Fans looking to catch up on King in Black better pick up Black Cat Vol. 4, which features the three-part Black Cat story tying into the event. It’s a story that involves Doctor Strange, stealing stuff, and using some interesting Symbiote technology. Sure, Marvel event tie-in stories may not always be necessary to understand the event, but given how fun this series has been, why stop reading now?
Knowing fans want heist surprises, MacKay and artist C.F. Villa open the book with a mini-heist and a surprise twist not to be missed. It’s an exciting and action-packed way to introduce readers to Black Cat and her henchmen. Then he drops a Knull hammer on her exploits and things get crazy from there. For a low-level hero like Black Cat, the creative team has done well to integrate her into the King in Black event in a logical and believable way. That’s a huge achievement.
This opening chapter also does well to show how Black Cat is a hero in her own right. Sure, she mostly looks after herself and steals from heroes, but she’s also a good person deep down. You see that with the choices she makes and how she reacts to Captain America in the moment. It’s a genuine moment that works quite well. MacKay has the purity of the character come through in the last chapter of the tie-in story when we learn she can literally have it all through the power of Asgard and magic. It’s a test that she must take while also fending off Symbiote threats from her friends. It gives the tie-in a very personal touch for Black Cat and makes it more about her than the event — and by extension, makes for a good read.
Villa works wonders on pencils in this issue, backed up by color artist Brian Reber. Even in smaller panels, Felicia’s expressions shine through. There’s a lot of shock, awe, and surprise and all of these emotions are important in understanding how bad the heroes have it with Knull only on Earth for a few minutes. Villa draws a great Symbiote as if it’s sticky and strong, which is much less goopy than we’ve seen in other comics. It makes it scarier and much more threatening. Bonus materials include process pages by Villa that show the before and after of their lines before getting colors.
The fourth issue collected here is drawn by Nina Vakueva and focuses on Queen Cat. She’s turned good-guy and wants to stop Black Cat, but as she does more detective work she uncovers a not-so villainous Black Cat. It’s an interesting one-shot that helps rehabilitate the character after she was thought to be dead, and introduces another cat-themed character to be used later. Vakueva draws in a sketchier style that suites the detective angle of the story.
Also for fans of Jed MacKay, this collection features his very first Marvel work from X-Men: To Serve and Protect #4. This story is bonkers and involves Dazzler in a rollerskating race alongside Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. Sheldon Vella’s art is outrageous and over the top with a keen sense of style and energy. It has a wackiness not unlike Marvel’s Nextwave, and it’s a fun short to end the book.
Black Cat Vol. 4 is an enjoyable tie-in story thanks to its strong focus on the title character and continued strength in building out her world. Jed MacKay is on a roll, and if this collection is any indication, we’re in for a fantastic Moon Knight series later this summer.
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