After landing in Istanbul for the convention, Max runs into Julia, the CIA recruiter and comic fan responsible for orchestrating Max's potential new career in spycraft! Max is given a deeper look into Julia's scheme to use "comic famous" artists as tools in the war of the 21st century, albeit unwittingly, when he hand delivers a device to the President of Turkey capable of spying on his man-cave, in the form of a collectible trinket from Max's comic series.
Sandwiching this main narrative are sequences in which Max is being violently interrogated as to why he was in Istanbul by another comic artist who has been engaged in spycraft previously.
With this issue, Mack and Bendis escalate quickly from fan service into social commentary. The parallelism between Max’s comic book sequences and the events unfolding in his life is remarkably well done, and points towards a sort of social consciousness inside comics that has been under extreme debate over the past year. We see Max’s comic tell the story of a young warrior being trained by his father. He is being trained not for his father’s type of warfare, but a new form of warfare for a new world, in which swords are laid down and the individual becomes the weapon.
Although set in a feudal time frame, the story cannot help but be imbued with the current social and political climate we experience in our world– a world in which the “Great Wars” are over and the new battlefield has shifted to the digital world.
New wars require new strategies and that is where Max fits into the puzzle, having inspired Julia through his comics. Julia chastises the world at large for the rejection of “reading for fun” helping to drive home the notion that the world is indeed changing, and thus so to do the fundamentals of warfare. If the world were still populated with readers, particularly in this digital age, the necessity of spycraft would be incredibly different, thanks to the proliferation of information available to all at a moment’s notice.
At the same time, this issue escalates quickly but also slows down narratively thanks to the repetition of panels. The layouts in this series are a clinic on how to toy with time in narrative and may actually be the pinnacle of Mack’s already illustrious career. Several pages are spent inside the car, the same perspective, as Max’s entire paradigm shifts.
Cover is a modern masterpiece, entangling both a sharp global social commentary with an intriguing look inside the comics industry. There are moments that are simultaneously self-aggrandizing and self-depreciating, striking a beautiful balance that is punctuated by exceptional artwork.
Cover #2: Comic Book Famous
Writing - 9/10
Storyline - 9.5/10
Art - 10/10
Color - 10/10
Cover Art - 10/10
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