Abby has found a great guy: Mark has a steady job, good looks and a down-to-earth attitude. But, Mark has finally decided to let Abby in on his big secret: he is actually the beloved superhero The Crusader. Can Abby deal with Super-exes, keeping secrets and irregular schedules now that Mark has come clean?
Written and drawn by Thomas F. Zahler this series, which debuted in 2006 (yeah, I’m late) from IDW Publishing, is a superhero romantic comedy. The stars are Abby and Mark, a couple of young adults, living in Deco City. Abby runs an independent bookstore (again, it was 2006, bookstores still existed…) and Mark is an accountant. Mark is also the superhero The Crusader, a Superman analog (“Faster than a lightning bolt…stronger than a hurricane…”), right down to the fact that he wears his costume under his clothes and his disguise is that as Mark he wears a pair of glasses. As the first issue begins, they’ve been dating for three months and things have been going well, and now Mark is ready to make the big move, which is telling her that he loves her and revealing his secret identity. And so he does just that, and hilarity ensues.
Aft first Abby doesn’t believe him, until he gives her a demonstration of his powers. After a romantic night together, where they fly around the world, Abby returns to work the next day and accidentally lets the truth slip out to her younger sister Charlotte, who works at the store. When Mark finds out he and Abby have a small fight about that. This trend continues throughout the rest of the issue as they disagree over various little things involving Mark’s double-life. Wanting to know more about his past, Mark reveals that he previous dating a superheroine named Amazonia, who is currently his teammate in the superteam The Liberty League, and this fills Abby with feelings of jealousy and inadequacy. As a solution, Mark flies Abby to the Liberty League’s satellite headquarters so she can meet Amazonia and see that they’re just friends. That turns out to be awkward at best. And the big climax of the issue is Abby watching on TV as Mark battles a dangerous supervillain. At first she grabs some popcorn and watches it, feeling excited, but as the battle rages on and Mark gets hurt she becomes scared, as Abby finally realizes that dating a superhero isn’t all fun and games…
A really great first issue. Zahler writes these characters very well, which is key because this is a character-driven comic. Most of the action-scenes, such as Mark’s final battle with that villain, happen off-panel, with the majority of is time spent on Abby and Mark together talking. But the dialog flows so naturally that you find yourself enraptured easily. I also love the cartoonish artwork that Zahler provides, it fits the light-hearted tone of this story perfectly. If I had to make a complaint, and it’s a small one, it would be that the various heroes are a little too spot-on in terms of being analogs. As I said, The Crusader is Superman, but also Amazonia is Wonder Woman and another supporting character is Darkblade, who is Mark’s best friend but also obviously a stand-in for Batman (except he’s Black). I would have preferred if Zahler had a put a little more creativity into creating these various heroes, similar to what Kurt Busiek has done with Astro City. But this is clearly a story about the people behind the masks, and the regular civilians in their lives, so the specifics about the superheroes aren’t really that important. This series is off to a fantastic start.
Chacebook rating: FIVE STARS