Tag Archives: c.o.w.l.

Underrated: Superhero Comics (That Aren’t A Marvel Or DC Comic)

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Superhero Comics (That aren’t a Marvel or DC comic).




This week I wanted to talk about some fantastic superhero comics from publishers that aren’t either Marvel or DC so that you can, if you so choose, branch out a little for your spandex fix. There will be some series here that have ended, and some that are still ongoing. A few things before we start; firstly, the only rule for these characters to be included here are that they’re not from Marvel or DC. Secondly, because I’ve got eclectic taste these comics may not be for everybody, so be prepared for some potentially foolish claims. Thirdly, this isn’t a complete, or inclusive, list and it is completely subjective.

invincibleShall we get started, in no particular order?

Invincible (Image) Created by Robert Kirkman (the same man responsible for The Walking Dead) and artist Cory Walker, Invincible is good. It’s very good. The titular hero Invincible is an extraterrestrial teenager with super strength and the ability to fly, born of an alien father and a human mother. Invincible is an incredibly brutal comic that takes the Superman mythos and adds a dash of Spider-Man and a whole lot of awesome. Absolutely worth checking out.

Irredeemable & Incorruptible.jpgIrredeemable/Incorruptible (BOOM)  Written by Mark Waid, Irredeemable asks the question: what if Superman snapped? It’s a grim, dark tale that explains how thankful we should be that Clark Kent is as well adjusted as he is. Conversely Incorruptible follows the worlds’ greatest supervillain as he he realizes that somebody has to be a hero. But he has no moral compass, and so for him doing the right thing means doing exactly the opposite of what he did. Both are fantastic series that have been collected in trade paper backs, and you should read them alternately if you do pick them up to get the most from the story.

COWLTPB001_webC.O.W.L. (Image) I’ve raved about C.O.W.L. loudly before. And whilst the series has ended (for now), it’s still work check out. Set during the 1960’s in Chicago, C.O.W.L. a creator owned comic published by Image and written by Kyle Higgins weaves a complex story that follows the Chicago Organized Workers League, and is set against some fantastic art work. Without giving anything away, this is a comic that focuses as much on the political intrigue of superheroing for hire as it does the superheroes themselves. Higgins explores some really interesting questions here, chief of which is “what if superheroes are unionized?” This series was cancelled long before its time

XO2017_001_COVER-A_LAROSAX-O Manowar (Valiant) The current series is the second volume in Valiant’s X-O Manowar saga (that’s a fancy way of saying that it’s the second volume with a new number one issue and the last series concluded at #50). Whether you start with the first volume, or the second, you’re in for a treat – and yes, you can read the second independently of the first.  The lead character of the series is a time displaced Visigoth named Aric of Dacia (or of Earth in Vol. 2) who has somehow come into possession of a (very interesting looking) alien armour. It’s an awesome series, and one well worth checking out. The second, and currently ongoing series, is the highlight of my pull-list every month.

TheFox_01-0The Fox (Dark Circle Comics) When a superhero desperately wants to stop running around in spandex, to retire to a quiet life with his family, do you have any idea how difficult that is when he seems to attract freaks like a magnet? Written by Mark Waid,  the second volume, Fox Hunt, came to a cataclysmic conclusion. There is a trade paper back collecting the first series entitled The Fox: Freak Magnet, but you don’t need to read it to appreciate the second series. I miss this series so much.


That’s all for this week, folks. I could keep this list going quite a bit longer, but I’ll save that for another time.

Have a great week!

Sunday Roundtable: What run or comic series do you love and feel like nobody else read?

JLA Roundtable comics to readSundays are known for folks gathering around tables on television and pontificating about some of the hottest topics out there, offering their expertise. We bring that tradition to Graphic Policy as the team gathers to debate in our Sunday Roundtable.

On tap this week?

What run or comic series do you love and that you feel like nobody else read? What made you enjoy it?

