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!
Last issue: Black Cat has been set up by a man working to regain all of the lost Kravinoff treasures. He now claims to have her mother as a hostage…!
Black Cat, Felcia Hardy, races to find her mother! On the way she calls Byron (her intelligence operative) and tells him they’ve been compromised! She arrives at her mother’s complex and finds a phone marked: redial. She does and the man on the other end (Vasili Sidorov), who has kidnapped her mother, says that she has seven days to steal him the Marakova Tiara from Bucharest.
That night, after retrieving a fake passport, Cat runs into Spider-Man who asks her about the death of Ernst Fielding (the buyer from last issue). Cat brushes him off again, saying that this isn’t about him.
She meets her crew (Byron, Kyoko and Tami) at a safe house and Byron informs her that all of the pieces stolen so far are from The Kravinoff Family. They realise that the Marakova Tiara will not be the last thing he wants.
Sidorov delivers a stolen vase to Ana Kravinov, seemingly besotted by her. He promises to deliver the rest of the collection, including an ornate sword, in order to please her.
In Bucharest, Cat receives information from Byron on the museum’s security. That night she breaks in but sets the alarms off! Security guards and guard dogs race to the cabinet but find that she has gone. They chase off down the corridor in pursuit… as Cat emerges from within the cabinet itself! She quickly grabs the Tiara and, after climbing out through a window, skateboards down the side of the building!
She returns to New York, having snuck the Tiara through customs in a mix of plaster, acrylic and lead-based glaze. She calls Sidorov and tells him where the Tiara is in exchange for the address her mother is at. She speaks to her mother, to make sure she’s alright, and he leaves.
As Cat leaps across town, following a transmitter they’ve placed in the package, she talks to her mother about the situation and her profession. Sidorov picks up the package and Cat tracks him to a garage, where he leaves the package. She plants a tracker on his car and then watches as he leaves. Still on the phone, she asks her mother whether she trusts her as a thief.
Sidorov returns to be given this message by Cat’s mother: “She’s inside you’re storage unit right now… and she knows you still need the sword.”
Things change a lot from last issue.
I was unhappy with the jumpy nature of the story, didn’t think the story was compelling and it didn’t seem like the Black Cat we know. I’ll still argue that this issue is a vast improvement on the last one but the way #1 was delivered makes a little more sense now. Here we get an equal pace but with much better transition between scenes. The story becomes a lot more compelling as Jen Van Meter pits her characters against a time limit and makes it all nicely personal with the inclusion of Felicia’s mother.
This still isn’t the Black Cat we know; I now recognise this is the thief/secret agent side of Black Cat, the operational, serious side which gets the job done. Readers often consider her behaviour rather than her ability, Van Meter does not and I for one appreciate that different slant.
The conclusion is a strong one. With scenes and communications crossing, Van Meter weaves the high-tech action with a personal conversation and ends on a strong twist.
Both Javier Pulido and Javier Rodriguez deliver better art than last issue as the action sequences are easier to follow and flow better. The detail of emotion, movement, panels in panels and setting are all excellent. The silhouette scene, one of my visual favourites, with Cat and Spidey expertly uses light and is executed with style. There’s literally a fine line between the two artists, with Rodriguez using slightly less variation in weight of line and a little smoother characters.
An improvement on all fronts as this mini begins to hold its own and establish a unique voice and a unique, refreshing take on the central character.