Spy. Undercover Agent. Comic book artist? Your Major Spoilers review of Cover #1 awaits!
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Mack
Colorist: Zu Orzu
Letterer: Carlos Mangual
Editor: Michael McCalister
Publisher: DC Comics/Jinxworld
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 5, 2018
Previously in Cover: Deep in the American intelligence community, someone realizes that comic book creators, who travel all over the world to sell their wares, might make the perfect cover for operatives in the dangerous, topsy-turvy world of intelligence and counterintelligence… and that’s when all hell breaks loose.
MY FIRST CONCERN WAS SELF-INDULGANCE
We open with a young artist named Max, manning his booth at a huge comic convention (which is unsurprisingly realistic and full of cool Bendis overheard-dialogue balloons that are slyly funny) when a beautiful woman arrives to admire his work. Rather than just watch and ask credulous questions, she buys four prints AT FULL PRICE, insisting on paying him in cash, which he and his writer friend dub a Comicon miracle. Of course, having money has its own problems, as Max’s dad is in debt and preys on his son’s good nature to borrow money (and clearly not for the first time.) At his next convention stop, Max is once again surprised by the same lovely woman, who introduces herself as Julia, buys more art and invites him to dinner. During their meal, she casually drops that she’s a CIA operative and obviously knows all about his life and personal problems. When Max receives an all-expenses paid invitation to a convention in Istanbul, he at first thinks that it’s more good luck…
Then Julia arrives to pick him up at the airport.
A REALLY INTERESTING PREMISE
I admit it: When I first heart that Bendis and Mack were doing a story about a comic-book artist as spy, I was worried it would disappear into it’s own intestines, meta-textually speaking. Instead, we get a charming look at the solitary nature of writing and drawing comics with Max’s partner as a stand-in for Bendis himself. The plotting is spot-on, and this issue ends at the perfect point to make readers immediately demand the next installment, and the issue contains the perfect balance of a naturalistic Bendis dialogue. As for the art, it’s really beautiful, with Mack apparently working with a different medium than the watercolors I associate with his cover art. Julia’s depiction is detailed and truly perfect, and the story carefully inverts the old manga trick by rendering Max and Julia’s faces in great detail, while abstracting backgrounds and minor characters, focusing the eye on their subtle expressions. Most importantly, the blocking and story-telling of the art is perfectly clear and easy-to-follow.
BOTTOM LINE: A STRONG FIRST ISSUE
Cover #1 is a perfect example of my theory that Bendis is much more enjoyable working on his own properties than he is in shared-universe settings, taking a clever ‘elevator pitch’ and delivering is with beautiful art and characters that you care about, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. If this one stays this good for the next five issues, we may have another classic Bendis/Mack run to talk about for the next few years…