Logan: I always felt like the only one reading the Bravest Warriors comics even though the cartoon is super popular, and Catbug is literally everywhere!

I loved the book b/c it featured a queer character in an all ages book, really expanded on the cartoon’s mythology (especially with Catbug’s backstory), had nice pop culture riffs on stuff like The Great Gatsby and Pacific Rim, and Ian McGinty‘s art is animation translated to the comics page.

Daphne: I loved Bravest Warriors! I’ve been catching up on the comics by buying the collections Comixology sells whenever they go on sale. I am a few volumes behind I think but it’s such a fun series.

Daphne: Bone, by Jeff Smith. I know it’s actually critically acclaimed and it did get Jeff a decent amount of press and attention, but it feels criminally underrated and forgotten to me. It’s this amazing mixture of high fantasy and Peanuts-style character interaction, with these really believable and real-feeling characters caught up in a fantasy war with rat creatures, dragons, a sentient locust swarm, undead, and ghosts. But it never loses sight of the heart of the story, which is the eight or nine characters we follow all through the plot. It was how I discovered comic books as a little girl and it is a really important and special series to me. I hate that so few people seem to have read it.

Javier: This is the kind of stuff I used to buy for my kids, but secretly was really for me. Scholastic reprinted these a few years back, and I bought my son the entire set.

Alex: Ha, most of the superhero stuff I love is, I feel underrated, but ‘ll start with C.O.W.L. It’s a series written by Kyle Higgins, set in the 60s (or so) where the city of Chicago’s unionized superhero outfit is about to go on strike as they try to negotiate a new contract with the mayor’s office. The problem? They’re so good at what they do that they’re not needed anymore…

This 11 issue series ignited my interest in exploring the concept of superheroing as a paid occupation, corruption, and the nature of power. It’s fantastic, and needs some love.

Brett: I started reading that one and stopped. I should definitely go back and see what I missed.

Paul: The New Warriors, the original run. I loved the original line up, and the new additions that came and went. It was so 90s and it was great. Young teen heroes, turned away by the established teams so they form up and show them how it’s done. And they had some great villains; Psionex, Mad Thinker (who actually helped these kids learn about themselves), Folding Circle, The Sphinx, Force of Nature…so many great stories. I think this is the only title were I bought every single issue, #1-#75 and annuals. I still pull the box out and read through the run. It really stuck with me and still is one of my favourite books (not including the unfortunate relaunches).

Alex: I enjoyed the most recent relaunch with Scarlet Spider, to be honest.

Paul: It started out pretty good..but I couldn’t stick with it after the talking dog and cat beings from Wundagore. There was potential though…I did enjoy Scarlet Spider and Hummingbird

Alex: Heh, I actually enjoyed those quite a bit. I’d read them all on Marvel Unlimited after plowing through some Moon Knight from the 2006 run, and they were a nicely pleasant change.

Paul: I’m glad someone enjoyed it smile emoticon

Alex: If you liked the way Scarlet Spider was written, you should check out the 25 odd issue run by the same writer. It’s fantastic

Paul: I would love to see the originals in a new run…older, wiser..like 3 ex Avengers (Justice, Firestar, Speedball), bring back Turbo, rescue Alex Power from the Future Foundation…boom, you got a book tongue emoticon

Alex: I’d be interested in that, and I never read the originals

Elana: I like the idea of villains helping young heroes understand themselves. Any idea roughly which issues that was?

Ryan: How about Alan Moore‘s totally under-appreciated run on WildC.A.T.S.? Even with all the quality creator-owned stuff coming out of Image these days, I still maintain that this is the best-written run of any Image title. It sold well, but like a lot of the stuff that came out at that time, people bought it, but never actually bothered to read it. That’s a real shame because while this won’t leap-frog V For Vendetta or From Hell or Watchmen (or Providence, his best series in decades) on anyone’s list of favorite Moore comics, it’s a thoroughly engaging, imaginative, stylish, and dare I say even modestly ambitious run of issues that are richly deserving of critical re-appraisal and a far more considered examination by anyone so inclined.

