Title: C.O.W.L. #2
Writers: Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegel
Artist: Rod Reis
Publisher: Image Comics
Rating: 5 / 5
Boy oh boy, things aren’t looking too good for our fine friends at C.O.W.L.
The last we saw of them they were dealing with personal squabbles as well as the remaining threat of Skylancer, last of the Chicago Six villains. Though it took some tough doing (as well as some rather horrific on-panel civilian casualties), Skylancer is gone and the city is safe. C.O.W.L. is doing their job and it’s time for the organization to draw up a new contract negotiation with the city. This should be steady as she goes, right? Well we wouldn’t have much of a comic if that were the case.
Thanks to an unscrupulous dossier found by one of C.O.W.L.’s own, questions are starting to perk up about the legitimacy of the organization and, in almost every scenario in fiction ever, dissent from the inside is never a good thing.
Higgins and Siegel make the characters vulnerable in this issue, both personally and professional. The ones with super-powers are, by and large, doing fine, but those without them are finding it harder to deal. We’re also treated to a bit of exposition in the form if Grey Raven’s back story and a mention of old heroes Blaze and Sparrow, the latter of which I’m sure is a nod to the Caped Crusader’s wily sidekick Robin. Further evidence for corruption, or at least a “fudging of the facts”, is found when Grey Raven attempts to alter a journalist’s story for the purpose of the contract negotiations. It won’t be long before this organization implodes, I’m betting the farm on it.
Again, Reis’ art knocks it out of the park. His variation between subtleties and intensities are so great. One page is full of vibrant facial expressions while the next is a visceral fight scene, both gripping in their own fashion. And to make matters even crazier? I just found out this is his first book! His inking is also top notch, using bleak charcoals and greys for war scenes and bright crimsons in strip club scenes.
C.O.W.L. #2 was the perfect follow-up issue to the debut: we got some explanations, some new questions and a few shovels-full of fresh conflict.
Review by Brent Gladney