The Cape is a a very dark, very gritty tale of a sociopath who internalizes his life’s disappointments and then transforms them into an explosive, methodical vendetta against those closest to him in life. From the girlfriend who loves him but couldn’t live with him any more, the over achieving perfect brother whose life didn’t spiral out of control, and the mother who threw away his precious child’s superhero cape after a debilitating fall out of tree when he was young.
Nick and Erick are rambunctuous brothers who love superheroes and have their own imaginary play in the shadow of a lost father (Iraq war) and mother trying her best for the boys despite life’s hardships. But in the midst of their superhero play, Eric falls from a high tree and suffers traumatic head and body injuries from the fall. He recouperates but life is never the same after that – his years are spent full of resentment despite a loving and supporting family and relationship. And then he finds the cape again, long since thought destroyed by his mother after the accident. And at the lowest self pity of his life, when his girlfriend separates from him, his brother away at Harvard studying to be a Doctor, and his mother retired and letting him live in her basement after he takes to drinking, he discovers just why he is so full of resentment. The cape is magical, allows him to fly, and it’s time he shows those closest to him just how much they have disappointed him.
As evidenced by the cover, eric develops a messianic complex in his self centered pathological misery. Completely unable to recognize the mother who worked so hard to bring him up (yet he felt couldn’t handle a ‘crippled son’), the brother that supported him thoroughly despite growing up to go to Harvard and force Eric to be reminded of how he can’t compare, and the girlfriend who loved and supported him despite his inability to keep a job or appreciate her successes at a career as they grew up (and who he believed was cheating on him despite her calling his brother in order to find new ways to help Eric). All the people in his life are good and supportive – something his impossibly self centered, sociopathic mindset can’t accept. As with the drunk who can’t stop drinking or the bulimic who can’t stop eating as part of a self fulfilling prophecy of destruction, Eric is determined to despise and then destroy the perfection he can’t achieve. Externalizing his own failures and blaming those that love him to protect his own fragile psyche.
The story becomes a cat and mouse – at heart Eric’s determination to destroy himself and his brother Nick’s attempts to save him. As Eric begins his path of murder and destruction, they become embroiled in a desperate game where lives are at the stake.
This is a powerful story and well deserving of the Eisner Award nomination. A book to make you think about your own life and recriminations – and appreciation of those who would try to save you…from yourself.