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: FF by Jonathan Hickman, Vol. 1 by Jonathan Hickman, Steve Epting (Illustrations), Barry Kitson (Illustrations)

FF by Jonathan Hickman, Vol. 1

 

FF by Jonathan Hickman, Vol. 1 by Jonathan Hickman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

Our FOURTH week of Shallow Buddy reads is a nod to Marvel’s oldest family, The Fantastic Four!

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Sadly, Johnny Storm is dead. So, FF now stands for Future Foundation.
Because Fantastic Three just doesn’t have the same ring to it, you know?

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Each member of the family is dealing with it in their own way.
But everyone has been hit hard by his death, including his best friend, Spidey.

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Ironically, Johnny has left a last will and testament (of sorts) that names Peter as his successor, should anything happen to him.
After all, who wouldn’t want to be part of the Fantastic Four Future Foundation? And if anyone can replace the sexy playboy persona of the Human Torch, it’s Spider-Man!

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I thought Hickman missed an opportunity to bring a little more humor to the tile by not using Peter to his full extent…quip-wise, anyway. Unfortunately, to me, he seemed a bit like an afterthought to the entire story. He didn’t really add anything to the dynamic, because with Alex Power in full dress-up mode, they already had a fourth (quasi-adult) member. I wasn’t upset that Spider-man was included in the line-up, but I wasn’t impressed with him just being there, either.

The actual plot was…well, it was classic Fantastic Four wackiness.
You remember all of those Alternate Reeds who formed a secret cabal in some pocket area of limbo?
Yeah, me neither.
But they’re out there…lurking. Making dirty deals with the Mole Man, and other random not-human villains that I didn’t recognize.
Turns out, not all Reeds are created equally. And not all Reeds give a shit about pesky little things like morality.
Yeah. So it appears that there are several evil versions of Mr. Richards running around wreaking havoc on our Earth.

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The solution?
Call in all of his greatest nemeses, and have those fellas band together to come up with a plan, of course!
Enter DOOM!
And other less recognizable important villains.
And did they help?
*shrugs*
I don’t know. Maybe? Ish? It’s so hard to get a straight answer out of this title!

On a somewhat unrelated note:
Doesn’t Reed just look
sassy
on this cover?
WhoTheFuck thought this was a good look for a middle-aged married man?!
He looks like he’s about three seconds away from breaking out into a rendition of Over the Rainbow! Admit it, you know I’m right.

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Alright back to the story.
Of course, those darn Franklin kids were running all over the place.
The creepy little girl, Valeria, played an especially large role in the story. And, naturally, she knows more than she’s letting on at first.
Ugh. She freaks me out! Am I the only one who gets the shivers from this kid?

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The Inhumans show up at the end, so I’m pretty sure that if this new team can’t put a stop to the bad guys’ shenanigans, Medusa and Black Bolt will sort ’em out.

Ok. Here’s the thing, I really want to like the Fantastic Four. I feel like I should somehow connect to these characters, because they’re a family, and I’m a family kind of gal.
Somehow, I should recognize something of myself in Sue, because she’s a smokin’ hot wife and mother like me, right?
But…I just don’t.
I always end up feeling bad for her.
She should have swallowed those weird kids when she had the chance, and left Bill Nye the Science Guy for Namor a looooong time ago.
*sigh*
A girl can dream, right?

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Not a bad first volume for FF, but I’m still not sold on this team. Lucky me, I’ve got a whole week of their titles! Maybe the next one will hit that honey spot?

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Review: Fantastic Four Volume 5- Forever; by Jonathan Hickman, art by Steve Epting

Fantastic Four, Volume 5Fantastic Four, Volume 5 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK Hickman, your convoluted and cosmos-spanning storylines finally come to a head here. It was just about worth all the headaches so that I knew what the F*** was going on.

There were quite a few HOLY S*** moments, when I was actually like:

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I feel like a lot of people don’t like Hickman because he operates on a cosmic scale, multiverses, layered stories that take a while for the payoff, and I’m usually not interested in a story taking THAT much effort (but I’m not going to say if there’s more than a couple words with 3+ syllables that I’ll stop reading…I mean I am somewhat edu-mah-kay-ted), but this was actually worth the effort.

