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, Vasili orders Cat to steal a Tiara from Bucharest.
She does so but makes gains the upper hand when, after arranging to steal a priceless sword, Cat switches place with her techie (Kyoto). Vasili arrives back at Kravinoff Manor and reveals both Cat and treasures to Ana and Sasha. They both turn out to be fake! Cat's plan unfolds...
Black Cat frees her mother and explains her plan.
Outside, Vasili Sodorov, explains to Sasha, Ana and Aloysha Kravinoff that he has been using Black Cat to bring back the Kravninoff treasures to the family. He can’t work out how his treasures have been stolen and the Black Cat he kidnapped earlier is not the Black Cat! The removal crew (Black Cat’s seamstress and intelligence operative) also start to cause a fuss. With Sasha quickly becoming furious, Kyoto (Black Cat’s techie, who took her place last issue) sets off Vasili’s explosive device and causes further panic! Vasili reveals he has been holding Cat’s mother hostage in his rooms so Sasha grabs him by his throat and drags him into the house!
Inside they are met by Black Cat! Cat explains to Sasha that Vasili has been collecting the treasures for Ana, that he is obsessed with her! Sasha is about to kill Vasili when Cat steps in to stop her! They fight, tooth and claw! Cat manages to sneak away when Sasha is distracted by Ana, stealing her wedding ring and hitching a ride on the “Removals Van” her crew are making their escape in!
They pull up to let Cat’s mother out of a packing crate and to let Cat swing of to warn Spider-Man. She can’t find him anywhere… (see Grim Hunt).
Cat creates a new life and identity for her mother, buying her a new house and getting her a job at the Mayor’s office.
Weeks Later: Black Cat and Spider-Man cavort through the city, dealing with low-level crime. She tries to give Spidey Sasha’s wedding ring as an I’m Sorry gift but he asks her to hold on to it…
Elsewhere, Vasili is found by Ana and Kraven. She knows his role: to serve. Hers… is to hunt!
And Cat’s is to steal! With her crew discussing their financial situation having returned the Kravinoff treasures, Cat prepares to return something to it’s rightful owner… Captain America’s original shield!
This doesn’t really feel like the last piece of the puzzle. Jen Van Meter did a good job of putting the pieces into place last issue, this is simply about how those involved are going to react. I’m not sure this is a good thing, as there’s little of the ingenuity, cleverness and second-guessing that there was in the middle two issues. Nothing here makes me think, though the plot, action and detail is delivered in perfectly good fashion.
As a conclusion it succeeds: the characters’ stories end and the right people win!
With Javier Pulido back on art chores, you automatically get a strongly told comic book with some outstanding scenes of mood. I refer straight to the scene with Vasili at the end. Both Van Meter and Pulido nail this perfectly, creating this dirty, sweaty, grimy death for someone of the same nature. Kraven’s appearance here is also chilling and powerful. The rest of the issue looks great, with the fine lines of Pulido's work creating this amazing sense of speed and ferocity in the fight between Cat and Sasha.
This has been a notable mini series for two reasons: Black Cat has prospered under Van Meter’s measured and intelligent approach and it has tied in to bigger events without really needing them, which is the mark of a skillful writer. There just needed to be a tighter reign on twists and perhaps a stronger element of Cat's voice throughout the quiter moments. Food for thought...
It's not a stellar end to a stellar series, but it's a suitable end for a series which has challenged the perception of Black Cat and made her interesting in a different way.