C.O.W.L. #2: Gritty Noir and Racy Covers

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comics_image_logo_0Editor’s Note: Though this month’s issue has a cover, we have chosen to run with the Image logo so you don’t get fired. NSFW cover here.  

C.O.W.L. #2 follows the members of a crime fighting organization designed to take out super powered criminals in Chicago in 1962. The Chicago Organized Workers League was formed when The Grey Raven and Blaze returned from the war to find the city drowning in crime. It is composed of both powered and non-powered men who have managed to bring down the Chicago Six. In C.O.W.L. #2, the team finds itself in a delicate situation as they face contract renegotiation with City Hall as well as the possibility of a scandal regarding misuse of documents that had fallen into hands of the only remaining member of the Chicago Six.

Written by Kyle Higgins and Alex Siegel, C.O.W.L. #2 explores the pros and cons of a task force devoted to super powered crime. It also manages to probe deeper issues of the psyche relating to the members of C.O.W.L. Grant Marlow, an unpowered agent of C.O.W.L., tries to come to terms with his place on the team after his son tells him that other children make fun of him for his father’s lack of powers. Higgins and Siegel create layered characters where it would be easy to substitute broad caricatures of masculinity.

The place where C.O.W.L. #2 really shines is Rod Reis’ artwork. Taking a highly stylized approach, he manages to shift from panels with the feel of old Polaroids and watercolors to boldly sketched scenes and back with ease. This change in style never feels harsh or jarring, but instead each method is perfectly suited to the scene it portrays. Moving from sepia tones into blues and grays and then onto warmer brighter colors, Reis captures the mood of each moment in both technique and palette.

C.O.W.L. #2 is best suited to fans of dark and gritty noir titles. It is available today.

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