Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cloak and Dagger: Detox

This is a pitch for a three-issue miniseries. It should be published under the "MAX" label.

The writer: Brian Azzarello
The artist: Kyle Hotz

The direction:
Longtime Marvel readers probably know how Cloak and Dagger got their powers. They were kids on the streets that Silvermane's goons experimented upon. They were given an experimental drug, that activated their latent mutant powers. But what happens... when the drug wears off?

We start with a crackhouse. Several drug users are lying on dirty couches, mouldy armchairs or right on the dirty floor, passed out. We see syringes, crack pipes, tinfoil and other paraphernalia. We expect Cloak and Dagger to kick in the door to save those poor junkies, heal them and make them proud members of society again. The problem is... they are two of the junkies in the room.


Cloak and Dagger are fighting a gang. Suddenly, Dagger's power fades. Something is wrong. The gang members are overwhelming her, when Cloak teleports her away. But he doesn't get far. Because slowly, his powers start to fade as well. He's turning back into stuttering little Ty Johnson. The gang catches up to them and almost beats them to death.
In the weeks that follow, Ty and Tandy find out that the last traces of the drug that gave them their powers have been purged from their systems. Without the drug, they can't access their mutant powers. While it's not the first time that they lose their powers, they always got them back shortly. But not this time. And they are going through withdrawal. They need Silvermane's drug. On the street, they try to find a way to get more of this drug. But all they find is little dealers selling crack, heroin, crystal meth. When one of the dealers drugs Tandy, Ty tries to fight him, but without a connection to the Darkforce dimension, he has no chance. While Tandy doesn't regain her powers, at least she feels... something. She needs more heroin. And heroin makes her feel complete again. At least for a short time. After a few weeks, Ty tries it too.

Back to the present. The two are broke, powerless and hopelessly strung out. This isn't fun anymore. This isn't Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This is Spun. This is not Trainspotting. This is Traffic. This isn't Half Baked. This is Requiem for a Dream.
Tandy is starting to sell her body. Ty is starting to steal. One day, he is caught by Spider-Man, whose spider-sense is tingling. He recognizes Ty. But Ty runs away. Spider-Man let's him go, but he can't sleep because of it. He wants to help the two of them. Soon he realizes that the only thing that can help them is getting them their powers back. So he contacts Reed. Reed talks to Xavier. Together, they manage to find a way to unlock Cloak's and Dagger's powers.

But Cloak and Dagger don't want their powers anymore. They have lost themselves in the drugs. They have lost their will to live. All they want is the next shot. They don't need their powers for that. In the end, the only way to make them detox is by chaining them to the wall. But Reed comes to the conclusion that you can't help those that don't want help. At the end of the series, Ty and Tandy are back in the crackhouse. They don't have their powers. They don't have money. They don't have self-respect anymore. The only things they have is drugs... and each other. And on that note, we end the miniseries.

If another writer really wants to use them later, giving them back their powers and getting them clean is a piece of cake. But if it were up to me, I'd end their story here.


Why Azzarello? Because of Cage. Brian Azzarello reimagined Luke Cage in a Max Series as a modern character in the ghetto. Together with Richard Corben, he turned a bad stereotype into another bad stereotype. But a bad stereotype with potential. Potential that Brian Bendis later used, first in Alias, then in Daredevil, then in New Avengers.

Why Kyle Hotz? Because he manages to show the dirty sides of the Marvel universe. Remember The Hood? I think he's the right choice for this. But I'm open to other suggestions as well.


What do you think? Should we go with this?


Patrick Cook said...

Michael, I like the idea, think it's got some legs. But I'm confused - which office is this spinning out of? Should we be pitching more minis here and there that will cut into the end sales of our six mainstream titles?

Or is this just an idea that's been kicking around your head that you've always wanted to put before comicdom at large?

Whatever the story, color me intrigued.

Philip Schaeffer said...

This is a good dark story for these characters and very appropriate for a Max series.

Unfortunately, you definitely can't use Spider-Man in it. According to New Joe Fridays, the official word from Marvel Entertainment pyramid says Spidey and Wolverine cannot appear in MAX titles since they're too popular with the kids and Marvel makes it a point to in no way make MAX titles appeal to children. The top brass has no objection, however, to these characters being killed by whales.

I'd stick in some much grittier street-level characters rather than Reed, Spidey and Xavier (were you just trying for tie-ins, cause that's good thinking but I think this is the wrong series for it). And perhaps you could have one of said gritty characters merely steal more of the drug for them.

Or you could tone down the intensity, lighten the ending and make it a Marvel Knights story with a Parental Advisory. But I don't think that's the story you want to tell.

Michael Heide said...

Patrick: While that story does appear in my head at random times, the point of posting it here was because I wanted to add another book to our schedule. By diversifying our line, we can speak to more readers than by putting out just six superhero books. That's one of the reasons why Uncanny X-Men has a horror writer and will deal with hell on earth. And why Wolverine will feature hardboiled crime fiction. What Marvel doesn't have right now is a story dealing with addiction (outside of metaphors).

Philip: Joe Quesada might have said that Spider-Man will never appear in a Max book. But Joe Quesada isn't Editor in Chief anymore. Sean Kleefeld is.

Sean Kleefeld said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mike. :)

I;m not sure I wholly agree with Quesada on no-Spidey-or-Wolvie-in-Max-titles, but the cameos here seem a little forced. I think we could do effectively the same story without them. Take them out and replace them with the priest/father character that they're friends with. He can't give them their powers back, but that's not a plot point anyway. We just need a third party to say, "Hey, you're addicted" and C&D to not care. The priest can seek out whatever help, maybe even just a regular hospital or something, but your ending remains the same.

I like the idea, but I honestly have NO idea if it'd sell. Write this up without the additional cameos, take it to the Sales Dept with your creator suggestions (and backups!) and see what kind of margins we'd be looking at on it. We'll see if they think it's saleable to the market.

Another thing you'll have to do is coordinate with the regular MAX editor. Technically it should be his book and I don't want you to step on his toes. In fact, run it by him first. If he likes it, and is willing to hand it off to you, then run it by Sales.

Michael Heide said...

Alright. I'll see if there's time for that tomorrow, since this time, I'll be the one who can only hop on for short amounts of time.

But this isn't really urgent.

Okay, off to bed now.

Anonymous said...

joe q's not who said no spider-man or wolverine in max books

that's corporate

Michael Heide said...

Okay. So either we leave out Spider-Man or we publish this under Marvel Knights. Or we publish this under the Marvel Universe proper, but then we would have to slap a huge "For Mature Readers only" warning on the cover.
Oh, and them getting their powers back is a plot point. Because losing their powers was what drove them into their drug habit. Logic would have it that getting their powers back would kick them out of it. But logic and drug addicts, it just doesn't compute.

So just using the priest wouldn't be enough. We'd need someone that could give them their powers back. Someone that has MAX clearance.
My first idea is the new Defenders, especially Doctor Doom. But that would tie this book to the crossover, and I want it to stand on its own feet.

Josh said...

I've always liked the characters, and I like the premise. I agree it's best to keep Reed and Xavier out of the story. My only question is if the focus should be on adding a new limited series to the schedule. The creative team doesn't appeal to me, but wouldn't keep me away.