Love and Capes is a wonderful slant on superhero life, which (In its own words) is a heroically super sit-com done up in comicbook form. The series itself centers around The Crusader, a Superman-like character, and his interactions with his girlfriend Abby Tennyson, other superheroes in his world (all essentially modeled after mainstream characters from the DC and Marvel universes), the villains of that world, and the lives they all lead.
This issue starts off with Mark Spencer (The Crusader) and his girlfriend Abby in the movies watching the film Arachnerd (yes, yes, the film is essentially Spider-Man 1), only Mark is not pleased with the film, as they are walking out he is explaining to Abby all of the things that he feels are wrong with the film. As he goes on, you can't quite tell if he really didn't like the film, or he is somehow jealous of the fact that the Arachnerd (a "real" hero in Mark's world) got a film made about him while The Crusader doesn't have a film.
Abby asks why he is so jealous of Arachnerd, because as The Crusader, Mark is one of the most powerful people on the planet. Mark turns the argument around and asks Abby (who owns and runs a small independent bookstore) how she would feel about a huge bookstore moving in around the corner, which naturally gets Abby all worked up. Later on, as Mark is changing into costume in an ally (yep his girlfriend knows he's a Superhero), she informs him that his analogy doesn't really work as in the comparison He would be the huge Mega store and she would be the Arachnerd.
Mark reappears as The Crusader and as they prepare to fly away, Abby puts a scarf in her hair, only when they take off, the scarf is left behind. The Crusader deposits Abby in the back room of her books store and continues on his way. As she exits the storeroom her sister Charlotte (who also knows Mark's secret) laughs at what flying has done to her sister's hair yet again. The two sisters chat about a neighborhood performance of Twelfth Night and how Abby should try out for the play.
While out on patrol in the neighboring city of Chronopolis The Crusader is helping out his old pal and fellow Liberty League hero Darkblade (Batman). It is there that he tells Bat that he can't attend the upcoming Liberty League meeting as he is going on a family picnic with Abby and Charlotte. It is then that Darkblade tells The Crusader that the studio that made his film (the same one that made the Arachnerd's film, has green-lit a sequel for Darkblade's next outing. The Crusader doesn't take that too well.
The next day, Mark, Abby, and Charlotte pile into Abby's car and head out to the family outing. Mark points out they could get there faster if he simply flew the car out there, only Abby insists that a road trip will be fun. Needless to say, to a man who can fly into the sun, getting stuck in traffic for a half hour is somewhat less than fun, and Mark doesn't miss a chance to constantly inform everyone about it. Charlotte passes Mark a thick book thinking that will hold him for a while only he speed-reads in a couple of seconds. Needless to say, the next scene is The Crusader depositing Abby's car just outside of Margalis, where the picnic is to be held. As they approach the picnic grounds, Abby warns Mark to be nice to her brother, Quincy, who has just broken up with his girlfriend.
As if on cue, Quincy approaches with his new girlfriend, a smokin'-hot Redhead who happens to be a cheerleader. Quincy, a former football player and a newscaster, is very impressed with himself, and spends much of his time at the picnic regaling everyone with way-cool tales of how wonderful he is. Needless to say, this puts Mark (an accountant) on the defensive. Eventually fed up with Quincy's boasting, a surprise gust of superbreath er, ah, wind apparently comes out of nowhere and blows him into the lake.
To make matters worse, a bit later a couple of the kids are playing superheroes. One of them has the role of the Arachnerd while the other is the villainous Squiddler When Mark asks to be The Crusader, he is told The Crusader is boring, and he should be Darkblade.
The Next night in Washington D.C. The Crusader and Darkblade are dealing with a bomb threat against the Jefferson Memorial when Darkblade reveals that the other members of the Liberty League have decided to invite Arachnerd into their group, and have nominated The Crusader to be the one who invites in to join, which obviously makes The Crusader even more crazy.
Reluctantly, Crusader agrees and meets with Arachnerd the next day and extends the invitation, to which the young hero eagerly accepts. Soon the two heroes are hanging around the City's skyline chatting it up (Arachnerd becomes excitesd when he learns that his Liberty Legion ID card gets him half off at Munchkin Donuts). One thing leads to another and they get to discussing how Arachnerd worked a case with Darkblade who introduced him to a movie producer, which kick-started the smash movie in which he was currently staring.
Upon leaving Arachnerd, Crusader heads back to Deco City and Abby. While spending a quiet evening at home, he reveals to her that he really wanted to dislike Arachnerd, only he discovered that he couldn't. For after 10 years as a Superhero he know a good guy when he meets one, and Arachnerd is one of the good guys, and will make a good addition to the team.
Crusader brings Abby up to the Liberty League satellite so that they can use the Holographic simulator of the League's Battle Room where Abby can practice or her try out of Twelfth Night. There they meet Amazonia (Wonder Woman), and Abby and Amazonia exchange pleasantries. Back on Earth, Abby goes for the audition, and scores the role. When she comes back to the book store to tell her sister, she suddenly understands why Mark has been in a bad mood for the past few weeks.
She realizes that he is approaching his 10-year anniversary so she reaches out to Darkblade to set up an anniversary party. Then arranges to have Crusader on monitor duty and stages a fake incident to get Crusader's attention. When he arrives all of his superhero friends (including )are there to wish him a happy anniversary. Which all comes as a total surprise for Crusader. As the party winds down, the Legion gets a call from Mermantis about some super felons breaking out of Irongate Prison. All of the heroes (including the newly-inducted Arachnerd) go off to fight the good fight, leaving Crusader to bring Abby home.
Don't look for anything Earth-shattering in this series, as it is simply straight-up fun and enjoyment. You can tell totally that writer/artist Thom Zahler truly loves this genre, as all of his talent is right there on the page. His characterizations and dialogue are spot on without being cloying, and he makes enough sideways references to mainstream comicbook heroes, situations, and events so as to engage the reader in a fun "insider" feel without requiring you to know absolutely everything about everything that has occurred at the Big Two for the past 50 years.
This is a great little comic, and I totally urge everyone to rush down to their local comicbook shop and demand that the shop carry the comic. Still, if you want to try it before you buy it; feel free to make it to your Comicbook shop on Free Comic Book day (Saturday May 3rd, 2008) as there will be a giveaway of the comic available then.
This is an excellent book that is fun, lighthearted, and everything that a comic should be. I took a half a point off because Arachnerd wasn't in more of the story (hey, this is SpiderFan, not SuperFan, remember?) But seriously; this is a great comic, and deserves to be read by a wider audience.
This comic was originally presented as issue #4 of the on-going Love and Capes series, and was then later re-issued in 2007 as a giveaway for Free Comic Book Day. It is the second or third time that has occurred, and there is yet another free Love and Capes slated for Free Comic Book day 2008.
Oh Yeah, in case I was not clear, the character "Arachnerd" is this comic's "Spidey" stand-in.