Cover Volume 1
Brian Michael Bendis, writer; David Mack, artist
Dark Horse Books, 2022
Collecting a DC Comics series from 2018-19 (and inspired by David Mack's work for the U.S. State Department as a cultural ambassador), Cover posits the recruitment of comic book creators for intelligence and counterintelligence gathering, facilitated by their travels to comic book conventions all over the world. It all begins with Mack at a convention in Detroit (it's a recognizable self-portrait, but the character's name is Max Field). A new fan named Julia surprises him by purchasing a lot of expensive original art, even refusing to accept the discount he offers. He keeps bumping into her, even when he gets invited to Istanbul, Turkey.
She finally admits that she works for the C.I.A. He is being recruited, with his attendance at the show as his cover (although the show is very real). His job is to give the Turkish President a gift when he meets him...and so it begins. The comic book creator cover is working so well that the C.I.A. finally creates a Brazilian convention just to get Max and another creator back together. This compilation is called "volume 1," but it feels complete (although the possibility of a sequel is dangled at the end).
Bendis and Mack have a long creative history together, so their collaboration feels completely natural. Mack draws both of them into the story, though Bendis is less central to it. The series was Mack's first turn at interior art in a monthly comic book in some time. It's probably not a story that would have worked with the painterly approach he takes with cover art. So his interiors are more minimal, with more of a cartoon style and plain backgrounds. His painterly style comes out in dramatic moments, and in the pages from his work in progress that periodically break up the main narrative, especially his big hit Ninja Sword Odyssey (with a style that recalls classic manga like Lone Wolf and Cub, as well as his own series Kabuki). He gets chances to stretch out into other styles as well–like detective noir and science fiction–making this a visual treat for Mack fans.
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