Black Cat continues to be one of the very best books on the stands from Marvel as the creative team delivers a truly stunning and emotional journey wrapped up in all the trappings of a traditional (but Marvelized) heist story. Every page is a delight to look upon and the issue hammers home just how great a character Felicia Hardy truly can be.
Since it kicked off in 2019, Marvel Comics’ Black Cat series has been an action-packed, thieving romp around the Marvel Universe, full of cameos big and small. While the series has taken some turns here or there, including kicking off its second volume as part of a big symbiote crossover, what it has never lost is its dedication to fantastic character work and moments. The fifth issue is no different.
At long last the bits and pieces of the big heist that Black Cat and her mentor, The Fox have been preparing for are complete and they are ready to make their move to rip off the New York Thieves Guild. Jed MacKay stretches the moment of getting to the launch point of this heist, but not in a way that drags or leaves you wishing it would hurry up. No, he continues to craft emotionally meaningful deep moments with these characters that flesh out Felicia Hardy, the Fox, and others in ways that they haven’t ever. They may be the “bad guys” in the sense of their chosen profession, but they are human beings that the reader can immensely feel for within moments.
These treks through tunnels under the city also provide a means to drop more of the plot and some secrets that were being kept from Felicia, and in a very engaging way. The flashback at the start reminds you how much you might feel for the two characters and their relationship, making it easier for forgiveness to be delivered when the real reasons for this whole plot make themselves abundantly clear. It takes tremendous skill to spread a plot across multiple volumes, with a number of small detours along the way, and deliver in a way that never feels forced and never feels like a ‘finally’ type moment. MacKay displays that skill with a massive flex in this issue.
Speaking of tremendous skill, Michael Dowling and Brian Reber deliver an amazingly gorgeous issue that captivated with every turn of the page. Every background, every face full of emotion, every science-fiction style element pulled into play were just wonderfully brought to life. Reber’s colors shift from bright to muted or shadowed elevating and cementing each of the feelings meant to be evoked with the panels.
One trick they employ that truly stood out comes in the middle of the issue. There are competing scenes in the panels where Cat and Fox are discussing many of Fox’s secrets and the emotion is pouring out of those panels. Right next to them are panels with Cat’s crew of Bruno and Doctor Korpse dealing with a security guard snooping around the site of the heist. The trick employed is that the panels with Bruno and Korpse are out of focus with no real facial details or anything, enough clarity to see what is happening but never enough to allow the panels to steal away the emotional weight of the other panels around them.
That emotive nature bleeds wonderfully in the lettering work from Ferran Delgado as the caption boxes for Cat and Fox both feel distinctively different and have a flare of their personalities coming out within the text.
At its core, this issue is a story about a type of parent and child relationship, as Fox helped raise Felicia in many ways, and that is never lost in any of the aspects used to piece the issue together.
Black Cat #5 is now on sale from Marvel Comics in print and digitally.