Pretty much every Valentine's Day, superhero fans stop and ask themselves one simple question: Who are the best superhero power couple? It's the kind of question that can turn any Facebook group on its head, as fans eagerly compare Peter Parker's relationship with Mary-Jane or Gwen Stacy (sorry, Joe Quesada, but I'm still with MJ), or extol the virtues of Lois and Clark. Today, though, I'm going to point to an example nobody tends to think of — two C-list superheroes who are about to get their moment in the sun.
You see, this Valentine's Day, I want to celebrate Cloak and Dagger: Marvel's truest soulmates.
Who Are Cloak and Dagger?
Created by legendary comic book writer Bill Mantlo and artist Ed Hannigan in 1982, Cloak and Dagger were envisioned as the embodiment of light and darkness. For Mantlo, theirs was fundamentally a story of desperate need; he created two teenage characters, one a man of darkness and the other a woman of light. Where other superheroes have nemeses to battle, Cloak and Dagger concerned themselves with the problems of the streets; they battled against everything from prostitution to drug abuse.
The two were introduced in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #64, and they soon proved popular enough to star in their own four-issue miniseries. Although they've not exactly been a Marvel mainstay in the decades since, Cloak and Dagger seem to be firm favorites over in the Marvel offices; they've meandered through the Marvel Universe, appearing as secondary characters in everything from Runaways to Uncanny X-Men. They're also no strangers to Marvel animated universe!
Oddly enough, Cloak and Dagger have rarely been treated as an explicit couple; one of the few occasions was in 2010's Cloak and Dagger one-shot, where an old friend of Cloak's, Tia, manipulated her way into their lives and sabotaged their relationship. Excitingly, though, filming has just started on Marvel's new Cloak and Dagger series, to air on Freeform. This is intended to be a young-adult romance, suggesting that the characters' romance will be a major theme.
Soulmates in the Truest Sense
Even though romance hasn't exactly been a major part of Cloak and Dagger's lives, it's safe to say that they're soulmates in the truest sense. You see, in ancient times, Plato took the idea of soulmates very seriously; he believed that some humans had been born Androgynous, i.e. both male and female. As a punishment, Zeus had split these Androgynous in half, one male and one female, with each half living a life of sorrow and heartache as it longed for the completion of its soul. Only if the soulmates found one another could they ever experience true wholeness.
On the surface level, it seems similar to the Judaeo-Christian tradition of marriage, which celebrates the idea that two people become "one flesh". But it's actually very different; the Judaeo-Christian view is that, in some miraculous way, two whole people come together to become something new. In contrast, the Platonic idea of a 'soulmate' is that two half-people come together to become whole.
Cloak and Dagger are definitely soulmates in some sort of Platonic sense; they're designed to be as opposite in nature as they can possibly be. Cloak is a black male, unused to wealth; Dagger is a white female, born into privilege. Cloak's powers revolve around the Darkforce, and he manipulates living shadows; Dagger's revolve around radiant light, which she shapes into light-blades. Cloak is thrall to a powerful hunger, a gnawing desire to consume; Dagger's burning desire is to give her light to others, to bring purity and fulfilment. The two bring one another into perfect balance; and although at first glance the relationship seems one-sided, with Cloak full of need and Dagger there to fulfil his needs, Bill Mantlo quickly evened it out by showing Dagger's example inspiring Cloak to give back to her in turn.
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Yes, Cloak and Dagger are soulmates — more so than any other superhero couple. Where most characters are created in isolation, conceptually these two were created to bring wholeness to one another. There's a reason that, even though they first appeared in 1982, they're still so strongly associated with one another; each is designed to complete the other, and no writer can find satisfaction in using one without the other.
Do you think Cloak and Dagger are true soulmates?
(Poll Image Credit: Marvel Comics)