Ed Brubaker has been writing comics for a while now and he’s done a lot of different things with the medium. He’ll probably be remembered for his time writing Captain America where he turned the series into a political thriller and introduced the character of the Winter Soldier. His writing undeniably influenced the direction of Marvel’s blockbuster movies.
But I think his best writing has been done at a smaller level. His series of noir-inspired, hard-boiled books, under the title Criminal, are fantastic. The miniseries Scene of the Crime is great too. And don’t miss the Hollywood murder mystery, The Fade Out.
His spy thriller project, Velvet is unbelievable. In three volumes, it tells the story of Velvet Templeton, secretary to the director of ARC-7, a 70s-era intelligence agency tasked with keeping the Cold War cold. When the agency’s top spy, Agent X-14 is killed, Velvet can’t stop herself from investigating. Soon she finds herself standing over the body of another murdered agent, surrounded by men with guns who suspect her of being the killer. What they don’t suspect is that she’s the most dangerous woman in the world, trained since her teens to be an ARC-7 agent in her own right. No one but the director and a handful of veteran agents know about Velvet’s history as an operative. Even fewer know about the tragedy that took her out of the field.
So Velvet steps out of the role of Moneypenny and into the role of James Bond, adventuring across the globe to track down Agent X-14’s killer, topple a conspiracy that reaches all the way to the Nixon White House, and get revenge against those who destroyed her life.
“I loved the idea of flipping the typical male-oriented spy story, and doing one about a woman who was also a mature, middle-aged woman,” Brubaker said in an interview with Wired. In a genre that usually portrays female characters as underdeveloped office help at best, and hyper-sexualized objects at worst, Brubaker’s Velvet is a welcome addition to world of fictional espionage.