Darkness and Light make a script with might

Marvel Premiere Classic: Cloak & Dagger: Child of Darkness, Child of Light TPB
Writer: Bill Mantlo | Artist: Rick Leonardi | Inker: Terry Austin

September 24, 2019

by Avi Green

One of the most surely underrated Marvel creations of the 1980s would have to be Cloak and Dagger, the aliases for Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen, two teens, possibly mutants, from different backgrounds and statuses, who wound up being experimented on by drug traffickers, and gained superpowers they put to use for battling the illegal drug market. They originally debuted in The Spectacular Spider-Man #64 in March 1982, and this trade collects the 4-part miniseries leading to their origin stories in 1984.

Cloak's power was control over a form of portal within his body that he could use to suck people into, with the exception of Dagger, whose power was lightbeams shaped as blades, and her power helped keep her partner's health stable, as he needed energy to maintain his own strength.

The plot here involves the duo pursuing drug traffickers of the sort who'd victimized them in the first place. Here, it includes a crazed lunatic planting poisoned pill containers in valid drugstores so that anybody who buys the cursed forgery of the product will end up falling ill and possibly dying from the venom.

C&D ask NY-based Catholic priest Father Delgado for guidance, and police detective Brigid O'Reilly serves as the dissenter with their approach who initially goes after them for seemingly getting rid of one of the suspects in a drug trafficking case. The duo's origins are the focus of the last part, where we learn Tandy was disillusioned daughter of a wealthy model from Ohio who spent too much time on her career and not enough with her kid, and Tyrone was the son of a Boston couple who'd tried to get into sports and higher classes, but suffered a speech impediment that proved problematic for him, and sabotaged his ability to tell the police a friend was innocent of a store robbery, for which they shot him as he fled. Both teens ran away to New York City, where they met when a mugger tried to steal Tandy's bag, and Tyrone stopped him. It was at this point they were soon lured into the clutches of a drug baron who wanted to use them for experiments, and this wound up triggering their mutant powers.

For its time, it's well scripted, and one of the reasons I consider C&D one of Mantlo's stronger works is because it actually respects religion, and in addition, sheds light on an important subject like drug trafficking and abuse.

Though C&D's subsequent ongoing series (there were two, plus some features in a 2nd volume of Strange Tales and later Marvel Comics Presents) were never the success I'm sure Marvel's executives at the time were hoping for, they do have excellent value, and I think it's a very worthy creation, one of the best ideas from Mantlo's career back in the day.

Copyright 2019 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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