Black Cat #6 Review

by Charles Martin on November 06, 2019

Black Cat #6 Review
Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: Mike Dowling
Colourist: Brian Reber
Letterer: Ferran Delgado
Publisher: Marvel Comics

It's Felicia's night off, and after going through a "date" with Johnny Storm that was 90% caper, the Cat is in the mood for a real romantic prowl.

And now one of those glorious challenges of the reviewing job: Do I stick with the coyness of the solicit, or go ahead and reveal the identity of Felicia's lucky date?

Let's see if I can give you a good idea of the comic without spoiling that tidbit. All that really needs to be said is that he's a villain from lower down on the hierarchy, a d-lister through and through. 

Which is not to say he's merely a meathead or a seat-filler; he does get a delightful moment or two in here.

While Felicia's dinner date segues into an incredibly appropriate inappropriate impromptu heist, the story cuts away repeatedly to the key sub-plot: The Thieves' Guild capturing the Black Fox. 

The Fox does not go quietly, and his plotline ensures that this otherwise quiet comic fills a generous quota for explosions, combat, and vehicular mayhem.

Balancing these two stories obliges Jed MacKay's script to get on a tightrope. The narrative point-of-view remains entirely with Felicia and she remains unaware of what's happening to the Fox. Thus, words and art frequently find themselves telling different stories.

Except that's not how comics work; simple proximity ties the words and pictures together even when they diverge like this. And Mr. MacKay knows this well. So Felicia's words do a clever dance with the Fox's more visceral, visual story. 

The subtleties flow both ways. In one panel, the words make an ironic counterpoint to the art; in the next, the pictures draw a line of thematic emphasis under a particular phrase.

This is a hard thing to do well and it is done exquisitely well here.

A healthy portion of the credit -- for the divergent narration trick and the success of the comic as a whole -- belongs to guest artist Mike Dowling. He makes a close stylistic match to regular artist Travel Foreman, lending the issue an appreciable sense of continuity. He lavishes deserved attention on Felicia's face, making sure she's beautiful and expressive while the character is actively trying to be both.

Most importantly, he does an outstanding job controlling the flow of the comic with smart framing and dynamic posing. The latter ensures that the Fox's story is clear even when the narration is focused elsewhere, while the former eases the divide between words and art and ensures that the combination reads as a single butter-smooth story.

Brian Reber's colours make a powerful contribution to the whole. Both storylines share a single palette, a world of cold blues and greys livened by yellow lights and warm skin tones. It's a chilly world, but the brightness of the characters within it combines with Mr. Dowling's lines to make the action clear. And the Thieves' Guild strikes an appropriately dissonant note by cornering the book's market on red. 

About the only drawback to this lovely little mini-vacation is that the story has no roles for the usual supporting cast. I finally get around to reviewing Black Cat and I pull an issue without Bruno and Dr. Korpse? Dangit! At least Dr. K is answering the letters again; that's always a delight.

When the Black Cat goes on a date, Felicia's yen for mischief and the Thieves' Guild meddling with her mentor ensure that the story can't wind up boring. Continued excellence in writing teams up with an outstanding serving of guest art to dance a complex storytelling jig. Previous issues proved that this take on Felicia was compelling; #6 shows that this volume has space for some intriguing improvisation while it continues to develop its bigger plot.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
Never a dull moment at chez chatte noire - ain't this the Frenchiest gawl-durn comic?