[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: David Mack
Essad Sinns Art: Bill Sienkiewicz
Digital Coloring: Zu Orzu
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Design: Curtis King Jr.
At a somewhat slow pace, comic artist Max Field continues his story as he’s captured and tortured by fellow comic artist Essad Sinns. Things get a little trippy thanks to David Mack’s artwork but that helps cover the fact that not much happens with the plot this month.
Cover #3 is a strange one. Bendis is a little infamous for plotting stories at a snail’s pace and this issue seems to be a glaring example of that. But the weird thing; it’s incredibly beautiful thanks to David Mack’s artwork. Incredibly beautiful. There are extended sequences that readers will just stare at in awe before they even consider flipping the page. One example sees Mack reuses the same panel a number of times but add increasingly abstract colouring. With his watercolour style this makes for some highly memorable pages.
Likewise the comic within a comic pages look breathtaking all thanks to Mack, as Bendis has not given readers enough yet to understand or even justify their presence in the comic. Perhaps Mack’s skill alone is the justification of these pages. In fact this issue features ‘guest’ artwork from the fictional Essad Sinns. Just like the pages that represent Max Field’s book, Mack is given two pages as well as a two page spread to convey Sinns art style. Looking past this classic Bendis method of avoiding advancing the story, the pages look stunning. Everything about these pages sets them apart from the rest of the series.
So as said above, this is a strange one. While the artwork redeems a lot of the book it’s hard to look past the obvious flaws here. About three or four pages in it becomes clearer that this book in particular is just Bendis venting about certain things in the comic industry. The opening sequence about two artists arguing over each others’ writing ability seems a little autobiographic considering Bendis’s history of artwork.
Moving from that there is the beautiful sequence listed in the positive that sees Max Field on a date with a woman so obnoxious it’s taxing to believe she would be real. She berates the idea of cosplay and laughs at Max for being a comic book artist while Max defends both cosplay and his job. This scene was nice as a counterpoint to the opening splash page of issue one but at the same time, this just comes across as Bendis talking to someone that annoyed him at some point in his life. By this point in the story readers understand that Max writes and draws comics, and that he enjoys this profession so why do readers need an additional scene of Max defending this job as a true profession? As a fan of comics it’s easy to agree with both Max and Bendis but that doesn’t make the dialogue any less clunky or out of place.
Cover #3 is odd. On the one hand it’s just one of the most beautiful books DC is putting out right now. On the other it’s one of the most poorly written. It feels as though Bendis has a key idea of what he wants the story to be and is relying on Mack far too heavily to get it across. Bendis defends writing comics while also venting about irritating things in the industry told through a spy story with stupidly good art’ isn’t a great title, but so far that’s exactly what Cover is.