Brett: I think Joe Casey and Dustin Nguyen’s run in Wildcats 3.0 was even better. That’s a run that’s woefully overlooked and so ahead of its times. It had the team more as a corporation dealing with not just powered villains but the oil lobby.

Elana: Need to read both of those! There was a lot of creative work by top writers in the Wildstorm universe.

One of the comics I would include here as an overlooked great would be the Wildstorm summer special of 2001.

There’s Hawksmoore parkour, Zealot in a beautiful silent piece stealing apples, a hilarious bit with The Engineer’s dating woes that includes what HAD been the iconic Midnighter moment until his solo series.

I referenced it in my review of Midnighter. Apparently he wears his mask even when he’s hanging around their headquarters in an undershirt and underwear. And ironing clothes.

Elana: Grant Morrison and Jae Lee‘s “Fantastic Four” 1,2,3,4. I’ve only met one other person who’s read it. I LOVED his take on the characters. He seems to be the only person to ever care about Sue’s psychology. The art is really sexy when it needs to be (ie when Namor shows up to seduce Sue). His Alicia Masters is smart. Ben Grimm’s dialog about becoming the Thing makes me cry. The art is beautiful and moody and the book is a tightly put together package of “Oh, so this is how the fantastic four works” written for modern readers.

Alex: That sounds like it might be interesting. When did they come out?

Paul: Sounds very interesting

Elana: 2001-2002. It was in the Marvel Knights imprint. There was one issue dedicated to each member.

Alex: Interesting. I may try and find those issues if it’s only the four

Elana: Alex they are in a tiny trade paperback.

Alex: Awesome! I’m heading to the comic shop anyway later today so I’ll check for them

Ryan: I read it, but don’t remember it striking much of a cord. Guess I’ll have to dig out my back issues and give it another look —

Javier: Kirby‘s Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. I’m on a bender trying to get every issue. I’m short an odd 17 issues. I don’t really remember how I got into this character. I was 8 years old when this series ended, and I didn’t start collecting til I was 14; but I had a few beat up issues in my collection. Much later I looked to buy the collected TPB, but much too late; and it is now out of print and sells at a premium. I did the math; and looking for the originals will cost about the same as buying the collected trades. I know it’s suppose to be a rip-off of the Planet of the Apes, but Kirby’s art and writing still holds. The idea of a “Great Disaster” that not even Superman was able to prevent is classic. I can’t figure out why it was cancelled so early, since everything I read on it said sales were good; and to this day, back issues sell cheaply (when you can find them).

Ryan: One of Kirby’s very best series — shoot, we could do a whole roundtable discussion on under-appreciated Kirby titles, from OMAC to Captain Victory to Silver Star to Devil Dinosaur to Black Panther to 2001 to Machine Man to his 1970s Captain America run — all are crackling with more ideas per page than any ten entire comics are today.

Elana: Ryan: let’s do it! Also the success of Adventure Time is def a reflection of Kamandi’s brilliance as a story

Christopher: I would have to say the lesser known Neil Gaiman works, that the now defunct Tekno Comix published; Mr Hero: The Pneumatic Man, Teknophage, and Lady Justice. The story is good, albeit a bit strange but, it is Neil Gaiman after all. I have found a few issues of each, but finding them in sequential order is a frustrating challenge. In addition to that I would have to say, Alan Moore‘s Fashion Beads run. Another weird, strange yet, detailed and wonderful story. I would say Grant Morrision’s six issue, Batman RIP run. Great story, and art.

Brett: I didn’t know any of those Gaiman comics. I’ll need to check them out.

Elana: Do Peter David‘s decades on X-Factor count as overlooked? It’s an incredibly long run that doesn’t seem well examined. I grew up on it.

Brett: I grew up on that run, a favorite of mine too!

Well, that’s a lot of good suggestions folks. What do you readers think? Sound off in the comments below!

