Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel
Art, Colours: Rod Reis
Lettering: Troy Peteri
Cover: Trevor McCarthy
Chicago, 1962. Mayor Daley is under pressure by the FBI to accept the demands of C.O.W.L., the Chicago Organized Workers’ League (we are talking about superpowered workers here), to terminate their strike and welcome them back to law enforcement. This would help him (and the city) fight a wave of crimes committed by superpowered individuals under the thumb of mob leader Camden Stone (who we know has actually been paid to organise it by C.O.W.L. leader Geoffrey Warner, in issue #5) and rescue Alderman Lawrence Hayes, who was kidnapped in issue #8 by Doppler, another superpowered individual who controls sound.
Meanwhile, still in issue #8, Eclipse and Radia had been persuaded to abandon a personal campaign against Camden Stone, one they had started despite the strike.
We also see Warner visiting Sarah, the widow of John Pierce. Pierce was a C.O.W.L. member who planned to expose some extremely shady dealings C.O.W.L. was involved in. We know that his killer is another C.O.W.L. member, but we see Warner trying to understand whether Sarah knows something.
The story, solidly linked to historic facts and characters (well, besides the superheroes that is), is masterfully woven by the authors, who easily bring us back to the early 1960s and show us how people lived and behaved then. Yes, in C.O.W.L. a lot of superpowered individuals are present, but the action scenes are very few and far apart: it is a series about politics, betrayal and personal relations – featuring superpowers. Definitely an interesting twist in the genre.
Rod Reis’s art is once again extremely innovative and at the same time can easily look old fashioned: every frame seems inked and then hand painted (although I am sure that several of the smallest details must have been coloured in a more traditional way). This gives the whole story a 1960s feel without for that reason looking like a 1960s comic book. Because C.O.W.L. may be set in 1962, but definitely is not something that anyone would have had the guts to publish back then.
Most of the open subplots seem here to be steering towards a conclusion, maybe within a couple of issues, but many surprises are still possible. A new reader may find it complex to get into the world of C.O.W.L. starting from this issue, although there is a pretty useful “what happened until now” page to help them, but anyone who wants to put in the effort to start will be rewarded. Also, it looks like it won’t get any easier in the future…