After the Cape #1


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After the Cape #1


  • Words: Howard Wong & Jim Valentino
  • Art: Marco Rudy
  • Inks: Marco Rudy
  • Colors: N/A
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Mar 21, 2007

When you’re a failed super-hero with a serious drink problem and an inability to provide for your family, you’ve surely hit rock bottom haven’t you? Think again…

Ethan Falls was once part of the costumed set. As Captain Gravity he patrolled with Cyber Fire, Paladin and the rest of a super-team fighting the good fight. But Ethan’s alcoholism made him a liability. His comrades tired of constantly rescuing him and righting his drunken mistakes and his career as a super-hero came to an ignominious end.

When we meet Ethan in this opening issue his life is in freefall. He can’t adequately support his family, his wife is working every hour she can to keep them afloat, he’s lying to himself and everyone around him about his problems and he’s still drinking. As if things couldn’t get any worse, his solution to the hole he’s dug himself into is to keep on digging. With the aid of two local lowlifes he uses his powers to rob a bank. And just when you think even this situation can’t possibly deteriorate further it does. And how!

This is a very impressive debut from the creative team of Howard Wong and Marco Rudy. It’s a super-hero story, but there are no gaudily colorful costumes or wise-cracking protagonists to be found here. Wong’s tale is the examination of one man’s choices and the spiraling descent into personal disaster that ensues from them.

It’s a remarkable achievement of characterization that Wong manages to keep the reader’s sympathy for his main character despite his quite loathsome behavior. Ethan is self-pitying, unwilling to take any responsibility for the decisions that have led him to this predicament and, by the issue’s end, a criminal. Yet at the heart of it all is a desire to provide for his family. However appalling his actions the readers still find themselves hoping Ethan will get a grip and pull his life together. I suspect, however, that things will only get worse for him before they can get any better…

The black and white art perfectly complements the dark tone of the subject matter. Marco Rudy illustrates in a noirish style that is incredibly striking and knows just how to use the black and white format to its full advantage, creating a moody and brooding atmosphere throughout. His use of gray tones to differentiate the flashback sequences from the current day narrative is inventive and his panel-to-panel storytelling is always compelling, suiting this ultra-realistic take on the super-hero genre.

First and foremost this is a very real tale about a man’s frailties and failings. The costumed heroes and fantastic powers are almost incidental. After the Cape puts the human into super-human and is all the more powerful for it.

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