Black Cat #11 Review

by Charles Martin on June 10, 2020

Black Cat #11 Review
Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: C.F. Villa
Colourist: Brian Reber
Letterer: Ferran Delgado
Publisher: Marvel Comics

A confession: Much as I love this title, I missed the previous issue. There's been <watch me gesture vaguely at the whole world> … stuff going on. This is not a problem thanks to the way each issue of this series functions as a nigh-self-contained adventure.

The overarching plot has taken another step toward the Big Heist on the Thieves' Guild vault. Morally-shady tech broker Ceres (wisely yoinked from Brian Michael Bendis's final Miles Morales stories) has hooked the gang up with a super-science gateway to reach the vault. (And to my delight, Ceres seems to have signed on with the gang for the long haul!)

Now they just need to make a key to open the door. And the only tool that can build it? The shiny nano-forge sitting in the heart of Stark Unlimited.

Time for another terrific side-heist!

The caper plays out Ocean's Eleven-style. Jed MacKay's script adroitly cuts back from the heist itself to the gang planning it out, a wise structure that makes the gang look hyper-competent without spoiling any of the plot twists.

Felicia's "in" with Tony Stark is impersonating a critical, confrontational tech writer whose personality is fine-tuned to fascinate Tony intellectually and romantically.

It means wearing a red wig. You cannot imagine how Done Felicia is with superheroes crushing on redheads.

On the art front, C.F Villa lands with a bang. He brings a smooth, manga-influenced style to the characters and handles facial expressions and action poses with equal aplomb. He gives Felicia a deep yet non-exploitative sexiness; confident body language does more than anatomically-improbable curves to make this Black Cat a stunner. 

Mr. Villa also recognizes exactly where the script needs visual storytelling support; he injects extra creativity into the gestures and expressions the gang uses during the flashbacks. This keeps them from being pure conversation and livens them up to match the more active heist.

The colours remain in the capable hands of series regular Brian Reber, but he's stretching his skills significantly here. He builds a much warmer orange-tinted palette for use in the flashback panels. It contrasts with the blue colours of the heist. Since the script eventually begins switching back and forth on a panel-to-panel basis, the strong difference in palettes lends a vital hand in keeping the timeline straight.

The content offered up by this issue's script is par for the course for this series: Humour, charm, and cleverness ooze from all of the characters' words and actions. The plot, as mentioned above, is perfectly paced and amply stocked with surprises big and small.

One thing I particularly appreciate this time around is Jed MacKay's impressive command of contemporary Marvel continuity. This issue's portrayal of Stark Unlimited lines up perfectly with Tony Stark: Iron Man. (Though I do think Tony's ongoing story has progressed a little further down the Marvel timeline than Felicia's.) 

Felicia has a brief, delightful tangle with Bethany Cabe, the SU security chief. She relies on Baintronics tech to break into the company's computers. And a deeper cut from Iron Man's rogues' gallery is enlisted to provide a distraction.

(Continuity side-note: I thought Bethany was a recent addition to the Iron Man cast, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover she's been around since 1978.)

What these strong ties to the wider Marvel universe do is fuse the title's unique tone into the bigger picture. Is this an idiosyncratic, heist-fixated solo book built on its protagonist's huge stores of charisma, confidence, and sex appeal? Yes. But it is also a Marvel comic through and through, plugged straight into the main power conduit of this wild, wonderful shared universe.

Black Cat is not a "weirdo" comic. It's not exceptional because of its strangeness; it's exceptional because of its quality. In its own quiet way, it's a brilliant model for handling a vast range of storytelling challenges. Antiheroes, female leads, "honourable thief" stories, crossovers and guest-stars -- on virtually every axis, readers (and Marvel creators!) can look to Black Cat for an example of how to do things right.

Felicia Hardy's latest scheme matches her up against Tony Stark and his company. Watching the Black Cat run rings around Iron Man and his supporting cast is a delight. C.B. Villa delivers beautiful art to support the usual endearing charm of Jed MacKay's script. This has become one of Marvel's most reliable and enjoyable titles. Like its star, it knows exactly what it wants to do and it always does it well.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
I love all of the fictional cons the gang references, with all of their ridiculous Noodle Implements.