Love and Capes, Volume 1
Do You Want to Know a Secret?
Love and Capes by Thomas Zahler tells the story of a couple in love - Mark and Abby. It just so happens that Mark is also the Crusader. He is a member of the Liberty League, and sometimes he has to rush off in the middle of dinner to save the world. What can a superhero do? Well, other than stop in Australia on the way home for his girlfriend’s favorite flowers. In this first collected volume, Mark decides to reveal his secret super identity to Abby, normal bookstore owner. No, this is not your average story about a superhero and his civilian girlfriend.
The presentation of his secret is perfect, and Abby takes it surprisingly well. Then she immediately tells this important secret to her sister. Oops. Well, she needs someone to talk to! We get to follow her and Mark through normal new relationship joys and woes. Yes, they are sometimes annoyingly adorable. They meet each other’s parents, Abby has to deal with Mark’s ex-girlfriend Amazonia (who happens to be a gorgeous superhero), Mark introduces Abby to his favorite method of travel, and they struggle over what to buy each other for Christmas. You know, just your everyday sort of problems. I refuse to give away more specific points of the plot.
The comic is tagged as a "Heroically Super Situation Comedy.” It is exactly that. You can’t help but picturing this in a TV sitcom format. Zahler has created a cast of characters that you want to be pals with. We know that the Crusader saves the day, but the style of the comic makes you focus more on the fact that he’s a nice guy. The superhero stuff is there, but it happens off-camera for the most part. To me, the comic is about relationships and the normal side of superheroes. Mark and Abby are the focus of the series, but there’s also Abby and Charlotte, the Crusader and Darkblade, and Mark and Amazonia. This fantastic cast and the nuances of all their interactions are what keep me turning pages. I am invested in all of these characters, and I care about what happens to them.
The cartoony style of illustration is perfect for the story. Mark is impossibly square-jawed, and Abby is petite and adorable. Amazonia is, of course, stunning and model-like. The art is smooth, and the color palette is inviting. Though I don’t usually comment on layouts, the 8 panel format really makes the comic flow. I can’t say enough good things about the fast-paced dialogue and funny in-jokes and pop culture references. It’s funny that Zahler mentions Gilmore Girls in the comic because the snappy back and forth really reminds me of the show.
I especially recommend Love and Capes to people that either want to read comics but don’t know where to start or just haven’t found the right comic for them yet. I tell them about this comic because it’s human, it’s wonderfully written, it’s funny, and almost everyone can relate to some aspect. Does it sound like I’m gushing? Well, I am a little. I really adore this series, and when I like something so much, I want the rest of the world to give it a try. You can even read it online!
You can buy Love and Capes directly from Zahler’s site or ask about it at your local comic book store.