Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artwork: Francesco Manna, Ruairi Coleman
Colours: Giada Marchisio
Lettering: VC’s Travis Lanham
Release Date: 27th March 2019
Originally launched through Marvel’s “Digital First” scheme, Cloak & Dagger: Negative Exposure finally gets a print release, and features Tyrone and Tandy – now separated and seeing other people – dealing with the familiar threat of Mister Negative.
Writer Dennis Hopeless quickly brings us up to speed about the new, tense dynamic between our superhero duo as they struggle to apprehend one of Mister Negative’s hulking goons. Tandy is seeing Detective Ikeda (who is also overseeing Cloak & Dagger’s activities as part of the L.A.P.D.), while Tyrone is in the formative stages of a new relationship with sassy adrenaline junkie Vivian, and tensions are running high as the pair try to move on with their personal lives while still functioning as a team in their professional ones.
To be honest, the threat of Mister Negative initially feels like a bit of an afterthought compared to the interpersonal drama between Tyrone and Tandy. As such, a lot of your enjoyment of this story is going to hinge on how invested you are in Cloak and Dagger as characters prior to picking it up. There’s a heavy dose of relationship drama in the early chapters, but it does dial back a little and let the story – including the mystery of just who (or what?) is pulling Mister Negative’s strings – take the spotlight as the arc unfolds.
The artwork is solid enough, but perhaps feels a little sterile at times, and is very much in the established Marvel “house style”. Don’t get me wrong, Ruiari Coleman is undoubtedly talented, and does an impressive enough job, but aside from the tentacled eldritch horror that shows up in the final couple of chapters (yup), there really isn’t much here to differentiate this book from the glut of other Marvel comics on the shelves. It’s good, but not great.
Mister Negative’s involvement gives the story a focal point to wrap itself round, and he and his minions provide something tangible for Ty and Tandy to kick and punch, but it’s the focus on the Darkforce itself that really helped to draw me into this series. Cloak’s powers have always been pretty cool, but Hopeless takes the opportunity to dive a little deeper (literally, as well as figuratively) into just how they actually work. I found these sections of the story fascinating, and Cloak’s initial trepidation turning into confidence and ultimately fear gives him a far more intriguing arc than the on-again, off-again romance with Tandy.
Narratively the story works well, with the tension between Tyrone and Tandy and their new significant others putting increasing pressure on their costumed partnership, particularly as the real threat is unveiled in the final chapters. The problem is that none of the players in this ‘love square’ situation comes across particularly well, and the whole thing feels like it could be easily remedied by the parties involved actually acting like adults instead of moody teenagers. That said, the dynamic clearly serves its purpose, does a good job of adding an extra wrinkle to the new threat, and the final resolution manages to be fairly satisfying (in spite of also being rather predictable.)
At the end of the day, this is a perfectly serviceable slice of superhero action with a hefty dollop of relationship drama on the side. If you’re a fan of Cloak and Dagger you’ll definitely get a lot out of this, but even casual observers – or perhaps those roped in by the recent Freeform live-action television series – will find a lot to like here. An enjoyable, self-contained story that serves as a solid entry point to these characters.