Issues 1 and 2 of writer/artist Sam Webster’s Joe Cape offers a quintessentially British take on the working lives of a superhero. Our hero, Joe Cape, makes a living as a superhero-on-demand, working for a company that sends superheroes out whenever they’re called upon – even in the most trivial of situations. Frustrated with this method of work, Joe quits the company and vows to fix the problems he perceives that the company suffers from, even if it means his once fellow colleagues having to hunt him down, as well as putting his best friend behind bars.
Joe Cape’s first two issues are an intriguing introduction in this story, as the further the plot spins out the more is revealed just how backward the company is and how Joe isn’t the only team member who’s willing to make a change, even if that means attempting to destroy the neighbourhood via a gigantic mecha. As issue 1 spills over into issue 2, the consequences of Joe’s resignation and undercover work in attempting to solve a mecha case that doesn’t add up take several turns for the worse for his friends, his ex-colleagues and ultimately himself.
The crisp, bright artwork plays up its caricatured characters well, with a handful of identifiable parodies making amusing appearances throughout. However, the comic’s bare, two-dimensional appearance in its locations means that it struggles to keep the reader’s attention. Fortunately, the strength of the story-telling is encouraging enough from cover to cover and offers plenty of interest to keep the reader hooked.
What’s even more interesting is that for a comic book featuring superheroes, the villains are nowhere to be found. Instead the antagonists come in the form of fellow co-workers of Joe, offering plenty of character conflict that offers true reader engagement. Even Joe can be considered an enemy, with his reckless investigations constantly setting flames alight in his boss’ eyes.
The first half of the first issue itself does come across as setting up the world in which Joe Cape takes place rather than telling the reader the story, but enough of Joe’s disillusion comes across in just the first few opening pages, offering further evidence of masterful story-telling. This is particularly noticeable in the second issue – The Government Job, which sees Joe working to his own means as he attempts to uncover how a deadly mecha from issue 1 could fall into such unlikely hands.
Joe Cape is a humorous and well-told spin on the superhero genre, displaying some perfectly-timed humour (see the scene where Joe has to save someone’s ‘baby’) and fusing that with a hooky story that entices the reader to clamour for more.
Have you read Joe Cape? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments section below! You can buy the first issue of Joe Cape from Sam Webster’s website here!