Felicia Hardy returned for her second Black Cat returned ongoing series. The first story arc for this new volume of Black Cat took place around the King In Black event that is currently going on. But now that King In Black is wrapping up the role that Black Cat served is over and Felicia Hardy can return to putting her focus on taking down the Thieves Guild. Up until now we’ve seen all of the heists Felicia and her crew pulled off thus far focused on being able to break into the extradimensional vault that the New York Thieves Guild use under Odessa Drake’s leadership. How much more planning needs to go until Felicia and her crew execute the big heist they are aiming for? Let’s find out with Black Cat #4.
Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: Nina Vakueva
Colorist: Brian Reber
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: In her apartment Lily Hollister reflects on her new life since losing all her memories with Robert Kingsley (Hobgoblin) finding her and giving her the super hero name of Queen Cat. She is now targeting Felicia Hardy as she is the original ‘Cat’ as Black Cat and wants to take her down.
Later, at the Frick Collection Exhibit, while Lily disguises herself as a waitress to follow Felicia (the heist that Felicia’s crew executed in the first volume’s Black Cat #1). Lily ends up not being able to get through the crowd and Felicia is able to get to her getaway car before being stopped.
Later that night, Queen Cat talks to her friend about how she wasn’t able to stop Black Cat. Her friend asks Queen Cat why she just doesn’t go back to being a rich socialite. Queen Cat says that was the life of “Lily Hollister” and she doesn’t have those memories anymore as she is now believes herself to be a new tenant in Lily’s body. Queen Cat then decides to find proof to get Felicia arrested.
Queen Cat then uses various disguises to tail Black Cat as she commits her heist on the Fantastic Four.
A month later Queen Cat disguises herself as a cop to interview Sonny Ocampo, who has started a catering business, to get information on Felicia. Sonny quickly sees through Queen Cat’s acting and says that Felicia is way to good to get caught.
Later, Queen Cat finds Bruno Grainger walking the streets of New York City and follows him to New Jersey.
Queen Cat uses the information from tailing Bruno to discover Black Fox’s location, who she believes is the weak link in Felicia’s crew. This turns out to be wrong as Queen Cat ends up getting into an extended fight with Black Fox. Queen Cat is eventually able to defeat Black Fox and steals one of the items Felicia’s crew stole to lure Black Cat out.
Suddenly both Bruno and Boris Korpse break into Queen Cat’s apartment. They hit Queen Cat with a beanbag shotgun in the shoulder. Queen Cat jumps out of her apartment window to make a break for it.
As soon as she gets to a rooftop Queen Cat is confronted by an awaiting Black Cat. Black Cat wonders if Queen Cat is working for Odessa. Queen Cat has no idea who that is as she calls herself a superhero looking to take the villainous Black Cat down.
As they start fighting Black Cat quickly recognizes Queen Cat as being Lily Hollister, the former Menace and Green Goblin partner. As she blocks and dodges all of Queen Cat’s attacks Black Cat tells her to go back to being Lily. Queen Cat says she rather die than go back to that life.
Black Cat then agrees to give her blessing for Lily to keep being Queen Cat. But while Lily has her blessing Black Cat teaches her a lesson to not mess with her crew again. Black Cat then knocks out Queen Cat with a heavy strike.
The next morning Queen Cat wakes up to find a note in her journal written by Felicia. In the note Felicia accepts being Queen Cat’s arch-nemesis. Queen Cat then finds a picture on her wall that turns out to be a selfie Black Cat took with Queen Cat unconscious on the ground. End of issue.
The Good: There isn’t a ton of plot progression for the overarching story involving the Thieves Guild in Black Cat #4. Rather this issue is focused on building up Lily Hollister as Queen Cat. That is by no means a bad thing as placing a focus on Lily Hollister’s character is something that is clearly building on the foundation placed in by Black Cat’s first ongoing series that Jed MacKay wrote.
