Iron Cat continues to carry on the tradition of its forebearer Black Cat series bringing all the humor, heartfelt emotion, sass, heists, and action all wrapped up in gorgeous amazing artwork. There is no doubt that thanks to all the recent Black Cat stories, Felicia Hardy is a top-tier Marvel character at this point and not one to be reckoned with. Anyone that hasn’t gone on the Black Cat journey needs to pick this and the past volumes up right away.
When a character is able to utter the phrase, “My ex-girlfriend is trying to kill me with super-science,” and it’s used both as a moment of levity and seriousness, that instantly tells someone they’re holding an awesome comic book in their hands. This is one hundred percent the situation when one picks up the first issue of Iron Cat, the literal and spiritual sequel to the recently ended Black Cat series.
Anyone that has followed my reviews for the past year and a half will know how much I truly loved the Black Cat books from Marvel. Obvious by the almost 2,000-word long goodbye review that I wrote at the end of the year for what was the last giant-sized issue of the series.
Since its announcement, writer Jed MacKay has talked about how this Iron Cat story is very much what would have been another arc in the Black Cat series had it not ended, and it fits since it has all the same humor and energy and trademarks of that series. Which, of course, it does with the same writer in MacKay, who has done amazing work to elevate Felicia Hardy as a character and individual, not just some love interest or ally of Spider-Man, but a force to be reckoned with in the Marvel Universe. A force that has crossed paths with magicians (or “Merlins” as she calls them), aliens, gods, the Infinity Stones, and actually saved Manhattan from an ancient being.
It’s this last one that kicks off this story in a way because to save Manhattan she had to sacrifice her father-figure and mentor Black Fox. Trying to finish a crime that they were unable to accomplish in the past, Felicia finds herself at the mercy of someone now wearing the Iron Cat suit she used Tony Starks tech to create for a heist except Tony made it far more dangerous since that moment in time (because that’s just how Stark rolls).
Getting to see more of Felicia’s past, and having her ex-girlfriend brought back into her life seeking revenge for Black Fox is emotional stuff but also good comics. MacKay always knows how to dance between the fun and the serious in the best way possible. Like that aforementioned line about ex-girlfriends at the start being a humorous but also serious bonding moment between Felicia and Stark.
While MacKay is back to handle the writing for Felicia’s tales, the artistic side of the series is in all new very awesome hands that continue the artistic beauty that Black Cat’s books have showcased. Pere Pérez and Frank D’Armata handle the art and the colors respectively. This is hands down a truly gorgeous series from the start. So many fantastic panel choices, I mean having Felicia’s face centered in a cat cutout panel to start the first page is top tier, and the action is just dynamic, smooth, and energetic. So much detail is on every page and the emotional moments all land because we can see those emotions clearly in the facial expressions and body language.
D’Armata’s colors thread that needle of both bold bright superhero colors as well as more grounded darker tones. The dark room that Felicia is in to start as well as the scenes outside at night feel like actual night with all the darkness, bits of light, and heaviness that comes with darkness. Two panels side by side perfectly show what a darker room with artificial or bright light is like compared to one that is only lit by natural moonlight or light from outside and it’s so darn good.
Also, the fact that both the art and the colors take a rapid change for the flashback sequences is chef’s kiss. All the same detail and emotion and tones are there but they are given an almost foggy washed-out sort of feeling to them, some of that also being fantastic motion blur put into effect, to showcase how they are not just flashbacks but memories. It’s so hard to really showcase what memories would ‘look like’ outside of our heads, but this is some really fine creativity to bring them to life.
When it comes to comic book lettering Ariana Maher is one of the best in the business, no question. There is just such great energy in her work, allowing the characters to bleed through perfectly as we read their dialogue or captions. Plenty of great emphasizers are used to make sure we catch the tone or volume of any words while doing fun stuff like dropping characters’ names into dialogue as their logo which is comic book stuff that I will gobble up and love always.
While the dialogue naturally flows through the pages in a great way, so too does the SFX. I love how not only are all the SFX always varied in colors and styles to match whatever action or item they match, but they are right there in the moment all the time. Such as an SFX for Iron Cat’s blasters actually following the path of the blast right across Black Cat’s leg as she dives out of the way. It makes sure that the SFX are right there in the mix of the action and not just something secondary to what is going on. It’s all connected.
Iron Cat #1 is now available from Marvel.