‘Cover: Volume 1’ - Trade Paperback Review

What if a comic book creator were recruited as a spy, and his traveling around the world to different conventions was just a cover for espionage work? An interesting premise for a comic, certainly, but fairly far-fetched, right? Not entirely. While the story is, for the most part, fictional, it’s inspired by the real-life experiences of creator David Mack who spent a couple of years working for the State Department, traveling all around the world.

Of course, from what he describes in the introduction, Mack’s experiences weren’t so much espionage in nature as humanitarian. Like I said, the story itself is fictional. That doesn’t make it any less of a great read, though.

Comic artist Max Field, creator of the popular Ninja Sword Odyssey comic, meets a mysterious woman at a convention, Julia, who tells him she’s a big fan of his work—and also that she’s a spy. Not long after, Max starts getting some major breaks in his career, being booked for appearances at prestigious conventions all over the world. Only the appearances are being orchestrated behind the scenes by Julia as a way to gain Max access to some important and powerful people. Before he knows it, he’s swept up in a world of covert ops, enemy agents, and more.

Underneath the espionage, this comic is, at its core, about storytelling and how the stories we tell can affect the world and the people around us. To that end, each issue includes excerpts from a comic-within-a-comic, allowing us to explore the creations of some of the major characters.

The main one is Max’s signature creation, Ninja Sword Odyssey, which tells the story of a young boy trained to be both an assassin and an artist. As we go along, though, we also get clips of some of the other characters’ signature comics and even a work-in-progress from Max. Through these excerpts, the comic is able to explore a variety of different art styles and storytelling styles.

This is a really compelling comic from beginning to end. On the surface, it’s about spies and intrigue, but at its core, it’s about the lives of comic book artists and the stories that are important to them. I’m not an artist, but I am a firm believer in the power of a good story to change lives, or to change the world. This comic has plenty of action, suspense, intrigue, humor, and more—but that underlying message of why #StoriesMatter is what really sets Cover apart and makes it worth reading.

Creative Team: Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack (creators), Zu Orzu (digital coloring), Carlos M. Mangual (letters)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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