Strange Tales #8-11
Issue(s): Strange Tales #8, Strange Tales #9, Strange Tales #10, Strange Tales #11
Cloak & Dagger
Title: "The black teardrop" / "The luminous lady" / "The felonious feline" / "Mister Jip, usurper of souls!"
Title: "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!" / "African genesis!" / "Hierarchies!" / "This earth-- this realm.."
And that's how he winds up in that store he's talking about in the line i quoted above where he's given an obsidian cube that is said will grant his darkest desire.
Dagger comes home and finds Cloak struggling with an math equation, grants him a dose of light...
...and then launches into her latest dance routine...
...and it's all too much for Cloak, who uses the cube to fully restore his powers. Dagger takes that to be an affront on their relationship, provoking exactly the opposite reaction Cloak wanted, and she leaves him.
Since the characters are now separated, the next two issues take the approach of teaming up each with a guest star. So issue #9 features Cloak and Dazzler and issue #10 is the Black Cat and Dagger. The issues take place more or less concurrently as well.
I guess Cloak's encounter with Dazzler is not really a team-up. Hungering for light and unable to find worthy criminals to suck it from, Cloak is attracted to the light of Dazzler, who is hanging out on a New York City rooftop singing along with a boom box. Dazzler recognizes Cloak (although, perhaps incorrectly, as a "mutant")...
...and she does her best to feed him her brand of light while Cloak's powers go out of control, causing a blackout in the city.
Cloak then senses what he thinks is Dagger's light, and runs off. But what he encounters instead are a pair of villains called Day and Night.
They neutralize Cloak and bring him to Mr. Jip, who is the proprietor of the store that gave Cloak the obsidian cube.
Also in issue #9, we see Dagger trying to get advise from her estranged mother, but that goes nowhere so she decides to seek out the advice of "a clear thinking, always together, rational adult": Spider-Man. Heh.
But she doesn't seem to make contact with him because the next we see of her, at the start of issue #10, is at a hair salon where she happens to bump into the Black Cat.
Felicia, i guess feeling particularly anti-male after her bad experiences with Spider-Man, begins leading
(Don't miss the Goo-Gams shirt!)
Bret Blevins' art is ideally suited for this kind of thing, but at the same time we are straying quite a bit from the original tone of Cloak & Dagger, which had a more dark feel, with Dagger seeming more like a coldly angelical character instead of a typical teen. It fits the story rather well but it's definitely a departure (although, thematically, it was one that Bill Mantlo was developing towards before Terry Austin replaced him).
Dagger has enough moral grounding that she doesn't get pulled into the Black Cat's world, especially when the Cat starts shoplifting jewelry. But the Cat reveals that she intends to sneak the jewelry back into the store when she's done with it, and in the meantime she has fun sticking some macho jerks with a dinner check. Nonetheless, she and Dagger part ways and Dagger returns to the Holy Ghost Church where she finds Cloak a prisoner of Mr. Jip.
Jip insists on a long and wordy explanation of his origins (it takes him a long time just to wind up and begin telling it)...
...and we find that they are somewhat related to Dr. Strange. He was originally a seeker of wisdom that met the Ancient One after the defeat of Kaluu (see the Dr. Strange portion below).
Mr. Jip then studied with the Ancient One for a while, until the Ancient One caught him researching Dark Magic and kicked him out. Since then, Mr. Jip has been staying alive by draining the dark energy from evil men. Mr. Jip uses his pet, Yipyap, to locate suitable victims...
...and that's how he found Night and Day, who he decided to turn into minions instead of eating. Now Mr. Jip wants Cloak, who obviously has plenty of dark energy, although not because he's a bad person.
Dagger learns that Cloak is essentially immortal thanks to his powers, although she is not.
The one thing Mr. Jip hadn't counted on is the Predator in Cloak's cloak, so while Dagger is fighting Night and Day, it comes out...
...and in its indiscriminate rampage, chases Mr. Jip away.
Dagger then drives it back into Cloak.
We end with Cloak and Dagger renewing their friendship and partnership.
On the Doctor Strange side, Strange is focused on the latest of the ancient evils that the destruction of his artifacts released. This one has enslaved a village in Africa. Already demoralized, Strange has now found a journal written by the Ancient One saying that Stephen may be his greatest failure (worse than Mr. Jip?), because at least Baron Mordo forged his own way while Stephen has been content to follow the Ancient One's teachings to the letter.
