Review: A Complicated Love Triangle Unfolds In ‘Spider-Man: The Black Cat Strikes #2’

by James Ferguson

Spider-Man’s relationship with the Black Cat has been rocky to say the least. They ran red hot, but at the end of the day, he’s a hero and she’s a thief. When she shows up in town again pulling a crime spree with ties to Hammerhead and the mob, the wall-crawler is pulled into her life again just as he’s rekindling his relationship with Mary Jane. Yeah, this is going to get complicated.

The previous issue dropped a bombshell that could change the lives of all of the central characters. Since I played the DLC from the Spider-Man Playstation 4 game, I do know where this is going, but I’m still very much enjoying seeing it play out in a different format. Writer Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum delivers some riveting character work with the interplay of this love triangle between Spidey, Black Cat, and MJ.
This quickly becomes the driving force of Spider-Man: The Black Cat Strikes. Yes, the heists are cool and the web-slinging around the city never gets old, but what makes this stand out, especially in a world where we’ve seen this all the way to the finish in the video game, is the drama between these three characters. Peter sees the excitement and thrill of Felicia Hardy, but Mary Jane is the one he feels most comfortable with. He hides some things from MJ, not telling her the full story while out jumping over rooftops with the Black Cat. It can be seen as a form of cheating, but in his defense, he’s trying to figure out a few things. That doesn’t excuse his behavior, especially with the way the final page leaves us.

This issue shows us a look back at the relationship between the web-head and the Black Cat and how the two change by being together. Felicia is ready to leave her life of crime behind for Spider-Man, but can’t quite conform to the rules of being a hero. Meanwhile, Peter is holding strong to those morals, but bends the rules for his paramour. It’s an interesting dynamic.
Artist Luca Maresca mixes the fun and excitement of this affair with a bit of terror. These two shouldn’t work together, but they’re trying. A great example of this comes when they’re trying to sneak into a mob hideout. Spidey takes the covert approach, surprising the bad guys while the Black Cat comes in literally guns blazing, shooting up the joint. All the while, she has this sly smile on her face that you can’t help but love.

Maresca mimics some of the scenes from the video game while giving us new perspectives on them. I was brought back to how many times I died chasing the Black Cat through the subway tunnels for a brief moment, before I was once again wrapped up in the adventure of this book. Letterer Travis Lanham keeps the quippy dialogue flowing at a fast pace, placing word balloons in just the right spots to keep the focus on the action while still moving the story along.
Colorist Rachelle Rosenberg makes the sleek new Spider-Man costume shine in the light of the New York City streets. This contrasts well with the dark colors of the Black Cat’s costume. Again, the two shouldn’t work together, but they’re trying, both in the past and the present.

If you thought you knew this story because you played the video game, you have so much more to explore in Spider-Man: The Black Cat Strikes. It enhances the story we’ve already seen play out, adding more depth to it while building up the characters even further. We don’t have the benefit of hours of gameplay, but the creative team makes the most of the space allotted, delivering a solid story that’s sure to please newcomers and those that have played the game.
Spider-Man: The Black Cat Strikes #2 from Marvel Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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