The Black Cat Plays With Some Spiders In Marvel Action: Spider-Man’s Lucky Issue #7

by Noah Sharma

Marvel Action: Spider-Man didn’t really hit its stride until its second arc. Unfortunately for the initial creative team, the second three issues were handled by a different group. But now Delilah S. Dawson and Fico Ossio are back to show us what they can do now that this ship is in motion and, I have to say, the results are promising.

Primary Cover by Fico Ossio and Ronda Pattison

If you told me that your launch roster for Spider-Man’s villains was a Lizard cameo, The Looter, Kraven, and the Black Cat I think I would be rightfully skeptical, but Dawson does a strong job of introducing the Black Cat in a way that is absolutely faithful to her origins, but thankfully distinct from what’s come before. Rather than play up her sex appeal or her flirtations with Peter Parker, this incarnation of the Black Cat centers her competence, her pedigree, and her powers right from the beginning. Admittedly, Walter Hardy’s role in the story is a tad rushed, but readers get a sense of Felicia right away and, even with Walter firmly on her mind, she’s blessedly her own character, not tied to a man as she too often is.
The Black Cat’s gimmick has been sidelined and revived various times throughout the years and, as a child of the 90s, I came to know her in a form whose most obvious superpower was instantaneous hair dye, but here it’s neither an afterthought nor a crutch. It’s an effective tool in this thief’s repertoire and a great mechanic for the story at hand. The nerd in me is curious to see how Felicia’s powers work a little more and perhaps how they affect her, but all that remains on the table as this issue paces itself and provides a fine introduction.
Interior art by Fico Ossio and Ronda Pattison

In also mentioned that this issue doesn’t wallow in the Cat’s sex appeal. In fact, it never really acknowledges it. But, make no mistake, nothing is lost from this version of the character. I don’t think it would be accurate to call this Black Cat sexy, but she’s absolutely glamorous. From her hair to her movements to the way her motorcycle is drawn, the Cat is a visually captivating character, she just isn’t meant to be ogled.
So the Cat is great, but what about the Spiders she’s snared in her web? Well, for the most part, they’re also top notch. The story splits easily, at times simplistically into two threads, the Black Cat’s revenge and the tension between the newly formed Spider squad. You’re not likely to forget that this book is marketed at children the way that some of those transcendent all-ages properties make you, but, acknowledging that, it’s still a smart plot. So, yes, it’s basic to have Gwen be too quick to rush into action because her police chief dad and the protective, patronizing patriarchy he represents aren’t able to hold her back while Miles is terrified of doing the wrong thing because he puts Spider-Man up on a pedestal and Peter is the Spider-Man that juuuuust right but doesn’t know how to impart that wisdom, but those are all solid ways to break down the characters and create natural tension between them.
Interior art by Fico Ossio and Ronda Pattison

The structure of the issue is simple this way, because things fit together a little too cleanly and things are clearly marked in relation to each other, but it does get deeper. It’s engaging to see Miles struggle between wanting, perhaps needing, to do things right while also being terrified of fading into the background. It’s an effective beat for a character who’s supposed to be relatable to tween nerds but also a problem for Miles as a character and a property. And while we don’t spend a lot of time on it this issue, Dawson doesn’t let Peter off the hook for not adapting to his new role. The unique elements of this series, with its Spider-Verse-esque team up, are finally starting to bear fruit and I, for one, am on board.
Meanwhile, the writing itself has solidified considerably. Characters are already feeling more defined and their dialogue more engaging. The intentionally bad jokes are entertaining in their awkwardness rather than just taking up space and reveal more of the characters’ relationships with eachother. It could still stand to dig a little deeper, this isn’t writing that you’ll single out or remember long after its done, but the improvements are significant and it just feels like Spider-Man.
Interior art by Fico Ossio and Ronda Pattison

Ossio still brings a dynamic, early 2000s energy to the book that screams Spider-Man when our leads are in costume. The biggest issue in the art is probably the lack of background detail, but the dynamism of the panels is usually more than enough to make up for it. Movement is clear and dramatic and there’s never a doubt that blows carry speed and weight.
Out of costume, Ossio’s style is much more unique, with his broad noses and infectious smiles. Spider-Man actually looks like a teenager for once! And I’ve already talked about how great the Black Cat looks in and out of costume, but it’s even better because of how the small changes in her design bring out her age and her personality.
Though the art obviously shares some inspiration with slick, modern children’s cartoons and anime this doesn’t feel like it’s trying to cash in on something “the kids” will like; it’s strong comics art in its own right.
Interior art by Fico Ossio and Ronda Pattison

The return of this series’ original creative team comes with the same level of quality that their successors had brought and their potential implied. Marvel Action: Spider-Man #7 builds on the best elements of the series, maintains the quality of voice and character we saw in arc 2, and reintroduces the Black Cat in a big way. It doesn’t necessarily blow you out of the water, but it does what it needs to do and sets things up in such a way that future issues might make good on that. Especially if you’re looking for something for a younger reader or someone who just wants Spider-Man the same timely, thoughtful way that the Boomers got him, this is worth a look.
Marvel Action: Spider-Man #7 is currently available in comic shops from IDW Publishing.
Variant cover by Nicoletta Baldari

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