KYLE HIGGINS TALKS C.O.W.L. AND THE COLLAPSE OF THE FIRST SUPERHERO LABOR UNION

By Andy Khouri

Available for pre-order now from finer comics shops, COWL is a forthcoming series from Image Comics which stylishly depicts an alternate history Chicago of the pre-”swinging” 1960s, when the (in)famously political city experienced all manner of socioeconomic upheaval — including the dissolution of the Chicago Organized Workers League. Also known as COWL, it’s a union for costumed superheroes, and its days are numbered.

The first issue of COWL avoids some traps into which most non-Marvel and non-DC cape comics fall. Most obviously, COWL is not a Marvel or DC superhero book in disguise. Its characters aren’t similar-to-but-legally-distinct versions of heroes we might know from the Avengers or the Justice League, but distinct, original creations of writers Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegal and artist Rod Reis. Similarly, despite its “real-world” premise and period setting, COWL is not a Watchmen cover version, offering a decidedly less dour tone and honest-to-god superhero adventure blended deftly with its dramatic take on city politics. Sometimes it’s even really funny. Finally, COWL bucks the origin fetish of the superhero genre by introducing us to its intriguing cast not at the start of their sagas, but at what might be the end.

ComicsAlliance: The first thing that struck me about COWL #1 was that unlike a lot of non-DC, non-Marvel cape comics, this was not a Marvel or DC superhero comic disguised as something else. It’s its own thing, arguably a thing that couldn’t exist in those superhero universes. 

Kyle Higgins: That’s actually something we’ve been very conscious of, not just because there are superheroes involved, but because it’s our first creator-owned series and we want to world build in different, unique ways. If you look at the structure of the first issue, the points of view are all reflective of the different divisions of COWL. The organization, how it works, its ranks, and its relation to the city and other unions are all things that Alec and I have spent a lot of time figuring out.

Alec and I have always thought about this series — and described it–  as being a character drama that happens to have costumes. If you were to think about it in, say, TV terms, it has more in common with Mad Men or The Wire than anything with superheroes. These characters, for us, are what the book is about. Their lives outside the costumes, their places in society, their interactions with each other… we like stories about people who change and evolve.

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Writers: Kyle Higgins

& Alec Siegel Artist: Rod Reis Publisher: Image Cover Price: $3.50 Buy on ComiXology

Higgins, Siegel, and Reis continue churn out another fantastic issue for their critically acclaimed series C.O.W.L! More character drama, more developed plot, and even a little bit more action in this week’s excellent continuation of one of this years most talked about new series!

Geoffrey Warner has pulled out of negotiations with the city for the renewal of C.O.W.L’s contract and has put every member of the workers league on the front line of a strike. Conspicuously absent from the strike, are members Radia and Eclipse, who have begun a covert mission taking out illicit activity rings ran by Camden Stone, the man responsible for putting Eclipse’s partner in the hospital. Archlight has gotten himself into trouble with a prostitute and her pimp, so Geoffrey Warner has sent faithful lapdog Blaze to take care of the issue. Warner can’t be bothered because on top of the Strike, Warner is trying to find a way to get Detective John Pierce to end his investigation into the information and weapons leak stemming from C.O.W.L. Apparently Warner was already aware of the source and has taken care of it, or at least that’s what he wants Pierce to believe…

A good chunk of this issue is focused on Reginald Davis (Blaze), which is the first we have really seen of this character outside of his part taking down Skylancer. Davis lives with his late brother’s wife and her speedster powered son Henry. We only get a glimpse into home life for the Davis’s, but in the back of the issue, Higgins and Siegel provide us a dossier on Reginald Davis, giving us a little more back story on him and his brother. Using dossiers and mission briefs in the back of the issues has been a powerful narrative tool that has not only shed more light on the cast of characters, but also given us readers more mystery to speculate on. What really happened to Davis’s brother when he left C.O.W.L? Big juicy plot seeds I tell ya! It’s fun watching Higgins and Siegel seed little plots and mentions throughout the issue, only to see the dossiers really disclose their importance. It’s obvious from the attention to detail that the creative team has put a lot of effort into building this world and these characters.

