Felicia Hardy, Black Cat, returned in Amazing Spider-Man #606 and began a “relaxed” relationship with Spider-Man.
Since this time, Sasha and Ana Kravinoff have planned Spider-Man’s demise, creating a gauntlet of foes for him to contend with. All of this culminated with Amazing Spider-Man #634-637 – The Grim Hunt!
The events in Amazing Spider-Man Presents: Black Cat #1-4 occur shortly before this.
Felicia Hardy, The Black Cat, breaks into a jewellery store to steal some valuable rings. She is interrupted by a run-of-the-mill burglar who attacks the security guard and fires at her! She leaps at him and, as Spider-Man timely arrives, they knock the burglar out together!
Later, in a hotel room, Cat and Spidey discuss the dreams he’s been having. They are all in Russian and he feels as if something is coming… He makes her promise to return the stolen goods...
Cat visits a buyer contact who explains that the collection of rings may be of interest to the Russians…
Several Years Ago: Vasili Sidorov visits Sasha and Ana Kravinoff shortly after Kraven the Hunter killed himself. He brings a log of all the treasures the Kravinoff Family used to own. Young Ana seems obsessed with it…
Today. Chicago. Black Cat is accused of breaking into a museum so she has to defend herself against her team: Kyoko (her techie) and Tami (her seamstress).
The next night, someone breaks into a stately home, steals a vase and shoots the owner. Again Black Cat has to defend her reputation, this time to The Poet (her intelligence operative), explaining that she doesn’t use a gun and wouldn’t be so careless. They work out that someone is drawing her out by stealing these Russian pieces. She wants the jump on them…
The night before the opening of The Faberge Eggs exhibition, Cat gets the jump on the person posing as her. She chases them down, grabbing the Egg they were trying to steal. On a rooftop they get away because Spider-Man webs her and demands to know why she has been stealing Russian property! She shoves him away and, with him not trusting her, she announces that their relationship is over.
The following day, Felicia returns to the museum and sneaks out the Egg she had hidden in a plant pot during her pursuit.
That night, with Spider-Man spying on her, Cat takes the Egg to her buyer but finds him dead! The phone rings and she picks it up. The voice tells her to open the Egg and she discovers it is a fake with a radio transmitter inside. The voice asks her when she last checked in on her mother…!
For me, the narrative and the progression of this story is far too jumpy and staccato. As a reader, you have to put a lot of pieces together, even so far as working out Black Cat’s connection to her colleagues and what on happens when she goes back to the museum to collect the Egg.
It’s not down to either Jen van Meter or Javier Pulido – it’s both of them. Pulido is usually so clear and concise in his storytelling but here there are actual elements of the story missing. Van Meter, who I’ve not come across before, finds a fairly natural way of linking all of this in with The Kravens but fails to make the delivery of the story compelling or neat. A few thought bubbles wouldn’t have gone a miss, just to give the mystery/detective tone of the issue a slight bit of bite and narrative fluidity.
Cat seems to have grown up in Van Meter’s eyes as there’s little of the usual likeable flirtatious and playful side here. I like this though, knowing that the selling point of the remaining issues isn’t going to be an over-sexed character, busting out of her costume. Her treatment of Spider-Man is also a little strange and I can’t see it quite fitting with the actions of the character thus far.
My other concern is that, amidst the lovely pencils, detailed backdrops and clever in-panels, Pulido doesn’t capture the elegance and grace of Cat. She needs a bit of pizzazz but not voluptuous amounts.
This is a bang-on average start.
The hard-to-follow story makes it hard to appreciate writing or art but there are things worth mentioning like the fresh mature take on Black Cat herself and the linking to Amazing Spider-Man.