C.O.W.L. takes a lot of familiar ideas that many know from the years and years of super-hero comics and puts them in a unfamiliar place. The idea of making a union out of super-heroes and essentially have them be the cops of the city is incredibly cool. There's a lot of world-building within this issue and character-building, which all-in-all is well done and will keep readers invested in future issues of this series.
Because there's a lot going on here, it's nice to see the opening pages which layout the character's names, powers, and faces. This really helps a bit more in the actual story where characters don't have to play the "name game" and constantly say the person's name, just so the audience can be reminded who's who.
Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel do an excellent job with the dialogue throughout this issue, especially the opening scene with Eclipse, Grant, and Grant's son Jack. The scenes feel real and move in a way that feels natural. Nothing feels forced or awkward and character's voices come through incredibly well.
Where this series really makes its mark is in the art department. It's fantastic to see Rod Reis, who was known for his color work on books like AQUAMAN, come into his own as a comic book artist. The vast majority of people reading C.O.W.L. will probably wonder "what took him so long?"
Reis' style is completely fitting to the tone of C.O.W.L. and adds so much to the series. His work resembles individual paintings moreso than typical comic book art and it works so well. He uses color in a much different way and typically uses specific colors to highlight the action within the panel. This is a book you could buy just for the art, but luckily, there's a fine story attached as well. It's win-win.
The problem with this issue is that there's a lot to set up with this world and it bogs down how the writers can push forward the story. C.O.W.L. is an extremely interesting concept, without a doubt, but because it takes place in another time, and follows history that also needs to be explained to the reader, the moving forward of the actual story is slow, and there's no real way to get around that, without it feeling forced. So while this is an interesting read, it's going to move pretty slow to begin with.
It's still relatively early, and there's still a lot of world and character building being worked on, but overall, C.O.W.L. is a very solid and entertaining read. Higgins, Siegel, and Reis are providing a very fresh look on how super-heroes can function within the world, and the focus is so much more on the individuals, rather than what the individuals can do. This issue does move a bit slow because there is so much to explain to the reader because it's a different concept, but all-in-all, it's a very intriguing piece and one you'll want to put onto your pull list.