While every issue of C.O.W.L seems to have some sort of action, this issue seems to have a lot of it, which gives Rod Reis the chance to shine (not that he hasn’t already been killing it!). Reis does an amazing job capturing the dreary cityscape and tone, but his action sequences feel unbelievably visceral. Everything is so real and brutal, which perfectly accents Radia chopping dice through a gangbanger’s arms and hands or Archlight shooting off blasts of energy from his gauntlets. You genuinely feel the power these characters wield through Reis’s art.

Higgins and Siegel have yet again showed their adept skill at being able to navigate through the cast of characters and their lives while still advancing the story. Books with large casts can stall out when they try to shift focus, but Higgins and Siegel keep driving C.O.W.L forward with purpose and direction. We are almost at full steam, with tensions running high everywhere, and it doesn’t look like there are any signs of stopping.

Bottom line, you need to be reading this book.

Preview

, #AlecSiegel, #COWL, #ComicbookReviews, #Comicbooks, #Comics, #COWL, #Image, #KYLEHIGGINS, #REVIEWCOWL4, #RodReis, Alec Siegel, C.O.W.L, Comicbook Reviews, Comicbooks, comics, COWL, Image, KYLE HIGGINS, REVIEW: C.O.W.L #4, Rod Reis
The Wednesday Watchlist: Picks of the Week!

The Wednesday Watchlist: Picks of the Week! #NCBD

The amount of comics released on a weekly basis can be mind boggling for even those initiated in the ways of the Local Comic Shop. Therefore let Geeks Unleashed guide you through the essential releases this New Comic Book Day in our weekly Wednesday Watchlist feature, so whether you are short on time, dollars, or both, you’ll always be reading the Picks of the Week.

Chris – Original Sin #5.4…

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REVIEW: C.O.W.L #1,
Writer: Kyle Higgins

 and Alec Siegel Artist: Rod Reis Publisher: Image Cover Price: 3.50 Buy on Comixology

Kyle Higgins (Nightwing) and Alec Siegel (Avengers) debut their new creator owned book C.O.W.L this week for Image comics with a strong first issue!

C.O.W.L is loosely based off of the short film that Higgins made in college called The League. It follows a cast of characters in 1960s Chicago that make up the Chicago Organized Workers League, an organization of super powered individuals and detectives. It’s a labor union, but for super heroes; what could possibly go wrong? C.O.W.L is made up of a somewhat large cast of characters, but Higgins and Siegel do a good job of touching on all of the supporting cast without it feeling forced.

The book starts by dropping us into a high-speed pursuit that showcases some of the team’s abilities. It isn’t too clear how powerful the members of C.O.W.L are, but it’s established that they have super hero like powers and they operate in the public eye. I wish I could have seen a little bit more of a powers showcase to get a better understanding of the team, but I’m sure we will see this in upcoming issues. At the end of their chase, they take down the jet back toting communist Skylancer with a coup de grâce to the head. According to C.O.W.L chief Geoffrey Warner, this marks the end of the nefarious Chicago Six’s reign and that Chicago will be much safer now that they are gone. With the big threats now eliminated and peace on the horizon, will there even be a need for C.O.W.L?

Higgins and Siegel give us an inside look into the dysfunctional mess that is C.O.W.L with this first issue. C.O.W.L’s leader Geoffrey Warner is a living legend, but the members of team aren’t buying what he’s selling anymore. He’s arrogant, condescending, and seems to only be keeping up appearances of a smooth running operation to the public.

Detective John Pierce isn’t happy with Marlow, nor is he convinced the Chicago Six has been put to rest. Pierce takes a look at a report with West Side Patrollers Grant Marlow and professional muscle Karl Samoski. They stumble on a weapons hold out only to find psycho wielding a giant gun. A firefight breaks out and the assailant jumps out the window. John Pierce takes a look around the hideout and finds classified C.O.W.L documents. Is somebody leaking intelligence? Is there a rat in the group? Or has the Chicago Six infiltrated C.O.W.L?

