The Webbed Elephant In The Room: Reviewing ‘Mary Jane And Black Cat’ #3
by Scott Redmond
Things start to get a bit more explosive as the title characters of ‘Mary Jane And Black Cat’ #3 continue their Limbo heist journey, finding that the true enemy might not be the demons but the secrets they carry. A rapid-fire character-rich gorgeous adventure that really is a delight to read from cover to cover.
A heist in a hell dimension is already a complicated situation, even more so when one throws in secrets and betrayals. Mary Jane and Black Cat, and their new temporary ally, are close to their goal and their chance to get home but a massive simmering secret blowing up in their faces at the wrong time sure can put a wrench in things.
So, I’m just going to get this out there, and it has nothing to do with the creative team here or over Amazing Spider-Man or really anyone at Marvel: I’m not a fan of a Black Cat/Spider-Man rekindled romance. It doesn’t hurt anything and there are some things that can be fun in it, but it’s something that I feel that both characters are well past, and has even been stated in Felicia’s books the past few years that they are friends and that’s it. I’m willing to see how it all shakes out, and the drama it causes here is interesting, but yeah not a major fan of that relationship and turn of events.
Back to the issue at hand though.
Jed MacKay is just such a master at mining everything out of characters and in this issue, I can actually say that I came away kind of liking the character of S’ym, which is something I never thought I would ever say. Maybe like Felicia, I’m a fan of his candid honesty here, but also, I like the idea that he’s pushing back on how Limbo is a place that keeps just getting passed from human to human to rule over, with none of the demons having a say or chance. Turned into minions for humans that are just choosing to come to stake a claim or hang out from time to time.
This is very much a traveling/journey issue as the characters move through the tower toward their destination, coming across some obstacles and the big boss of the whole affair. With MacKay being a master of character development and moments, as I just stated in the previous paragraph, these types of issues are very delightful because the characters are going back and forth, and we get some insight into them and pieces begin to be put together since they are talking and not always focused on some major battle or event.
All that stuff said about the relationship up above pushed to the side, I would enjoy seeing this title become a full ongoing one or at least run for a while longer just to have Felicia and Mary Jane bouncing off one another for a longer period of time. Both very much deserve and have earned far more spotlight and space to be their own characters outside of the Spider’s shadow.
This is just such a gorgeous book to look at as Vincenzo Carratú and Brian Reber continue to do inspired work on these pages. Plenty of love and detail is put into each panel where the character expressions, body language, and movement is so fluid and easy to understand and appreciate. I really love how Carratú changes up the panel style for each page, choosing to go a bit more standard with some at times only to turn things around and go with panels that overlap or break through one another or take up far more space than one might expect. All to make sure that we’re getting the best view of a character or a moment, zooming us in or out, and capturing a tight focus when it’s really needed. Close-up panels to really show us that expression and put us sort of at the same level as the characters within the space, while also making sure the space is wide open and feels real, is the good stuff.
Parts of Limbo itself, mostly this tower, are very much of a toned down almost ‘drab’ color quality being caves and towers which works perfectly with the fact that other colors are so much more vivid. Reber can make everything from Black Cat’s costume to S’ym’s coloring feel so bright and shiny but also very natural and not overwhelming in the color or shadow department. Various supernatural elements as well as just those characters that are not as natural to this space stand out as they should against the more neutral/natural sort of backdrops, which actually makes Limbo feel a bit less alien and more normal upon first glance. Except for all the eyes everywhere in the tower of course and the monster guardian that pops its head out to play.
With this being a more character and moving the story forward heavy issue, that gives Ariana Maher a ton to do with lettering. All the dialogue is smooth and flows through the pages so easily, making sure that we’re capturing what is being said as we use the bubbles and captions to follow the overall page action, but never feeling like it’s too much to read or take in at any given point. There is just this sort of unexplainable energy that always comes with Maher’s lettering work, speaking to why she is one of the best around and can be found working on so many titles bigger and smaller these days.
It captures the personality of the characters and their voices, making sure any sort of changes to that voice are easy to decipher so that we can accurately ‘heart’ it within our head. Just like the last issue I especially love how the caption boxes are set up within the issue. In many cases, they work almost like a set of stairs or a path to guide us through a particular panel or sets of panels, following the action in a way that makes sure our eyes go where they need to go when they need to go there.
Mary Jane And Black Cat #3 is now available from Marvel Comics.