Previously: C.O.W.L. #9
Following the badassery of Radia in the previous issue, I was wondering just what the fallout would be, and it turns out it’s just as layered as everything else in this series. In the world of C.O.W.L., all swords are double-edged, and motherfuckers are getting cut all over. This review contains major spoilers for previous issues of C.O.W.L., just so you know before you read any further.
This issue could easily be titled “Geoffrey Warner and the Women Who are Tired of his Shit”. With the series being set in the 1960s, it’s refreshing to see its female characters take control of situations and prove themselves capable. It prominently happens twice in this issue. First with Radia, and then with Detective Evelyn Frost. What’s great is neither instance feels forced; due to the character growth of each of them over the course of the series, each instance of them standing up for themselves and doing what’s right makes perfect sense because they’ve been shown to be in the right.
With Radia, it’s a continuation of the ass-whooping she put on Doppler in the previous issue, resulting in his arrest. If you’re reading this review, you already know this, but in case you don’t: C.O.W.L. has been on strike, and that means there are no powered individuals currently protecting the city of Chicago. Mayor Richard Daley is fine with that because C.O.W.L. basically already eliminated the powered crime presence in the city, so the mayor thinks he doesn’t need C.O.W.L. anymore. Head of C.O.W.L., Geoffrey Warner, knows this, and that’s why he recently struck a deal with local mob boss Camden Stone. The deal was to have powered criminals start causing trouble, which would lead to the mayor “realizing” the city actually does still need C.O.W.L.. Part of that “trouble” was for Doppler to kidnap Alderman Lawrence Hayes and threaten to kill him. Now, I realize all that is very spoilerish for previous issues of C.O.W.L., so I do hope you are not reading this review before having read the previous issues, but I had to say all of that because it’s all very important to this issue and what happens in it. That’s one of the things I love about this series: nothing is wasted and everything matters. While Warner was busy using the kidnapping as a negotiating tool with the mayor, Radia was busy busting Doppler and saving Hayes because it’s the right thing to do. In this issue, Warner has to deal with Radia’s actions, the public perception of Radia’s actions, and Stone being pissed about Radia’s actions. It all matters and for very different reasons.
With Detective Evelyn Frost, it’s a continuation of her investigation into the death of John Pierce at the hands of Arclight. She has doggedly pursued this because she does not believe it was self-defense, but instead murder. If you’ll remember, everyone assumes Pierce was killed because he crossed the picket lines (another thing Radia has to worry about now). The problem she has come up against in her investigation, however, is that everyone wants to just let it go. Well, not everyone. In what I would call this issue’s cold open, we get what is possibly the most brutal scene that has graced C.O.W.L.‘s pages, and Detective Frost gets a major break in her investigation. Meanwhile, Eclipse continues vying for the important spot of my favorite character of the series, and he just may have taken the top position from Radia with what he does in this issue.
While this issue is great for how it focuses on the female characters of the series, complete with an informative dossier on Detective Frost in the back, it also comes complete with that ubiquitous double-edged sword I mentioned earlier. In the letters section, Kyle Higgins confirms C.O.W.L. #11 will be the series’ final issue. Oh, what a heartbreaker! C.O.W.L. has created such a complex world of politics and power, populated with characters whose motivations and personalities you deeply understand. It gave us the aforementioned Radia, Eclipse, John Pierce, and the great origin of The Grey Raven, as well as the best new villain design I’ve seen in ages: Doppler (we also get a great Nosferatu-looking dude in this issue).
That’s not even to mention the great artwork of Rod Reis who breathed such watercolor life into his marker lines. Just look at the above cityscaped silhouette of Detective Frost; that is a lived-in world Reis has put to canvas. Not only am I going to miss reading C.O.W.L. each month, but I’m also going to miss putting my thoughts into a review for you guys because it forces me to look at each issue closer, and this is definitely a series where looking closer is needed to really appreciate the plot. There is a silver lining, however: Higgins, Siegel, and Reis are working on something together, and I’m sure it will be just as inventive and entertaining as C.O.W.L. has been.
So, we have one final issue of C.O.W.L. next month, and I can’t wait to see how the team manages to wrap up this arc, this series, and this chapter of their lives… hopefully not forever, though. On May 12, Kyle Higgins teased a “non-comics C.O.W.L. announcement”, so perhaps a movies or television series? We’ll see what the future holds for C.O.W.L..