Abby Tennyson is starting a relationship with her accountant, Mark Spencer. Sure, he's a bit clumsy, busy at odd times, and very different from the sort of guys she usually dates, but there's a real connection there. And Mark, for his part, loves her dearly. He just has to get ready to tell her the biggest secret of his life.
He's actually The Crusader, one of the world's most powerful superheroes.Love and Capes
is, at its heart, a romantic comedy that shows the progress of Abby and Mark's relationship - the mundane (dealing with Mark's highly critical mother), the not-so-mundane (such as the fact that one of Mark's ex-girlfriends is Amazonia, who has much the same power set as him and who wants to get back together with him), and the more four-color problems that only superheroes have to deal with (an Evil Twin
and the like).Love and Capes
was originally a twelve-issue print comic by artist Thom Zahler, with two followup miniseries, Ever After
and What to Expect
. Zahler has begun posting it online as a webcomic here
This work contains examples of:
- Badass Normal: Darkblade, in his role as a Batman Captain Ersatz. Amazonia from an alternate timeline later points out that Abby has essentially become one herself as time has gone on.
- Badass Princess: Amazonia is one of these in her home dimension.
- Bat Deduction: Darkblade naturally pulls this off. He deduces, seconds after Crusader merely sips a cup of coffee and looks off to the side, that Abby's pregnant. He's right, of course.
- Beta Couple: Darkblade and Amazonia become this.
- Better as Friends: Paul and Charlotte go on one date; halfway through they decide there's no spark between them and spend the rest of the evening happily snarking about Mark and Abby.
- Birth/Death Juxtaposition: A couple of panels after Windstar's funeral, Abby finds out she's pregnant.
- Black Best Friend: Darkblade.
- Bland-Name Product
- Body Swap: Mark and Abby get one while Abby is pregnant.
- Brought Down to Normal: Mark gives up his powers for 24 hours so that he can have a day without interruption with Abby. Unlike many examples, though, it's not problematic (it wears off right on schedule, and Darkblade covers for him).
- Captain Ersatz: Almost all of the heroes shown. Most prominently, Crusader for Superman, Darkblade for Batman, and Amazonia for Wonder Woman.
- In-story, another example is Major Might, who clearly idolizes Crusader. He's actually a double example, as he's a kid who wished for the power set of his idol, and he's grown up in his super identity, so in-story, he's a copy of Crusader, while he's also a copy of Billy Batson/Captain Marvel with a different origin story.
- The character of Amazonia is a lot more like Maxima, who is an alien warrior queen who always has amorous intentions towards Superman, seeing him as her perfect mate.
- There are also superheroes Arachnerd and Yellow Flashlight, who are ersatz of Spider-Man and Green Lantern, respectively. Also there is "Steel Worker" (either Iron Man or Steel (John Henry Irons)), Blurstreak (The Flash or Quicksilver, or any one of a number of speed-based heroes), and Doctor Karma, who is similar to Doctor Strange or Doctor Fate.
- The Cape: Mark
- Clark Kenting: Played straight, somehow.
- Clocktower: Mark and Paul's usual conversation spot.
- Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: Abby has to give up caffeine at one point due to pregnancy. Naturally, a deluxe coffee-maker, which had been back-ordered for over a year, finally arrives at Abby's bookstore. She also recognizes the problems with this and asks Mark to not drink coffee at home - and then proceeds to linger on his "welcome home" kiss to enjoy the taste of coffee on his breath.
- Cosplay: Mark and Abby wander into a comic convention while at a wedding show. They pass by a rather unfortunate Crusader cosplayer, much to the chagrin of both.
- Costume Test Montage: Abby goes through one of these when she temporarily gains super-powers, cycling through costumes worn by Supergirl, Saturn Girl, Mary Marvel, and Black Canary before settling on one of her own.
- The Cowl: Darkblade
- Crossover: Played with. As one issue begins, Crusader and Darkblade have just come back from what was clearly IDW's Infestation crossover, even though Love and Capes wasn't actually a part of the crossover. (While there, they met up with the Doctor, who was also not officially involved.)
- The Dark Age of Comic Books: Gently parodied.
- Dating Catwoman: Paul even admits to having dated multiple female villains (with one, Fearleader, explicitly named) - appropriate, as he's a Captain Ersatz of the man who performed the trope-naming action. While not specifically a superhero, Charlotte inadvertently does this as well - she's a confidant of several heroes, and she goes on a date with a man who turns out to be the villain Cyber Lord.
- Deadpan Snarker: Pretty much every character with a one-liner, although Darkblade gets the most by far.
- Death Is Cheap: Discussed and deconstructed. It's noted at Windstar's funeral that many people think this way about superheroes, and folks are flippant about a hero's return. However, it's all too painful and real for the family of the deceased. However, the heroes are willing to indulge in some Black Humor about it - Doctor Karma has apparently Come Back Wrong once (though he stresses that his Spirit of Vengeance return was just the one time), and there's a rule regarding funerals (namely, if you've had at least 3, the others have a 90-day waiting period before conducting another for you) named after him.
