Comicbook: Cloak & Dagger
Cloak and Dagger are a pair of superheroes in the Marvel Universe
. Originally appearing in Spectacular Spider-Man
#64 (March, 1982), they were created by Bill Mantlo and Ed Hannigan. While never having been A-listers along the lines of The Mighty Thor
or Iron Man
, with their issues often getting canceled after a very short period, they have a distinct cult following, which is somewhat tinted by nostalgia due to their 1980s
background. They often team-up with other superheroes, namely Spider-Man
, who is a good friend. Before the series was cancelled, they also had a brief membership in the New Warriors
. Their most memorable recent appearances were in Runaways
and Dark X-Men
Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson, a pair of teenage runaways, are experimented on by the mob, who are trying to create a new drug substitute for heroin. It proves fatal to all they test it on but the pair, who gain superpowers from the event. Tandy can throw daggers of light, which can also purge unhealthy chemicals from a target as well, while Tyrone's powers were originally
to suck people into a dark dimension where he would strip them of their light. Together, they battle the drug trade while trying to balance out normal lives.
In 2013, Cloak and Dagger were made part of the Ultimate Marvel Universe when they debuted in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man
with a new origin story. In this world, Ty Johnson and Tandy Bowen were the student council presidents of rival schools who, en route to Prom together, were involved in a vehicular accident, and then secretly taken by the Roxxon Corporation and pumped full of Dark Matter
, resulting in the explosive awakening of their powers.
Comics featuring them:
- Cloak and Dagger Vol. 1 (October, 1983-January, 1984). 4 issues.
- Cloak and Dagger Vol. 2 (July, 1985-March, 1987). 11 issues.
- Strange Tales Vol. 2 (April, 1987-September, 1988). An Anthology Comic which they shared with Doctor Strange, for 18 issues. The 19th (and final) issue was a spotlight issue for supporting character Mayhem/Brigid O'Reilly.
- Marvel Graphic Novel #34: Predator and prey (June, 1988).
- Cloak and Dagger Vol. 3 (October, 1988-August, 1991). 19 issues. The full title for most of the series was The Mutant Misadventures of Cloak and Dagger, but it was shortened for the last year or so.
- Cloak and Dagger and Power Pack: Shelter From the Storm (1989). A crossover in graphic novel form.
- Cloak and Dagger Vol. 4 (May, 2010). A one-shot.
- Spider-Island: Cloak and Dagger (October-December, 2011). 3 issues.
- All-New Ultimates (April, 2014-). Ongoing series.
Tropes Shared in Both Incarnations:
- All-Encompassing Mantle: Cloak's doubles as a mode of transportation.
- Badass Cape: Cloak, natch.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Cloak, for all his broodiness, withdrawn nature and overall intimidating manner, is really a nice guy once people get to know him.
- Living Shadow: Cloak's "body" is literally made up of one. Made even more explicit in the Ultimate Universe, where you can see black swirling mists emanating from the edges of Cloak's form.
- Super-Cute Super-Powers: Dagger can fling "light-knives" at foes, which can pierce armor and act like scalpels to "cut" the wickedness like tumors from her targets. These light-knife attacks appear wrenching and painful on impact, however.
- Teleport Cloak
- Woman in White: Tandy in costume.
Tropes for Original Cloak and Dagger (Earth 616):
- Absolute Cleavage/Bare Your Midriff/Cleavage Window: Dagger's costume is a bodysuit with a dagger-shaped cutout that manages to fulfill all three at once.◊
- As the Good Book Says: Their series started off each splash page with a paraphrased quote above the title. Psalm 139:12-14. "The darkness and light are both alike... I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
- Adults Are Useless: Subverted in their series. With the exception of Tandy's stepfather, who is more Played for Laughs than anything else, most of the adults who help the duo are capable and responsible. It comes full circle in Runaways when they are the only ones who get anywhere close to helping the teens.
- Beast and Beauty
- Beauty Equals Goodness: It's mentioned by almost every male character who lays eyes on Dagger that she looks like an angel.
- The Big Rotten Apple: Since they were created in the early '80s and focused on combating drugs and prostitution, C&D spent a lot of time in this milieu. It's lampshaded in their Spider-Island miniseries, where the characters talk about how different New York is now and the old Holy Ghost Church is bulldozed for urban renewal.
- Brought Down to Normal: This seems to happen on a regular basis if the writers think it will move the plot forward, especially to Cloak. One notable instance is when Tandy's father strips them of their powers in a Heroic Sacrifice after he has a What Have I Become? moment.
- Can't Live Without You: Mild example, but they need each other's powers to survive or they could die.
- Christianity Is Catholic: Their base of operations is sometimes an abandoned Catholic Church. Tandy's Uncle Mike is a priest.
- Cleveland: This is where Tandy comes from, which is used to highlight her overly trusting nature in their backstory.
- Dance Battler: Tandy utilizes her ballet training when fighting.
- Depending on the Artist: While Tandy gets drawn relatively consistently, the same can't be said for her partner. Cloak gets drawn looking like anything from a normal guy with his face in the shadows to a ghoulish monster that doesn't even look human anymore.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: According to vol. 2 of the title (1985-1987) and related issues, all persons absorbed through Cloak's darkness are send to a demon by the name of Predator. It first uses nightmarish illusions to cause victims to despair, then feeds on their lifeforce. It is immortal and seemingly all-powerful in its home dimension. Until #10 of the series, when Cloak sends Doctor Doom to the Predator. He fails to despair, quickly overpowers the demon, and leaves it in severe pain. He then simply steps out of the darkness back into the real world, something which typically required outside assistance for prisoners of the Darkforce.