Review: C.O.W.L. #11

COWL_11C.O.W.L. is one of the best series on the racks right now. Or at least it was, because this is the final bittersweet issue. Set during the 1960’s in Chicago, C.O.W.L. #11 is published by Image Comics and written by Kyle Higgins and Alec Seigel with art by Rod Reis weaves a complex story that follows the Chicago Organized Workers League during its struggle to negotiate a new contract with the city of Chicago. The story is set against some fantastic art work. Without giving anything away, this is a comic that focuses as much on the political intrigue of superheroing as a paid career as it does the superheroes themselves. The writing team explore some really interesting questions here, chief of which is “what if superheroes are unionized?”

With C.O.W.L. #11 being the final issue in the series, this is not an ideal jumping on point for new readers. That isn’t to say that if you’re entirely unfamiliar with C.O.W.L. that you can’t pick up and enjoy this comic, but you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t read the story up until this point. Rod Reis‘ artwork in this issue is absolutely phenomenal, and while fans of the series have come to expect some spectacular panels, there are several pages in C.O.W.L. #11 that exceeded  my expectations. Even though he has provided consistently great artwork throughout the series, Rod Reis has excelled in the last issue of the series.

Likewise, Kyle Higgins and Alec Seigel have crafted an epic tale of corruption stemming from the desire to be needed. At times C.O.W.L. has felt more like a story about the power of a workers union than one about superheroes; that the union in question is one for career heroes is beside the point.

Although it was delayed by a couple of months, C.O.W.L. #11 is an excellent finale to a series that has captivated fans from the very beginning. If this is the first time you’ve heard of the series, then look for the trade. If you’ve been reading from the beginning, then hopefully you’ll understand my enthusiasm for the comic books. C.O.W.L. has been one of my most anticipated titles every month, and while I’ve been waiting to get this final issue in my hands for a long, long time, it really is bittersweet.

C.O.W.L. #11 is an absolutely brilliant comic book that caps off a series where the creative team clicked right from the beginning. I may be waiting a long time before another series pulls me in the same way this one did, but it was worth every issue. If you haven’t read C.O.W.L. then I strongly encourage you to read the series; I can’t recommend it enough.

Story: Kyle Higgins and Alec Seigel Art: Rod Reis
Story: 9 Art:10 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Also posted on Ramblings Of A Comics Fan

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

star lord and kitty pryde 1 coverWednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Brett

Top Pick: Cyborg #1 (DC Comics) – Some things are changing for Cyborg, his armor is evolving some how. The series puts the spotlight on this founding member of the Justice League. The creators have also said they plan on examining real world issues, and how an African-American superhero (who’s literally a weapon) would have to deal with them.

The Blacklist #1 (Titan Comics) – The television show gets a comic tie-in that actually is in continuity. The writers have nailed Red’s quirkiness in what feels like an unaired episode.

Fight Club 2 #3 (Dark Horse) – With each issue it feels like we go down the rabbit hole more and more. That’s a good thing. The third issue makes everything a bit more interesting as we continue our journey through Tyler’s world.

Prez #2 (DC Comics) – The first issue had me regularly laughing as it skewered modern politics and gave us a new celebrity in Corn Dog Girl.

Transformers #43 (IDW Publishing) – Soundwave is building something around Jupiter. Is it a peaceful commune, or is there some other plan? Cosmos is on a mission to find out what’s going on, and the results are intriguing. The series stands out when it gets philosophical and political, and boy does it here.

 

Alex

Top Pick: C.O.W.L. #11 (Image Comics) – One of the best series out there, Kyle Higgins’ C.O.W.L. takes place in the 1960’s in a world where superheroes are unionized. A fascinating take on the superhero genre, Higgins also touches on the corruption that was rife during that period in America’s history. This issue was delayed by a few weeks, and the wait to get it in my hands has been a long one.

Old Man Logan #3 (Marvel) – Old Man Logan is one of the best Wolverine stories this century, and while I was originally nervous about Marvel revisiting it, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how good the series has been so far.