This is (an unintentional) twist on Fallen Angels #1, where Sunspot learns that Professor Xavier has worried that Sunspot might turn to the dark side. Turns out Stephen's teacher would have preferred he be a little more evil. Stephen doesn't take it well.
That's when Kaluu shows up.
But Kaluu isn't here to fight. In fact, while there's a lot about Peter Gillis' Strange Tales run that i find contrived, including him finding that journal from the Ancient One, i really like the use of Kaluu. Kaluu's story (see the References) is that he was the Ancient One's partner when they were younger, but Kaluu wanted to use magic for the purposes of increasing power, creating a land of decadence for his followers. And now that Gillis is pushing Strange towards the path of dark magic, having Kaluu show up to be a new teacher makes a lot of sense. Kaluu also puts his own twist on that original story.
Strange initially rejects Kaluu's tutelage, and then when circumstances show that Strange can't solve the problem in Africa alone, he accepts Kaluu's help but says he won't be his disciple. Pretty soon, though, it becomes clear that's exactly what he is.
The evil entity in Africa is called Ghaszaszh Nyirh, and who is depicted as a giant ant or spider.
The locals are giving him their soul in exchange for food. Kaluu convinces Dr. Strange to use one of the locals as a bomb, exploding the young child when Ghaszaszh Nyirh goes to eat him.
That only releases Nyirh's spirit form, though.
Strange continues to try to use his light magic...
...but as it continues to fail, he begins to accept Kaluu as a teacher more and more.
Ghaszaszh Nyirh attacks the magicians using various forms...
...and Strange loses an eye during the battle.
Kaluu guides Strange into defeating Ghaszaszh Nyirh, but Dr. Strange is now stuck wearing an eyepatch.
When Strange and Kaluu return to the Ancient One's home (which has been Strange's home base since the end of last arc), Rintrah, the former apprentice to Enitharmon the Weaver, takes a professional interest in the eyepatch.
Strange pretty much begs Rintrah to condemn him for the choices he's been making, but Rintrah refuses, saying "You are the sorcerer supreme working to protect your plane of existence. I do not judge a master."
Kaluu next takes Dr. Strange to Glastonbury Tor in Great Britain. They summon up the ancient spirits of the land and try to convince them that it's in their interest to fight against the elder demons that have been released.
They are interrupted by Topaz, who offers to heal Dr. Strange's damaged soul. She says she left after issue #3 when she realized she needed training, and that's how she wound up here. She claims to now be able to "cure" him...
...but Kaluu argues against it, and the spirits begin to get restless and attack, so Strange rejects Topaz's offer. He then forces the spirits to submit to him.
The Cloak & Dagger side of these issues have a weird tonal problem for me - Bret Blevins' happy-go-lucky art contrasted with the sheer misery of Cloak, character names like Mr. Jip and Yipyap, too obvious Cloak & Dagger parallels in Night and Day - and i still wish the duo would get back to non-mystical threats. The fact that they are sharing a book with Dr. Strange surely pulls them in that direction, but the characters had enough spiritual symbolism going for them that they could have remained street vigilantes. On the Doctor Strange side, the truncated nature of the flip book hurts with building a flow, and the loss of Chris Warner on art is a problem too. But, again while i think that getting to this premise is a bit contrived, i do find the premise itself, where Strange is or at least feels compelled to use darker magics, to be an interesting and unique part of his history.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This needs to take place after the Black Cat leaves for Europe in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #129, since she says here that she just got back. For Dazzler, this would have to take place before the X-Men relocate to San Francisco in Uncanny X-Men #221. I've moved this as close to Uncanny X-Men #221 as seems reasonable to give Felicia a nice long vacation. Dr. Strange is pretty isolated from the rest of the Marvel universe, so his side is context free. The extra difficulty with a split book is that i have to wait until both sides come to some sort of break unless i want to cut up the issues, but this is a decent starting and stopping point for both.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (7): show
The problem with this arc is that Strange's actions are swept under the rug. In this issue, he BLOWS UP A KID. It would have worked better, if, for example, after this is over, Reed and Sue find out what happened and refuse to allow him around Franklin.
