Who says comic book heroes have to wear a cape and don body hugging, leotard-esque uniforms? And is it really necessary to have a secret headquarters built into the side of a remote location, or an ostentatious “signal” in the form of a two billion gigawatt flashlight that the chief of police points into the clouds? I am here to say NO!
I’ve always loved superhero comic books, but there are a plethora of amazing titles now that have nothing to do with capes, masks, and secret identities. In “No Capes Allowed,” I will throw my net into this rich ocean of non-superhero comics each week and bring a pile of fresh, still flopping comics to shore!
Let’s kick things off with a little dystopian nightmare, shall we? We’re all up to our necks in zombie apocalypse right now. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But how about a twist on the old “at least half of our population is dead and our world has been thrown into chaos” song and dance?
Enter Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn, Pia Guerra, and Jose Marzan Jr. In this nightmarish scenario, half of the world’s population has been killed by a mysterious virus. Or is it a curse? Or maybe it’s a genetic mutation. It’s not clear at first. But what is clear is that everyone who died has one thing in common:
They’re all men.
Every single male on the planet dies, at the same time, and no one knows why. That includes animals, as well. Every single one… except for a poor schmo named Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand. Who also happens to be male.
Now, before any angry girls (or self hating guys) start celebrating the demise of “stupid boy-kind,” it’s important to think about all of the difficulties that this would pose. Reproduction being the major one. This is not a happy, celebratory world we’re shown here. It’s a world where a ravaging gang called “The Amazons” terrorize women who are in mourning. Where deadly gunfights break out on the steps of the White House. Where supermodels drive garbage trucks filled with corpses.
To catch up, pick up the graphic novel “Y: The Last Man Unmanned,” which includes the first five comics. That’ll whet your appetite for more mayhem to follow. And you’ll need to hurry, because New Line has already started developing a movie version. If you start now, you can still be one of the “I was into Y: The Last Man before anyone knew about it” people.
On the exact opposite side of the spectrum is Peepshow by Joe Matt. This series is basically a comic book version of Matt’s childhood told in two to three day increments. There are several graphic novels that collect some of the best issues, and my favorite is called Fair Weather.
At first glance, the little kid characters in Fair Weather are slightly annoying and precocious. But once you’re into it, they’re really annoying and dangerously reckless. But you can’t stop reading! There’s something so real about how these kids are acting and talking. You can almost taste the baseball card bubble gum and smell the lime Slurpees. This comic totally captures the often mundane and occasionally terrifying world of growing up as a nerd in the suburbs. It’s really funny and, at times, touching.
Tune in next week, friends, for more high flying adventures of the unmasked and sans-caped!