It’s got somewhat muted tones, but is heavy on the red, blood red, the colour of spies (because a heavy on the black book would be too dark lol).

I like Nathan Edmondson a lot; his Jake Ellis series was fantastic, and though he did write the less than stellar “Grifter” reboot for New 52, that wasn’t entirely awful. This, however is great.
Natasha feels like she’s worn out, far too old for her actual age, and not just a support player with the big guns. There’s a terrific section where she talks about not being a marksman, or a dude with a shield or a philanthropist with a suit of armour…she’s just a spy. So she doesn’t seek out bang bang shoot em up style action.

I love that she’s motivated by making atonement for her earlier life, and I don’t think we need to have it spelled out for us; I really respect a writer who gives the audience credit to figure it out. She kills people, she used to kill people for the Russians, so she probably killed a lot of people who might not have deserved it. Ergo, she funnels most of her money into trust funds for those left behind. I like it. She’s got a conscience, but at no point do I ever consider her soft or weak.

She keeps people at arm’s length, because people obviously hurt her; the closest thing we see is her lawyer, a neighbour, and Maria Hill, director of SHIELD. (We even get a cameo from Hawkguy, where she looks less than enthused to see him, which I think is a great touch from Edmondson and Noto, differentiating this Black Widow from the Avengers/movie version).

Other reviewers have said that the plot isn’t intricate enough, or details enough given, but really, I think that would be a waste of time. I don’t need to be explained what her motivation is and who everyone she’s going after is, and what they did. I just know she does what she does, it’s work, and she’s damn good at it. This is probably a more accurate depiction of the assassin/spy/operative life anyhow; detached, but highly functional.

I also feel like this minimal style of plot gives us a lot more time to focus on Natasha, see her, and develop our own feelings towards her; we’re not being pressured by the writer to love her, or hate her, we’re being given an honest look, and allowed to make up our own minds. I like this approach a lot, because it doesn’t try so hard to force a character onto us. However, she’s here if we want.

Of course, the Mad Russian Monk is always fun, and it’s nice to see a hero(ine) who, although badass and deadly, isn’t indestructible like an 80s movie hero. She gets beat up, she doesn’t always win, and she doesn’t like it.

There’s so much to like here, I cannot wait to get my hands on volume 2. Also, this day in age, it’s a blast to get a strong female character written well, and independent of others. There’s enough little humour here, but I also like that a Marvel book isn’t afraid to go lighter on the funny for once. It’s not in danger of being a DC book, but it doesn’t try to fit the formula of sarcastic/self-deprication, because that wouldn’t work here at all.

It works, I really enjoyed it, and it’s a great combo of solid writing and superb art. Winner.


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Review: Who is Jake Ellis? By Nathan Edmondson

Who is Jake Ellis? Volume 1Who is Jake Ellis? Volume 1 by Nathan Edmondson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK see, THIS, I like. I’m not sure what it’s in the vein of, but it’s kinda spy/thriller/Memento/Bourne.

Jon Moore is a CIA-op, Jake Ellis is his partner. However…Jake’s not really there…or is he? All Jon knows is that Jake can help get him out of just about any jam and has all kinds of senses before things happen (pretty handy in a wingman.)

Who is Jon really? Who is Jake really? Where/What is the Facility? Is this happening for real?

I don’t want to go much more into it than that, but Ya. Cool idea

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