There is a Watchmen-like tone to C.O.W.L, but I don’t see it as a bad thing. I think we are going to see this book really come into its own in the subsequent issues. Higgins and Siegel have given us a cast of characters that are a time bomb. They’ve been working together for this common goal, but now that they’ve seemingly achieved it with the end of the Chicago Six, what’s left for them? It should also be noted that Rod Reis’s art is on point and very complementary to the story. It paints a dark, grim picture that really absorbs the reader into the story.

C.O.W.L looks like it’s setting itself up for something awesome. I’m going to definitely recommend you guys pick up this issue!

Preview

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The Wednesday Watchlist: Picks of the Week!

The Wednesday Watchlist: Picks of the Week!

The amount of comics released on a weekly basis can be mind boggling for even those initiated in the ways of the Local Comic Shop. Therefore let Geeks Unleashed guide you through the essential releases this New Comic Book Day in our weekly Wednesday Watchlist feature, so whether you are short on time, dollars or both, you’ll always be reading the Picks of the Week.

Jo – Trees #1

Warren Ellis’…

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COMIC BOOK REVIEW: "C.O.W.L. #5"

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: “C.O.W.L. #5″

Writers: Kyle Higgins & Alex Siegel
Art: Rod Reis
Letters: Troy Peteri
Edits: Andy Schmidt
Back Matter Design: Rich Bloom
Cover: Trevor McCarthy
Logo: Eric Wright
Publisher: Image Comics

The fifth installment of C.O.W.L.takes place after weapons leaks from the Chicago Alderman’s office, superpowered extortion rings are taken to task and a lot of internal issues have taken place inside of C.O.W.L. and…

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C.O.W.L. #5 (September 2014)

                  

image

Plenty of great art this time out, but what stood out for me in this issue was two simply expressed lines of dialogue.

First there’s this come-to-your-senses moment.

                   

image

Directly contradicting Doctor Manhattan here.

Then there’s this moment of truth.

                  

image

I can’t think of a comic book precedent, but I have personally found this to be the case on more than one occasion.

C.O.W.L., the monthly comic for bringing you down and reminding you of the actual odds against.

After the riot at the C.O.W.L. picket-line, Geoffrey Warner’s feud with Mayor Daley takes a grim turn in C.O.W.L. #5. The strike falls apart as supporting unions flee Warner’s sinking ship, and with no one else in the chief’s corner, desperate times call for desperate measures. This issue will likely be a polarizing one for readers of this compelling reimagining of cape book fare, as these heroes are forced to cross lines that no amount of genre convention can sweep under the rug. Writers Higgins and Siegel promised to take this series in an intriguing new direction, and while some of the twists were foreseeable, they’ve certainly lived up to their word.

The point of no return is defined as the point in the journey where it is further to return to the start than it is to continue to the end. Having just passed this point in 2014, it is a good time to highlight some of the best offering of the year so far. While my eyes still look forward to the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy and 2 different Smash Up expansions, let’s spend some time looking back on the first half of this journey.

Best Comics

Cowl

Ever since I heard Kyle Higgins Mention C.O.W.L. during Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast I had eagerly been awaiting this title. Set in mid-60s Chicago, C.O.W.L. (the Chicago Organized Workers League) is the story of the goings on in the world’s first labor union for superheroes. A mix of police procedural, office drama and political wheeling and dealing, C.O.W.L. brings forth a wide and encompassing world of cops, heroes and peeks into their everyday life. It is gritty, earnest and richly developed. This is aided in no small part by Rod Reis. The artwork is gorgeous, honoring the period without being kitschy. C.O.W.L. is just about perfect. I can’t wait to see where the story takes its (many) character. Still it it’s early issues now is a great time to pick it up. I expect great things from this series.

