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Black Cat #1 review: An enticing thrill ride

Black Cat thieves, sneaks and fights on top of a moving car. It’s a thrill!

There’s a good reason to love Black Cat these days, thanks to her popping up in Amazing Spider-Man and playing a part in Symbiote Spider-Man. And now, she gets her own miniseries. The character has always been intriguing thanks to her ability to be a hero one moment and a thief who works with villains the next. She plays by her own rules and in her new series, out this week, she might have met her match in the art of thieving.

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

BLACK CAT #1 MARVEL COMICS (W) Jed MacKay (A) Travel Foreman & Various (CA) J. Scott Campbell SPINNING OUT OF THE PAGES OF AMAZING SPIDER-MAN! ALL-NEW ONGOING SERIES! The Black Cat is back and starring in her first ever ongoing series! Felicia Hardy has a taste for the finer things in life and a certain set of skills that can get her into any mansion, vault or museum to…procure said finer things. But due to her actions in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, Felicia’s not only on the run from the police but also by the New York Theives Guild and their boss ODESSA DRAKE! High-octane heists, climactic chases and twist after twist that will keep you on the edge of your seat like a cat on a perch. IN THIS ISSUE: Find out a secret from Cat’s past in a bonus story that sets a foundation for the future! All this and an all-new MARVEL MEOW short story by Nao Fuji! Rated T

Why does this matter?

Written by Jed MacKay with art by Travel Foreman and colors by Brian Reber, this book presents a simpler version of the character who is no longer a crime boss, but a great thief. Think The Thomas Crown Affair meets The Saint. This issue also comes with two bonus stories, one with art by Dowling and MacKay and the other by Nao Fuji.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Here. We. Go.
Credit: Marvel Comics

This issue features a good cat-and-mouse story (get it?) as Felicia visits a gallery that is heavily guarded, or at least that’s what the head of security thinks. Along the way, there’s a chase, a twist, and some clever storytelling techniques. Of the issue’s two bonus stories, one features Black Cat thieving with a little help from a furry friend and an interesting flashback to a key character which adds a nice amount of weight to the cliffhanger of the main story. Overall this is a great start to what could be a story that not only ties into the Thieves Guild, but also Felicia’s past.

What drew me in the most from the main story is how MacKay integrates some striking storytelling techniques that spice things up. In between Felicia’s narration via caption and the chief of security noticing her, we get a torn page revealing Felicia’s mugshot. Later, we get a similar tear revealing the chief of security’s own criminal past. It’s an efficient way to connect the two and add a bit of purpose to their relationship as he attempts to thwart her. There’s also a good use of white space and layout to draw the eye to the intensity of a moment between Felicia and a known enemy. For a story that could easily feel done before, these little touches help make it feel unique.

More than once I was reminded of 100 Bullets while reading the issue thanks to how it develops Felicia’s henchman and other characters. Every character with speaking parts feels necessary and important, therefore you invest yourself into these characters expecting them to matter. That includes her two henchmen who are developed well.

The art by Foreman is superb and at times jaw-droppingly good. It seems to change style dramatically at times — maybe time ran out, but Black Cat positively looks like a vision. The detailed and grounded art style suits this type of story which keeps Black Cat feeling ordinary and human, further enhancing moments like her standing casually on a speeding car. You’ll feel invested in the characters due to the art drawing you in, too.

The first bonus story by Fuji is drawn very well, with only the sounds of a cat being used. It’s a highly visual story and a fun one. The last story with art by Mike Dowling continues to have a grounded look with a splash of spy drama thrown in, as the main character drops out of a window. A fun caper style.

Love the tear!
Credit: Marvel Comics

It can’t be perfect, can it?

As far as Felicia and her new role as boss to two henchmen goes, it’s a bit hard to swallow. There’s a cursory explanation for it, but it doesn’t quite work when you consider the adventures of this character over the last five years. There isn’t much explanation as to what her purpose is aside from doing some thieving, but if you forget her more superhero reality acts it’s a fun premise.

Is it good?

I’m a huge fan of The Saint and couldn’t shake the feeling this was inspired by it. It’s fun and has an attitude about it that’s enticing. Give this a look-see for the thrill of it.

Black Cat #1
Is it good?
I’m a huge fan of The Saint and couldn’t shake the feeling this was inspired by it. It’s fun and has an attitude about it that’s enticing. Give this a look-see for the thrill of it.
A good introduction to a new direction for the character
Some clever story telling techniques at work
Nice bonus stories add fun and context
It's a hard pill to swallow to just go with this new direction
9
Great
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