Let me say this to start: I did not read Spider-Island. I haven't been reading Spidey comics regularly for a while now, and the concept of Spider-Island wasn't enough to lure me back in. The Cloak and Dagger miniseries however, had me interested. I've enjoyed a great deal of Nick Spencer's work, from his terrific Jimmy Olsen backup stories to the Lost-esque Morning Glories. I've loved Cloak and Dagger since they appeared in Runaways- I even have a pair of finches that are named for the characters. And if I wasn't completely sold on that alone, the preview pages from Emma Rios pushed me over the edge. So, I took a risk, dove in, and tried the first issue, hoping that it'd be able to stand on its own.
Thankfully, this miniseries has almost nothing to do with Spider-Island. The premise of the event is recapped on the comic's first page, but it's honestly unnecessary. I'm pretty sure Nick Spencer just wanted to tell a Cloak and Dagger story and used this as an excuse. This series is creepy, funny, and a great look into the unique relationship that Cloak and Dagger have. When I read it, it was easy to forget it was a tie-in- it felt like a strong start to a brand new ongoing series, and I was always a little disappointed when I remembered otherwise. I'm not always a fan of color coded dual monologues in comics, but I think they're used effectively here. Cloak and Dagger are characters who are simultaneously in and out of sync, and seeing their thoughts displayed this way makes sense.
Emma Rios' art is the absolutely standout of this series. Many of my favorite moments of the series were her visually stunning, wordless pages, and her trippy dream sequence at the start of issue 2 blew me away. Her art is so fluid that sometimes it feels like the characters are swimming from panel to panel, and she uses both Cloak and Dagger's powers to great effect. There are some really beautiful, subtle details here, like her incredibly intricate buildings and the way Cloak's cloak is occasionally used as a border. I can't imagine anyone more perfectly suited to draw these two characters. Javier Rodriguez's colors blend perfectly with Rios' style, adding both softness and a layer of grit to her work.
While the last issue of Cloak and Dagger was absolutely breathtaking to look at, it left me a bit unsatisfied. If a Cloak and Dagger ongoing was being released out of this, I would've been intrigued by the book's conclusion, but knowing we probably won't see much of the concepts Spencer introduces here is frustrating. I really enjoyed reading this, and I'll probably read it again, but it feels like a lot of build up without a lot of pay-off. I know I shouldn't expect too much from a 3 issue tie-in to a Spider-Man event, and it's possible that the overall quality of the series is making me judge it harshly. Maybe Spencer wanted to give Marvel something so interesting that they couldn't resist shining the spotlight on Cloak and Dagger for a little longer- and if that's the case, I hope he succeeded.
If you thought this looked neat but passed it up because of the Spider-Island association, give it a look. Emma Rios' artwork is reason alone to check this series out, and in spite of my disappointment, the series still rises far above being an event tie-in. Fans of Cloak and Dagger may find themselves frustrated like I was, but this is still a significant story for the characters, and I'd absolutely recommend reading it. Right now, with Marvel canceling comics before they've even began, a proper Cloak and Dagger series seems incredibly unlikely, but I hope someone finds a place for their continuing adventures. What's the next event Marvel has coming up? Maybe it could use another tie-in.