- Dressed in Layers: When Abby tries out the superhero life, she complains about not being able to wear short sleeves or skirts because they won't hide her costume.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: While Crusader is certainly popular enough, both among the populace at large and amongst other heroes, his endorsement deals (comics, movies, etc.) are fairly pitiful compared to other heroes'. He's particularly resentful towards the popularity of Arachnerd's movie, doubled because his best friend Darkblade actually financed the movie. He mellows out somewhat on the issue, particularly when he learns that Arachnerd, as a Captain Ersatz of Spider-Man, was struggling to make ends meet and balance his social life with his heroing life before the endorsement deal.
- It also didn't help that at the time that the movie came out, it was his tenth anniversary of becoming the Crusader, and no one noticed. Imagine if everyone forgot your 30th birthday, and you get a glimpse of what he was feeling.
- Even the Girls Want Her: Amazonia.
Charlotte: Amazonia? Whoa. Heck, I'd do her.
Abby: (In a quiet voice) Me too.
- Evil Is Petty: When Evil Brain possesses a jogger, the first thing he does is insult Joggers, before ordering a "Cheesy Onion Bacon Loaf." Keep in mind that this is his first appearance in the comic, and he has previously been built up to Doctor Doom levels of supervillainy.
Future!Evil Brain: I really hate joggers.
- Evil Twin: Common enough that the Liberty League refers to it as a "number 6".
- Fantastic Time Management: Crusader forgets to do his own taxes until 11:30 p.m. on April 15. He has to have them finished and in the mail by midnight. Even using his super-speed powers, he is unable to finish them until 2 a.m. the next day. This is no problem, since he lives in the Eastern time zone; he just flies at super speed to the west coast, and mails his taxes in before midnight Pacific time.
- First Name Basis: Mark tells her to keep it up despite The Reveal.
- Flying Brick: Crusader's basic power set, though he has super-senses, as befits a Superman Expy. No Heat Vision, though.
- For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Windstar hints in a flashback that there are big issues related to trying this routine... which resulted in him going to a Halloween party as The Crusader instead. Which further resulted in Windstar pretending he was The Crusader when a hostage situation developed at said party.
- Fountain of Youth: One villainous team fires a gun that does this to Mark... right before he's supposed to have dinner with his in-laws. Hijinks ensue.
- The Ghost: The Evil Brain. Each issue has at least one reference to him, but he never appears on panel in the flesh. The one time he has a speaking role, he technically appears twice... and both appearances (one a future version of the other) are not him, but him possessing others.
- Great Detective: Darkblade, again just like Batman. Taken to the point of Bat Deduction when he figures out that Abby's pregnant by asking just one question - "Is everything okay?"
- I Just Want to Be Special: Abby wants to learn what Mark goes through as a superhero, so she goes to Doctor Karma (the one who temporarily removed Mark's powers) to get her own. Be Careful What You Wish For, though.
- Temporarily get her own, mind. Contrary to what's usually the case with this trope, Abby wasn't interested in having powers, just in understanding Mark better. Which is why Doctor Karma can oblige. Love is one hell of a power-source, apparently.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Amazonia's response to discussing temporal anomalies and trying to make sense of them is to have alcohol on hand when she knows they're coming up.
- I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: Crusader and Darkblade regard their Dark Age looks as this.
- It's All About Me: Michelle, according to Abby.
- Legacy Character: Discussed at Windstar's funeral - his niece also has his powerset, and she thought Mark was trying to recruit her to become the next Windstar. Mark notes that it shouldn't be done because of a sense of obligation, but only if the legacy feels it's who they are. Windstar's niece does decide to become a hero, but with a different name and costume that evoked, but doesn't match, her uncle's identity.
- Meaningful Echo: "A superhero can't save everyone." Used as a comedic Running Gag at first, on how minor things still happen to Abby despite dating a superhero. Becomes much more weighty later on when Abby has her own powers and tries to save everyone on a collapsing bridge... but couldn't.
- The Missus and the Ex: Abby and Amazonia, although they get past the tension eventually.
- Most Common Superpower: Hello there, Amazonia!
- Mundane Utility: Super Speed — great not only for saving people fast and getting to where you're needed quickly, but also great for finishing your secret identity's accounting job in a fraction of the time. Also, as Mark says, having Super Strength means never having to pay retail for a diamond (it's easy to get a good sized one for an engagement ring when you can just make them by hand).
- Also flying you and your girlfriend to Maui for some swimming before work the next day.
- Subverted at one point - Mark points out that Super Speed just lets him do things in less time - it's not any less boring.
- Must Have Caffeine: Abby. It becomes especially apparent in What to Expect when she has to have to give up coffee while pregnant.
- After being temporarily bodyswapped with Mark, she realizes she can have coffee again; her reaction nearly deafens Paul.
- My Beloved Smother: Amazonia's mother, who makes sure to get regular digs in on how Amazonia isn't living the life that she wants her to live. Amazonia points out to Abby that it's no coincidence that she lives and does her superheroing in a dimension other than her home dimension.
