Cloak and Dagger: Predator and Prey

Cloak and Dagger: Predator and Prey
Cloak and Dagger - Predator and Prey review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Marvel - 0-87135-125-0
  • Release date: 1988
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

Two teenagers transformed by accident, Cloak and Dagger represent the dark and the light, Cloak constantly having to keep a hunger from within under control. Criminals enveloped within his cloak find themselves in utter darkness confronted by their evil, while Dagger fires a form of light bolt that can either drain people of life or heal them, depending on her choice. They have a mutually co-dependent relationship. Draining Dagger’s excess light brings her relief while simultaneously quelling the hunger within Cloak. Given a starring outing for characters he created largely restricted to guest slots, Bill Mantlo takes the opportunity to clarify how their powers work, and what generates them.

Unfortunately, it’s a 1980s graphic novel, and the prevailing style at Marvel means interminable bouts of introspective speculation, soul searching and mental torture. Accompanying that is the shorthand melodrama of a priest believing Cloak to be a demon, and some ludicrous contrivances. At the halfway point Mantlo’s plot makes a victim of the uncertain Dagger, out looking for Cloak in her illogically revealing costume, which draws unwanted attention leading her to despair. Meanwhile Cloak faces Jack the Ripper, who’s reverting neighbourhoods he passes through back a century in time. How? We never find out.

The nonsense plot is a shame as Predator and Prey is visually arresting. Larry Stroman would later scupper his career in mainstream superhero comics by too many sloppy jobs, but always had an eye for a strong page design, and with Al Williamson inking his pencils fantastic looking pages are the order of the day. Look, but don’t read.

Alternatively, this is just a small part of a much larger 2018 collection also titled Predator and Prey.