Marvel’s latest foray into the world of television is Cloak & Dagger, debuting tonight, June 7, on Freeform (formerly ABC Family). It stars Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt as its titular teenage heroes, and so far the show’s trailers are serving up costume-free teen angst alongside images of crypts, stained glass, the Roxxon company sign (an evil corporation lifted from the comic books) and chat about “the Divine Pair.”
All of that leads us to believe this series is going to be a departure from its comic book source material, similar to how FX’s Legion is rather loosely based on the X-Men character of the same name. What we do know is that it takes place in the same Marvel Cinematic Universe and is set in New Orleans.
In preparation for viewing, here’s a deep dive into the origins of Cloak & Dagger as found in the comic books.
Created by writer Bill Mantlo and artist Ed Hannigan, Cloak & Dagger first appeared in the pages of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #64 in 1982.
Tyrone Johnson — a 17-year-old stutterer — and Tandy Bowen — a 16-year-old, over-privileged but neglected daughter — were both teenage runaways who met on the streets of New York City. After accepting an offer of shelter from some shady individuals, Tyrone and Tandy were abducted by the Maggia (a branch of organized crime in the Marvel Univxerse). They were delivered with several other teenage runaways as test subjects to a criminal chemist employed by the Maggia who was trying to develop a new synthetic heroin. The two were the only to survive the injections, gaining super-powers that allowed them to escape captivity.
Tyrone found himself engulfed in darkness and began absorbing his captors into his “dark dimension,” while Tandy was glowing brightly and struck them down with daggers made of light. They adopted the names Cloak and Dagger and became a two-person war on drugs. Similar to other anti-heroes like the Punisher, Cloak & Dagger focused more on street crime and were not opposed to killing the criminals they fought.
The vigilantes eventually met the junior trainees of the X-men, the New Mutants. Through this encounter with the Xavier School for Gifted Children, they discovered they were both actually mutants, and that was why they were the only text subjects to survive the experimental drug injections.
In the course of their careers as superheroes, Cloak & Dagger have met and teamed up with various Marvel heroes, including Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the New Warriors, Captain America, Iron Fist, Firestar, the Marvel Knights and the Runaways, and they actually join The X-Men for a short time as well.
It’s during this tenure that fellow X-Associate Dr. Nemesis, after a battery of tests, confirms that Cloak & Dagger are, in fact, not mutants. They are mutates, meaning their powers were a result of an external mutagenic source. Upon learning this, they left the X-Men and returned to New York City to rekindle their on-again-off-again romantic relationship.
In the pages of the “Spider-Island” storyline of the Spider-Man titles, Cloak & Dagger are corrupted by the super-villain Mr. Negative. As a result of his “negative influence,” they essentially swap power sets. After tracking them to Hong Kong, Spider-Man helps cure them, giving them back their original powers. But during that adventure Mr. Negative escapes capture, resulting in Cloak & Dagger deciding to stay in Hong Kong to guard it from future attacks.
Cloak & Dagger Stats:
Cloak (real name Tyrone Johnson)
Weight: 155 lbs.
Powers: Cloak’s body is a portal to the “Darkforce Dimension,” a world of strange ebony energy. He is linked to a pocket realm of that dimension dominated by the Predator, which compels Cloak to absorb the life forces of other beings; but Dagger’s light can temporarily satisfy this craving. Cloak can channel Darkforce to create a field of darkness in his general vicinity, usually using his cloak as a focal point to manipulate the darkness, though it can spread well beyond the confines of his cloak.
People enveloped by Cloak’s darkness feel numbing cold and crippling fear, sometimes seeing disturbing visions.
Cloak can “teleport” by entering the Darkforce dimension, moving a short distance within it and emerging back on Earth a great distance from his point of origin. A span of miles on Earth can be traversed in only a few steps via shortcuts through the Darkforce. Cloak can “teleport” other persons or objects along with himself in this fashion.
As Cloak, Tyrone is usually intangible, though he can solidify through an act of will, or by absorbing enough “light” to saturate his form temporarily.
Dagger (real name Tandy Bowen)
Weight: 115 lbs.
Powers: Dagger can generate and throw “light daggers” that stun targets by forcing them to confront the darkness in their own souls.
Her light can also cure drug addictions in some people, as a side effect of that painfully enlightening experience. Additionally, her light can alleviate Cloak’s thirst for light and warmth.