Review: C.O.W.L. #1
It seems that each week Image has a new A-list creator starting a book. C.O.W.L. #1 is the must check out book for me this week from Image.
The basic set up of C.O.W.L. #1 is very familiar. There is an organization of superheroes who act as cops in a city where crime is rampant. What sets this title apart from other series like it is the noir aspect that Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel weave through the issue. It only plays a part in the overall narrativ, but helps set up what this team is about and how we should expect in future issues. That is the first thing I look for when reading a #1. As a reader, I want to know what to expect going forward, even if that is “anything could happen.” There really isn’t a defined hook, which is a slight point against it, but the issue still grabs your attention. The abstract idea of, “Will C.O.W.L. become irrelevant?,” is an ok purpose for the book but might not work in the short run. If they did become irrelevant, we wouldn’t have a book now would we.
C.O.W.L. #1 went against one of my pet peeves in comics. When introducing characters, I prefer that the writer(s) introduce them organically to the plot and fill in their personality from there. Here, we have the majority of characters introduced before the story has started. But when the opening sequence is done, it all clicked with me. It gave the opening sequence the feel of a 30’s serial, and the real lives shattered that “gloss” that the movies put on the actors. Might not have been what the writers intended, but I loved this aspect and made the issue work more cohesively. Higgins and Siegel give enough time for each character to breathe, so much in fact that I have a firm grasp on their personalities by the end of the issue. The constant use of a nine panel structure gives them more time to add the small details
Rod Reis’ artwork is nothing short of beautiful. The painting like artwork fits perfectly for the grey world that C.O.W.L. inhabits. The nine panel page layout could have made each page feel cramped, but Reis makes these panels feel spacious. I was surprised at how little I noticed the layout until I read the issue a second time. The character designs are inspiring, with the slight nods to their powers while having traits similar to classic superheroes. I chuckled at the slight reactions that Reis included, such as John noticing a secret file near the end of the issue. The color palette has a nice mixture of muted colors with slight embellishments for the super hero aspects. They don’t jump out at you, but just enough to make the reader notice the difference. The pencils could get a little scratchy at points, but nothing that kept me from seeing what was going on.
C.O.W.L. #1 gets 4/5.
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