Black Cat has always been a good supporting character and occasional villain, but not a character I ever thought could sustain their own series. That is until Jed MacKay and Travel Foreman took the character on in this new series just getting its first trade paperback collection. In the first five pages a thieving crew, the establishment of an older thief mentor, and three excellent capers take place. It’s an awesome first arc that promises the creators know what they’re doing.
The first issue features a good cat-and-mouse story (get it?) as Felicia visits a gallery that is heavily guarded, or at least that’s what the head of security thinks. Along the way, there’s a chase, a twist, and some clever storytelling techniques. Of the issue’s two bonus stories, one features Black Cat thieving with a little help from a furry friend and an interesting flashback to a key character which adds a nice amount of weight to the cliffhanger of the main story. Overall this is a great start to what could be a story that not only ties into the Thieves Guild but also Felicia’s past.
What drew me in the most from the main story is how MacKay integrates some striking storytelling techniques that spice things up. In between Felicia’s narration via caption and the chief of security noticing her, we get a torn page revealing Felicia’s mugshot. Later, we get a similar tear revealing the chief of security’s own criminal past. It’s an efficient way to connect the two and add a bit of purpose to their relationship as he attempts to thwart her. There’s also a good use of white space and layout to draw the eye to the intensity of a moment between Felicia and a known enemy. For a story that could easily feel done before, these little touches help make it feel unique.
More than once I was reminded of 100 Bullets while reading the issue thanks to how it develops Felicia’s henchman and other characters. Every character with speaking parts feels necessary and important, therefore you invest yourself into these characters, expecting them to matter. That includes her two henchmen who are developed well. MacKay clearly understands that a good heist requires good banter. There are droves of it in this issue between Black Cat and her goons who are trying to stay alive as they break into Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Santorum. The dialogue is funny, probing of character, and interesting. At the same time, Black Cat is running her own narration via captions keeping you up to date on who their “Merlin” is and allowing us to get her take on things. This makes the dialogue pop even further since it gives us another side of the perspective. She might say a thing, but she can think something entirely different. It’s like a good bit of jazz and the comic is paced well because of it.
The art by Foreman is superb and at times jaw-droppingly good throughout the collection. It seems to change style dramatically at times — maybe time ran out, but Black Cat positively looks like a vision. The detailed and grounded art style suits this type of story which keeps Black Cat feeling ordinary and human, further enhancing moments like her standing casually on a speeding car. You’ll feel invested in the characters due to the art drawing you in, too. I will say there are chunks of the story where the art can lose its sharpness and get a bit messy. It’s surprising since it can look so sharp and perfect, especially in the opening issue, and then fall apart a bit, especially in the Sorcerer Supreme heist.
By the end of this volume, I dare you not to want more. Through good superhero-meets-heist plots and a fantastic handle of Black Cat, this series proves with the right supporting characters and clever heist ideas this series can go far.
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