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!
Prior to this: Black Cat has been set up by Vasili Sodorov who is working to regain all of the lost Kravinoff treasures in order to impress Ana. Using her mother as hostage, Sodorov orders Cat to steal a Tiara from Bucharest. She does so but makes plans to gain the upper hand. She now knows where he is based and what he wants next…
Black Cat attacks Vasili Sidorov as he arrives back at his garage, buying time for Kyoko (her techie) to get to her kidnapped mother’s location. Kyoto discovers she is being held inside The Kraven Estate and that she can’t gain entry. Cat learns this and she and her crew quickly hatch a plan to get the last piece of the Kraven Collection (the sword). She leaves Vasili, telling him that if he wants the sword, he’s going to have to help her…
Back at her safe house, Cat meets with Kyoto, Byron (her intelligence operative) and Tami (her seamstress). They hatch a risky plan…
Cat goes to her friend and asks him to deliver a note to Spider-Man if anything happens to her. He spots Spidey swinging by and she goes to him. Suffering from the flu and tired of her altering moods and feelings towards him, he swings away…
That night, Cat meets with Vasili and explains how they are going to get the sword. He seals her inside a packing case and a delivery crew arrives to take it away and to the museum.
Once inside, Cat frees herself and heads to the roof where she sees the delivery van leaving. She flicks a switch on the AC Filtration system (?) and goes about her job of recovering the sword.
Meanwhile, the delivery crew (who turn out to be Byron and Tami) arrive at The Kraven Estate and start unloading. They are stopped by the staff there.
Cat toys with Vasili, getting him to give her complicated instructions she doesn’t need as she’s already got what she came for. She gets a signal from her crew so heads out to Vasili with the sword. He knocks her out and puts her in the trunk of his car!
When he gets back to the Kraven Estate, Sasha Kravinoff and her children, Aloysha and Ana, are furious but he gives them the collection of lost Kravinoff treasures, the sword and Black Cat! Sasha tears into Black Cat but… her wig comes off and Black Cat is revealed to be Kyoto in disguise! She pretends to not know what is going on and, when the treasures turn out to be fakes, Sasha turns her fury on Vasili. He claims that the delivery crew and the fake Cat are in on it. Sasha swipes the sword towards him… but Ana stops her. What if the real Cat is playing a game...?
Inside the Estate, Cat goes to untie her mother. She looks down and finds that she has an armed explosive device attached to her!
Whilst the art, level of plot, twists and thought maintains this delicate balance of espionage and emotion, the complication of the details often makes things a little confusing. Take, for example, what Kyoto/Cat does on the rooftop of the museum – I know what she does but I have absolutely no idea why she does it. This leaves me thinking one of two things: Is this explained later or has is been explained already? Neither of these is a great thing to be thinking, and I ponder them more than once this issue, which leads me to question whether the story needs this misdirection.
It continues to be a nicely understated story, with a nicely understated, classy and skilful Black Cat. The interaction with The Kravens and Spidey help ground this story in Grim Hunt. The plot as a whole feels like an Ocean’s film, with the story balancing different scenes, characters and elements of the plan. Jen Van Meter continues to impress on this front and I am looking forward to seeing how this wraps up.
Javier Rodriguez gets most of this issue, capturing the unexplainable details well but with a slightly less fine line than Javier Pulido does when he comes in for the last four pages. Both provide a lovely set of panels though which rely on characters, expression and well-chosen detail and space, not special effects.
This is a good issue, with intriguing twists and an intelligent tone of storytelling. The art remains classy, as do the characters.
Some problems arise from the intricate details which distract me rather than inform though.