For a character that has not only had 40 year history it is amazing that Black Cat has never had her own solo series. Not has Black Cat been around for a long time but she is a character that has maintained a strong popularity, especially with Spider-Man. That popularity has give Black Cat roles in other ongoings and mini-series. But now finally after 40 years Marvel has finally given Black Cat her own ongoing series. This has been a long time coming and it will hopefully be the series that shows that Felicia Hardy is able to shatter Marvel’s glass ceiling. Let’s find out if that will be the case with Black Cat #1.
Writer: Jed Mackay (Thieves Like Us & Leaving Miami); Nao Fugi (The Black Cat and Her Purrfect Purrloiners);
Artist: Travel Foreman (Thieves Like Us); Nao Fugi (The Black Cat and Her Purrfect Purrloiners); Mike Dowling (Leaving Miami)
Colorist: Brian Reber (Thieves Like Us & Leaving Miami)
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Somewhere in New York City Felicia Hardy arrives at a party in a museum. She acts as a normal guest while observing her surroundings.
In the security room one of the guards named Sonny Ocampo immediately identifies Felicia. He freaks out and immediately tells one of the other guards that they need to get her out of the party. The other guard takes his time as though he does not care but Sonny, who has an unknown criminal past, says he knows Felicia’s type and she is no good.
Back at the party Felicia runs into Odessa Drake (leader of the New York Thieves Guild). Odessa reminds Felicia that she owes her for what happened last time between them (see Amazing Spider-Man #10). Felicia reminds Odessa that cat’s don’t really listen to anyone. Odessa threatens Felicia if she doesn’t make things right for the Thieves Guild.
While Felicia looks at some paintings a pair of unknown guys approach another painting. Suddenly some security guards appear and escort Felicia out of the party.
Outside the museum Felicia tells Sonny that a cat never leaves empty handed. She then gets in her ride and leaves.
At that moment Sonny gets a call that one of the paintings has been stolen. Sonny freaks out and chases Felicia’s car on a motorcycle he steals from a kid.
In the getaway car, Felicia talks to her partners (Boris Korpse and Bruno Grainger) and talks about why she recruited them. As they are driving members of the Thieves Guild ninjas attack their car.
Felicia immediately changes into her Black Cat gear. She then gets on the roof of the car and fights off all the Thieves Guild ninjas.
Sonny eventually catches up to the car. Black Cat distracts Sonny by flirting long enough and causes him to crash into a river.
Black Cat tells Boris and Bruno she is taking the painting and then meeting up with them at their hideout.
Black Cat takes the painting and swings away with the Thieves Guild ninjas chasing after her.
Sometime later Felicia finallys loses the Thieves Guild ninjas and regroups with her crew. They all celebrate a successful heist with drinks. Felicia thinks that Bruno and Boris should distance themselves from her after this job with the Thieves Guild after her. Bruno and Boris say they are part of her crew now and will work for her until their aren’t lucrative jobs anymore.
Suddenly the person who says they are the buyer surprises Felicia, Bruno and Boris, who get ready to fight, by making his presence known. Walter Hardy (Felicia’s father) appears and says that their job was part one of his master plan. He then asks his daughter if she is ready for the next step. End of main story.
The Good: The creative team behind Black Cat #1 delivered the new reader friendly issue that creates intrigue around the world that was crafted. Jed Mackay made a clear statement that Black Cat isn’t just another superhero title. This is a comic that maximizes Black Cat’s background as a thief, in the process this first issue establishes a tone that matches what Oceans Eleven did best.
From the opening page Mackay starts building Black Cat’s corner of the Marvel Universe. Immediately it is established that we aren’t reading a superhero comic book. Black Cat #1 focuses on what Felicia Hardy does best, which is being a thief. From their Mackay crafts a world that is built with that part of Black Cat’s character in mind. It made for a much more organic story that was being told because this is exactly the setting that you expect to find Black Cat in.
What Mackay does best in Black Cat #1 is capturing what makes Felicia a great character. From the beginning Mackay captures how Felicia carries herself with a ton of swagger. Felicia knows exactly who she is and is confident in the abilities she has to get the job done. Everything from her expression to the way she carried herself in every interaction she had at the museum party showed this.
