Comic Book Review: C.O.W.L. #1

C.O.W.L. or the Chicago Organized Workers League written by Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel with art by Rod Reis combines heart-pounding action sequences, street-cop detective work, with just a taste of palace intrigue to make readers crave more from this 1960s Chicago universe.

Higgins and Siegel jump straight into the action with the Workers League’s tactical division foiling an assassination attempt and tracking our would-be assassin, Skylancer, through the city. The reasons behind the assassination are unclear, but Skylancer’s villainy is on clear display as he guns down innocent bystanders while the heroes attempt to subdue him. Their efforts fail and they resort to ending him permanently despite a minor protestation from one of the team members. Perhaps there are already problems within our team of heroes?

Following this fantastic chase and action scene through the city, Siegel and Higgins introduce us to Geoffrey Warner, The Grey Raven, and C.O.W.L. Chief as he navigates his way through the city’s media addressing the necessity for C.O.W.L. and hinting at the largess of the organization outside of crime fighting as well as a potential political showdown between the Workers League and the City.

C.O.W.L. stands out for its ability to transition from story to story. This is on display as John Pierce, Grant Marlow, and Eclipse are introduced to the reader and the story takes a more street-level investigative tone. A darker, more menacing side of the organization is on display in the character of Eclipse and his interactions with a citizen, which is brilliantly contrasted with the more humanizing character of Grant Marlow as he worries over the actions of his son.

Following another slick transition from the patrol crew back to the tactical division, office politics are on display as a heated rivalry between Geoffrey Warner and Arclight takes center stage. There is even some sexual tension brewing between the lovely Radia and The Grey Raven.

Siegel and Higgins return to the patrol crew as their thorough investigation becomes fruitful and another excellent action sequence occurs this time exposing the reader to the patrol crew’s combat ability. The aftermath of the action sequence also highlights the distinct differences in job function between the patrol crew of Grant Marlow and Eclipse in comparison to John Pierce’s Investigations Division.

The final two panels are brilliant as they leave a fantastic cliffhanger, but also address the viability of the premise of the comic itself. “Will C.O.W.L. become irrelevant” asks a TV pundit to which The Grey Raven replies “Don’t hold your breath.”

The Verdict

C.O.W.L. #1 is fantastic with the right combination of action, detective work, humanity, suspense and palace intrigue. This is a must have.

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