Best Meal

Giovanni’s Pasta from Bossa Nova Brazilian

I know it may seem odd that my favorite pasta comes from a Brazilian restaurant and not an Italian one, but go with me on this. With grilled chicken breast, so-thin-it-could-melt prosciutto and fresh springtime asparagus, Giovanni’s Pasta at Bossa Nova is far and away my favorite meal of the year so far. Paired with a velvety white sauce and tossed in fresh fettuccine it is everything you want from a pasta dish. Substantial enough to be filling but not so heavy you hate yourself. Savory, salty, crisp and creamy. This dish hits all the marks. I even asked for extra bread so as not to leave any sauce behind. Sorry, not sorry.

Whatever the hell I want from Pizza Rev

Taking a cue from the many successful sandwich chains that focus on order customization, Pizza Rev borrows the “build your own” model and applies it to, you guessed it, pizza. At a flat rate of $7.99 per pie, customers choose their crusts, sauce, cheese, meats and veggies. Cooked in a brick oven, it is crispy and melty and ready to go in just 3 minutes.  My favorite so far employs a mix mozzarella and bleu cheese, topped with sausage, spicy pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, jalapeno and garlic and is finished with Frank’s Red Hot sauce. Pizza perfection. Or is it the one with BBQ sauce, chicken and crispy bacon? Perhaps it’s the Alfredo sauce, ricotta, artichoke and sun-dried tomato combo? Only time, and more pizza, will tell.

Best Movies

Under The Skin

One of my favorite things about the movie-going experience is the conversation and debate you have afterward. No movie this year has left me with more to talk about than the genre-defying Under The Skin. The film stars Scarlett Johansson in a stripped down (literally and figuratively) performance as a sexy alien who seduces men and turns them into sludge. I know that may sound like a spoiler but it’s not. This movie is markedly without a traditional plot. No mission, no real good guys or bad guys. We just get to watch the story unfold. There are disturbing moments to be sure, but real beauty too. It is a movie that makes you feel a lot while telling you very little. Some amazing “How did they do that?” special effects and very limited dialogue work to create new type of film, Arthouse Sci-fi. What happened and why and what it all means isn’t laid out for you. It’s for you to figure out and debate about. And that’s half the fun.

Snowpiercer 

Snowpiecer is the English language debut from director/co-writer Bong Joon-ho and based on a French graphic novel.  In the not-too-distant future, an attempt to combat global warming works a little too well. World temperatures plummet and we are sent into another ice age. Humanity’s last bastion? A temperature controlled train running on a perpetual motion engine. A very rigid caste system exists on the train. Substaining on protein blocks and subject to daily abuse, life is hard for the people in the rear cars while the first class passengers enjoy fresh sushi and go disco dancing. When tail resident Curtis (a bearded Chris Evans) decides he has had all he can stands and stages an uprising all hell breaks loose. Slow motion action sequences  bounce from slick flight choreography to pratfalls. Guns, bombs, fire and axes abound as Evan and his ramshackle crew fight their way to the front and hopefully, to freedom. The central question of this film is how much can a person, and a people, be expected to sacrifice for the greater good. Also addressing issues such as class warfare, income disparity and the growing climate crisis the film never forgets that we came to watch people get punched. It’s a hell of a ride. Train pun intended.

Best Board Game

Card Wars

Demonstrating how life imitates art, and also the seemingly endless potential for cartoon themed merchandise, my favorite game of the year so far is Cryptozoic’s Card Wars. In a season four episode of Cartoon Network’s mega hit Adventure Time, we see a darker and fiercely competitive side to Jake the Dog when he challenges Finn to a game of Card Wars. Now that fictional game is real. Available as two different sets, and also for iOS and Android, Card Wars is a pretty basic tabletop deck building battle game. A wide array of creatures, spells and buildings combine to defend your homeland and conquer your enemy. Nothing new or tricky going on here. If my guy attacks with 7 and your defense is only 5, you die. The major draw for Card Wars is the art. It is very distinctly from the Adventure Time house, using cards from the episode as well new pieces drawn in the same style. A must for any AT fan and also a great way to ease into battling card deck games. For the glory of Jakoria!!!

