Joe Hill's The Cape


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Joe Hill's The Cape


  • Words: Joe Hill, Jason Ciaramella
  • Art: Zach Howard
  • Colors: Nelson Daniel
  • Publisher: IDW Publishing
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Dec 22, 2010

This one-shot by Locke and Key creator Joe Hill and Jason Ciaramella may seem childish and innocent on the outside, but it is actually a dark look at childhood fantasies gone wrong.  Hill and Ciaramella take an object with the potential to become wonderful and mysterious, and shows us what an everyday person would actually do with that power.  What we, as readers, find is that great power doesn’t always come with great responsibility.

The Cape is the story of a man who pretended to be a superhero as a boy.  He wore a special homemade cape that grew from being a blanket to a full-fledged superhero costume.  After the boy, Eric, gets seriously injured in a tree-climbing accident while playing hero, his mother prohibits him from donning the cape ever again.

As he grows up, he lives a relatively normal life where he dates a beautiful and successful girl who supports him and lives with him.  The only thing different about him is that he gets frequent headaches, which he remedies with drinking and driving.  Throughout the story, it seems that the only thing holding Eric back is Eric.  He has all of the same opportunities afforded to him as his Ivy League-student brother, but lacks the ambition to take advantage of them. As tensions build between Eric and his girlfriend, Angie, Eric screams at her in a fit of rage, and they eventually break up. 

Although he seems like a bit of a scumbag, you can’t help but feel for the character, as most comic book readers can empathize with the boy he once was—someone who dreamed big but fell short and wound up bitter and disillusioned.

Hopeless and alone, Eric rediscovers his old childhood safety blanket and realizes that it has incredible powers.  What happens next will leave you speechless.

Zach Howard’s art draws the readers in and doesn’t let them go.  His style has an indie movie feel to it, and makes the story feel like it could easily happen to you or one of your friends.  The realistic pace at which this book moves also keeps the story seemingly completely grounded in reality.  The gritty lines, cartoonish features and use of ben-day dots create an eerie juxtaposition of innocence, nostalgia and the fierceness of reality.  What’s even more disturbing is the combination of Eric’s glorious super-heroic poses, the extreme childishness of the cape symbol and the gruesome attention to detail Howard gives to each injury.  Never before has such opposing iconography been used so subtly to convey a real but sad and terrifying vision of super-heroics and villainy.

While this issue was only a one-shot, the final page promises that The Cape will return in 2011.  I, for one, am very much looking forward to finding out what happens next, and if you pick up this book, you will too.

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