C.O.W.L., or the Chicago Organized Worker’s League takes to the picket lines, demanding a contract renewal with the city. Writers Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel turn their focus on Reginald Davis, or Blaze. Blaze is the Deputy C.O.W.L. Chief and Head of the Tactical Division, but still takes his walking orders from The Grey Raven. This relationship and a broader relationship between The Grey Raven and the rest of the union are left in doubt, especially when Geoffrey Warner calls asking for Blaze to forego the picket line to handle a problem. Does Geoffrey Warner really care about the members of C.O.W.L. or is it all about political power? But what you really want to know: is it good?
C.O.W.L. #4 (Image Comics)
Higgins and Siegel dive right into the question at the front lines of the picket. The reader is introduced to some new C.O.W.L. members debating their roles in the strike, even pointing out The Grey Raven is nowhere to be seen on the picket line. The punch of the debate loses its effect with the introduction of artist Stéphane Perger’s work on Karl Samoski, aka Eclipse. Eclipse goes from looking like a bona fide bad ass to a smarmy pug-nosed pushover. He does not look anything like the hardened patrol enforcer. There is one panel where he appears to have had a stroke. The only way the reader even realizes it is Karl is his uniform with the actual eclipse on his shirt.
Leaving Eclipse and the picket line, the story begins to answer the question: Does Geoffrey Warner really care about his members? Blaze is on clean-up duty when he discovers Arclight has tied up a pimp and detained a stripper in his apartment. The ensuing argument and fight scene continues to expose how disgruntled certain members are with The Grey Raven and his running of C.O.W.L. It goes from bad to worse when Warner himself confronts the ever persistent Detective John Pierce and his investigations into Skylancer’s weapons stash.
Higgins and Siegel continue to ramp up the action while at the same time rapidly fraying the threads holding C.O.W.L. together. Radia and Eclipse are performing pro-bono hero work targeting the organized crime syndicate’s gambling establishments. For some reason they are wearing black onesies to hide their identity, despite calling the mobsters cowards for doing the same thing and assaulting the crime boss in their C.O.W.L. outfits in the previous issue!
Higgins and Siegel finish the book with a massive cliffhanger, leaving the floodgates wide open and C.O.W.L.’s standing as an organization on the brink of collapse. Will The Grey Raven be able to unify the union, or will it all come crumbling down on top of him?
Is It Good?
Higgins and Siegel continue to weave political theater, crime fighting, detective work, and moral dilemmas, not to mention strong compelling characters into a gripping, fantastic story. Unfortunately the artwork does not live up to the story-telling. Main characters’ looks and styles are thrown out the window in favor of a more cartoonish, less gritty version which removes the reader from the story.