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Romancing The Superhero: Under The Cape

Under The Cape – An Anthology Of Superhero Romance
Louisa Bacio, Rachel Kenley, Kim Strattford, E.D. Gonzalez, Naomi Hinchen, Elizabeth Schechter, David Valentin, Stella B. James, Julie Behrens, Christopher Peruzzi, and Austin Worley: writers
Scott Carpenter: cover art
Riverdale Avenue Books
$6.99 digital/ $16.99 print

Under The Cape is a collection of eleven short prose stories exploring romance from a superhero perspective. Six stories feature same sex pairings (4 FF and 2 MM) while the remaining five are heterosexual. Similarly, the stories fall into either “super sweet” or “super heat” themes.

This has been a hell of a year, hasn’t it? You’ve likely been affected in some way by the pandemic and stay at home orders (or maybe the lack of them) and maybe, like me, you’ve reevaluated your media consumption to help manage daily stress and anxiety. Back in late March finding the Kdrama series Coffee Prince with its romance, humor, and dashing male lead Gong Yoo was a very happy accident because it helped give me the mental space to relax. In the months since I’ve found more of the same in other Kdramas but not anywhere else.

Then along comes Under The Cape with its blend of romance and superheroes, the latter definitely being a lifelong fascination for me if ever there was one. The premise intrigued me but I was also a little skeptical about how effectively the writers might pull off this feat, you see, because I’ve been conditioned to expect any romance in mainstream superhero comics to be doled out in small amounts here and there and sometimes feeling like an afterthought. All it took was reading a few pages of the first story I picked (E D Gonzalez’s Where There’s Smoke) to discover how wrong my doubt was and I soon found the book tempting me to read “just a little more” before falling asleep or getting fresh air at the park. The stories and characters found between the covers are fun, sexy, romantic, thoughtful, and the writers pulled off surprises that satisfyingly enriched their contributions. I’d like to offer Rachel Kenley’s Just Be Yourself as an example. Kenley’s piece is about a shape changer dealing with a loss of identity after using her power for many years. It’s a nuanced and powerful story about the pressure women face to conform to idealized standards of beauty and the love that surprisingly develops once she gives up chasing the impossible. Singling out one story from an an anthology is not quite fair especially because I genuinely enjoyed all of them (regardless of the gender pairings) and that’s a rare occasion for me when it comes to anthologies. I’d be interested in reading another volume of superhero romance if sales warrant it for the publisher.

Under The Cape will appeal to nerds in general though maybe more to fans of indy and web comics and nerds looking for a break, a bit of change from the usual “senses shattering” storylines of mainstream comics. If you try the book I hope you’ll find the stories as enjoyable and satisfying to read as I did.

The book is dedicated the heroes we’ve all seen during this pandemic: medical professionals, healthcare workers, first responders, delivery drivers, grocery and retail workers, and teachers. As befits this dedication, a portion of the profits will be donated to the CDC Foundation, “the sole entity created by Congress to mobilize philanthropic and private-sector resources to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s critical health protection work.”

Under The Cape can be purchased directly from Riverdale Avenue or order it from your favorite bookstore using ISBN – 9781626015593. You can also buy it from Amazon.

October 22, 2020
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