Love and Capes: Do You Want to Know a Secret?
In Love and Capes, Thom Zahler does a perfect job combining romantic comedy with superheroics. Now, you can get a great big chunk of the adventures of Mark and Abby in the new collection Do You Want to Know a Secret?, reprinting the first six issues of the series.
Mark is the Crusader, the best-known superhero in town. Abby is a detail-oriented bookstore owner who somehow has missed figuring out his secret identity. They’re deeply, believably in love, and he trusts her, so he decides to stop hiding important things from her.
I love the way he shares his secret — when taking off his clothes to reveal his costume, she ignores what it means until he sits down on thin air. It’s great visual interplay that fully uses both art and text. The comedy here is honestly funny because it comes from the characters, nice people that are already familiar to the reader but have their own personalities. Abby’s not above taking advantage of Mark’s ability to create an instant Hawaiian vacation, for example. But it’s his inner self (especially his senses of humor and flattery) that makes him such a catch.
The book is structured as a series of comic strips, with two punchlines per page (made up of eight panels). Zahler’s cartoon-influenced style is appealing and well-suited for both action and comedy. There’s a lot of humor to be had in daily life with a superhero. (Presents are never secrets with x-ray vision, for example.) Also entertaining are Mark’s relationship with his best friend, hero of the night Darkblade, and Abby’s interaction with her observant younger sister Charlotte.
The chapter where Mark and Abby are trying to figure out the perfect Christmas gift for each other is very touching. Then comes setting up Charlotte with a date; attending the newest superhero movie (starring the Arachnerd); and Abby taking a role in a local theater production. Plus, Abby has to work out how to get along with Mark’s parents, who know their kid is perfect, and the superhero Amazonia, Mark’s ex-girlfriend.
The best part about the couple is the way they accept each other. Mark treats Abby as a partner, not an accessory. Too many people have made fun of Lois Lane, calling her an idiot for never proving Clark Kent was Superman; instead of that insulting approach, Zahler creates two well-rounded people who have to navigate a complex mix of careers, hobbies, skills, and personality traits, just like real life. The reader can easily see why they fell in love with each other — they have fun together.