One of the big things that adds longevity to a comic book series is the world around the lead character(s). That includes the supporting cast. And up to this point the supporting cast for Felicia Hardy has been Bruno Grainger, Boris Korpse, and Black Fox. Having a small supporting cast has allowed the dynamic Felicia shares with her heist crew shine in the first volume. But now that we are in a new ongoing it is time to see more characters added to the thief world that Felicia Hardy has immersed herself in.
That is where having Black Cat #4 focus on building a narrative around how Lily Hollister as Queen Cat will factor into this story moving forward was a great choice. Unlike the uneven build that made Sonny Ocampo an uninteresting character in the previous volume this issue builds up Lily as a character just as interesting as Felicia.
MacKay immediately addresses how Lily is someone with a tortured past since being introduced back in the Brand New Day reboot of the Spider-Man franchise. Even if fans don’t have good things to say about the whole Brand New Day era of Spider-Man ignoring that history wouldn’t be true to Lily’s character. There needs to be some embracing to that character history to make this semi-reboot of Lily Hollister’s character work. It is that history as Menace and being used by Norman Osborn that defines why Lily has fully embraced the second chance she has been given as Queen Cat.
At the same time, we do see how much not remembering her previous rich socialite life and time as Menace that is driving her to be seen as a superhero. There is a self-awareness with the character that makes it clear that Lily knows there are a lot of obstacles in her way as Queen Cat. Turning that obsession of being viewed as a superhero and focusing on taking down Black Cat, who has gone back to being a thief after spending time as a crime boss, works very well.
This obsessive search for Felicia Hardy also worked to highlight how Lily is still new to the superhero game. While she was given the Queen Cat identity back in 2014’s AXIS: Hobgoblin we didn’t see her again until she appeared in the final page of Black Cat #12 that released in 2020. Being aware of that it was smart for MacKay to portray Lily as a rookie with how she ran into problems with her investigation and fighting. We see that with how she was not able to trick Sonny with her acting and failed to get the jump on Black Fox. But while she had these set back it was important to show that the Lily did have some competence as she did get what she needed when all was said and done with these two confrontations.
Which led in well in how the interaction between Lily and Felicia went down when they finally met as Queen Cat and Black Cat, respectively. It was clear that Black Cat could’ve finished the fight at any point but needed to figure out what Lily’s motives were as Queen Cat. Because while Black Cat #4 was very much Lily’s spotlight issue MacKay made sure to emphasize how Felicia is busy dealing with the Odessa’s Thieves Guild. Approaching Queen Cat with some caution in the off-chance she is working with Odessa was a smart play on Felicia’s part.
It also worked to establish how Felicia does not mind if other see her as a bad guy. Felicia is very confident as Black Cat and knows that what she is doing with her crew isn’t what would be seen as a good superhero action. But while she establishes that with how things wrapped up against Lily she understood that her new “arch-nemesis” needed someone with credibility to accept her as Queen Cat. Giving that acceptance while also knocking Queen Cat out as payback for what she did to Black Fox builds a fun sub-plot for this series to have running alongside the Thieves Guild story.
Nina Vakueva does a good job keeping up the art style established by her predecessors on Black Cat. Keeping up a similar style allows the transition into this new volume have a natural flow as Black Cat is still dealing with the Thieves Guild story. It makes the world come across as constantly moving forward by having that consistency.
The Bad: The one place that Black Cat #4 struggled with was getting us fully caught up with what has been going on with Lily Hollister and why she lost her memory. The scene with her unnamed friend was supposed to inform us of her motivation but it was just recycled dialogue from the opening monologue Lily had in her apartment. It would’ve been more effective if we instead were actually shown a flashback to Lily being given the Queen Cat name by Robert Kingsley since the AXIS: Hobgoblin mini-series was released over 6 years ago. It would’ve been more effective to drawing on why Lily has such an attachment to the Queen Cat name since this was her first major appearance in over 6 years.
Overall: Black Cat #4 effectively spotlights Lily Hollister’s character as we learn why she is Queen Cat and the reasoning behind targeting Felicia Hardy. Even though this meant that the overarching story involving the Black Cat vs Thieves Guild story was sidelined it still worked. Building up Lily as Queen Cat provides this series with another character that Jed MacKay can write to strengthen the quality of this series.
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