Comics : Spider-Island: Cloak & Dagger #3

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This review was first published on: Jan 2012.

Background...

Manhattan is infected thanks to The Jackal’s genetically modified bedbugs! All the normal people have spider-powers!

Heroes Cloak (Tyrone) and Dagger (Tandy) get involved in stopping the Spider-Riot (Amazing Spider-Man #668). Although a duo, they feel very differently about each other – Cloak wants the spectacular and is love with Tandy. Dagger just wants a normal life.

Having been told of a prophecy that he is destined to be killed by Dagger, Mr Negative/Martin Li kidnaps her and corrupts her with his negative touch. With Cloak helpless at her side, she is transformed into a dark-powered Dagger who must consume light to survive!

In Detail...

Spider-Island: Cloak & Dagger #3
Dec 2011 : SM Spin-Off
Senior Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Associate Editor:  Alejandro Arbona
Writer:  Nick Spencer
Artist:  Emma Rios
Lettering:  VC's Joe Caramagna
Colorist:  Javier Rodriguez
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In Chinatown, Suan Ming, the fortune teller who predicted Mr Negative’s death, tells her cleaners to go home before it gets dark. All of a sudden the sky goes black and she is delighted that her abilities have not failed her.

Dark Dagger (Tandy) hovers hauntingly above Mr Negative’s compound, sucking the light from all around her. The sky is black. She does not how to control the dark and descends into a babbling trance! Cloak (Tyrone) demands that Mr Negative do anything to help her. Mr Negative can give him the light that Dark Dagger needs to survive but it will be at a cost. Cloak will do anything. With that, Mr Negative touches Cloak and turns him negative! This results in Cloak becoming powered by light! Light Cloak flies up to Dark Dagger and asks her to trust him as he kisses her! The resulting surge of light meeting dark smashes the buildings around them! They float down to the devastated rooftop, a little shell-shocked. Dagger gives Cloak his cloak which, as he wraps it around himself, turns white. Cloak apologises for kissing her, though it was the best way to give her as much light as she needed. Dagger is a little perturbed by it but feels too weak to truly argue with him. She asks him if the darkness always feels so cold and wonders if she can deal with it. Cloak says the only way he did was that he was never alone. He holds her as they truly realise that everything has changed…

Days later, Manhattan is cured. Mr Negative meets his new assistant, Melanie Santivale, for the first time. He corrupts her with his touch within seconds and they begin discussing why he didn’t kill Cloak and Dagger while he had the chance. He explains that he believes in fate but must do what he can to fight it fairly… by making a deal with a devil – D’Spayre!

The future of Cloak and Dagger is explored: D’Spayre, Fate’s Book, The Order Of The Easter Star, The Dreams Of Nightmares, The Shining Temple, Mayhem and The Nothing Beyond Nothing!

In General...

Nick Spencer wins readers back from last issue’s slight awkwardness with several strokes of genius. Keeping the plot about the duality of light and dark immediately harks back to the outstanding first issue and once again brings about the brilliant opposition and connection that these two characters have. Whilst the simple plot is decorated with Dagger and Mr Negative’s mysterious and twisted language, it doesn’t distract and only adds to the mood of mysticism. This spattering of magic works much better than the dream sequences and silent passages that filled #2.

This means that Spencer also gives us more of character. The strengths of the whole series has been the interaction between the central characters and returning to the thought bubbles, the explosive kiss and their struggled conversation at the close brings them firmly back into focus. It is this new territory for old characters that makes this transitional mini-series so exciting.

The final thing Spencer delivers on, hooking me even deeper than a normal cliff-hanger, is the two pages at the end. Filled with mysterious references, exciting and enticing visuals and a true test for the new Cloak and Dagger, Spencer’s plotted vision is easy to buy into. This is especially so having produced such a refreshing and balanced take on the characters in this series.

The sweeping pencils of Emma Rios continue to startle and there still remains quite glorious pages and panels in this issue. With another inker on hand, there isn’t the overworking of pencils that we saw last issue and she chooses to keep crucial visuals, Cloak’s transformation to the light and their kiss, crisper than others. There’s this amazing technique of blurring and colouring that happens on the double-page kiss scene that is so stunning and impassioned it needs special mention.

As far as a Spider-Island tie-in goes, we’ve had the Spidey villain, the Spider-Riot and the grotesque sequence with people turning into spiders and that’s been it. But I think that is what makes this a successful series – the characters and their development hasn’t been held back by Spider-Island continuity. Spencer has let them speak for themselves and written their story.

Overall Rating...

Following this return to charcater, I'd be delighted to read more of Nick Spencer's Cloak and Dagger in the future. This is a brave and clear re-direction for the characters with Spider-Island the spark that's ignited them.