Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel
Art, Colours, Cover: Rod Reis
Lettering: Troy Peteri
This is it, then. This is the last issue of C.O.W.L.; the writers announced it in the last pages of issue #10. Still, what is C.O.W.L.?
C.O.W.L. is the Chicago Organized Workers’ League, a trade union for superheroes. It is 1962, and they are on strike to protest a decision by Mayor Daley, who has been trying to reduce the League’s overwhelming power in Chicago – pretty much, they are law enforcement, and this doesn’t sit right with some. C.O.W.L. leader Geoffrey Warner (formerly a superhero himself, known as The Grey Raven) is playing a dirty game: to persuade the whole city that the presence of C.O.W.L. is vital, he organised a series of crimes committed by superpowered individuals thanks to his personal connections with a mob leader.
Issue #10 of C.O.W.L. opened on two C.O.W.L. members brutally attacked in a dark alley, while Radia, in hospital, received a visit from Warner – who is not very happy with the fact that she rescued Alderman Hayes, kidnapped by a supercriminal called Doppler, despite the strike. The tension within C.O.W.L. is building, with some members wishing to stick to saving lives and others following Warner’s obvious political ambitions – or forced to do so.
This last issue of C.O.W.L. opens with Grant Marlow, a regular Policeman who works for C.O.W.L., and Eclipse, a superhero, having an argument: tensions are very high, and the two good friends seem to be breaking down despite being on the same side of the argument (and against Warner’s position). We then cut to Warner and Blaze, his deputy, discussing the possibility of interrupting the strike after the murder of two Policemen – but Warner refuses. Immediately after, the Mayor finally gives in to Warner’s demands.
Everything that follows shows us how each of the characters we have been reading about reacts to this agreement. And we do have some surprises.
Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel have been treating us to some fantastic storytelling and deep characters, and this issue doesn’t disappoint. Rod Reis’s art, very unusual, integrates perfectly with the story the two writers have woven, with its different styles that adapt to the context – from full, bright-coloured panels to black-and-white scenes in which only the main characters stand out through dark silhouettes.
C.O.W.L. is done, then, although the authors don’t exclude the possibility of returning to it, eventually. Sure there are more stories to tell about the characters we grew to care about, in one way or another. There has been a trade paperback collecting the first five issues, and I’m sure there will be one with this last story arc: do yourself a favour and read it.