Arclight spins a story while the city of Chicago tailspins into chaos on the back of Warner and Stone’s deal. Is it good?
C.O.W.L. #8 (Image Comics)
Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis open C.O.W.L. #8 with a dual story mixing and matching Arclight’s recounting of the death of John Pierce with an on-going kidnapping of Alderman Hayes. Rod Reis does a good job of switching the panels up/not keeping a consistent pattern on each page. This creates an emotional roller coaster effect for the reader moving from disgust with Arclight to anticipation and even a touch of fear for Alderman. The two stories also have different speeds; Arclight’s interview is slow and methodical while the kidnapping of the Alderman is chaotic and quick. The dual stories draw you in, wanting more.
Reis continues with some neat panel placement breaking up a huge panel into six small ones, really aiding Troy Peteri’s lettering and keeping the dialogue flowing smoothly. Without the panel breakup the bubbles would have been massively confusing and might have even been difficult to place effectively.
The middle of the book focuses on Radia and Eclipse and their vigilante work outside of C.O.W.L. It is a rather interesting discussion on thinking for yourself and the ease of just following orders. Siegel and Higgins expand on this when Radia is brought in for a talking to with Warner. They actually lay it all on the line, draw it in black and white (figuratively of course), the choice Radia faces within C.O.W.L. and what is expected of her. This was the most interesting plot development in the story that has a chance to fill the huge gap that John Pierce’s death created.
The final third of the book takes a very strange turn. The new villain from the previous issue reveals his name and goes off on a monologue about removing choice and forcing people to change and submit to new circumstances. The monologue is all the stranger because it spans panels focusing on Radia, Arclight, Eclipse, and Warner respectively. It seems to discount the choices they made to get to this point and the choices they will most likely be faced with down the road. It just does not seem to fit what C.O.W.L. has brought to the table with most characters making choices for better or worse to drive the story.
One bright spot from the previous issue is the crime being committed is believable and legitimate and warrants the need of C.O.W.L. unlike the convenience store robbery. However, the transition to the scene is nonexistent. It jumps from the monologue straight to an armored vehicle and upscale restaurant. There are also some panels that appear out of place. One of the villains is already looting the back of the truck, but on the next page he is knocking it across the street with his shoulder and just a few panels down from that the guys are back to looting.
It is a tad confusing to say the least. To make matters worse the last page is comedic, but it points back to Radia’s conversations with both Eclipse and Warner. The members of C.O.W.L. have no idea what to do when Geoffrey Warner is not giving them orders.
Is It Good?
C.O.W.L. #8 opens with a great dual story-telling technique capturing your attention and engaging your emotions. There are some interesting conversations about roles, choices, and following orders which are touched upon throughout the book. However, there are just too many mistakes to ignore. There are bad transitions, out of place panels, and even some “bit (supposed to be big) mitts.” The book is also still trying to find someone to fill Pierce’s shoes as a doer and someone who is willing to take risks for what he believes in.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!