Last seen leaving Utopia after a brief stint in Norman Osborn’s Dark X-Men team, Cloak and Dagger finally return to a series of their own in this “Spider-Island” spin-off. And what a spin-off it is. It’s no stretch to say the characters have a small but loyal (and often vocal) fan-base, members of which have been asking to see more of them for years. To Marvel’s credit, the company has resisted shoving them in just any book, using them sparingly while waiting for the perfect time to give them a moment in the spotlight.
Finally, that time has come, and with a creative team like Nick Spencer and Emma Rios attached, you can understand why Marvel is ready to roll the dice. Spencer’s star is rising fast, while Rios recently wowed readers on the recent “Osborn” miniseries. Neither disappoints here.
The issue sees Cloak and Dagger facing eviction from the abandoned church that has been their home for years, setting themselves up as a (more charitable) version of Heroes for Hire, and — more importantly — dealing with their relationship. In many ways, this reads like the start of a new series, as Cloak tries to understand why Dagger doesn’t appreciate all he’s doing for her, when all she wants is to spend some time on her own. Delivered as a dual monologue from each character’s perspective, the issue sets up the kind of character threads that could just run and run — and hopefully will, if Spencer and Rios can find time in their schedules.
It’s not just Spencer’s writing that makes good use of the characters’ interplay, however. Rios’ artwork plays extensively with the light/dark motif that the pair embodies. There is a double page spread towards the end arranged as a kind of Yin/Yang that makes it clear just how much thought and work Rios is putting onto each page’s look.
Usually, it could present a problem that this “Spider-Island” branded series only superficially references the story itself, but on a book of this quality, one would expect even the most Spider-obsessive fan to forgive the cursory nature of its inclusion. The extent of the tie-in — at least so far — is to replicate and expand on a scene from “Amazing Spider-Man” where Cloak and Dagger help transport the New Avengers to the scene of battle. In that sense, it’s a direct crossover, but the sequence could be replaced with almost any generic action scene and the book would keep making sense.
In fairness, if you’re looking for more Spider-Island, maybe this won’t be your cup of tea. But at the same time, if you’re enjoying “Amazing Spider-Man,” you’ll probably appreciate the kind of character-focused interplay that dominates this book. It’s not much of a tie-in so far, but a great comic nonetheless.