Spider-Island: Cloak & Dagger #1

 Posted: Sep 2011
 Staff: Adam Rivett (E-Mail)


Cloak and Dagger return but are they ready to face the threats amidst Spider-Island?

Story Details

Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen were teenagers when they first met and were first kidnapped and taken to Ellis Island. There, Simon Marshall experimented on them by injecting “D-Lite” into them. It gave them both powers, Tyrone became darkness and Tandy became light! They escaped and found themselves a new life as heroes – Cloak and Dagger!

At the Holy Ghost Church (42nd St 7 9th Ave), Tandy answers the door to a New York City Building Inspector who is there with an order for them to vacate the building as it is scheduled for demolition. Tandy tries to talk him out of it but, even confessing that they are heroes and this is their base, but he ignores all of that and gives them 10 minutes.

Eleven minutes later, Tandy and Tyrone are out on the streets. Tandy worries where they are going to go now but Tyrone has a distraction for her. He shows her a billboard with them on it, advertising them as heroes for hire! Tandy isn’t that impressed, even when Tyrone explains that they’ve received some funding from The Future Foundation and that they’d be a non-profit organisation. Lucky for him, they’re interrupted by a gang of heroes (Wolverine, Hawkeye, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Firestar, Spider-Woman, Ms Marvel and Gravity) on their way to deal with the spider-powered riot at Bryant Park! (see Amazing Spider-Man #668) A couple of the guys give Tandy some noticeable attention. Cloak begrudgingly transports everyone in his cloak but feels relieved that he’s working with the Avengers again. After their problems with working with Norman Osborn as one of his Dark X-Men and now losing the church, he’s pleased for a distraction for the two of them. Dagger feels differently. After getting an invite to join the real X-Men and then finding out they aren’t mutants, she’s ready for something quieter. Meanwhile the fight rages! Cloak uses his cloak to envelop fake Spider-Men and Dagger (having got changed in Cloak’s cloak on the way) deploys her light daggers to great effect! Suddenly she spots the time and, in the middle of the fight, grabs her things from Cloak’s cloak and leaves!

Cloak continues to fight. He loves Tandy and wants her to be honest with him. He wants to show her how special she is. All she really needs is something extraordinary.

Tandy changes and travels to a lecture hall where she is late for a class. She hates keeping things from Tyrone even though she loves him. She needs him to relax. All she really needs is something normal.

In Chinatown, Mr. Negative/Martin Li, visits a fortune teller named Suan Ming. They have done business before and Mr. Negative trusts in her visions. He is desperate to know more about the man she saw would soon kill him so pleads with her. Suan Ming tells him he’s got it wrong – it isn’t a he, it is Dagger!

General Comments

Having not read anything focussing on Cloak and Dagger before, I’m announcing my official love for both characters. Upon reading Nick Spencer’s masterful #1, the characters are clear, complex, likeable yet different and the way they counter and complement each other is a joy to read.

It is Spencer’s use of their narrative voices that allows all of this to be completed in what, fundamentally, is an origin recap, slightly new status quo and a fight sequence. The initial three pages are as good as any recap but Spencer continues to litter the following pages with reminders, through careful dialogue, of recent events in the characters’ lives. There’s no fuss over the new direction as we’re straight into the Amazing Spider-Man event: the Spider-Men riot. Here the full use of the contrasting narratives flows magnificently. Timing the two voices to perfection, having them mirror and interrupt one another, you get an insight into Cloak, into Dagger and into Cloak and Dagger as a duo. The brief mention of how Dagger got changed into her costume is inspired on Spencer’s part!

All of this wonderful clashing of character culminates in a stunning double page. Emma Rios’ art is top notch but Spencer’s pairs of narrative boxes sell an outstanding, realistic and emotional misconception that pulls this pair in opposite directions. You feel for both of them as the balance of the two characters is so fine that they are both equally right and wrong.

Spencer uses the Spider-Men riot as a catalyst for this series. Whether #2 will redirect the characters away from the events of Amazing Spider-Man, I don’t know but the inclusion of Mr. Negative suitably ties the mini series into the Spider-verse a bit more. It also provides a great smack of intrigue at the end!

Emma Rios has calmed down. During Osborn, there were times when her work became full of unnecessary lines and over-the-top grit (in the form of dirty flecks and splashes across the panels). Here she balances the swirl of Cloak with the clean grace of Dagger perfectly and refrains from covering her faces with too many lines. At no point is the story lost and the balance of blending scenes together (the opening three pages) is beautiful and impacting. Stylistically, this is a nimble and dainty book with nimble characters that suit Rios well. She also has the knack of drawing real things well – Dagger’s casual clothes, her expressive face and simple scenes in the church.

Overall Rating

In all, this is a cracking read and a brilliant introduction to Cloak and Dagger. I’d recommend this to any comic book fan.

 Posted: Sep 2011
 Staff: Adam Rivett (E-Mail)