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Velocity #1

Posted: Saturday, July 3, 2010
By: Ray Tate

Ron Marz
Kenneth Rocafort, Sunny Gho (c)
Top Cow / Image
I was never a fan of Cyberforce. I didn't understand it. The art was ugly and the design was too obvious. It was as if the look of each character said, "Hey, kids. I'm not your grandpa's crimefighter. I'm edgy."

Cyberforce was created in the '90s when everybody was misinterpreting Dark Knight Returns. So, naturally you could have expected every newly minted hero to be an utter nightmare and a fashion victim festooned with useless pocketed arm and leg bands. Velocity was the exception.

Velocity didn't make energy weapons from manga-mech nor sport ludicrous claws from her hands. She was an old school speedster and even wore a uniform that appeared to be made for an actual honest to goodness superhero. Oh, sure. She achieved her speed cybernetically, but that and the fetching green bolt tattooed over her eye was her only nod to the then modern era.

Velocity every so often zips onto the racks with a mini-series or one-shot, and she won the Pilot Season contest. I usually buy these books, and I think it's easy to see why. The character is inviting, simple to grasp and less ridiculous looking than her cohorts.

In Velocity's latest, Ron Marz gives the main character a voice. Velocity, alias Carin Taylor, loves to lose herself in old black and white movies, enjoys real buttered popcorn and also wears her superhero status with pride. Velocity states quite firmly that she's a superhero and that honesty is refreshing. It's also promising that she behaves like a superhero. The characters of the '90s tended to shy away from being called superheroes. They were vigilantes or ultra-mercs and acted as the names implied.

Marz distinguishes the lady lightning strike from the more familiar family of Scarlet Speedsters. Velocity narrates the tale and drops tidbits about her powers. She, for example, can't vibrate through molecules. Despite these limitations, Velocity is more than effective. She whips up whirlwinds to throw parked cars. She travels at Mach 7. I suspect that she's faster than Quicksilver and certainly more versatile. She also clears up a mystery that always nettled me. I never understood why she was so pale. Turns out that her skin was reinforced with Kevlar. All this time I was thinking alien or some weird side effect of her speed. Either that or lazy colorists.

I like Marz's take on Velocity, but the book still would have only earned three bullets. The plot opens with scenes that are too reminiscent of Resident Evil: Extinction the first movie to incorporate the idea of lives a la video game. I was also disappointed that a big whacking deus ex machina saves Velocity. In considering both caveats little plot remained. A mad scientist attempts to use Velocity in order to get even with Cyberdata, the Big Bad organization that kidnapped Carin Taylor and turned her into Velocity. I didn't know that either. The book gets top marks for explaining without clunky exposition.

Top Cow was smart enough to secure the services of Kenneth Rocafort and his art is plenty to push Velocity into the four bullet range. Rocafort impressed me with his collaboration on Paul Dini's Madame Mirage, and I was delighted to see his delicate, French-influenced embellishment, with suitable pastels from Sunny Gho, adapted for speed. Velocity looks fantastic, and her fast, furious fight against the Big Bad's robots evinces Rocafort's ability to preserve his style while relating a traditional narrative of good guys versus bad guys. Indeed, his singular skill turns a basic loon into a Fantomas mastermind that contrasts Velocity's elegance with grotesque beauty.

I already possessed an admiration for the character and Ron Marz has a good handle on Velocity. With Kenneth Rocafort piloting the speedster's adventures, a review of the second issue is guaranteed.



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