Love and Capes: Do You Want to Know a Secret? Vol. 1
Writer/Artist: Thomas F. Zahler
Superheroes aren’t having much fun these days. While there’s some great work being done in the capes-and-cowls genre, it’s often so relentlessly grim that fans seeking lighthearted reading might as well head straight to the kids’ section of the comics shop (and I often do).
Thank goodness for Thomas F. Zahler’s Love and Capes, a funny, smartly written — and, yes, lighthearted — series about the intersection of heroics and romance. Bookstore owner Abby learns that her mild-mannered accountant boyfriend, Mark, is also a superhero known to Deco City as The Crusader. After he reveals his true identity, Abby experiences the perks (15-minute flights to Maui) and perils (picnics interrupted by crises) of dating a member of the cape community.
It’s appropriate that Love and Capes is billed as a “heroically super situation comedy,” because the quick banter and likable cast give it the feel of an especially good TV show. Zahler makes good use of the familiar: The Crusader is clearly a Superman analog, and his best friend, Paul, aka Darkblade, stands in for a certain serious billionaire who fights crime at night. Most of the derring-do takes place off of the page, so even when we see these two at work, they’re rarely talking shop. In one of the book’s many funny panels, Darkblade — while dangling a bad guy over a rooftop — tells Mark that his ill-timed request for relationship advice is “seriously killing my creature-of-the night vibe.”
Like all newly smitten, cute couples, Mark and Abby are just this side of annoying. (In this first volume, Mark’s only noticeable flaw is that he’s a tad jealous of Arachnerd, a web-slinger who is at the center of a blockbuster film franchise.) Zahler spices things up considerably by introducing Amazonia, an Angelina Jolie/Wonder Woman hybrid who happens to be The Crusader’s ex-girlfriend. How intimidating is she? Abby’s sister, Charlotte puts it this way: “Amazonia? Whoa. I’d do her.”
Speaking of Charlotte, her tart asides and single-gal perspective bring a lot of wit to Love & Capes. She’s an utterly charming second banana — a Rhoda Morgenstern to Abby’s Mary Tyler Moore (Cue readers born after 1980 saying, “Who?” in unison).
This book has such genuine, across-the-board appeal, and I was bummed to hear two LCS owners — both fans of the series — say they couldn’t interest enough readers to justify stocking the single issues. People, where is the love? The next time I hear a fellow comic lover complaining about the Big Two offerings on his or her pull list, I’m going to ask (in a slightly judgmental tone) why that person isn’t reading Love and Capes, among other things.
Do yourself a favor and check out the first two trade volumes, or head over to the Love and Capes website for a taste of the series. It’s mighty good.