Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Cover #6 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: The first volume of one of the best-reviewed series of the year comes to its shocking conclusion! It’s an industry dinner in New York City, and comic book creator Max finds himself juggling his responsibilities as a spy for the United States government and his role as a member of the creative community! This unique, genre-bending look at the comics industry has received rave reviews for Emmy and Eisner Award-nominated artist David Mack and Peabody Award-winning writer Brian Michael Bendis! COVER will return next year—but this shocking conclusion will have people talking about what is—and isn’t—true in this “based on a true story” story.

Cover is such a wonderful story, and #6 wraps up the first arc perfectly. Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack have done a superb job with this book, hooking me with the premise and then fulfilling the promise the series began with.

In issue 6, Max Field is at a convention in Rio de Janeiro with his friends. However, the con is being put on by the CIA, with the express purpose of bringing Max face to face with Esaad Sinn, a fellow comic creator and a foreign agent. Max's job is to turn Sinn, and pass him on to his CIA handler. The conclusion was unexpected, but fits with how things have been going for Max. This summary just scratches the surface, though, as Mack and Bendis have been telling a much deeper story, and that is where the heart of the book is.

I don't really know what else I can say about Cover that I haven't said before. This is one of those stories that just connected with me, and I'm having a hard time articulating why. I felt the same about the Mack's first Kabuki collection, Gaiman's Sandman books, and Dave McKean's Cages, among others. There is just something about Max and what he is experiencing that I really find fascinating.

Additionally, I really enjoyed the comic-within-the-comic of Ninja Sword Odyssey. The finale of that series also works as an ending of sorts to this arc of Cover. The echoes of Max's story that are in Ninja Sword Odyssey are extremely well-done and add a tremendous amount of depth to this book as a whole. I keep saying it, but I would absolutely read an actual collection of Ninja Sword Odyssey should Bendis and Mack choose to produce one.

At this point, I might be rambling, but I find myself wondering just how much of this story is true. It's billed as being sort-of a true story, and the main characters are stand-ins for Bendis and Mack. I also remember Bendis writing a book early in his career (I believe it was called Fire?) wherein a college student was recruited by a secret agency. Is Cover another attempt to tell a story that can't be told, or is this Mack's story to tell and Bendis had a similar experience? I'd love to know.

Finally, Mack's artwork is beautiful. If you've read any of his books, then you know Mack has a style all his own (it's sort of a water-color painting look, maybe?), and most of the book is done that way. But there are some chase scenes that seemed to be an homage to some of Jim Steranko's Nick Fury/SHIELD stuff. Maybe the spy stuff of Steranko was influenced Mack.

Regardless, I loved reading Cover #6, and love the whole story. Unfortunately, this is it until next year, at which point Bendis and Mack will (hopefully) continue to relate Max's adventures. I can't recommend this book high enough. If you missed the individual issues, make sure you grab a collected edition when it's released. P.S. Cover ought to be nominated for an Eisner in both writing and art, and any other category that it would fit.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

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