The Cape Issue 1
The Will Eisner Comic Industry Award nominations were recently announced, and one of the titles that caught my eye in the Best Single Issue (or One-Shot) category was a comic titled “The Cape”. To be quite honest, this title had flown completely under my radar when released last year. That said, I am very glad the Eisner nominations cast a spotlight on it.
“The Cape” is a mature title, and rightly so. It contains some harsh language, as well as drug use, however none of it is intended to shock the audience. The story and its characters are honest.
“The Cape” starts as a flashback to when the central character, Eric, was a young boy. From the beginning, it’s hard to tell if the comic will be a stark drama or fantastical tale. As it turns out, it’s a bit of both.
You find out that Eric’s father had been killed in Vietnam, leaving his mother to raise he and his brother Nicky by herself. The boys would play superhero games, and it was during one such escapade that Eric’s cape caught in a tree branch, causing him to fall quite some distance.
From that point on, Eric is a different person. The fall, and its subsequent operations, cause him no relief. He turns inward, and loses all ambition. Whereas his girlfriend, Angie grows, matures and progresses with her life, Eric only sinks deeper into self-pity and anger.
His relationship with Angie falls apart, leading back to his mother’s house, this time in a room in the basement. It’s there that he discovers that though his mother had said she’d thrown out the afore-mentioned cape, she had in fact simply stored it in the basement. While he sees this as her being cheap and never throwing anything out, the reader will know that the real reason is no doubt because of the Marine badge sewn on the cape which had once belonged to Eric’s father.
By this point in the story, we begin to see a far harsher side to Eric. It’s in his thoughts, as well as his eyes. In this regard, penciler Zach Howard does a phenomenal job. Overall, the art in “The Cape” is quite good. Nothing extraordinary, but good. Its lines are hard, which suits the story. I also liked the old school pointillism style of shading.
You may be wondering when the fantastical portion of comic begins, and that is the moment he puts on the cape as an adult and discovers that it grants him the power of flight. Due to the seriousness of the comic up until that point, it is easy to wonder whether or not Eric’s flying escapade is only occurring in his imagination. However you see shortly thereafter that the cape is, in fact, magical.
“The Cape” is based on a short story by Joe Hill by the same title. Having read this comic now, I am very interested in finding this short story. I would love to read even more into the tale, as it would definitely lend itself well to further narrative. As a comic, it absolutely excels in every way imaginable. The story is tight, honest and gripping till the very last panel. It works very well as a single issue, however the fact that IDW plans on continuing the story this year makes me quite happy as well.
Having not yet read any of the other nominees for Best Single Issue (or One-Shot), I can’t say whether it deserves to win. However I can say with certainty that it did deserve the nomination.
The Cape Issue 1
Story: Jason Ciaramella (based on the short story “The Cape” by Joe Hill
Art: Zach Howard, Nelson Daniel