Previously, “Issue #6”
Following last month’s phenomenal one shot of what a Grey Raven comic series would have looked like in the ’60s, C.O.W.L. is back with the first issue in its second arc, and it’s a good one.
I’ll comment more on this issue’s ties to last month’s one shot, but first, if you’ll recall, C.O.W.L. #5 was a pretty explosive arc finale, with Arclight turning on John Pierce and murdering him. This issue picks up in the direct aftermath of that event, with C.O.W.L. members, police officers, and the citizens of Chicago all being uncertain as to just what the hell happened. There are some who know exactly what happened, though; this includes Detective Evelyn Thompson, and she will be a plot-driving force for at least a little while.
Also in that C.O.W.L. #5 arc finale, we saw Geoffrey Warner make a deal with the devil–aka mob boss Camden Stone–to create a false threat for C.O.W.L. to fight, so they can prove to the city they are still needed. We’ll see where it goes from here, but this issue sees that plan begin on very shaky ground, with Stone’s powered henchmen becoming makeshift “villains” and Warner battling Stone over the execution of their plan.
It’s so interesting to me that Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis–creators of C.O.W.L.–sandwiched last month’s one shot, where we learned corruption is what drove Geoffrey Warner out of the police force and into vigilante-level crime fighting, between issue #5, where Warner felt his only option was a deal with Camden Stone, and issue #6, where we’re already seeing problems arise with this agreement. When Warner made the deal in issue #5, you basically only knew him as the leader of C.O.W.L., so it wasn’t that shocking to see him dealing with a criminal, especially since Pierce’s storyline already brought C.O.W.L.’s integrity into question. After the moral platitudes put forth in issue #6, though, you see the situation in a completely different light, and you recognize Warner is struggling with what he’s doing.
All in all, this is a good beginning for the series’ second arc, which will run through issue #11. I had wondered, last month, if future C.O.W.L. arcs would bring further one shots (or even a continued Grey Raven storyline), and I was not the only one. Answering a question in this month’s “Union Dues” letters section, Kyle Higgins let us all know the current plan: “The plan right now is to do a one shot like issue six after each arc. So, the next one will be a Radia story in issue twelve.” I love that plan.
Also in this issue are some great character pinups by Chris Evenhuis and Breno Tamura, and the monthly classified character file; this one is of Eclipse, and I believe it is the first such file we’ve gotten without any redacted text, though I may be mistaken. I look forward to this series every month, and it’s as much for this extra content as it is for the excellent writing of Higgins and Siegel or the amazing artwork of Reis. This series just keeps developing into a more and more epic story.