So very quietly and almost without any fanfare, a couple weeks ago Marvel put out the first Cloak & Dagger series (which I assume is a limited run)in 27 years…most assuredly to go along with the debut of the TV show. These are characters that I grew up with during my comics reading stint in the 1980s, so I feel qualified to pass some level of judgement after having a mini-crush on Dagger back in the day.
And right away you can see that this is yet another example of how Marvel’s SJW crew feels that they have to somehow tone down or mess up all of their attractive female characters as much as possible (or at least enough to avoid an outcry). The return of Silver Sable wasn’t too bad, but the Dagger reboot (there’s barely any Cloak in this issue: he basically lurks in the background, and he stops a pickpocket) is more in line with how Gail Simone is trashing Domino or Mags Visaggio is pushing the ‘ultra-woke’ version of Dazzler. They are really trying to drain as much of the 80s/90s sexiness out of these characters as they can, without getting called too much on the carpet for it (except by the Comicsgaters).
So with Dagger, they move the dagger motif to the small of her back (it’s only seen once in this first issue), keep somewhat of a plunging neckline up front, keep her in the high heels, sure…but don’t forget to give her that terrible side-of-the-head-shaved woke Tumblr-ish “mental illness haircut” and the utilitarian ponytail tied back because having superheroines fight in full-bodied hairstyles is sexist. Also, having the black lipstick and the black circle around her eye which only ‘activates’ (becomes white) when she uses her powers (instead of remaining white all the time), that’s a subtle but indicative change as well.
But of course you can’t stop there. Dagger was in an equal partnership with a man in the 80s/90s, and you can’t have that in 2018 anymore than you can put Ant-Man standing in front of the Wasp on a movie poster. So the best way to compensate for being an attractive blonde in Current Year?
Make her unlikable, standoffish and mercenary (Jessica Jones style). Make sure she constantly validates herself in internal monologue (I’m bad-ass, I’m trying to escape co-dependency, etc.). Make sure she turns off men – in this first issue, she blocks her law enforcement colleague Ikeda really hard, keeping him even out of the ‘friendzone’ let alone a romantic dalliance. Because, you know, relationships with work colleagues are just so, uh, problematic these days. I-don’t-need-a-man (ie she doesn’t need Tyrone) in 2018, let me get on with my career.
Art is decent inside, if a bit angular. But where the appearance really falls down is right on the cover – Dagger just straight-up looks old and tired like she’s aged 20 years. The cover artist is Mahmoud Asrar, whom I praised in this very subforum for his beautiful art on Dynamo 5 (eg the depiction of the super-strong heroine Scrap) when he was getting his feet wet in the industry with Image. But lately I’ve seen a couple examples (such as this one) which indicates a slump in quality like he’s just phoning it in. Face it, you want to have better art on the cover if you’re going to attract the supposedly new generation of readers (do they even exist?) who will come to the comic book because of the TV show.
Not to mention Marvel is underpaying its staff or otherwise hiring terrible incompetent editors – see if you can find the two spelling errors on the first page below.
Looks like we’re probably not looking for great things from this series. But if what you see below is your bag, go for it. I will probably keep checking this out sporadically on the Website That Shall Not Be Named. I doubt it’s a buy, though (and yes I do regularly buy comics).