, #AdventureTime, #BossaNovalBrazilian, #COWL, #CardWars, #ChrisEvans, #COWL, #Cryptozoic, #PizzaRev, #ScarlettJohanssen, #Snowpiercer, #UnderTheSkin, Adventure Time, Bossa Noval Brazilian, C.O.W.L, Card Wars, Chris Evans, COWL, cryptozoic, Pizza Rev, Scarlett Johanssen, Snowpiercer, Under the Skin

C.O.W.L. #5

Story By: Kyle Higgins
Story By: Alec Siegel
Art By: Rod Reis
Cover By: Trevor McCarthy
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: JUL140538
Published: September 24, 2014

The end of the first arc and a huge turning point for the series! John Pierce and Geoffrey Warner square off over C.O.W.L.’s big secret, Radia faces public outcry, and Arclight resorts to lethal force…against one of his own.

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A preview of C.O.W.L. #5. The end of the first arc and a huge turning point for the series! #comics C.O.W.L. #5 Story By: Kyle Higgins Story By: Alec Siegel Art By: Rod Reis Cover By: Trevor McCarthy…
Thought Bubbles: Comics to Read This Week 9/24/14

Okay, we’re gonna go about things a little differently here. Since I’ve decided to strike out on my own – updates forthcoming – I don’t necessarily have the time or the funds to read every comic and write the fairly long, detail-oriented reviews I did in the past. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m shirking my analytical duties of reviewing comic books. It just means these reviews are going to…

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Comics Bulletin’s regular roundup of immediate reactions to this week’s new releases via social media.

THE GOLDEN AGE IS OVER
IN C.O.W.L.

Superheroes face change in 1960s Chicago
in new graphic novel

 

The Chicago Organized Workers League once stood as the embodiment of the Golden Age of superheroes — a union for Chicago’s best hopes against the scourges of organized crime and supervillainy. But in C.O.W.L. VOLUME 1: PRINCIPLES OF POWER by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis, it’s 1962, and everything has changed. The last of the supervillains has been defeated, the public is cynical, and scandal and corruption plague the once-irreproachable organization. In this Fall graphic novel from Image Comics, C.O.W.L. must re-invent itself for changing times — but will it survive the process?

Co-writer Higgins, who made his name in comics writing Batman and Nightwing at DC Comics, commented on the difference between writing about his own superheroes and writing for company-owned characters in an interview on Image Comics’ website.

“Our characters can change,” he said. “As much as I love writing guys like Batman and Nightwing, there’s a very set standard when it comes to who they are and what they can do… how they’re allowed to react to certain things and what decisions/mistakes they’re allowed to make. We don’t really have those limitations in C.O.W.L., which means being able to explore these heroes as real people, watching them grow and change… for better and for worse.”

Artist Reis’s retro, stylish art on C.O.W.L. has been widely hailed as perfectly conjuring the early ‘60s, as does Higgins’ and Siegel’s story, which depicts a once-static organization adapting to the rapid cultural change of its time.

C.O.W.L. VOLUME 1, specially priced at $9.99, will be in comic book stores on October 29 and bookstores on November 11. It is available for pre-order now.

“A down-and-dirty Mad Men meets Heroes in ‘60s Chicago.” –Entertainment Weekly

“It’s a gorgeous book, and the story is just as captivating as the art.” –Oliver Sava, The A.V. Club

“There’s a touch of Mad Men‘s style and sex appeal as well as Watchmen’s serious approach to heroes.” –Rich Barrett, Mental Floss

C.O.W.L. is a unique and beautiful study of the power of politics in a world where the rules for super-heroism are being redefined. A period drama with more modern relevance than many other books out at the moment, Higgins, Siegel, and Reis have created a colourful comic-book world that is obsessed with the shades of grey between right and wrong.” –Stephenson Ardern-Sodje, Multiversity Comics

ADVANCE PREVIEW: C.O.W.L. Vol. 1 Principles Of Power @ImageComics @KyleDHiggins THE GOLDEN AGE IS OVER IN C.O.W.L. Superheroes face change in 1960s Chicago in new graphic novel…
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