- Noodle Incident: How Mark got his powers.
- Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Where Amazonia comes from, her powers are the norm.
- Later annotation by the author is that the powers have to do with being a member of the royal family; Zoe is the youngest sister. The Most Common Superpower seems to be inherent in the entire civilisation, though.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: Mark's mother for Abby, Abby's brother for Mark. Other relatives apologize to each party.
- Old Shame: In-Universe, Crusader at one point in the past licensed his name out to an ice-skating show. Darkblade occasionally likes to tease him about it. He doesn't truly regret it, though, until Abby finds a bootleg recording of it.
- The Power of Love: When Abby asks Doc Karma to give her temporary superpowers, he tells her that a spell like that requires a great source of power—but since Abby is asking out of her love for Mark, that will do nicely. (He quotes the Huey Lewis and the News song to explain this.)
- Reinventing the Telephone: Doc Karma uses magical powers to contact Mark at one point (in this case, because Karma was in an alternate dimension with no other method of contact). Mark had the usual response.
- Required Secondary Powers: As time goes on, some of the side effects of Mark's Nigh Invulnerable status are noted - he metabolizes food too quickly to be affected by particular side effects, so both alcohol and caffeine do nothing to him. He also doesn't notice temperature differences nearly as much as a normal person. Finally, while he can get a suntan, he literally has to be about a foot away from the sun to do so.
- Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Darkblade's secret identity, "Paul Delacroix, boy mogul".
- The Rival: Amazonia for Abby; eventually, the two women mellow out toward each other. Yes, alcohol was involved.
- Rule 63: When Abby tells Doctor Karma that she'd like a female physician, he brings in a female version of himself from an alternate universe. (Mark is apparently also female in this universe.)
- Secret Keeper: Abby becomes this for Mark very early. However, due to not being all that good at it at first, she ends up letting her sister Charlotte in on it by accident less than 24 hours after being let in on it. Charlotte then also becomes one, and they refrain from further slips (also true later, when Darkblade gives Mark permission to tell both sisters his identity as well).
- Shooting Superman: Lampshaded in issue #10 when Abby gains temporary superpowers and Crusader is schooling her in superheroing:
Abby: So, after they run out of bullets, why do they throw the empty guns?
Crusader: I've been trying to figure that out for years.
- Shout-Out: The author annotates these on his Web site.
- On page 75, two of the spirits that are called upon are Lee and Ditko, both well-known and famous comic names.
- Smug Super: Amazonia. Her perspective being skewed this way is why Mark broke up with her, and worse, because she doesn't consider normalcy important she never understood why they drifted apart - in fact her book cuts this out entirely, not for spite but because she legitimately didn't think it was important. She gets better about it as the series goes on.
- Snowball Fight: Mark has an unfair advantage.
- Spot the Impostor: Darkblade just goes right ahead and blasts them both.
- Stripperiffic: Amazonia's costume. Visits to her home dimension demonstrate that it's standard dress in her culture.
- Super Hero Origin: A couple are explicitly discussed and one (Abby's) is shown. Crusader's origin is apparently extremely embarrassing.
- Superheroes Wear Capes: Not all do, but most present do. Justified at one point, when it's mentioned that they help cover the butt.
- Super Powers for a Day: Abby has a wizard grant her temporary superpowers so she can understand life as a superhero. Her intention was for it to be literally this trope's name - having superpowers for 24 hours. Just after she drinks the triggering potion, she learns the actual time-limit is non-existent. She'll have the powers until she decides she doesn't want them. Which she does, at the end of that story-arc.
- Tempting Fate: When Abby sees a comic convention while shopping for wedding cakes with Mark, she asks to go in, and asks "How bad could it be?" Three panels later (not pages; panels), she gets her answer.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: Time travel rules aren't even consistent within the same story, although this might be intentional as a parody of other such time travel stories. Lampshaded by Amazonia, when she complains about the confusing aspects of temporal physics.
- The Unfavorite: Quincy is this to the Tennyson family. He's a Small Name, Big Ego broadcaster who had a very short NFL career. He pretty much ignores what anyone else might want, and it grates on his entire family to no end. Even his mother isn't shy about slipping a shot at him in for the hell of it.
- The Unreveal: Mark wasn't born with superpowers - and apparently, the story of how he got them is somewhat embarrassing. The comic has a bit of fun not telling us his secret origin - the one time he says it onscreen, he's whispering to Abby and the text box is gibberish.
- Weirdness Censor: The reason Abby hired Jason for the bookstore, because his first thought on seeing a man hold a large box over his head with one hand is "What's he doing with that empty box?"
- Your Costume Needs Work: Abby told Mark that he didn't look at all like Crusader when he told her. She didn't believe him until he started hovering in mid-air.
- Repeated when they tell Abby's parents.
Abby's mother: Mark's tall, but he's certainly not as tall as the Crusader.
Mark: Really? I'm pretty sure we're the same height.