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C.O.W.L.: Volume 1

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BOOKLIST (STARRED) -- What would happen if superheroes had no one left to fight? Higgins and Siegel attempt to answer that question in this noir-inspired piece set in 1960s Chicago. With the last of their archenemies dead, the unionized superhero group Chicago Organized Workers League, or C.O.W.L., now turns their fight toward City Hall in order to keep their funding and stay relevant in these seemingly peaceful times. More cracks form as C.O.W.L. starts to battle itself-superheroes clash with each other over power and the limelight, while Detective John Pierce fights C.O.W.L. director Warner in an attempt to reveal secrets and a conspiracy that could take down the whole organization. In the spirit of books like Watchmen (1987), C.O.W.L. offers an interesting commentary on the moral issues superheroes face and how society might actually react to them. In only one volume, the authors have already managed to create wonderfully developed characters and flawed but realistic heroes who no longer see the world in black and white. Such a compelling story would be enough, but Reis elevates the piece even further with a sketch-heavy, dreamlike atmosphere in soft, impressionistic colors, exceptionally expressive figures, and dynamic layouts. A flawless execution and a damned good read.

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