This month marks the arrival of the 5th annual 30 Characters Challenge, the excellent event run by ComixTribe publisher Tyler James, where participants have to create a new comic character for every day of the whole month of November. I participated in the first year, successfully completing the challenge with 30 badly-drawn characters of my own, but haven’t done it again since. I won’t be participating this year either, but thought it might be fun to spend each day writing up a little showcase to celebrate a new comic character who showed up in comic pages for the first time this year. Comics are one of the most highly inventive mediums around, and this has been a particularly strong year for pumping out exciting new stories packed with compelling new characters. Let’s take a look at some of my favourites.
14. VELVET TEMPLETON
Continuing on from the espionage theme of yesterday’s Edward Zero, we now present a very different spy story, headlined by a very different type of spy. It was really interesting to see the build-up before Velvet‘s release, as so much of the promotional imagery was built on marketing the title character, an entirely new creation. And it worked, as going into the book, this was already a fascinating character I wanted to learn more about.
As far as protagonists go, Velvet is instantly engaging. First off, there’s the fact that she’s a middle-aged woman, the kind of character who sadly doesn’t get to be the star of many comics, certainly not action thrillers. Beyond that, though, Brubaker injects her with a fascinating personality: hardened, self-assured, and with just enough touches of ambiguity to make us question the reliability of her narration. She’s a senior secretary for secret spy agency Arc-7, and so at first it seems like we’ve got a story of Moneypenny having to deal with the death of James Bond, which as far as elevator pitches go would be interesting in itself. But as we learn more about Velvet, it becomes clear there is more to her than at first meets the eye, that she has a past that is going to come rushing into the present of the narrative. And under Epting’s pen, she is lovingly rendered. Whether she’s twirling her glasses in her fingers, puffing out cigarette smoke, or making what quickly becomes her trademark facial expression of the gears silently grinding in her mind as she pieces together an intricate puzzle of clues… Epting imbues her every motion with an iconic quality, where she feels like a larger-than-life character walking through the story in the same way that Captain America did in that series.
As far as lead characters go, Velvet Templeton is already one of the best new creations of 2013. Brubaker has given her a distinctive, credible voice, Epting has given her a gravitas and physical presence, and together she is a rock-solid foundation upon which to build this new world. I for one am incredibly excited by the prospect of the creative minds that so reinvigorated the world of Captain America now turning their minds to crafting a new world, one that exists within a similar genre and promises a similar tone, but which will be totally fresh, totally shaped by Brubaker and Epting. And if these guys were bold enough to kill off Captain America, who knows where they’ll take Velvet Templeton?