The Cape Miniseries
Back in April of last year, I reviewed The Cape, a fantastic one-shot which was nominated for an Eisner award (which it lost to Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil, by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben). I thought The Cape was absolutely fantastic, and so was quite happy when a four part miniseries was announced and released last year.
With all of the recent events from the big two, it’s taken me a while to finally get to it, though that is certainly no reflection on the quality of the series.
Because it’s as gripping and intense as the one-shot upon which it is based.
Please note this feature is full of spoilers
Before we get started on the story, which is likely to have you re-evaluating the mind of a the common super-villain, I have to mention the brilliant artwork by Zach Howard and Nelson Daniel. Both have returned, after the stellar work that they did on the original one-shot, and brought with them their A-game.
As you can see from the 4 covers alone, Howard and Daniel are able to convey a wealth of emotion through facial expression, mood, setting and lightning. There were some fantastic variant covers for this run, but that said, even the originals were absolutely fantastic.
This caliber of art is required, if it’s to do justice to a story this gripping. As with the one-shot, the writing in this miniseries is gritty, intense, emotional and exceptionally powerful. We continue to follow Eric in his decent into madness.
At this point, it has become quite clear that this is not occurring in Eric’s mind, and that the cape is in fact allowing him to fly. Despite the clear intent in the one-shot, the reader’s rational brain still fights against the possibility of a child’s cape which allows flight. You keep thinking that this must be happening in his mind. Unfortunately, that is not the case. What the cape is also allowing, is for Eric’s most disgusting personality traits to come to the surface.
At the end of the one-shot, we got to see that once Eric’s cape was returned to him, he did not choose a “heroic” life, but rather allowed his insecurities to feed on his weak mind. His jealousy, pettiness and sleaziness bubbled to the surface and we saw that he instead chose to become a villain.
The Cape miniseries is as unapologetic as the one-shot, in terms of how it depicts Eric. There is no sugarcoating the character, nor any attempts to rationalize his behavior. He’s an ass. Plain and simple.
Certainly, if you dig, you can say that it’s because of the loss of his father (which justifiably hit him very hard), as well as the insecurities which plagued him after the accident, however those are weak arguments when compared to the wrath which he doles out once he gets his hands back onto that cape. Murder is easy for him… to the point where he is creative with it.
Wether dropping bears or cinder blocks on cops, or ripping through jet engines with a chainsaw, Eric actually appears to take pride in killing.
Of course, it’s not only that he is killing, but also who he is killing. Sure, he’s taking down anyone who is getting in his way, but they are getting in his way of killing those whom he believes have wronged him over the years.
Having already knocked off his girlfriend in the one-shot, Eric sets his sights on both his mother and his brother.
We see his mother run for her life several times in the series, as well as stand up for her other son in one tense scene which sees her fighting back against Eric (which also demonstrates that he is not invulnerable).
That said, there isn’t much Ma can do when Eric launches that chainsaw into the jet’s engine (see image above). I’d like to say that this scene is shocking, because this goes above and beyond actually threatening his mother. He actually kills her, along with the hundreds of others on the jet. However by this point, the reader has absolutely no faith in Eric, nor in any chance of redemption.
We understand that he’s an absolutely terrible person who will continue this melodramatic, self-obsessed violence until someone finally ends him. And our only hope appears to be Eric’s brother, who takes several graphic beatings, but still maintains his integrity and strength throughout.
Ciaramella does a phenomenal job of keeping the tension active till the very last moment; and though it could have been cliched, instead there is truth in the writing which allows for closure on the reader’s part. We were never expected to cheer for the story’s main character, nor want him to get better.
As with all villains, we want him beaten. And unlike the big two who refuse to kill off their villains (or at minimum, allow them to stay dead), Ciaramella gives us the resolution that we want, and deserve.
The Cape four part miniseries is a fantastic read from start to finish, and I highly recommend it.
The Cape Issue 1-4
Story: Jason Ciaramella (based on the short story “The Cape” by Joe Hill
Art: Zach Howard, Nelson Daniel
Note that it is a graphic series, not intended for young readers.