In celebration of everyone’s favorite web-head, July is Spectacular Spider-Month at AiPT! We have a series of amazing articles in store for the month. Movies, television, gaming, and of course comics will all be covered with great responsibility as we honor one of comics’ greatest heroes.
Welcome to our exclusive interview with Jed MacKay who has delivered two excellent issues of the new series Black Cat. If you’re a spidey-head like us you probably already know who Black Cat is, but if not, put a feather in your cap after I tell you she’s the greatest cat burglar Peter Parker has ever known and dated! Her luck powers afford her extra chances to squeak by due to their ability to ruin her enemies day.
In her latest series, she has tangled with ninjas and even broken into Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Santorum! Jed MacKay is the writer behind the series, who was gracious enough to answer a few of our questions about the series, his favorite Spider-Man story, and more! Also, check out an exclusive preview from Black Cat #3 below!
AiPT!: Hi Jed, thanks for taking the time to talk about Black Cat! At AiPT! we’re running a month-long celebration of all things Spider-Man and what better way to honor the character than with one of the most important characters in his circle. Why do you think Black Cat works so well in this corner of the Marvel universe?
Jed MacKay: Spider-Man is a character with a lot of foils running around in his life- but Felicia is my favourite because she’s the opposite of the Spider-Man code. It’s not her sense of responsibility that puts her in hard situations, it’s her lack of it. Peter’s guilt over the death of Uncle Ben keeps him on the path of the righteous, while Walter Hardy’s death, if anything, vindicated her choice to tread the criminal’s road. After all, if she hadn’t stolen her father out of prison, he’d have died there rather than his own home, with his family.
AiPT!: What draws you to Black Cat, what’s so fun about writing this character?
JM: Well, we love a scoundrel, don’t we? In fiction, thieves are glamorous and exciting, living outside the rules for thrills and profit. There’s something thrilling and dangerous about the life of a professional thief in comics, and Felicia is the perfect example of that. She’s fun and glamorous and clever and sexy and stylish, a character who navigates her way through the madness of the Marvel universe following no rules but her own desires. She wears a costume because she loves it, because she may be addicted to it (and such addictions are never exactly healthy), and a character who lives that kind of life, of costumes and crime and excitement not out of a sense of responsibility or duty, but pure joy is what I love about writing Felicia and her friends. Felicia has carved out a place for herself in a world of superheroes and monsters and mad scientists by pure determination to do so and has brought along her crew of misfits for the ride.
AiPT!: In Black Cat #1 there’s some clever use of tear-away panels to show the mug shots of characters. Was this your idea and can we expect more clever ways of informing the reader about characters in the story?
JM: I came up with the gag of introducing everyone via their mugshots, and Travel put it together with the tearaways. In a #1, it’s a tricky balance to try and find, where you want to hit the ground running for old fans while still giving newer readers what they need to know about the characters. Everyone in #1 is or was a thief (except maybe for Kevin), and the mugshots were a fun way to get that across- Odessa Drake, for instance, doesn’t have one, because she’s never been caught. The Black Fox has a half dozen, all with different aliases over his career.
It all goes back to the heist movie format, which I really love, where you often see a lot of quick cuts between different points of view, where the planning is intercut with the actual doing via flashbacks, where the story is juggling different plates all at once. That’s the kind of feel we’re trying to get across here.
AiPT!: When it comes to Spider-Man’s romances, why do you think the Black Cat and Spider-Man dynamic works so well? Follow up, which is Peter’s one true love, Black Cat or MJ?
JM: MJ is the girl Peter should be with. I don’t think there’s any question there, they’re one of the great comic book couples.
But Felicia… Felicia is the girl he definitely, 100%, should not be with- and I think that’s much more interesting.
AiPT!: I love the energy of Black Cat, it has equal parts heist thriller and spy drama, especially with the cliffhanger of the first issue. I think in my review I even compared it to Val Kilmer’s The Saint. Are there any book or film inspirations for the series?
JM: For sure! The getaway Mini in #1 is a pretty clear nod to the 1969 Italian Job, and Felicia walks through her books with a Roger Moore swagger (a Saint of an earlier stripe). However, one of the starting points for the book when I first started figuring out what I wanted it to be was Lupin III, and that breezy, adventurous attitude to the larcenous life. It’s moved in a more fantastical direction since then, but those are some of the touchstones.
AiPT!: Is it ever tricky balancing a character like Black Cat who may do morally objectionable things yet also needs to be liked by the reader?
JM: Felicia is a thief, and a thief steals, but she’s not a villain (at least, not anymore, as her Queenpin days are behind her). Her motives are selfish, but not malicious- she’s not ruining peoples’ lives or putting people in danger, not on purpose. However, you can’t live a life of swashbuckling crime without any consequence, as we see from the situation her actions have put Sonny Ocampo in, and that will play out over the series.
AiPT!: Next up for Black Cat is robbing the Sanctum Sanctorum, of all the places to rob (and we know from solicits Yancy Street is next), why Doctor Strange’s digs?
JM: Felicia and her boys are setting up dominos. They’re working a plan, the specifics of which will be revealed in good time, and as part of that plan, they need to acquire some unique assets. And those particular items… well… who has better stuff than Doctor Strange and Reed Richards?
AiPT!: Okay, Jed, favorite Spider-Man story arc or issue of all time?
JM: Well, it may not be a widely regarded classic, but the first Spider-Man comic I bought for myself was Web of Spider-Man #100, right off of the drug store spinner rack. It was everything I loved about comics when I was a kid- a metric ton of colorful weirdos (the New Enforcers! Blood Rose! NIGHTWATCH!), big dramatic confrontations, SPIDER-ARMOR, that thrill of mystery of reading the conclusion of a story I hadn’t read the first and middle bits of…
Are there better Spider-Man comics? For sure. But for personal significance, Web #100 takes it for me.
AiPT!: I understand Black Cat is an ongoing series. In the perfect world how many issues is your run and if you could have your pick of characters to pop into the story who would you pick and why?
JM: In a perfect world, Black Cat would go on forever. In this world, however, I’m very aware of how fragile the existence of a book like this is, so I’m looking at it one story at a time. If our first story is well received, then I have plans for the next episode in Felicia’s life and where we go from there, and then where to go once that’s completed, &c.
As far as other characters to bring into Black Cat, there’s a whole host. One of the reasons I hope for a long run is that there are so many fun possibilities in Felicia interacting with characters in the Marvel universe. Plans I actually have, I’ll keep close to the vest in the event that I get to put them into action, but idle consideration makes me wonder what would happen if Felicia set her sights on the heavy hitters of the jewelry world? The Mandarin’s rings are certainly pretty, and what better accessory is out there for a girl than gems like the Infinity Stones…
Titillating! Thank you for the insights, Jed, and thank you, True Believer for joining AiPT! during Spectacular Spider-Month! Be sure to check back in every day for more Spider-Man content including interviews, features, opinions, and more!