Black Cat, the longtime antihero first introduced in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, is one of the leading thieves in the Marvel Universe but had recently flirted with the possibility of becoming an outright villain. The character has taken tentative steps away from leading organized crime in New York City, and the debut issue of her new series repositions her as a master cat burglar attempting to reconcile with her recent history. In doing so, the creative team of writer Jed MacKay and artist Travel Foreman have blended thrilling heist tropes with the expected superhero action of the Marvel Universe.
In the tradition of classic heist films like Ocean's 11 or The Thomas Crown Affair, the opening issue of Black Cat relies heavily on the art of deception as Felicia Hardy infiltrates an exclusive party at an art museum. Her alter ego now public knowledge, Felicia is immediately recognized by security at the black tie event. However, like all high-profile heists, the devil is in the details. At the event, Felicia contends with an unexpected figure from her past. What follows is a kinetic getaway, with the creative team bringing action-packed thrills that not only reminds readers of Felicia's criminal prowess but her own formidable abilities in combat.
It's apparent immediately that MacKay has a solid grasp on Felicia's voice as a character: Confident, independent and never to be underestimated. In many ways, this debut issue reminds readers what makes the character so interesting in the first place: high society events, thrilling heists and rollicking action. And while recent writers have tried to steer Felicia away villainous activity, MacKay incorporates a nuanced take on Felicia's often troubled past coming back to haunt her into the heart of the story without breaking her signature confidence.
Travel Foreman and color artist Brian Reber similarly are able effortlessly blend the different genres that Felicia dances between. The action is clear and easy to follow, the opening sequence appropriately elegant and atmospheric, rendering each character distinctly and introducing them into the story without coming off as forced. The art team takes visible inspiration from classic heist films but also deliver the visuals in their own style and voice, breaking new ground while drawing upon familiar tropes for the character. And when the story segues into high-speed action, the transition is perfect and movements kinetic and engaging as Black Cat holds her own against a whole host of opponents while on the run.
In addition to the main story, the debut issue of the series also contains two back-up stories. The first, written and illustrated by Nao Fuji, is a brief tale in a manga-style continuing to reintroduce Black Cat as a master thief that playfully depicts her love of cats, as her name might imply. The second, written by MacKay and illustrated by Mike Dowling, is sure to have greater ramifications on the main story, as a key character resurfacing in the main part of the issue stages his own heist on a very dangerous target.
Fun, true to the character, and action-packed, the inaugural issue of Black Cat is a top-down joy to read both for longtime fans of the character while being completely accessible to new readers. The creative team seamlessly mixes genres and explores the possibilities of the character without shying away from Felicia Hardy's recent villainous history. Reestablishing the character as a cool, confident burglar with her own checkered past, Black Cat #1 sets the stage for a heist-oriented adventure in the heart of the Marvel Universe for its eponymous protagonist.