In Review: Black Cat #2

This is the best hero book published by Marvel, but she's not really a hero, is she?

The covers: There are fifteen different covers to this second issue — You’re killing me, Marvel! The Regular cover is by J. Scott Campbell and Sabine Rich. There’s also a Virgin Variant version of this frontpiece. Both have the title character shown upside down in the top half of the illustration. She’s looking at an elaborate diamond necklace she’s just pawed, while the officers below her are examining the glass cases, undoubtedly looking to see what set off the store’s alarms. Clever, cute, and cool. I also have to give praise to Rich for having the Cat stand out with the gold doors behind her — so clever! The Virgin Variant has not text on it. The next cover has the Black Cat on one knee in a jewelry store she’s just looted. Her large back is swinging behind her back, but she forgot to zip is shut and her spoils are spilling out upon the floor. The details in the setting are fantastic, the character looks awesome, and the coloring is killer with her in violets and the rainbow colors of the loot beautiful. This Variant by Arist Deyn is one to get. The Terry & Rachel Dodson Hidden Gem Variant is, to use an old Spider-Man adjective, spectacular. The Black Cat is looking at the reader with her hands up holding a cat’s cradle created by a web. Speaking of webs, there’s a giant one behind her on a black background. Within this are the Dodsons’ names in the lower right. Everything about this is perfect! Mark Brooks is responsible for three covers. The first cover is the Carnage-ized Variant with Felicia Hardy walking towards the reader, pulling the Carnage mask from her face. The title is in the dead center of the image, with the red villain’s tongue superimposed over it. Neat, but I’m not a Carnage fan. There’s also a Venom Variant that features the exact same artwork, but recolored so that she’s in a Venom suit. There’s no text on this cover. Neat, but I’m not a Venom fan. The final cover is an Anti-Venom Variant by Brooks that’s the same pose as the previous two covers, but she’s now in the white and black suit of that villain. I stopped reading Spider-Man books by the time this character appeared. I like what Brooks has done, but the characters are uninteresting to me. Mike Choi’s Variant and Virgin Variant are fun pieces. Both have the Black Cat in a bust shot trying to feed a white mouse on her left hand. She gives an open mouth smile at the tiny rodent. The title is in pink in the upper left on the Variant and is missing on the Virgin Variant. You can’t go wrong with any work by Choi. Jee-Hyung Lee has a Variant and a Virgin Variant. The artwork is the same, the Cat looking in a store window — she’s on the right, her reflection on the left. Her reflection has her wearing a stunning necklace that she’s obviously considering stealing. The book’s title is in the lower left. Very cool. The Virgin features no text. Both are cool. There are two Variants by Michael Turner. The first features the character from the waist up against a violet-blue background that has strong white patches on it, coming off her hands and the left side of the cover. The character is in three-quarter’s view looking left and is fantastic! The second has her shown from the knees up, looking in the same direction as the previous cover, against a violet and black background. The reflection off her suit is good and the whites really pop. Nice. There’s also a J. Scott Campbell Variant. Against a white background that turns blue-violet at the bottom, the Cat is on one knee, putting her weight on a black balloon that has Spider-Man eyes. She’s looks at the reader with a slight smile and a tilt of her shoulders. Cute! Bill Sienkiewicz does a Variant cover that has a black background. The Black Cat is on her knees putting her weight on the huge diamond that’s before her. She looks great, resembling Emma Caulfield. I like this! Overall grades: Regular A, Regular Variant A, Deyn Variant A, Carnage-zed Variant A, Venom Variant A, Anti-Venom Variant A-, Choi Variant A-, Choi Virgin Variant A-, Lee Variant A, Lee Virgin Variant A, Turner Variant 1 A, Turner Variant 2 B, Campbell Variant A, and Sienkiewicz Variant A+