Posted by: Michael | April 22, 2014 8:58 PM
I'll break up comics when i have to, but i'll try to leave them together when possible.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 22, 2014 9:08 PM
When the Mr. Jip story was previewed in Marvel Age; it stated outright that Cloak & Dagger were mutants.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 26, 2014 11:09 PM
Brett Blevin's art is more appropriate for Cloak & Dagger than it was for New Mutants, but Austin is continuing down the wrong path for these characters. The statement that C&D are mutants is likely because of its cachet as a selling point by this time, but it is a retcon I never liked.
Mr Jip is an interesting villain, and C&D have had few such so far. However, the book has strayed far from the themes of their initial appearance in PPTSSM that made them fan faves. These aren't vigilante street children taking vengeance on the worst crime and exploiters of children. They are weird mutants on an occult vision quest now. Major error.
While I like some themes that Gillis uses in this Dr Strange run, he does not understand the character at all. Out of all the Marvel heroes, Strange should be the one with the least self-doubt. That is not because he is proud and lacks humility. Far from it. It is because he is mature and a spiritual master. He overcame this kind of error a long time ago during his quest to find the Ancient One and acceptance of his discipleship. The key to Strange as a character is that he ALREADY hit bottom. Such "perfect" heroes may seem boring, but there are plenty of other conflicts to bring into play. It did not hamper Ditko or Stern when they did stories with the character. Unfortunately, this is the start of long trajectory where the majesty of the Dr Strange character begins to descend and we're left with a sorcerer supreme who is anything but the world's greatest master of the mystic arts. The damage done by Gillis is incalculable.
Posted by: Chris | May 1, 2014 1:36 AM
I really enjoyed this run on Dr. Strange. Outside of the Englehart run, it may be my favourite.
This was followed by the Roy Thomas run, and I saw that as a back-to-basics, put all the pieces back in the box, looking backwards stint of Dr.Strange stories.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | May 1, 2014 1:52 AM
@Chris Kafka- the larger problem is that Strange gets to go back to being a hero after killing children, without the other heroes doubting him or him feeling intense guilt. It was definitely a mistake to have Strange bash Shuma-Gorath in the head with the Earth and then go back to being a hero- he should have either been tempted but refused or become a permanent villain.
Posted by: Michael | May 1, 2014 7:42 AM
Although we'll later find out Dr. Strange was a member of the Illumanti this whole time, so that could explain why the other heroes didn't mind.
You can see where Gillis was going with the kid thing. The people were going to sacrifice the child to the spider-god, so Strange, in his ends are worth the means mentality, figured the child was going to die anyway. Yes, another hero would probably try to find another way, but I'm sure the point was, what if another way failed and more children died?
Posted by: ChrisKafka | May 1, 2014 4:56 PM
But the child was only in danger in the first place because Strange destroyed the talisman that kept the spider-demon in check. So either way, the child's death is on Strange.
Posted by: Michael | May 1, 2014 7:38 PM
That's very true, but that's why this story works, and I don't agree with Chris' view.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | May 1, 2014 8:33 PM
I completely agree that the big problem is that Dr. Strange starts doing bad things and doesn't suffer any repercussions, karmic, moral or otherwise. He loses an eye. That's it. Interesting that a vision of Clea is the one who takes it from him, and that it's in the process of showing all these mystic baddies are from a unified whole, which is how the Mephisto/Satannish fight ended when Doc got his eye back. But I digress...
This is like Spider-Man carrying a machine gun for a year, wiping out baddies like the Punisher, and then conveniently forgetting about it and it never comes up again. And Spidey made a deal with Mephisto.
Even worse, it's like Wolverine constantly saying "I don't kill. Killing's bad." And his claws are completely non-lethal for a year or two, until suddenly he's back to killing again because he's Wolverine and that's what he does. At least Wolverine is just a soldier, a secret agent, a brawler. For the sort of moral achievement Dr. Strange is supposed to have, he should know that five or twenty or fifty years down the road, he's going to be paying for his decisions here.
This arc works very well for Doc's slow corruption after the loss of his artifacts. It's also a valid point about the conditions most of the world has to live under. Kaluu's point about his people eating meat more than once a year is very well taken in a country where you can go into any grocery store and buy meat whenever you want. In a world where Bashir Assad has been murdering people by any means necessary for years, and Janjiweed exterminated the blacks in Darfur before him, there's a valid point to make about 'what good are superheroes?' Dr. Doom's people have food, which is more than 90% of the world has ever had in history. Magneto would stop wars. Most other villains don't live up to those standards, but you can still see the temptation of the Dark Side.
