A couple of years ago, I attended my first comic book convention in Morgantown, WV. It was just right up the road from my house, actually. There I met Kyle Higgins, who was the writer of Nightwing at the time, and I learned a little bit about him as I got to casually chat with him, thanks to the small Saturday crowd. I came to find out that he was a student of film and was working toward becoming a filmmaker when he fell into comics, all thanks to his student film called The League. Although I didn’t have the cash on hand to buy a copy of it then (I spent all my cash on comics and Robocops), I would buy it on iTunes later that night. I was blown away.
And that’s where my fascination with the world of these Chicago superheroes (and my own interest in writing comics) began.
C.O.W.L., Higgins’ first creator owned comic with his League co-writer Alec Siegel, details the later years when the Chicago Organized Workers League of superheroes began getting paid to protect their city. After a decade of battling the city’s villains, especially the supervillain syndicate known as the Chicago Six, crime is at an all-time low, and that’s not good for a union that’s looking to renew its contract with the city. Especially when there may be more to the story of villainy than meets the eye.
This first issue, with great art by Rod Reis, serves as an introduction to a superhero world we haven’t yet seen. Sure, there have been organized superhero groups before this, such as the JLA or the Watchmen, but C.O.W.L. offers so much more than that. The story seems to be one part political drama (the league’s fight to stay relevant) with one part detective drama (who supplies the Skylancer?) and one part hero comic. In other words, it’s a superhero story that plays out as if it were set in the real world. But, above all that, it’s a refreshing and gritty look at the world of the superhero during a time when some readers (myself included) have become a little burnt out with the idea of bam-pow comics.
After talking to Higgins a couple of times about the future of The League, details of which he held very close to his chest, we finally get to see what he can do when left to his own devices. Higgins is building a world in his native Chicago that I think will not disappoint. He’s passionate about this project, and it shows. Years of planning and thinking has gone into this comic, and it has culminated into a series that I think people will be talking about for a long while.
There are few comics that I have left in my pull, but this one will be among those few. I’m excited to see where the story will go, and what the league will have to face in the future. We know how heroes defend themselves against a rogues gallery of costumed villains, but how will they defend themselves against those villains in a three-piece suit? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Until then, be sure to check out Higgins and Siegel’s The League, which is available at www.theleaguefilm.com. You can also check out our Let Us Podcast interview with Higgins here. Above all else, be sure to add C.O.W.L. to your pull list if you haven’t already. You’re not going to want to miss this.