- Evil Costume Switch: When Tandy gets brainwashed evil, her entire costume, even the ring around her eye, turns black.
- Fanservice: There's some for both genders here. Tandy has a skin-tight costume with most of her navel and the sides of her breasts exposed. Tyrone ends up naked when he's depowered, which tends to happen a lot.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Especially in the duo's early days, blonde Dagger was the sweet and friendly counterpart to Cloak's harsher outlook.
- Horror Hunger: Cloak (or the being living inside his cloak, depending) has this for the "light" of human lives.
- Light 'em Up: Tandy's daggers are composed of pure light that can purge drug addictions.
- Like Brother and Sister: This is the best description of their relationship. They truly love each other but usually, it's specifically stated to be platonic.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: Cloak.
- Most Common Superpower: Dagger fulfills this trope, but she's surprisingly better proportioned than some of the superheroines in Marvel.
- Powers as Programs: They switch powers during the Spider-Island event.
- Salt and Pepper: Somewhat inverted, as Cloak is withdrawn and straitlaced, with Dagger being the one to get him out of his shell.
- Shown Their Work: The writers did a lot of research when Dagger was blind, using many techniques utilized by the blind in real life, and even printed the names of books and people they had interviewed in their letters page.
- Superpowerful Genetics: Dagger seems to have partly inherited her powers from her biological father the Lord of Light/Nathan Tyler. He had the power to drain the life-force of other beings and manifest it as a blinding light.
- Super Serum: They got their powers from being injected with drugs. Not the most family-friendly backstory, as was lampshaded in Runaways.
- Temporary Blindness: Dagger has a lengthy case of it which lasts over a year, creating one of the more interesting story arcs. She learns to readjust to being both a blind person and superhero, and once she is cured, her spatial awareness is left heightened.
- Time Marches On: Looking at their old 80s issues, certain aspects of New York City like Times Square being a den of drugs and porn, seems almost laughable when comparing it to how it is today.
- Vague Age: Orginally averted, as Tandy and Tyrone were said to be 16 and 17 years old, respectively, and were around the age of the New Mutants. Now, it's a little harder to pin down exactly how old they are supposed to be, but a safe estimate is at least somewhere in their 20s.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: A 1991 storyline introduced Cloak's twin sister, Anna Johnson. She was a vagrant with Danger Prone tendencies, which led to her having nasty encounters with neo-nazis, demons, and arsonists. As of her last appearance, later that year, she was scared and hiding somewhere in New York City. Cloak was contacting a search for her in an effort to reconnect with his last living relative. Cloak and Dagger's title was cancelled at about this time and this plotline was never resolved.
- Will They or Won't They?: It's been 30 years since the pair first appeared and they still haven't fully rectified their UST. Though, to be fair, Cloak's body seems to have Barbie Doll Anatomy when his powers are active, and when they aren't he and Tandy generally have more pressing matters on their mind.
Tropes for Ultimate Cloak and Dagger
- Destination Defenestration: In her first fight with Bombshell, Dagger is hurled through the front window of a restaurant.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In an issue of The All New Ultimates, Cloak and Dagger share a kiss after mentioning that they never get any time alone together. Cue energy swirling all around them, and then the windows of the church exploding outward.
- Evilutionary Biologist: Here we have a full quartet in the form of Dr. Layla Miller, Nathaniel Essex, Arnim Zola III, and Samuel Sterns performing the experiments of a pair of badly injured teens.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Dagger's eyes glow with bright light when she's emotionally unsteady, such as when she was demanding Cloak release Bombshell from his folds, lest he kill her.
- Horror Hunger: Seemingly averted in the Ultimate incarnation of Cloak. He kept Bombshell in the folds of his cloak for a few minutes, and she emerged without the ill effects of Cloak's Earth 616 counterpart. We don't know enough, yet, though, as Dagger did seem to feel that Cloak keeping Bombshell in there for a prolonged length was dangerous to their adversary.
- Mythology Gag: The driver of Ty and Tandy's limo was Simon Marshall, the man who, in the original Marvel Universe, created the synthetic drug that gave them their powers.
- On a Meta level, once more Cloak and Dagger are making their debut in the pages of a Spider-Man comic.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Some elements have been clearly changed. The duo's powers no longer come from drugs, and instead from Dark Matter. Also, in the original universe, Ty suffered from a speech impediment and a learning disability. In this world, he's a student council president and the assistant manager of a fast food restaurant.
- Sensual Spandex: Notable for being averted. Dagger's new outfit avoids the Absolute Cleavage, Bare Your Midriff, and Cleavage Window tendencies of her other-universe counterpart. There is a recessed area on her outfit that still has the same dagger shape, but her new outfit◊ seems to be made of a padded, space-age fabric.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Tandy in her Prom dress.
- Thou Shall Not Kill: Dagger reminds Cloak that they're not killers when he tries holding Bombshell in his cloak for an extended period of time.
- UST: Notable for being averted. In this world, Ty and Tandy were dating for six months before the car accident rendered them comatose. Tandy had even just finished telling Ty that if he asked her to marry him at that moment, she'd have said "yes".