While I’ve never read The Cape, the mini-series from IDW, I have read “The Cape,” the Joe Hill story that inspired the series, so I was well enough prepared for The Cape: 1969 #1. Check out the description:
It’s 1969 and the war in Vietnam rages on. Captain Chase, a Medevac helicopter pilot for the US Army, is shot down over enemy territory. He and his crew are in a fight for their lives as they play a deadly game of cat and mouse with the Vietcong. We soon learn that machine guns and grenades aren’t the only scary things hiding in the jungle. Find out what happens in this origin prequel to last year’s Eisner Award-nominated hit, with story by Joe Hill and Jason Ciaramella, and art and colors by Nelson Daniel (Road Rage, The Cape). Explore your dark side.
The biggest problem with The Cape: 1969 is the cape itself. We don’t actually see the cape, but we do see a weird little naked Asian man who floats around in the trees giggling and whispering “boom” to himself, and I’m assuming that he’ll be related to the cape later.
Without him, we’d just have a war comic, and it would be ten kinds of awesome. I don’t usually even go for war comics/movies/games, but I was sucked in. Jason Ciaramella‘s dialogue and action all felt realistic. The pacing was even, although I wish we’d had a bit more plot development. But then, I guess that’s just the sign of a good read.
Nelson Daniel‘s art was as good as or better than the writing. I’d previously seen his work in Road Rage and I think he’s improved. He’s a great hand when it comes to all the silhouetted jungle scenery, and his gore and explosions are eye-catching without being ridiculous. His faces convey a great amount of expression, despite their simplicity. Even his use of Ben-Day dots for shading and atmosphere didn’t bother me as it had in the past. My only complaint is that it was hard to tell the Vietcong apart from the Americans, but maybe Vietnam was really like that. It’s probably just my problem.
If you aren’t previously familiar with “The Cape” in one form or another, you’ll likely be bothered with the fantastic elements of the plot in The Cape: 1969 #1, but you’ll still get an awesome war story. I’m just sad that the naked floating Asian dude is gonna get more involved later on.