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Custom superhero capes: Do they fly?

Got a superhero shindig planned and still need some crime-fighting togs? PowerCapes has you covered.

Life just seems more epic when you're wearing a cape. Yeah, you might get a few stares at the coffee shop, but still--capes are awesome.

Ramona in her cape
The writer's daughter flies high in her new power cape. Josh Miller/CNET

I remember waiting impatiently for my mom to put the finishing touches on my cape just in time for me to wear it while watching "The Greatest American Hero." A year or so before that, my first-grade teacher gave me a handmade cape as a going-away present when we moved to a new town. I went as Superman for Halloween around the same age.

My 4-year-old daughter is clearly following in her old man's footsteps, having told me on a number of occasions that she is a superhero. I guess it's kind of in her blood; her last name does sound like it could be a superhero name.

Fortunately, we live in the world of the future, a world in which I can order a customized cape online. PowerCapes has been supplying the world's superheroes-in-training with handmade satin capes since 2001. It's not the newest service around, but when my editor mentioned it to me, I just had to try it.

The PowerCapes folks construct other superhero accoutrements, but since I could spend hours goofing around with the different configurations (not unlike when I create a new character in DC Universe Online) I focused just on getting a cape. Besides, I'm supposed to at least look like I'm working.

The site is simple to use. You choose the colors and decorations; the site gives you a running preview so you know if you've committed a cape-color faux pas. According to the site, there are 11 cape colors, 29 emblem colors, and 8 emblem designs, plus you can put an initial on it, so there's a lot of room for customization.

PowerCapes kindly sent me a cape to test based on my specifications: black cape, pink sparkly lightning bolt (Sparkman), and to personalize it, a fuchsia R (my daughter is named for a certain rambunctious children's-lit character).

Ramona in cape
Our superhero shows off the customized design on her new cape. Josh Miller/CNET

Standard delivery takes about two to three weeks (the company is based in the Detroit suburbs), but you can get expedited delivery, say if you're being inducted into the Justice League on Saturday.

When my (I mean my daughter's) cape arrived, I was excited to see it, and not just because I'm generally excited the few times a year I get mail. As soon as I saw it, I knew my heroine-in-training would totally dig it.

Indeed, when I showed the cape to her, her eyes widened and she insisted I put it on her. I fastened it around her neck--the company uses a Velcro closure rather than a tie for safety reasons--and let her loose on the bustling metropolis.

The cape did a good job of flapping and curling in the requisite heroic fashion, which is important, because you don't want your dramatic moment ruined by a flat, lifeless cape.

Custom handmade PowerCapes are usually $39.99, but at the time of this writing, they're on sale for $24.99, the same price as a plain, colored cape. Score! A ready-made emblem cape goes for $29.99. In addition to the capes, there are masks, blaster cuffs/wristbands, and shirts, pretty much what you need for a complete hero outfit. You'll have to supply the superpowers, alas.

You can also choose to send a special Heart Hero cape. That's a gift card donation that will let children with congenital heart defects design their own cape.

And since I know some of you are wondering, yes, you can get capes for adults, too.