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Review: C.O.W.L. #9

Previously: “C.O.W.L. #8

This arc has become all about control. With Geoffrey Warner’s deal with the devil beginning to pay off, he seems to be losing his composure, making power plays that don’t need to be made and letting cockiness get him into situations he shouldn’t be in. He’s come a long way from the fresh-faced boy we met in issue #6. Meanwhile, the other C.O.W.L. members are not sitting by quietly.

C.O.W.L. #9 | Cover

It just feels like Warner is being built to be a villain in his own right.

We’ll start with Warner; his plan seems to be working perfectly, as the mayor is in a meeting about, you know, how the city has developed a “villain problem”. The mayor is under a lot of pressure to fix it; so much so that, if he doesn’t, he faces the real possibility of losing control of his city to the federal government. I love this because the mayor is losing control, no matter what. He’s either turning the keys over to Hoover and The National Guard, or he’s giving Warner everything he’s asking for to end the strike.

I’ve said it before, and I will continue saying it as long as it remains true, Rod Reis’ artwork for this series is phenomenal. The detail he puts into these characters’ faces, when necessary, is wonderful, and the color palette continues to do just as much to tell the issue’s story as the dialogue does.

C.O.W.L. #9 | Mayor

On top of his pissing contest with the mayor, Warner is also meddling about with the murder of John Pierce, and we know that is only going to get him into even more trouble with Detective Evelyn Thompson, but it’s great because he doesn’t know that; he doesn’t even know Detective Thompson exists. I have a feeling, when it’s all said and done, Thompson may come out on the losing end of this, though. It just feels like Warner is being built to be a villain in his own right.

I mean, I use this The Dark Knight quote a lot–and why not? It’s a great quote: “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” With issue #6, we saw what it was that drove Warner to leave the police force and strike out against crime in his own way: corruption. In issue #7, we saw Warner embrace that very same corruption by making his deal with Camden Stone. Ever since then, he has seemed to spiral into an area of villain behavior; I mean, he is bullying the mayor and trying to buy Pierce’s widow; not exactly hero stuff.

C.O.W.L. #9 | John's widow

Speaking of villains, the previous issue introduced a fantastic one: Doppler, a bad guy who controls sound waves and wears one hell of a cool mask. This issue sees his role in Warner and Stone’s plan continue, as the deadline for his ransom for the kidnapped Alderman Hayes fast approaches. I just cannot get over how well Rod Reis designed this character; it’s just so cool. In the Union Dues letter section of the issue, Kyle Higgins shares a very interesting bit of concept art for the design of Doppler, and you can see how the character’s final design came together.

As the issue’s cover–drawn, as usual, by Trevor McCarthy–reveals, Doppler’s storyline involves the terrific character of Radia. However, I didn’t feel like I should share any images of their interaction because you are just going to have to get the issue yourself to see the awesomeness Reis has delivered. The way Reis artwork plays with the physics of interactive text–having the lettering exist within the characters’ universe–and the novel approach to using traditional onomatopoeia text as part of Doppler’s power  is amazing. As Higgins says in the Union Dues section, one thing Reis did in this issue is the coolest thing he’s seen all year. Here’s one great example of Reis work from the sequence:

C.O.W.L. #9 | Doppler train

Score | 9.5/10On top of the theme of “control”, this issue also deals a lot with family; better yet, the idea of family and how C.O.W.L. members approach that idea, outside of their time with the organization (see the above image of John Pierce’s widow). It’s very interesting and helps build the characters’ identities quite a bit. This series continues to blow me away with its storytelling and the terrific artwork of Rod Reis. Also included in the back of the issue is a great piece of pinup art from Rafael de Latorre.

This arc is coming to an end with issues #10 and #11, which apparently will be a bit delayed, and then I’d guess we’re getting another origins issues between this arc and the next. Let’s hope the next one is Radia’s origin. As I mentioned the my review of issue #8, she and Eclipse have been fighting for the position of my favorite character, and she just may have taken the lead with this issue. Well, Doppler may actually get into that discussion as well; as this issue’s Union Dues section shows, I was not the only one who loved that character design, so let’s also hope they do choose to develop that character into a major player in upcoming issues.

About John Elrod II (285 Articles)
John is currently untitled. This complete lack of definition would drive most into abject bitterness and utter despair, but not someone of John’s virility. No, John is the picture of mental stability and emotional platitude.

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