The story: After appearing last issue, the Black Fox is concluded a slide show to Felicia, Bruno, and Boris — A slide show? Do slides still exist? Anyhoo, the two men say that this caper can’t be done, with Boris asking if being hit so often in the head by Spider-Man has dulled the old thief’s brain. This triggers the gentleman criminal, with Felicia stopping their exchange after saying, “I’ve tangled with Spider-Man. If you know what I mean.” This grosses out her underlings and has her ending their disgust by stating “If the Fox says it can be done, we’ll do it.” She adds, “We’ll need to get ourselves a Merlin for this one.” A Merlin is a magic user. Two days later all four in a van driving with Xander the Merciless, a haggard looking hobo if there ever was one, who “merlins for beer money.” Where are the five going? To 177A Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. They’re going to steal something from Doctor Strange. There’s a two page flashback from writer Jed MacKay to demonstrate why Felicia trusts the Black Fox before they enter Stephen’s home. Once in, the story delivers handsomely. The good doctor isn’t home, but there are things in there that don’t like visitors. What is overcome is neat. What Felicia is seeking is outstanding. However, what one person discovers puts everyone in jeopardy in the conclusion. This story is smart, funny, and just flat-out cool. I hope that MacKay is locked onto this series forever! Overall grade: A+

The art: Travel Foreman is crushing the artwork on this book. The posture of every character in the second panel on Page 1 tells so much about them: Boris slouching with his feet before him and arms crossed, Bruno leaning forward with a finger to his lower lip, Felicia in cat costume behind them on a comfy cushy black couch, and the Fox in a slim three piece suit standing perfectly with the remote in his hand. The anger from the Fox in the panels that follow is great, as is the disgust on Bruno and Boris on the next page. Check out Felicia’s face at the top of Page 2, which is hilarious. The design of Xander is terrific — he’s a mess, looking like a bum picked up off the street. Doctor Strange’s house might be unfamiliar if one doesn’t recognize the telltale window that barely shows at the top of Page 4. I was impressed with how young Felicia looks during the flashback, obviously in her late teens, but not a tween. Xander’s conversation on 7 is creepy, cool, and borderline pathetic looking. The conversation on 12 – 13 is really well done, considering it’s only two characters sitting in the back of a limo having a conversation. The movements of the characters are entertaining, as are the emotions they show. 14 returns to the thieves in a neat, perilous situation and 15 has some absolutely sick looking threats — they’re just wrong on every possible level. Pages 16 and 17 acknowledge M.C. Escher without being a straight steal from him; these pages just have a really neat layout. The first panel on 18 has Felicia looking perfect and the second panel is only missing John Williams music from an Indiana Jones film. Felicia emotes perfectly at the top of 19, and the character that dominates on 20 looks stellar. This book just looks fantastic. Overall grade: A+

The colors: This book’s colors are created by Brian Reber who also contributes outstandingly to this issue. I like how the top of Page 2 uses roses behind Felicia’s dialogue to add to what she’s saying. The large panel on the fourth page mirrors the coloring of poster to The Exorcist. Page 5 uses hospital blues to overwhelm the characters and they’re absolutely fitting. Notice how the door that Xander tries to open is the brightest color on the page, representing its importance to the tale, because if it doesn’t open the story can’t continue. The bright lights on 8 – 9 resemble any metropolitan city at night. The interiors of the limo are in reds, giving the conversation a dangerous tone. The sick greens on 15 are just gross, but that’s what they should be. The yellows in the fourth panel on 19 give the unseen object a lot of power, which turns into an explosion of crimson on the final page. Outstanding work. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Ferran Delgado is the book’s letterer, responsible for dialogue and narration, an editorial note, a disgusted sound, scene settings, sounds, yells, and a character’s announcement on the final page. I’m liking all that Delgado does except for the dialogue and narration being the same font. They’re differed by the color and shape of their balloons and boxes, but should be in different fonts. The disgusted sound by Bruno matches his face hilariously. The scene settings look dangerous with the letters resembling arcane words out of a magical tome. The sounds are fun, especially when the Cat shows her claws. There are different types of yells to show the intensity in how a character is speaking. The announcement on the final page is as formal as formal gets. Overall grade: A

The final line: This is the best hero book published by Marvel, but she’s not really a hero, is she? I love the personalities of all the characters, with Felicia just being so awesome. The artwork is to die for, with every page a wonder in characters and settings. The colors are gorgeous, increasing the tension and directing the eye perfectly. This is a book one can only hope goes on eternally with these creators. Make Mine Black Cat! Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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