Fans of Black Cat can now pick up the fifth volume of the series, which collects a three-part heist with a twist as well as the recent annual issue. Written by Jed MacKay, this series has always been good for clever heist energy, plans, and personality. The fourth volume is proof of that. In the latest volume, Black Cat steals the impossible, but loses something very dear to her.
This trade paperback opens with Black Cat #5, drawn by Michael Dowling with colors by Brian Reber. Black Cat is on a heist with who some might call her surrogate father, Black Fox. He trained her, and now they are on a mission together. It opens with them meeting at Coney Island in the past and the location ends up being important. It’s a key moment for Black Cat and soon we gain insight into her approach to thieving and a bit more about Black Fox.
The cutting between the past and present eventually leads to Black Fox and Black Cat making a deal with a literal god and it only costs…well, you’ll have to read it to believe it. The implications of this deal are huge, and also hugely inappropriate. Black Fox, it seems, is a very large coward, which we learn more about as the story goes on. This is a heist Black Cat can’t abide by, though, and soon she’s rushing off to make things right.
Ultimately, the main story here is about Black Cat being courageous enough to do the right thing even if it means throwing away something incredibly important to her. This latest heist further defines her under MacKay, who has made her all the more intriguing. Throw in some romance to cap off the story arc and it’s a huge win.
Pair this meaningful story with Dowling and Reber’s impressive art, which is moody and at times hyper-realistic, and you have a hugely impactful story from the visual side of things. Seriously, if folks don’t dress like the god that appears in this story for Halloween, it’ll be a crime.
Also collected here is the Black Cat Annual which ties into the “Infinite Destinies” series of one-shot stories. It’s self-contained, so it reads like a good backup story to the main event.
This story opens with Black Cat being told to stand down by White Fox after landing in South Korea. She’s asked, or maybe even ordered, to join White Fox on a mission. The mission is to stop a mind-controlled hero who has the equivalent of the power of Sentry. Basically, they are Superman-like and can level an entire city. Writer Jed MacKay and artist Joey Vazquez quickly get us into the mission as well as detail all these colorful South Korean heroes.
This issue helps sell the fact that Black Cat is pretty darn cool, with random missions being thrown her way while also showing how fast she can think on her feet. It’s also a fun way to show superhero teams from other countries and how it’s not always about the Avengers.
The dynamic between Black Cat and White Fox is also intriguing. In some ways they are similar, which is shown well throughout the book. They’re not do-gooder heroes, necessarily, and will do what it takes to save the day or with Black Cat line their pockets more often than not. It’s a fight comic with espionage, sneaking about, and infiltration.
That said, it’s a good-looking story and Vazquez’s art has the detailed look you’d expect to find in a Danger Girls-type book. Color artist Brian Reber adds plenty of shine on Black Cat’s black costume and well-done shading on White Fox’s to add volume and detail. There are fun visual ideas at work too, like a layout that has headshots of each of the Tiger Division as they prepare for their attack. In one scene, Black Cat and White Fox are tearing through enemies and there’s a great first-person view of White Fox slashing at a knife-wielding baddie.
Also collected here is a short story with Black Fox that was originally published with Black Cat volume one. It serves as a reminder if you forgot about it and it’s a fun but short heist.
All told, this is a good collection that features a solid three-part story that further develops Black Cat in the modern era while supplying a fun one-shot to cap things off. The Annual issue is an odd choice to pair here, but for collectors, it makes some sense thanks to MacKay’s great character writing.
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