It’s fair to say that there’s a substantial appetite for the Black Cat as a supporting character in Spider-Man, so it’s only natural that she gets the chance for a starring role. Although, as the title suggests, there’s a heavy Spider-Man component in here, too.
Unusually, the choice has been made to tie the story in vaguely with “Amazing”‘s ongoing plot, as the Black Cat finds herself dealing with both the Kravinoffs and an imposter who appears to be damaging her reputation as a skilled thief.
Structurally and tonally, the issue is a perfect fit for the current Spider-Man status quo, acting almost as the flip-side of the character’s scene in the parent book. Here, Spider-Man shows up mid-way through her heists, the two engaging in some, er, sparring, and the go their separate ways — only we see it all from Felicia’s perspective rather than Peter’s. It’s a nice twist on a familiar setup.
Slightly less welcome is the additional baggage the story heaps on Felicia, who is now running around with her own Danger Girl/Birds of Prey outfit. While there’s an understandable need for supporting characters if Felicia is taking the lead, it feels like it would make more sense to draw on the recent “Marvel Divas” characters rather than create new ones. Prior to this series, Felicia has largely been self-reliant and independent, and it doesn’t feel like character evolution to saddle her with a support team.
Javier Pulido’s art is enjoyable, with a slightly noir-esque, street-level feel that has typified the recent Spider-Man titles. Pulido shows off the Black Cat’s gymnastic movements with particular fluidity, although there are some moments where the relationship between the art and writing breaks down a little. It’s hard to tell where the mistake lies, but certain physical storytelling beats such as Spidey slipping off his web towards the start of the issue — presumably due to Felicia’s powers — can lack clarity.
Between them, Van Meter and Pulido have pulled off a decent enough opening issue, though it’s neither flawless nor especially outstanding. Whether the vague “Grim Hunt” tie-in will segue into something more remains to be seen, but it’s hard not to wonder whether that was the best choice, particularly since that aspect of the series was not (to my knowledge) promoted.
Even so, there’s nothing about the issue that wouldn’t be right at home in “Amazing Spider-Man,” so if the plan is to attract readers of that series, then mission accomplished; It’s not essential reading, but if you’re looking for something to complement the current Spider-title, this fits the bill fine.