Advance Review: C.O.W.L. #10

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Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel
Art, Colours, Cover: Rod Reis
Lettering: Troy Peteri

It is 1962 in Chicago. C.O.W.L., the Chicago Organized Workers’ League, is the very first trade union that defends the right of superheroes. But its leader, Geoffrey Warner (also known as The Grey Raven), seems to be too concentrated on politics to be really helping the city. C.O.W.L. is on strike against Mayor Richard Daley, trying to force him into giving them an even more prominent role in law enforcement.

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In issue #8 Alderman Lawrence Hayes was kidnapped by Doppler, a supervillain who can control sound; in issue #9, while Warner tried to use this fact as leverage to persuade the Mayor to give up, Radia (a C.O.W.L. member) intervened and saved the Alderman, despite the strike. Warner’s reaction to this was not very positive. The truth is that Doppler worked for local mob leader Camden Stone, paid by Warner himself to create chaos in Chicago with the help of some superpowered individuals in order to persuade Mayor Daley of the absolute necessity of C.O.W.L. Meanwhile, Detective Frost investigates the murder of John Pierce, a non-superpowered C.O.W.L. member (who was planning to blow the whistle on certain illegal activities he had discovered within the organisation) for which she suspects Arclight, an important pawn of Warner’s within C.O.W.L. And we know that her suspicions are absolutely correct.

This issue #10 of C.O.W.L. opens with the newsflash of Alderman Lawrence’s rescue and two C.O.W.L. members leaving a bar and being brutally assaulted. By whom?

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The story in this – and every – issue of C.O.W.L. is just brilliant. Plenty of questions are asked, and very few are answered. Issue #11 will conclude this story-arc, so we’ll need to find out at least something: authors Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel gave themselves a hugely complex task, but they already proved their worth more than once, so I’m sure that the next issue will perfectly explain us everything we need to know. Even more so when, reading the letters section, we find out directly from Higgins that C.O.W.L. #11 will not only conclude the story-arc but the whole series. Yes, we are very sorry to say that the authors decided to pull the plug on C.O.W.L. after the next issue, although they don’t exclude the possibility of going back to it at some point.

Rod Reis’s art is once again brilliant, with a mixture of (at least apparently) hand-painted details and backgrounds that seem to have been taken from old photographs. The action is perfectly suggested by blurred images, while the tension comes through in each character’s face (when suitable, obviously) in an extremely clear way.

C.O.W.L. is a brilliant series, full of references to the period with the addition of superheroes. Jump on the bandwagon, while there is still time.

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