The Black Cat has recently decided to become the Queen of New York’s underworld, or at least the super-powered part of it. From her base of operations at the Slide-Away Casino, she runs a criminal empire, and plots her revenge against Spider-Man, whom she blames for the loss of her civilian identity and lifestyle.
In the back room of the Slide-Away, the Black Cat berates the Ringer, who hasn't provided the Black Cat with her full weekly cut. The Ringer makes excuses, including the fact that he was recently apprehended by Silk back in Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 3) #8 (the editor doesn't point this out, but you can count on SpiderFan.org pick up that slack). He apparently paid the Spot $50,000 to bust him out, and paid the rest of his cash to the Tinkerer for new gear.
“And your incompetence is my problem how?” sneers the Cat.
The Ringer begs her for mercy, and Felicia seems to consider it for a moment. The Ringer then offers further evidence of why he’s a loser by trying to use his ring power on her; he manages to graze her arm with a blade before she beats him down. She sends him out to bring back triple what she owes him… but not before her henchmen, the Melter and Killer Shrike, beat him silly, pour encourager les autres.
Meanwhile, the Cat pulls the lever on a nearby slot machine, and hits the jackpot. This confirms a theory she has. “The harder I am - the more I listen to the part of me that says not to let anyone or anything ever put me down again - the more my luck powers go off the charts.” This explains, presumably, why the Ringer was able to tag her with his ring weapon; she was briefly considering letting him off the hook. No more of that, I suppose.
We reach the crux of the matter. Why does the Cat care so much about the money she extorts from New York’s black masks? Because she needs it, to buy back all of the things she lost when Felicia Hardy was arrested and her estate confiscated. Cut to an auction, the same one we say Jay Jameson and Aunt May at early in the lead story of the issue. There, in disguise, Felicia is reacquiring her lost goods. “I’m going to steal my life back”, she thinks. “Every last bit of it.”
Again, TO BE CONTINUED!
Back in my review to Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 3) #6, I wrote that “I happen to like the new, eeevil Black Cat, though. She’s the most interesting thing in the book right now. I hope future issues give her more room to breathe, so we can explore her new attitude, its sources and ramifications, more closely. We might have to wait a while, though, given whose name is on the book’s masthead.” Shows what I know! Here’s the Cat with her own back-up story, stretched out over three issues.
There’s only so much you can do with six pages, though, especially when the requisite superheroic action has to be shoehorned in. I wonder what the Ringer thought he was doing, going up against three metahuman adversaries after he was beaten up? I guess the answer is he wasn't thinking. Too bad for him.
Anyway, the new Black Cat is interesting. Once she seemed to do what she did more for thrills than gain. That motivation distinguished her from Catwoman. Whereas Gotham’s cat burglar was a flinty materialist, New York’s was a bored ingenue more interested in alleviating boredom than garnering loot. That’s all changed now. The Cat is shutting down her desire for excitement along with her capacity for sympathy, making herself more dangerous and less human. It’s an interesting direction for the character to take, given that she’s been pretty much a one-note portrayal - Spider-Man’s flirty, safecracking friend-with-benefits - for about thirty years now.
Isn't it interesting that her powers get stronger the more brutal and selfish she becomes? I look forward to learning more about that.
Right now, Felicia Hardy is more interesting than Peter Parker, so getting more time with her is a good thing, even if the story is over almost as soon as it begins. Three webs.