Writers: Jed Mackay, Nao Fuji
Artist: Travel Foreman, Nao Fuji, Mike Dowling
Colorist: Brian Reber
Letterer: Ferran Delgado
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Felicia Hardy made her debut 40 ago in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man 194. Since then, she has been a villain, a thief, a hero, and a romantic interest. Despite being a major cog in the Spider-Man lexicon, she has never had a solo title until now.
Black Cat #1 finds Felicia attending a high society event at a local art studio. Of course, Felicia is not there just to enjoy the art. Instead, she has plans to turn this event into a money-making opportunity. Unfortunately for Hardy, her reputation and her recent run-ins add a few complications to her planned heist.
When you have such a well-established character getting their first solo series, a few things can go wrong. First, you might spend too much time explaining the character for new readers. Conversely, you risk jumping into the story with no explanation of current events. Thankfully, Jed Mackay is able to avoid both pitfalls within Black Cat #1. Mackay instead starts the story right in the middle of the heist. The plan is in place and all the parts are moving. It works to draw the readers in from the beginning rather than risk losing them during the set up.
Where Mackay’s writing really shines is the introduction of the other characters in the story. It feels as if anyone who has dialogue is important to the story moving forward. Recently, Hardy has had run-ins with the Thieves Guild of New York. The interaction between Hardy and their leader touches on their recent issues while also not weighing down the reader with unnecessary exposition. A refreshing change comes with Hardy’s crew. So many times, the team that a leader puts together are used interchangeably. Mackay’s choice to give details of the two members of Hardy’s crew allows the reader to become invested in the characters and the relationship that they have with Hardy.
In addition to the main story, there are two back-up stories in Black Cat #1. The first one is a wordless story of Hardy stealing some precious jewels with the help of some of her feline friends. The second back-up story–also written by Adam Mackay–serves as a bit of a backstory for the end of the main story. It does an excellent job of establishing the skills that the character has while also introducing another plot point. It serves as a way that the reader can become more invested in the character without bogging down the main story.
Felicia Hardy has always been a character who tends to exude sexuality. Travel Foreman’s character design combined with Mackay’s writing keeps that sexuality while eliminating the pin-up look that Hardy has been burdened with throughout the years. Foreman’s other characters are all unique which allows each of them to shine within their roles. The thin line work allows for a detail in characters’ faces that shows the depth of their emotions throughout. The different panel layouts draw the eyes towards the action while providing details as to some of the backgrounds of characters. The colors within Black Cat #1 move from bright and inviting during action to a bit more muted during more serene settings. It is a choice that works well and helps to separate the different pacing of the comic.
Black Cat #1 is a fun read for fans of the character. It does an excellent job of building upon recent events while also being accessible. The introduction of new characters and the continuation of other stories allow for the ability to go in several different directions. Meanwhile, the back-up stories give a foundation for new characters.