One of Marvel Comics’ best books continues to pull out all the stops, truly showcasing what an all-around awesome and even terrifying character Felicia Hardy can be. A thoughtful, sassy, and fun issue is brought to stunning life by one of the best creative teams around who just keep hitting it out of the park month after month.
Far too often characters that aren’t considered to be part of the often subjective “A-list” within long-running universes, get relegated to roles that often box them in as just one thing. Felicia Hardy was one of those characters for too long, relegated to Spider-Man love interest, and her thieving success often just attributed to her bad luck abilities.
The current Black Cat series, both volumes of it, has truly raised Felicia to the levels she should have always been at as a character. Sure, she has the bad luck abilities and her ties to Spidey, but we’ve seen through all this time that not only is she charming but is incredibly smart on so many levels. The last issue focused on how she was able to outsmart Nick Fury on a physical action level, and now we got an entire issue of her being people smart in how she approaches finding the Infinity Stone bonded humans.
Jed MacKay is truly one of the best character writers around right now. It doesn’t matter if it’s Black Cat or Taskmaster or Nick Fury or Moon Knight, whoever it is he gets right to their core and shows them love and care and unleashes everything great or even not so great about the characters. They feel fully fleshed out, and real on every level.
Star is a character that has had a pretty significant role since her debut in Captain Marvel, bouncing around through several different books and types of stories. While the character has been interesting in many regards, this might be one of the most human moments that has come for the character. Just putting her across from Felicia and their back and forth as well as her eavesdropping and plotting were just so well done and engaging.
Seeing Felicia have different tactics for going after these characters and different tailored ways to do her “velvet glove” method speaks to the aforementioned intelligence on display for the character. Others fear someone like Star, not surprising with her reality-altering powers, but Felicia never once shows fear and has everything truly under control in their conversation because she does her homework and is prepared. Batman wishes he was as prepared and focused as Felicia Hardy.
On the art side, C.F. Villa, Brian Reber, and Ferran Delgado are just tremendous per usual. This is largely a “talking heads” issue, but it loses not an ounce of its energy and charm, and gorgeousness. Felicia as Black Cat doing action stuff is great, but casual Felicia is just on a whole other level of awesome. Honestly some of the panels here she seemed far more dangerous with a smile just sitting there sipping champagne than even in some of the more dire action scenes of the past. Not a woman to cross in any way shape or form.
This series is one of many that really plays with panel layouts in the greatest of ways, and this issue just goes even further. Especially the red-tinged pages where Star is eavesdropping on Felicia and the boys. Just such a great way to showcase what is going on in both areas in a way that keeps them together.
These issues have balanced the line of light and dark quite well with the coloring, and that continues here. The Star/Cat pages are all so bright in contrast to their conversation at times but there are some well-executed ominous moments of shadows on Felicia’s face. Which are different than the darker (nighttime) pages of them tricking and taking down Overtime which are of course also more action-packed and even brutal a bit.
There is a lot of sass in the back and forths happening in this issue, and Delgado truly nails it within the lettering. Just looking at the bubbles you can feel the moments where the polite exteriors and airs of the conversation turn to the more sarcastic or sassy moments through the well-placed emphasizers on the text. In that moment you can feel the emotions just jumping off the page in your face and it’s great.
There are a good number of well-placed dramatic and varied uses of SFX that just sell the scenes even more. Like the scene where Felicia and the boys showcase what they could do to Star. The dialogue and the imagery of her shattering glass get the point across, but that extra glass-shattering-looking SFX just is the delicious cherry on top that completes this sundae.
Hearing that this series is coming to an end within the next few months is truly sad, but we’re in for a pretty fun and awesome ride along the way. Just the way Felicia would want it to be.
Black Cat #9 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.