Crime runs rampant in a major metropolis, and the police are helpless to stop it. A figure cloaked in black begins a one-man vigilante war against criminals, picking up sidekicks along the way. To some, he is The Guardian. To others, he is The Sentinel. But the name that criminals gave him is the one that sticks: The Reaper. However, 25 years after his disappearance, billionaire Byron West hires washed-up detective Roger “Jake” Stevens to find out the yet-to-be-discovered identity of the masked vigilante. But will Stevens’s road through Cloaked have him in over his head?
Cloaked comes to us from comics legend Mike Richardson, with art duties by Jordi Armengol. The page-turning mystery and tight dialogue certainly make this issue high on the entertainment value score, but I found myself considerably hampered by the all-too-familiar premise. How many re-imagined superhero narratives are still out there in the creative ether before we get overwhelmed? Watchmen does it well. The Boys does it well. Even stories like Brightburn may have fans. I think where Watchmen and The Boys succeed, though, is the parody aspect of not only the character but also the industry itself.
The Batman-not-Batman story of Cloaked was entirely predictable in that you knew some subversion was coming; it’s just a matter of when. That lies with the billionaire we all assume is going to be The Reaper asking a detective to find out who The Reaper is. It’s a decent twist, but it’s hard to see past the gimmicky gloss of it all. Added to that was the obvious name ripping–Byron West calls back to Adam West, Roger “Jake” Stevens has a star-spangled flavor to it, and even The Reaper’s first sidekick goes full double-dicking with the name Dicky Johnson. I see-saw between seeing the wit or rolling my eyes.
Armengol’s art serves the book well with sharp lining and shadowplay throughout. The costume design of The Reaper is a standout. However, the faces in every single panel feel … off. Their eyes look like their being possessed à la Supernatural. When a character smiles, they look grotesque rather than warm.
Overall, Cloaked is sure to have its fans, and it is being released as a four-issue miniseries. I sense that passive comic book fans will enjoy the refreshed take on Batman mythology. However, comic readers with a pull list might feel they’ve seen this all before and hang up their cloaks after the first issue.