Written by Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel
Art by Rod Reis
Published by Image Comics
C.O.W.L .is really shaping up into a great comic book. This issue gives us some context on another powered member of C.O.W.L., Kathryn Mitchell/Radia, and the distinctly unpleasant experience of being a female superhero in 1962. I really have to applaud this comic for taking a look at just how a woman would have been treated then (and in many respects is treated today), giving it a sense of historical authenticity.
Radia cannot catch a break in the way people treat her. In discussing what happened to Grant last issue, she lets slip that the girls in the office don’t consider her “part of the club” because she is single. People who want autographs constantly touch her, and even the Alderman she saved in Issue #1 condescendingly affirms that “She deserves to be taken care of.” A magazine interview goes much the same way, with her posing suggestively for pictures and the interviewer affirming that “We’ll just stick with simple topics. Play to your strengths.” Elsewhere, Geoffrey Warner is negotiating with Richard Daley for C.O.W.L.’s contract. Daley shocks Warner by demanding that the city be allowed to hire super-powered individuals “as needed,” which would erode C.O.W.L.’s position. Lastly, John Pierce continues to dig for the source of the missing C.O.W.L. schematics.
In terms of dealing with misogyny, it’s almost a shame this comic isn’t set in the present era, because a lot of the issues Radia is facing in 1962 apply today. That being said, it’s nice to see a comic acknowledge that this is how a woman would be treated. Radia’s actions tend to dominate this issue, so much so that my other favorite character only gets a few pages to work on his investigation, but I didn’t really care. I’d like to see this continued with how other people on the team treat her. The issue includes her backstory, which notes that she had numerous normal jobs before taking work with C.O.W.L. What drew her to superheroics?
As a history nerd, there’s a part of me that wants to see Daley’s motives for locking out C.O.W.L. tied back into national politics. How does C.O.W.L. fail to figure into the Daley political machine? Is it just because, as Warner says, Daley can’t control C.O.W.L.? Lots of questions here, and few answers. Pierce’s investigation is certainly pointing in a disturbing direction, though I can’t tell if we’re supposed to be thinking that Warner released the schematics. It seems obvious to me, but perhaps too obvious for the third issue of the comic.
People need to buy this comic. This is one of the more original takes on superheroics in the last year or so and it makes for intelligent reading.