Friday, 7 November 2014

C.O.W.L. Volume 1: Principles of Power Review (Kyle Higgins, Rod Reis)


COWL is the Chicago Organized Workers League, aka the world’s first superhero labor union. Makes sense I suppose, not all superheroes have the resources of Bruce Wayne’s billions. But you know why no writers really focus too much on how superheroes get their rent paid? Because it’s not even remotely interesting!! 

It’s 1962 and after years of protecting Chicago from supervillains, COWL have disposed of them all, effectively making themselves redundant. So when it comes to renegotiating their contract with the city, they find themselves at a disadvantage as the mayor is interested in cutting down COWL’s services and save the city’s budget…. zzz…….

The superheroes in this book are so generic they’re instantly forgettable. Names like the Grey Raven, Blaze and Sparrow can fly, move things with their minds, and shoot bright power beams. Not that every superhero book has to do this but there’s no mention of how these superheroes came by their powers – they just show up one day with them and that’s it. Seems a tad lazy to me, but then no aspect of the characters seems to have had much effort put into it. 

COWL are also complete scumbags. It was in the first chapter when one of the “superheroes” gets his dick out and starts pissing on some poor bastard they’re questioning on the street that I began to hate COWL. Imagine if Green Lantern did that in Justice League! But are we supposed to like COWL anyway? And who’s the main character – who’re we supposed to be rooting for? No clue, all I know is I didn’t like anyone in this book!

Then the “story” itself. Let’s see. There are no antagonists for the superheroes to fight. Some of them decide to picket City Hall so we get to see that yawner of a scene. There are multiple scenes where characters are negotiating contracts that you won’t believe made it into a comic. There’s some banal commentary on sexism in the 60s that Mad Men have already done to death. And scene after scene after scene starring repugnant, bland, and unmemorable characters talking drivel to one another. 

Kyle Higgins has done some good work at DC in the last few years. Batman: Gates of Gotham, New 52 Deathstroke and New 52 Nightwing were all pretty good books. COWL, though? Yikes! Throw in some bafflingly contrived Bill Sienkiewicz-styled artwork from Rod Reis and you’ve got an utter stinker of a comic. Strike this out from your reading list!

C.O.W.L. Volume 1: Principles of Power

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