 

Elana

Top Pick: Power Up #1 (BOOM! Box/BOOM! Studios) – Kate Leth’s Post Modern queer feminist take on the Magical Girl genre. And it’s cuuuute!

Grayson #10 (DC Comics) – The last issue was my first and this is a new arc. It’s Grayson as a double agent Bond and the return of Huntress in a new role as head of a secret agency Grayson has infiltrated at Bruce’s request. And now Bruce is dead and Dick is on his own. Manifesting my dream casting of Rosario Dawson as Huntress this new 52 incarnation is bi-racial!

The book is suspenseful yet charming. But I’m a bit concerned that it may be engaging in queer baiting with its lead breaking the 4th wall last issue to ask if he was straight (or if that was just his tie). In 2015 its long past time comics stopped queer baiting and started having actual queer representation especially among A List characters.

I’ll delve into these issues in my review of the new issue.

Infinite Loop #4 (IDW Publishing) – Teddy confronts her archenemy: her former boss, Tina, and launches a series of unprecedented temporal attacks to force Tina from her hideout, putting the safety of the world at risk!

Spider Woman #9 (Marvel) – Last issue Jessica made a socially enlightened decision in spite of being brutally attacked by the formerly abused wife of a costumed villain.

Jess is going to let this new Utopia for the escaped families of super villains continue as a safe haven.

Now we are only a few months from Jess being pregnant as her All New All Different cover shows. Let’s see how she gets there. I’m reserving judgement since writer Hopeless’s run has been strong and feminist.

Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde #1 (Marvel) – This better be mostly Kitty…

 

Mr. H

Top Pick: Grayson #10 (DC Comics) – Agent Dick Grayson. Super Hero Lex Luthor Nuff round two. Nuff said. This should be fantastic!

Cyborg #1 (DC Comics) – New team, New tech, New Start and art by superstar Ivan Reis. This one is worth at least a beta test.

Deathstroke #8 (DC Comics) – Slade contracted to kill some gods and Diana interferes. Just some good ol’ beat em up, slash em up action! Grab the popcorn and let your brains go for this one.

Old Man Logan #3 (Marvel Comics) – Basically Clint Eastwood with claws roaming the desert kicking ass. 1-2-3 Snikt!

We are Robin #2 (DC Comics) – Social Media Super Saviors? We shall see. It takes more than a color scheme and pinning a letter on yourself. Time to see if the kids got what it takes.

 

Paul

Top Pick: Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde #1 (Marvel) – I have been following this couple in Guardians of the Galaxy and All New X-Men, so naturally I’m excited to see this title.  But what really has me interested is the cover showing Shadowcat from Age of Apocalypse…is Kitty with Peter, or against him?

Magneto #20 (Marvel) – This title is showing how Magneto is trying to deal with the incursions, wanting to be the saviour of the planet so mutants can carry on.  Polaris is also along for the ride, helping her father but also looking after the humans her father is stepping over while he tries to save the day.  This title will more than likely be ending when the Marvel Universe gets its reboot, and I am looking forward to see how Magneto goes out.

Marvel Zombies #2 (Marvel) – Issue 1 was fun, and I really enjoyed Elsa Bloodstone as the main character we follow.  I only know her from the stories she’s guest starred in, and I’m glad to be seeing more of her and what kind of character she is.  Plus, who doesn’t like zombies?

 

Pharoah

Top Pick: Fables #150 (DC Comics/Vertigo) – I heard that this world shattering story was coming to an end in a big way during last year’s SDCC, this is one of those stories that every comic book reader needs to read yesterday and am interested to see if this ends in typical Fables fashion….

Archie vs Sharknado #1 (Archie) It has been quite a few months for Archie. He has fought zombies, died, fought Predator and now he fights Sharknado !!!! Nothing else to be said

JLA: Gods and Monsters : Batman #1 (DC Comics)- I loved the prequel series on Machinima, and can’t wait for the movie, but will settle for prequel comic book set in this alternate world, where Kirk Langstrom ( known to Batman devotees as Man-Bat) is Batman, should be interesting!!

Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde #1 (Marvel )- longtime readers know them as , *insert pun* “star crossed lovers”, but this takes place within Battle World, so one is curious to see if their love is the same or are they mortal enemies?

Wolf #1 (Image) I love hardboiled detectives, but hardboiled detectives who deal with the supernatural, (i.e., John Constantine, Harry Dresden) is a special breed, enter Antoine Wolfe.

Preview: C.O.W.L. #10

C.O.W.L. #10

Story By: Kyle Higgins
Story By: Alec Siegel
Art By: Rod Reis
Cover By: Rod Reis
Price: $3.99
Diamond ID: JAN150675
Published: May 13, 2015

After weeks of vicious attacks by Camden Stone and Geoffrey Warner’s villains, C.O.W.L. finally has a new contract with the city. Now, will Geoffrey be able to reign in the fabricated villains? Plus, Detective Evelyn Thompson confronts John Pierce’s killer.

COWL10_Cover

Preview: C.O.W.L. #8

C.O.W.L. #8

Story By: Kyle Higgins
Story By: Alec Siegel
Art By: Rod Reis
Cover By: Rod Reis
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: NOV140645
Published: February 4, 2015

Thanks to Camden Stone, Geoffrey Warner has the villains he desperately needed. But at what cost? And how long can Geoffrey keep the lie going?

COWL08_Cover

Preview: C.O.W.L. #6

C.O.W.L. #6

Story By: Kyle Higgins
Story By: Alec Siegel
Art By: Joe Bennett
Art By: Rod Reis
Cover By: Joe Bennett
Cover By: Rod Reis
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: SEP140575
Published: November 26, 2014

NEW STORY ARC! Before he started C.O.W.L., Geoffrey Warner fought for Chicago as the city’s first hero, THE GREY RAVEN! But what started him down the path of crime fighting? Witness the origin of Chicago Superheroes, the War Years, and the formation of C.O.W.L. as told in the sellout issue written by C.O.W.L reporter and comic book writer Randall Winters.

COWL06_Cover

Preview: C.O.W.L. #5

C.O.W.L. #5

Story By: Kyle Higgins
Story By: Alec Siegel
Art By: Rod Reis
Cover By: Trevor McCarthy
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: JUL140538
Published: September 24, 2014

The end of the first arc and a huge turning point for the series! John Pierce and Geoffrey Warner square off over C.O.W.L.’s big secret, Radia faces public outcry, and Arclight resorts to lethal force…against one of his own.

COWL05_Cover

Preview: C.O.W.L. #4

C.O.W.L. #4

Story By: Kyle Higgins
Story By: Alec Siegel
Art By: Rod Reis
Cover By: Trevor McCarthy
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: JUN140544
Published: August 27, 2014

As City Hall continues to threaten Geoffrey Warner, Blaze must find a way to unite C.O.W.L…. even as John’s investigation brings a dark cloud over the organization.

COWL04_Cover

Sell-Outs and New Printing Roundup

It’s Sunday, so that means a new round of announced sell-outs and new printings. Check out below for what’s been announced this week!

Image Comics

Chew: Warrior Chicken Poyo has sold out and a new printing will return on August 27. The comic by John Layman and Rob Guillory has been a hit on comic shelves and at last week’s San Diego Comic-Con.

ChewWarriorChickenPoyo_CoverC.O.W.L. #3 has completely sold out at the distributor level, but may still be available in comic stores. The third issue of Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis will return August 27, the same day as the fourth issue.

COWL03_Cover

Low #1 had a high amount of sales, as the issue has sold out and will get a second printing. The series by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini sees the second printing hit shelves on August 4.

Low01_CoverAOutcast #2 by Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta has sold out. The new printing will hit shelves on August 27, the same day as the third issue.

Outcast #2 cover

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