“Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #24 opens with a double-page splash of three super-powered characters as they battle across Brooklyn. Using the 616 versions of the logos for Cloak and Dagger to identify them in their fight with Bombshell, Cory Petit sets the tone and amplifies Dave Marquez’s Justin Ponsor-colored artwork to shine with the intensity of a cover image.
Marvel executives and editors have made no secret about their hopes for someone to find a creative direction to apply to Cloak and Dagger, but I always presumed that was for the main universe’s version of the characters. The Ultimate Universe was originally conceived to refresh licenses and concepts while encouraging new readership, so it only makes sense that the Cloak and Dagger concept would get a shot through that filter. I just had no idea that it could be this enjoyable. Brian Michael Bendis uses “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #24 to deliver the backstory to this incarnation of Marvel’s consummate odd couple and gives readers just enough of the relationship between Tandy Bowen and Ty Johnson to leave us wanting more. Bendis doesn’t lose track of Miles Morales despite the focus on Cloak and Dagger, giving more than enough Miles to make it quite clear what the young man is going through and wrestling with.
Beyond some minor quirks (evidently shaking left hands instead of right is how it’s done in the Ultimate Universe) David Marquez’s art is top-notch. The artist makes strong use of shadow and light throughout “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #24, accentuated by striking amounts of detail and magnificent facial expressions. Marquez makes some grand choices for page layouts and panel divisions, like using the arc of Dagger’s thrown light daggers to break two pages down into twelve dynamic panels that convey action, reaction and interaction. It’s a simple concept executed brilliantly to add momentum to a story that grabs the reader by the eyeballs from the very start. Ponsor wonderfully colors Marquez’s artwork and the two truly blend together quite well. In addition to strong use of shadow and light, Cloak’s darkness spreads like pigment shot into water, tendrils and wisps and liquid smoke not unlike the aftermath of darker wizards apparating in the “Harry Potter” movies.
“Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #24 works nicely, divulges the past of Cloak and Dagger and sets up the present story. These characters are not much older than Miles Morales and their proximity to Morales during a trying emotional stint might be enough to rejuvenate the young hero’s optimism. For now, however, Bendis, Marquez, Ponsor and Petit have me hooked on the new adventures of Cloak and Dagger with this issue, which could just as easily have been titled “Ultimate Cloak and Dagger” #1.