(Shallow Reading friends, I can’t help but notice not many people have read this one/arc. If you could get all 5 volumes together at once, I think it might be worth, but I think I’ve read this over 2 years or so…)

Long story short: The Earth is being attacked on multiple fronts: The Kree, Annihilus, Multiverse Reed Richards(es?). The FF is without Johnny, who died stopping the Negative Zone forces of Annihilus from attacking Earth; and he’s been replaced by Spider-Man. (I like this because Hickman reminds people that Spidey isn’t just a punchline machine; he’s actually a brain to rival the likes of Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Hank Pym, Bruce Banner, et al.)

If you look at the cover, you’ll note…Johnny is on the cover.
So….HE’S SOMEHOW NOT GOING TO BE DEAD LONG!!!

Which is a shame, as his death/sacrifice was done very well. This would fully support Sam’s belief that character deaths in comics now are pointless. I’d have to agree, but this explanation didn’t take a year-18 months to get to…we pretty much had it less than a few months later.

So here’s the deal: Galactus tells Reed that there’s an evil coming that’s so powerful it’s bigger than him. Sue suggests this might just be Galactus tricking them…Big G-Unit says nope, if this evil arrives, the universe dies…just a lot faster than if he’s in-charge. I like the little detail like that, which acknowledges that Galactus still does what he does. Big G-Unit gives RR a device sorta like a pager for when shit hits the fan.

Meanwhile, the FF-Kids transport the Baxter Building out of NYC, where the attack is coming (one of these days, I swear, it’s going to be in Toledo, Ohio or Bumfk, Iowa. – It almost makes me go back and give the Siege Event more stars because things happened in small town Oklahoma and not NYC.)

Reed sends Spidey to go check on the wee ones…he runs into Annihilus fanatics trying to open the gate the the Negative Zone…and…it opens…UHOH!!!

But then, who should be standing on the other side of the gate?

Johnny freakin’ Storm.

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We then get a whole issue+ setting up what happened to Johnny, and how we ended up where we are. (I appreciate the explanation, which actually helps to prevent it from feeling cheap with his ‘death’). Suffice it to say, Johnny is in pretty decent shape…(view spoiler)

The fight between the Kree and Johnny’s Storm-mada (You like that one? I just invented it) isn’t going well, and there’s all kinds of space wreckage going to hit Earth, so not looking good…Reed and Sue go summon Galactus, as they think this was the Evil/death he spoke of…turns out, it wasn’t…

Someone summons the Celestials (Gigantic Super-Gods), and just as Big G-Unit is telling everyone that shit hasn’t hit the fan yet, he’s like, oh nevermind, my bad…

Galactus defeats one of the Celestials, but they they go all Voltron/Super-Power-Ranger/Ultimate Optimus Prime Transformer, and merge into a gigantic one. Even Big G-Unit can’t handle that…

There’s no chance to defeat Super-Mega-Power Celestial, except that…oh wait…there is. Remember that Council of Reeds? The Reed Richardses from all the multiverses, they got together and figured out this would happen, and prepared mega-weapon on every Earth. It’s time for this one’s turn…good thing Reed’s Dad Nathaniel is there to tell him to let loose…They get a great hit in…but, that ain’t gonna cut it.

The only thing keeping the destruction at bay is Sue…who shields Reed and everyone (oh the whole EARTH I mean…she’s a badass lady…no wonder Namor loves her (see corny line on page 2 or 3)) just in time for the cavalry to arrive…and the cavalry isn’t who you’d expect…unless you paid attention to everything in the previous volumes.

The payoff is stellar. The revelations are astounding. There’s a sweet life lesson (family is more important than anything…awww Mr. Hickman). This finale is so good, it really is.

I won’t ruin it for those of you who will actually go and read it (You should. All in one shot. 5 Volumes. It will make you appreciate Hickman’s scale and scope of his projects.)

But for those of you who want to know: (view spoiler)

But is it just Franklin? No…turns out, the pocket universe is used to summon Franklin’s herald…a fellow you may know, by the name of Galactus.

WHAT!!!?!?!?!?! Yes. In this version, Galactus is the one and only herald of Franklin Richards. Together, Franklin, and Galactus infused with the consumed life of an entire pocket UNIVERSE (not just a planet) has the power to defeat the Celestials. Then we have some nice father/son moments. (hide spoiler)]

Yup. A stellar ending. I am a sucker for Father-Son relationships, they always get me emotional. Hickman, who’s all about cosmic level universe expanding, crazy convoluted stories, boils it down to the love of a father for his son, and visa versa, as the saving grace of the world.

Well done. (There seems to be something in my eye…)

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