I’ve seen the “Love and Capes” booth at cons I’ve attended, but never got around to picking the books up. I certainly intended to, but just never got around to it, holding off until I could devote the time and cash to make the big plunge for the whole run. Lucky for me, IDW has picked up the title with this new series, which makes for the perfect jumping on point for new readers, like me.
For those not in the know, “Love and Capes” features the non-heroic side of life of Mark Spencer, also known as the Crusader (a Superman-like hero), and his wife, Abby. The pair lives in Deco City and the comic features the goings-on of their lives, including issues with rent and anxiety-inducing double-dates with other heroic couples. While Abby doesn’t have powers, she is aware of her husband’s secret and the two of them lead a very “normal” life.
The normal life here involves the dreaded apartment search that everyone goes through in their lives at some point. This time, however, that search is magnified as Abby finds that her store’s rent has also risen, presenting essentially the same challenge on two fronts. The characters are relatable in their situations and the resolution – and how they find it – is not magical, nor are they unrelatable. It’s believable and refreshing, and it also helps define the world around Abby and Mark.
Zahler’s story is much more than just a simple analog of the Superman-Lois Lane relationship, as these characters don’t walk along the same paths as their perceived analogs. Mark is an accountant and Abby a bookstore owner. The relationship between the two and among their friends is a charming tale that is reminiscent of a sitcom as opposed to a superhero comic. It’s a nice variation on a theme, and Zahler does a nice job delivering the story. Zahler stopped by to talk about the series back in January.
The pages are largely composed of eight panels, and it is clear at points that those eight panel pages break down into two four-panel installments. For the most part, though, those panels flow nicely one to the next and this issue reads like a coherent issue rather than a collected edition of Sunday funnies.
Zahler’s style is a smart blend of modern and classic, as all of the panels are framed by white gutters, but without stern black rules around them. The characters themselves have a Bruce Timm vibe that feeds the lighter manner of the comic. The exaggerated expressions help the humor of this title shine through.
The production quality on this book is top-notch. My only gripe would be the semi-transparent word balloons strain against the backgrounds in more than one spot, but it is a different appearance than the standard-issue comic on the racks today.
It is the willingness to be different that takes “Love and Capes” and elevates it to a book that I’m planning on keeping up with from this point. Actually, now might be a good time for me to go back and catch up on the backstory. It’s not necessary as this issue is completely-self-reliant, but this issue makes me think it might be enjoyable.