Strange Tales #5-7
Issue(s): Strange Tales #5, Strange Tales #6, Strange Tales #7
Cloak & Dagger
Title: "Vermin" / "Zapper!" / "Doorway to Nightmare!"
Title: "The snows of yesteryear" / "Returning!" / "More light!"
Peter Gillis - Writer
Carl Potts - Editor
Meanwhile, Dr. Strange hires a guide to get him up a mountain and back to the Ancient One's home. Along the way they are attacked by a powerful elemental demon (depicted only as a bad snowstorm), and their guide is mortally injured. Valkyrie of the (former) Defenders shows up to claim his soul, and Dr. Strange allows her to in exchange for being able to call on the help of the other dead Defenders. Or rather, "Defenders" considering the group, two of which were barely a member of the team for more than a single issue (and none of which, except Val, have ever met Dr. Strange).
Back to Cloak and Dagger, for issue #6 a woman comes to their abandoned church and prays for help with her criminal boyfriend, who has stolen a helmet designed to mimic the powers of Cyclops.
Cloak and Dagger use their powers to cause "Zapper" to seek redemption and turn himself in.
Possibly due to his light rays, Zapper is said to be the only person besides Spider-Man to have ever fought back the Predator and escaped from Dagger's cloak.
Nightmare continues to plague Cloak.
A note says that #6 is Mantlo's last issue and Terry Austin will begin scripting with #7, but that's not the case. Austin will begin with #8. #7 instead is a crossover between the two features in this book, with Cloak teleporting himself and Dagger to Dr. Strange for help with Nightmare (who Cloak still thinks is a prisoner in his dark dimension).
Before that, though, let me jump back to Dr. Strange's portion of #6, where he reaches the Ancient One's abandoned home and faces Erlik Khan, the guy that controls the Khats that Strange has faced earlier in Peter Gillis' Strange run.
To handle Khan, Strange summons the Defenders.
But doing so just makes Khan chuckle and teleport away.
Khan was initially disguised in the body of a lady that was seeking spiritual enlightenment, and Strange is upset about her death even though it happened before he arrived.
At this point the shortened story lengths are getting annoying. On the Cloak and Dagger side, they are not so bad, with Mantlo coming up with little 11 page threats like Vermin (II) and Zapper. The lingering threat of Nightmare helps feel like there's something bigger going on. But on the Gillis side, which is where i'd really like to focus my attention, there's not a lot of meat here. Dr. Strange climbs a mountain and meets a lady that turns into a guy that runs away. As for the Defenders, well, i really love Peter Gillis' Defenders run. But his use of these characters here feels gratuitous. Not only does it diminish the sacrifice of their death (Valkyrie will say that she shifted the battle with the Dragon of the Moon to the "borders of the land of the dead"), but the characters aren't used in a meaningful way. The Interloper especially was an intriguing character, and his disciple Manslaughter could've beaten Deadpool to being Deadpool if he continued to exist for real, but for all they contribute here they might as well be stick figures.
Issue #7, which is a full issue story, should have provided more room for real development. But it doesn't work out that way.
And it's also because this Nightmare storyline is just intruding on Dr. Strange's plotline in a really random way. The idea that it's happening while Strange is still in the Ancient One's home, hanging out with the Dead Defenders, it just makes the whole thing feel tacked on. As with much of this series, it's all very abrupt and not subtle, which is especially disappointing for a story about Nightmare.
(There's Manslaughter being Deadpoolish with his Tim Curry comment.)
Strange does manage to surprise Nightmare by using dark magic...
...but it's not decisive. Strange eventually wins by "killing" Cloak...
...which causes Valkyrie to open a portal to, i guess Heaven...
...and from there Dagger draws on the power of light and is able to defeat Nightmare.
There's some interesting ideas here, but they're disappointingly rushed.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAndromeda, Cloak, Dagger, Dr. Strange, Interloper, Manslaughter, Nightmare, Predator, Rintrah, Valkyrie
We see later on that people also remember Strange's presence at the birth of Wanda's and Vision's kids.
Posted by: Michael | March 14, 2014 8:45 PM
In addition to Peter and Silvermane, Doom was also able to break out in Cloak and Dagger 10.
Posted by: Michael | March 15, 2014 9:06 AM
"The road to the Ancient One's home has been shut down to to the political instability in the region shown in Doctor Strange #77."
And I feel the Defenders appearance is a stinker. Other than Valkyrie (and that's being generous), they are of no note. They literally don't receive any dialogue! And them being included causes more issues for me than they solve. Manslaughter is crazy, why's he suddenly a "team" player? We're not addressing this? Why is Strange treating them like he knows them all so well? I can't imagine Beast or Iceman passed along a message about how Manslaughter was a "true Defender" and they'd probably be at a loss for words of how to explain Interloper to Strange. Where are Moondragon and Gargoyle? (over in Solo Avengers but that's still a question that should be address here). Why is Valkyrie suddenly wearing a evil stripper costume? Do we ever get an explanation for why Valkyrie changed costumes between death and after-life? I really hate when costumes are dramatically changed without much acknowledgement. It's the sort of thing that they do all the time in modern comics.
And Doctor Strange sacrificing the guide to have the Defenders had his beck and call loses any point when he summons them and they literally do nothing like as seen here. And I really dislike the idea presented here with Strange ignoring the wishes of the dying guide. And in favor of a team of people he doesn't know and the one he knows acting incredibly out of character and wearing an evil looking costume.
I was hoping to get a kick out of seeing the Defenders, or the New Defenders, reappear here but I felt like it was a total waste of time and not worthy the severe amoral slope Strange gets pushed down to make it happen.
Posted by: AF | January 18, 2016 3:20 PM
I wrote that having only read 5-6. I see they're in 7 as well... so hopefully I don't look too much of an idiot with 7 contradicting me...
Posted by: AF | January 18, 2016 3:23 PM
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