The upcoming Freeform (formerly ABC Family) series just released its second trailer recently for this latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe set to debut June 7th. But who are Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen aka Cloak and Dagger? Despite being characters created in the 1960s who have remained relevant in the modern Marvel Comics universe, they remain unknown to the overall public. But Marvel has a great track record with taking secondary Marvel characters and introducing them to a bigger audience to great success such as Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, or Hulu’s Runaways. With other upcoming Freeform series such as Cloak and Dagger and The New Warriors set to debut in 2018, more and more Marvel characters are prepared to be introduced into the mainstream consciousness. But who are they, people may ask or more importantly, why should we care? So here is a list of 10 things you should know about Cloak and Dagger that hopefully encourages you to inquire about their stories at your local comic shop or bookstore.
1. Cloak and Dagger were inspired by a visit to Ellis Island.
Co-creator Bill Mantlo detailed that duo came to him the night after a visit to Ellis Island, the famous gateway for over 12 million immigrants to the U.S. from 1892-1954. “They came in the night, when all was silent and my mind was blank. They came completely conceived as to their powers and attributes, their origin and motivation. They embodied between them all that fear and misery, hunger and longing that had haunted me on Ellis Island.”
2. Tyrone and Tandy were kids from two separate worlds who coincidentally found each other.
Tyrone and Tandy would meet each other as runaways in New York City. Tyrone “Ty” Johnson was a 17-year-old from a poor neighborhood in South Boston, Massachusetts with a horrible stutter. He ran away when him and his best friend Billy witnessed a robbery gone wrong and fled the scene. When confronted by the police, Ty’s speech impediment prevented him from proving Billy’s innocence and watched the officer shoot his friend dead. Tandy Bowen was a 16-year-old from a rich neighborhood in Shaker Heights Ohio. She ran away because she felt her millionaire supermodel mother and distant stepfather were too busy with her career and their privileged social status to spend time nay attention with her. They both met in New York at the Port Authority Bus Terminal where someone attempted to steal Tandy’s purse. Despite originally wanting to steal her purse himself, Ty tackled the thief and returned the purse to Tandy. It was friendship at first sight.
3. Tyrone and Tandy were guinea pigs for experimental drug tests for the mob.
An offer of shelter from strangers took a turn for the worst when both teenagers were delivered to a criminal chemist named Simon Marshall who was employed by the Maggia. The Maggia is a Marvel Comics crime syndicate paralleling the Mafia who are known for employing super criminals and mad scientists. Simon had developed a synthetic alternative to heroin dubbed D-Lite and was looking for test subjects. He would appear to run a shelter for runaways and then inject them with the drug with terminal results. Somehow, Ty and Tandy survived their injections and the drug’s properties would give them their powers. Simon Marshall drugs would also be responsible for transforming a young Chinese man named Martin Li into the superpowered crime lord known as Mister Negative.
4. Their powers over time created a codependency for each other.
Simon Marshall’s drugs had an unexpected effect on both teenagers. Ty appeared to be plunged into a kind of darkness with an insatiable appetite, these changes he managed to conceal within the tattered remains of an old cloak. Ty gained the ability to create openings into something called the Darkforce dimension along with intangibility and teleportation of himself and others at will through the dimension. Tandy gained the ability to create psionic “light daggers” through her hands with the capacity to drain living creatures of their vitality when struck. Their powers would add a symbiotic level to Ty and Tandy’s friendship. Tyrone’s constant hunger from his connection to the Darkforce could be temporarily satiated by Tandy’s light daggers while Tandy could rely on Tyrone’s powers to keep her powers from becoming overcharged.
5. They would get final revenge on the people who did this to them.
Realizing their powers, they dubbed themselves Cloak and Dagger and declared war on drugs. Their first target was their accidental creator: Simon Marshall. Their quest for vengeance crossed paths with Spider-Man who attempted to protect Marshall from the vengeful teens. He failed as Marshall would fall to his death. Not content with Marshall, Ty and Tandy would take their vendetta to his employer, the Maggia boss Silvermane. They murdered the elderly crime boss but would battle him again when it was revealed his consciousness was transferred over to a cyborg body. They would continue to combat drug dealers and likeminded enterprises but despite their limited reservations about lethal force, both vigilantes would become less ruthless over time.
