by Stuart Moore (story), Mark Brooks (pencils, Walden Wong (inks), Emily Warren (colors) and Dave Sharpe (letters)

The Story: After the events of Dark X-Men, Cloak and Dagger must decide if they belong on Utopia with the X-Men.

What’s Good: We’ve been teased for about 25 years by the duo of Cloak and Dagger.  They were created in the 1980’s as super-powered heroes in the war on drugs, but it was never made clear if they were mutants or not.  They have failed (commercially) in a few attempts to give them their own ongoing series over the years, but had increased visibility over the last year as members of the Dark X-Men.  In this issue we do definitively learn that they are not mutants.  I liked the way this revelation was handled because it showed that even among the mutants, Cloak and Dagger just don’t really fit in.  They are kind of “other”.

I was also pleased for editorial reasons that C&D are not going to become X-Men.  The mutant roster is already so full that A-listers like Nightcrawler aren’t getting much to do. Two other cute story moments: Dr. Nemesis kicking butt while sneering at the bad guys’ technology, and Cloak suspecting Dagger of having an affair with the homosexual Anole (esp. Anole’s reaction).

As for the art, it is mostly a positive in this issue.  It’s a very bright and pretty book and I think Brooks nails the X-Men.  The cover is also really nice (if you care about that sort of thing).

What’s Not So Good: I know the impracticality of Dagger’s costume has been covered, but honestly, what holds it up?  Tape?  Glue?  Seems like it would always have a corner peeling up and revealing naughty bits.  And what is the deal with Cloak’s ethnicity?  When we see him as Cloak, he looks like a black guy (which is what he is).  But, when we later see him playing basketball, he’s multi-ethnic with blond highlights?   And, although I liked Dagger’s look generally, were they using Ariel from the Little Mermaid as photo-reference material?  Look at the eyes and tell me you disagree. I wasn’t a huge fan of the overall story of this book because it is a little predictable.  The plot hook (whether C&D will stick with the X-Men) only works if the reader cares about C&D.  I’ll bet that most readers don’t care.

And who were those guys who captured Cloak?  That wasn’t clear to me at all.  I thought Purifiers for a second, but that isn’t it. How about a word balloon for explanation?

Conclusion: This is a pretty comic and it ties up some plot threads, but perhaps it emphasizes why Cloak and Dagger can’t carry an ongoing series.  They just aren’t that interesting.

Grade: C-

-Dean Stell