Love and Capes
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 at he 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).
By artist Thom Zahler, it can be read online here.
- 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.
- 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.
- Black Best Friend: Darkblade.
- Bland-Name Product
- 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: 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 really a lot more like Maxima. She is an alien warrior queen who always has amorous intentions towards Superman, seeing him as her perfect mate.
- Clark Kenting: Played straight, somehow.
- 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.
- The Dark Age of Comic Books: Gently parodied.
- Deadpan Snarker: Pretty much every character with a one-liner, although Darkblade gets the most by far.
- 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.
- Even the Girls Want Her: Amazonia.
Charlotte: Amazonia? Whoa. Heck, I'd do her.
Abby: (In a quiet voice) Me too.
- 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.
- Flying Brick: Crusader's basic power set, though he has super-senses, as befits a Superman Expy. No Heat Vision, though.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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: 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Spot the Impostor: Darkblade just goes right ahead and blasts them both.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.