Archive for December, 2010
Well, the last two weeks featured The Frantics celebrating Christmas, so it’s apropo to feature New Year’s this week! I’m sure this little ditty may be a little reminiscent for some people. For you, I wish a Happy and Safe New Year. Se you in 2011!
Today’s column is a bit of a Christmas present for my sister. One of the first comics she gravitated towards was Cloak & Dagger and she asked me to do a column on them, and seeing as I don’t have all the material on the column I had in mine, I’m more than happy to do this one. It may lack some of the humor that is usually a staple, but I don’t think it’s necessarily appropriate for such serious characters with an origin steeped so much in the real world (minus super powers, of course). It’ll still be nice an informative though, so envelop yourself in darkness and light and prepare for… The Secret Origin of Cloak and Dagger!
As our story opens, the teenage superheroine known as Dagger is bedridden in a New York hospital. She looks to be in a pretty bad way, and her partner, Cloak is hell-bent on seeing her. Between the two heroes stand Father Delgado and Brigid O’Reilly, a policewoman. Cloak, being composed of living darkness isn’t deterred for long, and we discover why he was so keen to see Dagger:
You see, Cloak & Dagger have what we call a “symbiotic relationship”. They need and sustain each other. The two bystanders realize this, but want to know how this came to be, and so they are teleported by Cloak to Holy Ghost church, where the story really starts. Dagger starts, revealing her real name is Tandy Bowen, she relates that she was the daughter of a rich mother and stepfather. Her mother was always too busy to have time for Tandy, even when she got the lead in Swan Lake! The trials and tribulations of the young girl continue when her fellow dancers belittle her for her talent being “bought”. Tandy takes offense at this, the only real happiness she thinks she has in her life and asserts herself.
Tandy leaves the studio and is offered a ride home by Rob, a sleaze that only wants one thing (you know what I mean). Against her better judgement, she goes home with him, but blows him off when he makes one double entendre too many. Once home, Tandy’s stepfather makes a sincere effort to get her to open up, to offer her the love she so desperately seeks, but she only sees him as a stand-in for her real father. Present Tandy now realizes that if she had let him in, things would have been so much different, but hindsight and all that. Sadly, being an awkward teen, this doesn’t sink in, and she crawls to the only person who she thinks loves her, that scuzzy Rob guy. It’s heavily implied that they had sex, and then Rob left, leaving Tandy even more vulnerable. Feeling empty and alone, Tandy runs away to New York City looking for a better life, but as we return the present, Dagger says she found Cloak instead.
Taking the cue, Cloak picks up the story there. The life he used to lead is wildly divergent from Dagger’s. Where she felt there was no love, Cloak, or rather, Tyrone Johnson, has very supportive parents. Tandy comes from an affluent background, and Ty is impoverished. He like Tandy, has a passion though, his being basketball. In fact, the one thing that Ty would love to get rid of is his crippling stutter. Feeling down, Ty is comforted by his friend Billy. Billy assures him that if they stick together, the world will be their oyster, and he can even act as an interpreter for Tyrone!
As the youths walk home, they witness a robbery. The perp gets away, and the shopkeep dies in Billy arms. Being a young black man covered in blood at a crime scene is not the best bargaining position, so Billy beats feet. A cop arrives on the scene, and thinking Billy is the criminal, goes to shoot him. Ty, to his credit tries his hardest to explain the situation, but his stutter prevents it from happening, and we get one of the most tragic scenes of this whole sordid tale.
His world devastated, and in trouble with the law for a crime he didn’t commit, Tyrone also runs away to New York. The two teens meet in an odd way. Tyrone, already thinking himself labeled as a criminal, sees Tandy on the street, obviously well off and plans on mugging her. He would have done so… but somebody beats him to it. Instead, he stops the mugger and in turn, Tandy treats him to dinner, where they tell each other their respective stories. Things seems to be looking up for both of them, when they’re accosted by a group of people who offer them shelter, but are obviously not on the up and up. Tyrone agrees to go along with them, to keep Tandy away from danger, but she inserts herself anyway. They are “escorted” to the docks, where they are promptly blackjacked and taken to an undisclosed location. They find they are imprisoned with a bunch of other runaways, and are wary of their fate. They find out all too soon:
So yes, Ty and Tandy are also given the drug, but there is something about them that causes their reaction to the drug to be a bit different. Actually, it’s later revealed that the drug activated some latent mutant powers, but that’s neither here nor there. As the other runaways lay dead or dying, Tandy and Tyrone manage to break away from their captors, but find themselves daunted by the frigid river separating them from the mainland. Having no other alternative, they try to make their way across, when things start to happen to them. Tandy starts glowing brightly, while Ty became enveloped in total blackness. With only the guiding light of Tandy, he and she help each other to shore…
You might think the duo are home free after that ordeal, but fate is kind of a jerk. Tandy seems to be unable to move, but Ty’s strength seems to have increased. They stop for a breather, and only then does Tyrone see that he’s become some sort of living shadow! Unable to cope, he envelops himself in yards of discarded cloth, which will inspire his present moniker. Another side effect of the ordeal is that Ty has lost his stutter, but gained an insatiable hunger, always gnawing at him. Just then, the two are confronted again by their captors, and Ty is in for a fight. Suddenly, Tandy wakes from her catatonic state, and instinctively saves Ty by throwing what she calls “daggers of light” The battle over, the troubled teens are faced with what they’ve become…
Their tale told, Cloak and Dagger throw themselves at the mercy of their companions. Brigid says they’ve suffered enough, and even though they are vigilantes, she won’t be pursuing them. And what of Father Delgado? What will he do?
As bleak as this story is, it is masterfully told by both Bill Mantlo and Rick Leonardi. Other writers have tried to tackle these characters in subsequent years, but to my taste, no one injects as much pathos as these two. I hope you enjoyed this sordid tale, and I’ll be back next week with something much more lighthearted.
This story was taken from Cloak and Dagger (mini-series) #4 January 1984
Here we are back again with more Frantics Christmas goodness! And what’s Christmas without caroling? Get your nog and yule log, and listen to a couple rather twisted holiday tuneage. First up, we have a pretty off-kilter parody of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”, that has a decidedly different ending. After that is a song about the Christmas gathering from the point of view of a youngster. I’m sure we can all relate with at least part of it. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas, Joyuex Noel, and all the funtime holiday wishes you can stand!