Writers: Howard Wong and Jim Valentino
Artist: Marco Rudy
Publisher: Image Comics/Shadowline
After the Cape could make for a pretty decent TV show. Not necessarily focusing on one character, but a plethora of personalities who have turned in their capes for a white picket fence and a desk job to make ends meet. Of course, there would be those who have to turn to the very thing they once fought against, and there are those who would no doubt develop drug problems. Sure, we got a glimpse of the post-hero life in Brad Birdís fantastic The Incredibles, but that was more family oriented and couldnít have covered all the retired capes. Unlike The Incredibles, After the Cape delves into the dark side of the post-super hero life with the alcoholic main character, Ethan a.k.a. Captain Gravity. If you missed the first issue, check out the Sunday Slugfest of After the Cape #1.
The first issue presents Ethan as "respectable" even though he is a former superhero-alcoholic turned hired muscle. He is respectable because the man knows he has problems, but he also has a wife and kids who he loves more than life. Thus, Ethan must succumb to the criminal underworld and join up with those he once defended against and use his power for his own personal gain so that he can provide for his family. Sure, this idea has been done; a man turns to a life of crime to support his family. But it is rare to see this be the case with superheroes and that would be why this miniseries has an interesting twist.
The other heroes that Ethan once fraternized with never seemed to really like him, so when they find out heís turned to a life of crime they are ready to take him down. Itís interesting to see how something like that would play out if the Justice League eventually ganged up on a drunken Superman. While this is a fantastic idea, there is just something about this series that isnít fully clicking with me. Donít get me wrong, I like it, and I think itís a fantastic alternative superhero story that should be checked out by anyone who doesnít like superheroes, but thereís something not working with me. The writing is good, it flows well and it maintains reader interest in the story. The characters donít need too much development because you get a general idea of who they are and what their roles are. I like the idea that his former allies are preparing to go after him and take him down, and there is the possibility that they may kill him. Seems decent enough. Ethan is recruited by the Triads to recover an ancient cane that will symbolize complete power over all the families of the Triad.
Admittedly, the story is pretty good, and I like Ethanís character, but the one thing that surely stands out in this issue that I do not like is the artwork. It's way too dark, and there is way too much going on that the artwork often looks sloppy and garbled in the standard black and whites of the action. I stated in the last review that I really wish that Shadowline had splurged for a colorist because a little bit of color really would have elevated this title to the next level. Thereís a lot of superpower involved in this issue, and the blacks capture the dark side of this tale, but thereís far too much of it; it definitely needs color, especially when one of the superheroes shows off his power towards the end. If you couldnít tell, my biggest qualm with this issue comes in the form of the artwork and the lack of the much needed color.
The story itself is worthwhile, and I believe the one thing just not clicking with me is the artwork. Itís an alternative superhero story that is bound to develop mixed feelings in readers as the line between right and wrong/good and evil is heavily blurred. If you want an alternative take on superheroes, check this out.
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