Capes and Cowls

Let’s put the tights away this week and take a look at three alternatives to capes and cowls.

Strangers in Paradise (Abstract Studios) –

It is a shame more girls don’t read comics. It’s not that comic books isolate women, in fact, those girls that give the medium a chance are sure to find something they like – mainstream hero or alternative indie It doesn’t matter, there are books women will read, if only they knew about them. One such series is Terry Moore’s romance epic, Strangers in Paradise. Beginning in 1993, the series recently ended with issue #90 last June. Now published by Moore’s company, Abstract Studios, SiP focuses on the lives of the tomboyish Katina (Katchoo), her roommate Francine and their artsy friend David. There are plenty of secondary characters like the narcissistic ex-boyfriend Freddy Femur or assassin Tambi, each playing an important part in the drama that unfolds with each issue. This is a comic about real people, drawn realistically and is the perfect book to read for those that don’t like super heroes, or, for those that like heroes, a book that is a good change of pace. When I said earlier that women would love this book, I didn’t mean the series was just for girls. I happened to enjoy SiP and for me, when I started reading, I told myself “oh crap … ” – not because I didn’t like the book, but because I knew I’d have to buy the rest of the books and see this to the end. I think men can enjoy the series if they would give it a chance. The series is collected in six condensed “pocket books,” or, for the collector, 19 full-sized volumes (for more information visit You’ll find paradise in these stories, so don’t be a stranger. Also, Terry Moore is slated to pick up writing for Marvel’s Runaway series, following Joss Whedon’s run in the near future.

Baltimore or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire (Bantam Spectra) –

I bring to you another book, not a comic. This novel is written by Christopher Golden (The Menagerie) and Mike Mignola (Hellboy), and accompanied by Mignola’s chilling black-and-white illustrations. I’ve come to realize that writers like Golden and Mignola are not merely authors ? they are storytellers. For me, if they were, for example, to catch a fish, they would say, “well, the fish was thiiiiiiiiiis big,” and proceed to regale you with a tale of “the one that got away.” And like an old fisherman’s yarn, this book is meant to entertain. Written with a complex narrative mix that evokes Dracula, Frankenstein and The Canterbury Tales, Baltimore is a story of WWI and the plague and one man’s quest to combat his personal demons (aka vampires). As a $25 hardcover, this title might not lure you in, but trust me, this is one book you want to get hooked by.

Potter’s Field #1 (BOOM! Studios) –

Recently appointed editor-in-chief of BOOM! Studios, Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, 52), unleashed his next great series this week. This is a crime book that focuses on the New York’s graveyard for the unnamed, the transients and unidentified bodies that slip through the cracks. Luckily the mysterious John Doe is there to catch them … and to avenge them. Working to put the names of the forgotten onto their tombstones, Doe relies on a network of informants, stationed throughout the city, to help him with his task. It pains me to know this issue is only the first of three, but hopefully we’ll be seeing much more of John Doe down the road.

Matt can be reached at

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