The way Felicia entered the party in the museum shows this aspect of her character perfectly. The way she was dressed showed that she understood exactly how to blend in with the rest of the party attendants. At the same she does enough during the course of the party to get attention when it is necessary for her plan to be executed perfectly.
This all furthered the idea that Mackay is developing Felicia to take on the Danny Ocean-type role in this series. Much like Danny Ocean, Felicia knows that everyone knows who she is and there is no point hiding it. But rather than coming up with disguises she uses the fact that her identity as Black Cat is well known to her advantage. She knew as soon as she was identified all eyes would be on her. It all worked into her plan as she understood how much time she could give her crew by the security guards being distracted with taking her out of the party.
And for Felicia’s new crew first job together Mackay was smart to keep the group small for Black Cat #1. This allowed Boris Korpse and Bruno Grainger to get more time to shine as new characters that readers are getting familiar with. Throughout the beginning of Black Cat #1 Mackay and artist Travel Foreman did enough to have them be present in the background of scenes. Once we do finally get to know their background Mackay keeps it short and sweet within one page. That was all an effective way to introduce two new characters that can be the foundation for the supporting cast of Black Cat.
The ending of the main story in Black Cat #1 with Walter Hardy reappearing from the dead was an intriguing hook. If Walter is truly back this could shake up Felicia’s world in multiple ways. Specifically, it could directly affect what her ongoing battle with the Thieves Guild can turn out to be since he has connections to them as well.
And as we saw from the back-up spotlighting his younger days Walter could be a big help for Felicia’s plot. Though it does seem he has own motives as he was the buyer of the painting. What those motives are could be an interesting hook to drive the first story arc of Black Cat forward.
Adding to the world building was the integration of the Thieves Guild. As we saw with her recent appearance in Amazing Spider-Man, Black Cat is now firmly established to have a tie to the Thieves Guild. This organization has been mostly connected to Gambit in the past. Playing up this connection and what her back-and-forth with Odessa and the New York City’s branch gives a long-term sub-plot that can be developed over the course of this series early life.
As well done as the main story of Black Cat #1 was, Nao Fuji’s short back-up, “Black Cat and Her Purrfect Purrloiners,” stole the show in this issue. The story itself was a short two pages but Fuji accomplished everything a reader needs to know about Black Cat in that time frame. Fuji was able to tell a complete story without any sort of dialogue, except for the cats “meow.” The attention to detail as Fuji anime-esque art style.
Speaking of art styles, Travel Foreman and Mike Dowling did a solid job with the artwork for the main and back-up stories. Foreman’s art was at its best when he was showcasing Felicia Hardy’s swagger and when she was in action as Black Cat. Dowling also did his best work when we see how smoothly Walter Hardy and his pals got their job down in the flashback story.
The Bad: Where Black Cat #1 falters is with the introduction of the security guard Sonny Ocampo. From the minute he showed up in this issue he was already at ten. There was no cool to the character and it made him immediately annoying. Unlike Boris Korpse and Bruno Grainger, his introduction did not give us full details on why he was introduced in such a way. His failed introduction makes you as the reader hope that him crashing into a river the last time we see him in this series.
Also, in future issues it would be best for Mackay to tone back on how much inner monologue he writes in this series. Black Cat is not Spider-Man. While she is a flirt and knows how to banter she isn’t someone that needs to be inner monologuing constantly like Spider-Man. Little things like her screaming and thinking “AAAAHHH” in the same panel just make it seem that Mackay is trying to hard to get Felicia over as a character. Toning things back will allow both the artwork and characters to breathe while they are in the middle of an action or heist sequence.
Though Travel Foreman and Mike Dowling artwork was solid there were some inconsistency problems that appeared. Specifically with Foreman’s artwork, he did not give as much detail in panels that were smaller. They looked more cartoony in these type of panels which made the character reactions look over exaggerated when his overall art style doesn’t lean towards that direction.
Overall: Black Cat #1 was a good example as to why Felicia Hardy is more than ready to lead her own solo series. Jed Mackay showed what makes Black Cat a standout character and was able to build a world around her that you’ll want to come back to see how it moves forward. As long as Mackay can work on the rough edges than Black Cat can easily be one of Marvel’s gems in their monthly ongoing comics.
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