Doc enforces his will on the fairy-folk of Great Britain, then he steals Victoria Bentley's magic. Perhaps not as bad as blowing up a hungry African child [I'm certainly not qualified to judge] but he's doing awful things, and then it all gets ignored.
The worst thing I have to say about company-owned superhero comics is that, at their best, they can raise these questions, and then they always fail to answer them. Even if the answer is wrong, that would be something. But they have to keep the characters going for the next year or thirty.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 20, 2016 8:05 PM
Felicia, i guess feeling particularly anti-male after her bad experiences with Spider-Man, begins leading Dazzler down a path of becoming a Material Girl
Heh. Apparently Cloak isn't the only one having trouble telling the two apart (and shouldn't Dazzler be with the X-Men at this point? Given what they were going through at the time I can't believe they'd let her go wandering off. Again.)
This is like Spider-Man carrying a machine gun for a year, wiping out baddies like the Punisher, and then conveniently forgetting about it and it never comes up again.
Wasn't that basically the plot of Superior Spider-Man? :-)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | July 20, 2016 9:06 PM
Strange also killed the demon possessed man and an innocent stray cat in Strange Tales #1-3. This comes right after he pontificates, angrily, to Topaz, about how he needs to remain pure, so he can be a "servant to the cause of light." He can kill innocents, but not return Clea's love? Is the author conflating Eastern mysticism with Puritanism and Victorianism, as well as witchcraft, which is yet another facet of Western Christianity?
At least the Punisher has always (as far as I know) tried to spare the innocent, and the Superior Spider-Man was really Doctor Octopus inhabiting Peter Parker's body, but Dr. Strange is just an unrepentant serial killer in this series. How can he possibly aspire to the higher spiritual plane attained by his former master the Ancient One after all this corruption?
If Gillis had used a throwaway Dr. Strange-like character for this arc I'd have enjoyed it better. (I know I'm being redundant but @#*!)
Losing an eye means next to nothing to Gillis' Strange, since he'll still have two eyes once he regains the Eye of Agamotto at the end of this series. At some later point in time, he apparently heals his injured left eye. The moral of the story once again seems to be that Marvel super-heroes can get away with murder and get off scot free.
Posted by: James Holt | July 20, 2016 11:23 PM
Yes, you're right. Doc gets away all Mister Miracle-like ["Scott Free" Get it? It's a joke? Get it? Nudge-nudge, wink-wink!] Here he dabbles in killing people and then decides that's not for him, like killing people is just something that happens to people.
And then the part about Clea? She's either going to be horrified at Doc's decisions and never have anything to do with him again, or she's going to realize that there are plenty of guys in the Dark Dimension (which she is currently ruling) who would be good for her. She's not going to waste time on the mentor who became a killer. Clea is sensible enough to go 'wow, did I pick the wrong horse! Moving on now.' As much as we all love Doc and Clea together, there comes a point where one of them is going to realize how wrong they are for the other.
The Punisher is actually quite innocent by comparison.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 20, 2016 11:46 PM
And Jon, Dazzler goes where she wants. Because she's cool. Nyeah. ;)
Posted by: ChrisW | July 20, 2016 11:48 PM
Dazzler walks the world like it was her well-illuminated playground. I nominate her as a candidate to be the new Sorcerer Supreme after Strange's trial & conviction.
Posted by: James Holt | July 21, 2016 12:31 AM
Well, it would mean cutting her off from Mojo and Longshot, but if Marvel ever sees the light (as it were) and lets me write Dazzler, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. [And wouldn't Ali look gorgeous in that Dr. Strange outfit? Come on, Marvel, what are you waiting for?]
Posted by: ChrisW | July 21, 2016 2:23 AM
Of course, Ali would look gorgeous in a Goo-Gams t-shirt, and after 30 years, isn't it time for them to make a comeback? Come on, Marvel! One's a Goo and one's a Gam! Do I have to draw you a map?
Posted by: ChrisW | July 21, 2016 3:22 AM
Of course Dr Strange is part of the "Illuminati" which us all about doing morally dubious (at best) actions for "the good of soceity."
Posted by: Jon Dubya | February 5, 2017 11:14 AM
"the deeper vocal qualities"... So, does that mean Cloak sounds like Darth Vader?
Posted by: jULES | June 17, 2018 7:33 PM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|