Saturday, February 12, 2011

The triumphant return of Love and Capes

This week marks the long-awaited return to comic shops the appearance of Love and Capes, Tom Zahler’s unique superhero, romantic comedy, comicbook. Formerly self-published by Zahler’s own Maerkle Press logo, it hits the stands now not only under the IDW imprint but as a monthly limited series. Zahler himself describes the title as a “Heroically Super Situation Comedy” which is perhaps the most apt description of the title that anyone has ever used.

The book follows the ongoing romance and relationship of Mark Spencer (secretly the Crusader, protector of Deco City) and the love of his life, Abby Tennyson (who knows of his dual identity and owns an independent book store). They were recently married (in issue #13 of the original run), and now they are moving onto the next phase of their mutual lives — marital co-habitation. Zahler writes this stuff with such an incredible ease that his story is (save for the folks running around in tights and flying and all), totally believable.

His dialogue is smooth and sharp at the same time, displaying wit and tone that isn’t always present in comicbook writing (which tends towards bland, two-dimensional characters, hence the term “cartoon characters”). While it is true that everybody’s dialogue seems more urbane than folks your likely to meet in real life, that is perfectly fine and fits entirely with the going-ons of the storyline itself. The rest of the regular cast consists of Abby’s sister, Charlotte (who is currently going to school in Paris, France, and used to date millionaire Paul LaCrox); Paul (who is secretly Darkblade, the dark protector of Chronopolis, and Crusader’s best friend), and Amazonia (who used to date Crusader, and is now dating Darkblade). The three heroes (along with several others), belong to a superteam called the Liberty League.

Each issue is (generally speaking), self-contained , so it is not necessary to possess all of the previous issues so as to be up-to-date with what is going on in the comic (although, after reading a single issue, you will probably want to rush out to purchase the other issues, simply because the series is that good). In this kick-off IDW issue (subtitled Ever After) begin with Abby & Mark getting used to married life, and looking for a new (larger) apartment. Then, in the middle of their search, Abby’s landlord raises her rent (twice), forcing her to consider a new location for her bookstore as well.

Added onto the tension of the newlyweds, is an invitation by Darkblade and Amazonia to have a couples night at LaCrox’s enormous estate (when offered a tour of the mansion, Paul musses that he hopes the Segways are charged up). This particular issue is a tad light on the superheroics part of the Love and Capes equation, but that is hardly a complaint, as the story is — as always — a gem.

Hopefully, with his new association with IDW (and its access to a wider distribution network), Love and Capes will get more of the recognition and acclaim that it justifiably deserves. The story is delightful; the artwork is bright, stunning, and vibrant, just the way comicbooks should be to reach outside of traditional marketplaces and bring new reader into the field. One can only hope.

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