I really enjoyed this book and think that it nicely creates a believable superhero world that explains away some of the strangeness of MCU or DC comics-like settings.
THE CAPE IS A LIE: THE BALLAD OF KEVIN by M.K. Gibson is a work that I was automatically going to be attracted to because it is a comedic superhero story (like I write) and by one of my favorite indie humorists. M.K. Gibson’s Villains Rule, Technomancer, and Agents of MORTAL books have all been extremely enjoyable. They’re rarely books to take seriously but they’re easy to just sit back and enjoy the mayhem of.
The premise is that Kevin Coello is halfway between a legitimate independent journalist and a Twitch streamer. He has the business of reporting om the huge battles that routinely happen between the various superheroes (Capes) and supervillains (Cowls) that occur in his home city of New Fransisco. This is his primary source of revenye and Kevin gets closer than anyone else to these life-threatening conflicts between good versus evil.
Kevin’s life takes a turn for the surreal, though, when there’s some inconsistencies in his last battle. One of the supervillains could take a punch to the face from the most powerful super in the world but said “ouch” when he hit her with a bread roll. There’s footage missing from the televised version of the conflict that the other networks shared and even his online version (but not his original tapes that haven’t been hooked up to the net).
Kevin is an unlikely hero, though, and not prepared to jump to the conclusion that there’s anything sinister afoot. He’s been a fan of superheroes since his childhood, after all, since a group of them rescued him from the destruction of San Fransico where his parents died. Kevin’s friend, Cool Greg, is less than enthusiastic about the whole thing and advises our antihero to let it go. But, unfortunately, people are already cluing into the fact Kevin knows a lot more about the inner goings on of superheroes and their identities than they let on.
I really enjoyed this book and think that it nicely creates a believable superhero world that explains away some of the strangeness of MCU or DC comics-like settings. I saw the twist coming from a mile away but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good one. The appeal is following Kevin as he slowly puts together the pieces and just what is really going on.
There’s a surprising amount of moral ambiguity too as the Capes are targets of a hate group that is group that is wrong about 99% of everything they believe but may be right about one thing. There’s some strong X-men vibes with superhumans being a racial allegory and caught between extremist ideologies. Pretty heavy stuff for what is a light ridiculous comedy that could have starred Simon Pegg or Jack Quaid.
Does the book have some flaws? There’s a bit of gross out humor where Kevin throws up every time that he’s stressed about people trying to kill him, which is surprisingly often, and that wasn’t to my taste. I also felt that Kevin was a bit too quick to accept some arguments but I also didn’t have my suspension of disbelief broken either. It’s a solid and entertaining book that I strongly recommend as an afternoon’s read.