[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Mack
With issue six, Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack conclude their first run on Cover. While it has had its ups and downs the series ends on a high that definitely brings up the argument to wait for the trade paperback. This issue sees time pass from Max Field’s adventure as he tries to return to his normal life after being a spy. But in the world of comic books, nothing can ever return to normal.
Throughout the six-issue run pacing has been a clear issue but with the conclusion readers can step back and look at the story as a whole. It’s evident that Bendis has written this with the trade paperback in mind. Month to month is just too long of a wait for a plot this bare. However with this issue Bendis brings everything together in a satisfying manner that encourages rereading, which would be easier with a collected edition.
As has always been the case, the book is beautiful. David Mack’s artwork is something else and there are multiple spreads in this book that are simply awe inspiring. Bendis is somewhat infamous for his spreads and yes, this is a prime example of dialogue scenes being stretched out to hit the page count but the key difference between this and his other works is David Mack. Truly an argument can be made that a collected edition of Cover Vol. 1 could be a coffee table art book. Some pages are downright beautiful.
Structurally the plot is well told and like the previous issue highlights why Bendis is considered one of the best writers in contemporary comics. The dialogue is sharp and as a reader it feels like a book Bendis enjoyed writing. The espionage stuff almost feels like a hinderance to the Samuel Beckett play he wants to write about the comics industry. Surprisingly (given Bendis’s treatment of other characters) nothing is left unanswered. Cover is honestly one of the most satisfying complete stories in recent years. It is just a shame about the medium.
Yes, Cover is fantastic but the monthly comic medium takes liberties with readers’ money. As a complete story this is more than worth a buy but there just isn’t enough content month to month to justify picking up each issue. At least not for this price. This issue in particular is great had you been reading the previous five. Otherwise this climax will be lost on you.
There isn’t much else to critique this month. The issue features some of the best art and dialogue of the series. Lots of the dialogue is moved to give Mack’s art the spotlight which is a choice but at times it feels like an illustrated play more than a comic book. Again, this may be intended to push the boundaries of graphic fiction.
With this conclusion Bendis and Mack present an engaging and highly original story. Spy thriller with added comments on the comics industry. Or rather a meta narrative on the industry with added spies. As a single issue this is a satisfying climax to an otherwise slow series. As a collection of issues this is highly recommended to all comic readers.