We might be mindless monstrosities from the underverse, but like all geeks we’re convinced we know how comics should be written. We’re just self-involved and dumb that way. Hence this column, which I strongly suspect will be a staple of the blog for a long time to come. Blessed are you, the reader.

Now then, Disco…
Cloak and Dagger 1
Cloak and Dagger 2
What’s disco horror?

It’s a girl who can’t stop dancing, it’s a scary black man in a scary cape stalking the city streets, it’s neon stained shadows, it’s gangbangers walking into the darkness and never walking out, it’s light knives blazing in the night – all of that to a John Carpenter soundtrack.

I’m getting ahead of myself but that’s the vibe I want from a Cloak & Dagger comic. An urban horror story situated in the endless night that haunts teenage fantasy: a thrilling, dangerous, lonely wonderland, where all the rules are suspended, and hedonism and violence are the gravitational poles. It’s that world glimpsed in nightclub flyers, and the black interstitial between the pulses of a strobe light. A place where you’re just as likely to find a needle in your arm as your are to be summoned into a halogen lit toilet stall by the girl/boy of your dreams. Here be monsters and here be angels, it’s telling the difference that’s the trick.

Take Cloak & Dagger, which are they? There’s obviously something unwholesome about Cloak, he eats people’s souls. Sure, he blames in on the denizens of the “Dark Dimension”, but we all know what’s really going on. Dagger on the other hand, there’s real compassion in her, right? She’s the light to Cloak’s dark. She’s there to stop his tummy rumbling when there’s no children loitering on street corners (otherwise known as evildoers) for him to chomp on. Yeah, she’s a good guy – her heart’s in the right place. Especially when she’s busy hurling her light knives into screaming teenagers (otherwise known as drug dealers), or dancing uncontrollably like Karen in the red shoes.

You see, what people often miss about Cloak & Dagger is this: they are, both of them, badly damaged goods, and not just lonely pseudo-mutants. What they do, it ain’t fucking nice. In fact I’d go as far to say that it’s considerably less nice than anything Wolverine gets up to. Driving people insane, mutilating their bodies and souls, consuming human beings whole to sate DARQUE HUNGER, that’s seriously unpleasant behaviour. As I’ve implied above, it’s not as if they’re going after mass murderers like Omega Red or Sabretooth, nope they’re targetting corner boys, gangbangers, the odd mid-level dealer, street kids. Their fellow citizens in the hinterland between day and night, good and evil. At least, that’s the way I’d play it: tease to the surface the questionable morality of their actions and ratchet it up to ten, and in doing so afford the characters that edge possessed by the Punisher and ol’ Canucklehead in his prime, a tasty black morsel of moral ambiguity. The capacity to be horrified, and exhilarated, often simultaneously, by the stars of the book.

There’s a number of ways it could be done. Play up the humanity of their (let’s not mince words) victims, and perhaps confront C or D with the human cost of one of their hunts; Emphasise the pleasure they derive from what they do; have them be pursued relentlessly by John Q Law. Going off at a related tangent, I particularly like the notion of a cop trying to track the pair but continuously stalling as she meets one horribly traumatised witness after another.

Of course, the best way of unlocking all this stuff, and whole bunch of other fun besides, is by revisiting their origin. Something I’ll get into in Part 2, along with a fuller explanation of disco horror, and my plans for the best Cloak & Dagger arc never to be written.

Oh the vanity.

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12 Responses to “And the dead will rise: Cloak & Dagger meet disco horror part 1”

  1. dan31 Says:

    Disco Horror – that pretty perfectly sums up a certain 70′s Marvel vibe for me.

    You’ve inspired me to pen my long fermenting idea for my ‘Dazzler: Queen of NYC’ mini-series (think super trannies and drug wasted disco-era mutant party kids…)
    Nice post – I want to hear more.

  2. Qthgrq Says:

    Cheers ears. Do it.

    Just remember to use the “And the dead will rise:” component

  3. dfalcon Says:

    Of all the dormant Marvel properties, for whatever reason* THIS is the one that captivates my imagination most. I’ll delineate why they’re due a renovation in about 2010 shortly.

    *Possibly because Dagger had, and has, a really revealing costume in those Power Pack backups I read in Thundercats, age 9.

  4. Qthgrq Says:

    I’ve wanted to see a well written Cloak & Dagger comic for as long as I can remember, but there’s something very specific about their aesthetic which fits particularly well with the current pop culture climate. The reinvigoration of Italo Disco (disco generally), the preponderance of space synths on the modern dancefloor, 80s fashions stalking the streets, the ubiquity of the troubled super-teen narrative, Battlestar Galactica and Knight Rider back on the telly box. Your point about Dagger being tres sexy is a good one, because somehow she’s started to look beautiful all over again, and Cloak’s dark heart of dark darky dark is moving out of naff, into nostalgia, and skirting the edge of cool.

  5. The Beast Must Die! Says:

    It is kind of weird no-one’s jumped on them yet – I mean Iron Fist and Powerman, even the friggin’ Powerpack, have all had updates…

  6. Qthgrq Says:

    Could well have something to do with ongoing attempts by Marvel to repurpose them for other media.

    They did show up in Runaways a while back, but Vaughan failed to do anything particularly interesting with them. Worked for the book, however.

  7. lactus Says:

    Looking forward to your appraisal of Dazzler. I bought a bunch of them a couple of years ago and loved them. The juggling of her super heroics, love life and her pop carreer whilst wearing roller skates made for a great read. She even came up against Galactus! I seem to remember that even he was taken by her loveliness! I’ll have to lend them to you.

  8. Kedd Says:

    Ok, I’m listening, tell me more kind friend

  9. Qthgrq Says:

    Part 2 should be up over the weekend, after I’ve done a bunch of reviews and got one other post out the way

  10. And the dead will rise: Cloak & Dagger meet disco horror part 2 « Mindless Ones Says:

    [...] I said in part 1 that Cloak & Dagger’s origin needs revisiting, that’s because, like almost everything to do with C & D, it’s undercooked and [...]

  11. Uncephalitic itch - 10/8/08 « Mindless Ones Says:

    [...] and while it’ll break the Zomboy’s heart, I have to say I’m personally pretty delighted that i) there is a new Cloak & [...]

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