Available for pre-order now from finer comics shops, COWL is a forthcoming series from Image Comics which stylishly depicts an alternate history Chicago of the pre-"swinging" 1960s, when the (in)famously political city experienced all manner of socioeconomic upheaval -- including the dissolution of the Chicago Organized Workers League. Also known as COWL, it's a union for costumed superheroes, and its days are numbered.
The first issue of COWL avoids some traps into which most non-Marvel and non-DC cape comics fall. Most obviously, COWL is not a Marvel or DC superhero book in disguise. Its characters aren't similar-to-but-legally-distinct versions of heroes we might know from the Avengers or the Justice League, but distinct, original creations of writers Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegal and artist Rod Reis. Similarly, despite its "real-world" premise and period setting, COWL is not a Watchmen cover version, offering a decidedly less dour tone and honest-to-god superhero adventure blended deftly with its dramatic take on city politics. Sometimes it's even really funny. Finally, COWL bucks the origin fetish of the superhero genre by introducing us to its intriguing cast not at the start of their sagas, but at what might be the end.
We had a chance to talk to COWL co-writer Kyle Higgins (formerly of DC Comics' Nightwing and the writer of the impressive digital-first series Batman Beyond 2.0) about his new Image book and what kind of world readers will buy into if they pick up issue #1 next month.