Artist: Steve Epting
This has been a series that I've been looking forward to for a while now, as although I've not been able to follow all of Ed Brubaker's creator owned series, what I have read, as well as his time on Captain America has placed him amongst my most favourite current writers, and having Steve Epting on artwork just makes things even better.
When an X-Op named Jefferson Keller is killed it opens up a wide internal investigation that changes Velvet Templeton's life in a big way.
This was a phenomenal issue, and one of the best opening issues that I've read in a while. Ed Brubaker did a brilliant job of introducing the characters and the setting, and I loved that Brubaker decided to set this in the 70's. The best thing about Brubaker's writing in this issue however has to be the amazing narrative from both Jefferson at the start of the issue, and Velvet throughout the rest, feeling very natural and dramatic, also adding a lot of tone to the story. Brubaker also did a fabulous job of making this a very unique style of spy comic, as I was very happy that it wasn't exactly as I thought it would be, as it would be much more dynamic and spontaneous due to that.
The artwork on this issue was also outstanding, and this has to be some of the best work that I've seen from Steve Epting since he worked with Brubaker in Captain America. The detail in Eptin's art was simply outstanding, as although there were some very minor imperfections they are hard to notice, with the high level of detail throughout the rest of the issue more than making up for it. The layouts of Epting were also very dynamic adding a lot of suspense and drama to the story, and with the gritty tone it would have a brilliant atmosphere to it. On top of that the colours from Elizabeth Breitweiser were also amazing, adding a lot of mood to the story, helping to give the exact type of tone that this series needs.
This issue would start with the world's best secret agent, Jefferson Keller getting killed. I really enjoyed how the series would start from Jefferson's point of view, as it would give a unique style of tone for the series. I also loved that due to this it managed to open the series in an iconic spy style, whilst transitioning into the unique style that Brubaker is using for the rest of the issue. The killing itself was also brilliant, as it would have the perfect tone to start this series, being very dramatic and suspenseful, with Epting's art also being a bit graphical, but in a good way.
The main character in this series is Velvet Templeton the Personal Assistant to the Director of the Agency. I was very happy that Velvet wasn't your typical heroin, having a rather mundane job, being the type of person that no one would give a second thought about. The level of depth that would come out through the development of this issue would also make her even more interesting, with there being more to her than meets the eye. I also liked the fact that although Velvet appears to be a good person, it was very clear that she wasn't perfect and that she from a saint, as it makes her more human and believable.
Due to the death of Jefferson Director Manning would call for a full internal investigation, being convinced that there has to be a traitor amongst the Agency. Now although Jefferson's death would instigate this development point, it would be this development that made the issue interesting, showing mistrust within the Agency, also adding a lot of mystery to the issue as well. I also enjoyed how Velvet would treat this situation, with one development point in particular adding even more mystery to the issue. On top of that this development would be a brilliant opportunity to introduce the series supporting characters, with the difference in their personalities adding more diversity to the series.
This was a truly amazing issue, and I couldn't think of a better start for the series. Brubaker give a unique twist to the spy genre that helps make this issue even more dramatic and suspenseful, and the tone and atmosphere of the story was just perfect, with the mystery making it even better. It also introduced and gave a lot of depth to the characters involved, with a very intense story development and I could easily see this becoming my favourite series out the now. Due to all this I'd highly recommend this issue and I for one can't wait for the next issue.