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June 2, 2011

Off the Shelf: Wearing the Cape

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Written by: AHudson
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Title: Wearing the Cape
Author: Marion G. Harmon
Publisher: Independent
Cover Art: Jorge Velasquez

Hope Corrigan is just a normal girl who’s ready to become a freshman at the University of Chicago. But when the Teatime Anarchist, one of the most dangerous supervillains on the planet, nearly kills her in the Ashland Bombings, her superpowers awaken and Hope discovers that she’s far more powerful than she ever thought she was. Soon Chicago’s premiere superhero team, the Sentinels, invite her to join the team as Astra, the newest super girl whose mystery, powers, and looks make her a most welcome addition to the team and to the press. But when she discovers more about the Teatime Anarchist, and as she starts working more for the team, maybe there’s more to it than just good versus bad.

Welcome to the premiere of Off the Shelf, ComicAttack.net’s one and only monthly column that’s all about comic related novels and literature. First up on our list, is Marion G. Harmon’s Wearing the Cape. And while it’s not a comic adaptation or spin off, I think we can all agree on the fact that anything set in a superhero world makes it pretty damn worth taking a look at.

Wearing the Cape takes place in an established superhero world. And by established, I mean that there have already been a few superheroes that have been around for the past few years, after a blackout caused some people to gain superpowers (think Flashfoward meets Heroes in that regard).

Question is, what keeps it from being a watered down DC or Marvel universe? The answer is originality. Not to say that originality is always a good thing. In fact, trying to be completely different or “edgy” is what gets the superhero genre into trouble most of the time. But fortunately, there isn’t really any trouble over here. I was bemused by the different unique ideas the book offered. Like the fact that while superheroes are fit, most wear costumes with exaggerated abs or busts as part of the public image. Or the fact that superheroes are mostly just super powered emergency response teams rather than 24/7 vigilantes.

But the important aspect that’s unique here, what most “cutting edge” comics tend to forget, is the social aspects of the superhero presence. The different ways of how superheroes have drastically changed the world. And by world, I mean our world, the world which has Superman and Spider-Man comics and films. Like all social possibilities, these are in no way absolute what-would-happen ideas. Instead, they’re fun ideas to speculate about, and they certainly enrich the story.

Still, worlds are nothing without a good story. And the story here is well crafted. As far as a story that tugs you by the heart and moves you to tears…not for the most part. But it is one hell of a ride that goes a step beyond just being mere popcorn entertainment. It has interesting characters, a different location (Chicago) that thank God isn’t New York, and as far as the plot goes, I’m not going to spoil it for you, but let’s just say that Mr. Harmon doesn’t wait until the very end to throw in some key twists and turns.

Now, I know some might consider this a young adult novel because of its tone, and I wouldn’t argue with them there. However, don’t let the classification scare you away from reading it. Yes, it has a clean, breezy first person narrative style. And while it covers some violence and sex, it doesn’t have any American Psycho descriptions of them.

However, what separates this from other mediocre young adult novels, is that this book isn’t dumbed down or kiddied up. The other thing that this book avoids which has plagued decades of bland young adult literature, is the dreaded Mary Sue protagonist. Yes, Hope Corrigan is attractive, well liked by everyone, beyond super powerful, and takes the higher ground (although fortunately there are shades of gray here). But the difference here, is the rule that goes with any character. Hope is charming and well written just enough to slip away from becoming a Mary Sue.

As any of you who have read my reviews might notice, I’m a pretty easy going guy when it comes to critiques (well…most of the time). However, it’s also true that I’m a critic that’s hard to impress. I’m like the teacher who rarely fails her students, but also rarely gives an A+, and never gives a hundred percent on an exam.

However, Wearing the Cape was both a pleasant surprise and one that impressed me. I mean, there were just a few minor annoyances, like how the action scenes didn’t transition onto text anywhere close to the way they do in illustrations. But really, most of those are just trivial anyway compared to what I liked about the book.

All in all, I have to say that Wearing the Cape was a fun, breezy read that had a familiar yet unique experience. I didn’t know how the superhero genre would transition from the funnies to the paragraphs, but this one turned out quite well. Usually, I don’t recommend readers going ahead and checking something out unless that’s really what they want (especially at the prices for comic books these days), but for just a buck to read the whole book on your Kindle or computer, it might be worth getting for a good summer read.

If you would like to purchase this book, you can download it onto your Kindle or computer at http://www.amazon.com/Wearing-the-Cape-ebook/dp/B004XRCC1G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1307055781&sr=8-1

Andrew Hudson
ahudson@comicattack.net
@Hudsonian

Review copy provided by Marion G. Harmon.

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4 Comments



  1. […] Needless to say, I have been awaiting this review with (insert cliche here). And the results are…not bad. Not a You Have Got To Read This Book! review; more of a This Is A Fun And Interesting Read, If You Don’t Mind Getting Your Superheroes Outside the Four-Color Comic Panel, Buy It kind of review. You can read it here. […]



  2. […] debut novel, Wearing the Cape, may not be an adaptation of any comic book out there. In fact, it’s not even a comic book. […]



  3. […] refresh, Andrew Hudson reviewed Wearing the Cape at the beginning of June. His take? To paraphrase, “This doesn’t suck.” He also […]



  4. […] Kindle Renaissance, the superhero genre is no longer exclusively bound to comic books. Books like Wearing the Cape, Ex-Heroes, and Charlotte Powers: Power Down take the cape and spandex heroes and put them into […]



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