6. Are they mutants or aren’t they?
At one point, Cloak and Dagger fought the New Mutants team who had been kidnapped by fearful drug dealers and injected with the same drugs that gave the duo their powers. With the help of Spider-Man, the entire situation was rectified and they would help the New Mutants a few times later , once even turning down an offer to join the X-Men and Xavier’s School. It was revealed that both Tyrone and Tandy are mutants which is the only reason they were the sole survivor of Marshall’s drug trials. In later years, their status changed to be mutates, meaning their powers were granted from an external mutagenic source. This was later confirmed when Doctor Nemesis of the Uncanny X-Men ran a full genetic examination on Dagger and reported that their powers derived from the drug that transformed Tyrone and Tandy and not from the mutant gene.
7. Although they are together, they sometimes do better apart
Although the nature of their powers has them constantly together, there have been times that Cloak and Daggers lonely lifestyle has left the young vigilantes hungry for more. Worried about the destructive capabilities of his powers and its effects on Tandy, Tyrone has run away more than once despite the fact that Tandy willingly uses her powers for the benefit of both of them. He sees Tandy as some of his last remaining shreds of humanity and can appear overbearing and possessive of her especially considering her habit of getting into trouble without him. Once on an undercover mission, Tandy posed as a Eurocirque performer called Lady Light and started a romance with an FBI Agent who later sacrificed himself to save Tandy despite being a criminal. Tandy also was a member of the New Warriors for a time which she enjoyed working alongside friends and “fellow” mutants but the arrangement strained her relationship with Tyrone. Tandy was also a member of Daredevil’s Marvel Knights team when they searched for a missing Cloak who had become possessed by the malevolent entity known as Nightmare. While they don’t mind working with others, in the end Ty and Tandy always find their way back to each other.
- Cloak had a small but notable part in the Infinity Gauntlet
Cloak and Dagger have been participants in quite a few Marvel events such as Maximum Carnage, House of M, and Civil War to name a few. But one notable appearance was during the Infinity Gauntlet (1991). Thanos had been given the power to sacrifice half of the entire universe’s population in his desire to please Death and Dagger was among the countless who vanished when he did so. Cloak joined Adam Warlock and the other remaining heroes’ task force to face Thanos. During their battle with him, Cloak successfully pulled the Mad Titan into the Darkforce Dimension as he had done to dozens before but it wasn’t enough to stop him. Thanos released a surge of energy so powerful from within him that it not only killed Cloak but left only shreds of his signature cloak behind. Fortunately,both Tyrone and Tandy would be returned to life when the events of the Infinity Gauntlet ended ( no spoilers here if you haven’t read it).
- Cloak and Dagger’s powers were granted from the merging of pieces from a Demon’s soul
Eventually Cloak and Dagger were confronted by a creature called D’Spayre, a demonic essence which constantly meddled in superhuman affairs and gained its strength from the fear and despair of it’s victims. It was revealed that this entity had been orchestrating the events that granted Ty and Tandy their powers that turned them into Cloak and Dagger. D’Spayre saw the potential of their power and instead of letting their capabilities manifest naturally, it assisted in the creation of D-Lite and put Simon Marshall into their paths. While the drugs began to trigger their (at that time) latent mutant abilities, D’Spayre merged two aspects of his power, One Dark Form and One Light Form, to both vigilantes which helped to reshape their mutant abilities. These forms were simply meant to act as mutant storage batteries of the duo’s pain and suffering that D’Spayre could tap into if needed. When the entity attempted to reclaim the forms, Cloak and Dagger resisted and D’Spayre was apparently destroyed.
- The Cloak and Dagger show will continue storylines from Agent Carter.Regarding it’s connections to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, both the Roxxon Energy Corporation and the Darkforce dimension will both be prevalent in the series. The Roxxon Energy Corporation, formerly Roxxon Oil Company, has appeared or been alluded to in both MCU films and related television series such as Agents of Shield and Agent Carter. They are a company with alleged illegal and immoral activities dabbling in all sorts of technological and science study and advancement. The Darkforce dimension also known as Zero Matter was discovered in Agent Carter Season 2 where repeated tests and exposure resulted in individuals capable of opening rifts into the Zero Matter dimension similar to Cloak’s abilities. It remains to be seen if this version of Cloak and Dagger will take inspiration from their Ultimate Comics counterparts who receive their powers when Roxxon uses their bodies, critically injured during a car accident, as test subjects in an experiment involving dark matter. Perhaps Cloak and Dagger will take a page out of Hulu’s Runaways and allow the story to evolve on its own away from the influence and shadows of MCU’s other heroes and villains. Time will tell.
So what do you think? I hope you enjoyed what you read and that you’re interested to give Tandy and Tyrone a chance when June 7th rolls by.