Monday, June 6, 2011

Cloak and Dagger (1985) [COMICS]

Following on the heels of their successful limited series, Cloak and Dagger started their own bi-monthly regular title in the summer of 1985. The book only lasted 11 issues (with a double-sized finale), but at least writer Bill Mantlo was able to tell the entire first year of stories he had planned out. Each issue is part of one big story, which sees Cloak and Dagger trying to track down the source of a drug shipment from its arrival in New York, back across the Atlantic, across Europe, and ending up eventually in the "Golden Triangle" of Southeast Asia. The artwork fits the series quite well, as it gives a fairly dark and moody feel for a superhero comic. Mantlo keeps the focus primarily on urban life and challenges facing big cities: drugs, runaways, gang violence, etc. In other words, this isn't a standard title with a super-villain slugfest every issue--but this is a 1980s Marvel comic, and that means certain things: drugs and porn are bad, Spider-Man makes a guest appearance in issue # 3, a major cross-over event ties in (Secret Wars II lands the Beyonder in issue # 4), and Doctor Doom appears in issue # 10 (my favorite portrayal of the character ever, actually).

A major theme is Cloak and Dagger's sometimes strained friendship, and their difficulty in deciding what their roles as heroes should be--protecting the innocent or dealing out retribution to wrongdoers? The two supporting characters introduced in the limited series--Father Delgado and police detective Bridget O'Reilley--receive a couple of pages in each issue, though each is developed in a dark and somewhat surprising direction from their initial portrayal in the limited series: Father Delgado turns from a devoted priest trying to help Cloak and Dagger and save their souls to becoming somewhat of a pervy old man with a thing for Dagger. Meanwhile, O'Reilley goes from a "by the book" cop trying to crack down on police corruption to a cop who tortures crooks for info before being turned into a (literal) monster in the form of a super-powered vigilante named Mayhem. Mantlo is able to expand on Cloak and Dagger's backstory by introducing Dagger's mom (an oblivious, drunken bitch) and her step-father, who wants to be a good dad but Dagger keeps him at a distance.

I'm not sure why the decision was made to launch the book as a bi-monthly, as to my recollection bi-monthly books seemed to inevitably become cancelled as it was hard for fans to want to wait a couple of months to see the next chapter of a story. In any event, Cloak and Dagger would continue to receive a solo feature as one half of the (also short lived) book Strange Tales.

No comments: