Cloak and Dagger: Predator and Prey (Marvel Graphic Novel #34)
Issue(s): Cloak and Dagger: Predator and Prey (Marvel Graphic Novel #34)
The story begins a century ago with Jack the Ripper having relocated from England to America, and he begins a new crime spree, burying the bodies at the construction grounds of the church that, in the present, is presided over by Father Delgado. Until one day a collapse kills Jack the Ripper as well.
In the present, Cloak and Dagger observe what they think are a group of people about to mug some teens for their pearl necklace, and they stop them. But it turns out the pursuers were actually undercover cops.
Cloak and Dagger have an argument over that, and then Dagger seeks refuge in Father Delgado's church. Cloak follows, to apologize, but he's confronted by Delgado, who is still under the impression that Cloak is possessed by a demon.
The idea that Cloak is possessed by a demon, or at least has a demon in him, is in fact true, as we've learned recently. So while Cloak doesn't expect Delgado's holy water to have any effect, it actually does.
This causes Cloak to doubt himself, and so he decides to stop feeding on the criminal element of the city. And this in turn makes the demon inside him angry.
My feeling is that this whole exorcism plotline and the fact that Cloak has an actual demon in him muddles the basic Cloak & Dagger theme. They are teenagers that were exploited by mobsters and now they use their powers to fight crime and help other exploited children. Metaphorically, Dagger's light is a contrast to Cloak's darkness. But i'm not sure we needed to bring actual demons into the mix. And Father Delgado's assumptions about Cloak are both true and false, leaving us in a weird state.
On the latter point, at least the Predator demon explicitly says that Cloak isn't evil. But the demon has collected various evil souls throughout the years...
...and he decides to let one of them out to show Delgado what true evil is. He picks Jack the Ripper, of course.
When the papers report on Jack's first killing, Delgado blames it on Cloak. And then it comes out that Delgado was keeping Cloak from Dagger, and she curses the priest and heads out to find her partner.
And then, oh, Dagger gets a fever and Jack the Ripper makes it seem like everyone around Cloak is transported back to Victorian England and let's just fast forward a bit.
Dagger eventually catches up with Cloak and blasts him with more light than the Predator can take.
Then Jack the Ripper shows up and Cloak learns that there really is a demon in him, and that he isn't evil, and that he can choose who to feed to the demon.
He eats Jack, but they are unable to completely destroy the Predator.
In the end, Father Delgado is led away in a paddywagon, which is completely unfair!
This reads like a couple of issues of Cloak & Dagger instead of a Graphic Novel. We've already been seeing that there's a demon inside Cloak, so this isn't a new revelation (although we see him fully for the first time here), and he's also not completely defeated in this story. So it's just moving the plot of the regular series along (albeit a year late). Poor Father Delgado, meanwhile, never gets a chance to hear that he was at least sort of right. Delgado has not been treated as a sympathetic character, and his hatred for Cloak did not seem all that rational, but ultimately he was right that there was a demon in Cloak and he doesn't deserve to be sent off to a mental institution. And then there's the Jack the Ripper stuff, which at best if it's a parallel for Cloak doesn't exactly put him in good company, and at worst is ultimately irrelevant (and that's before we consider the various alternative explanations for Jack the Ripper in the Marvel universe).
It's a weird, unsatisfying story.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place between Strange Tales #3-4. I'm tagging it as a continuity insert due to the publication delay.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: N/A
I have to wonder if this issue suffered from production difficulties since Mantlo started writing it when he was still writing Cloak and Dagger and finished it several months after he was fired. Strange Tales 4 describes Delgado as having betrayed Cloak and Dagger and unleashed the Predator, so maybe Mantlo's originla plot was different.
Posted by: Michael | March 14, 2014 8:20 PM
This GN was first announced in early 1986 with Steve Bissette as the artist(he also did them on a cover for Comics Interview).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 15, 2014 4:31 PM
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