Writer: Kevin Smith
Artists: Terry Dodson (p), Rachel Dodson (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens by showing us that the voice on the other end of the phone conversation that ended last month's issue is a much beloved businessman, who we see is currently being honored for his charitable contributions. We then look back on Spider-Man & the Black Cat who have decided that working together on this investigation is something they can both get behind, as we see both of them are still holding a torch for each other. As Spider-Man works to resists the Black Cat's playful flirting, we see them move through the city until they manage to stumble across a super-villain attack, and as luck would have it this super-villain has targeted the very man that our heroes were looking for. As Spider-Man gets knocked aside we see the Black Cat leaps into the fray, and in a perfect Black Cat moment she latches her cable claw on to the villain's tail & dives out of the building. However when the tail snaps clean off we see the Black Cat plunges toward the street far below, but Spider-Man arrives to rescue her. As the issue ends we see Spider-Man takes note of the fact that the thankful businessman sounds just like the mystery voice on the other end of the phone.
During the interviews about his working on Black Cat, I must admit I was a bit dubious as it sounded like Kevin Smith had latched on to the character due to her being a recognized second stringer, and that he was looking for another ego stroking as he created another hit using a character who hadn't exactly been in high demand. However, even if this is still his driving motivation I have to give Kevin Smith full credit for his use of the character & her history with Spider-Man. Now his Spider-Man is a lot of fun, but it's his take on the Black Cat that's impressed me, as the interplay between her & Spider-Man is hilarious, as we see these two clearly have a history together, and Felicia delights in taunting Peter at every turn with her feminine wiles. However, Kevin Smith also takes the time to show us what's being left unsaid as well as we see Felicia is still holding a torch for Peter, and we also see that Peter hasn't exactly buried his feelings toward her either, though Peter's being married is likely to keep Kevin Smith from taking that next step. He's also captured the idea that Felicia is a thrill junkie, with the scene where Felicia is riding the villain's tail being a classic Black Cat moment.
I realize that Spider-Man has never been known for his investigative skills, but given the Black Cat is a private investigator surely Kevin Smith could've come up with a way for our heroes to ferret out the identity of the villain that wasn't so dependent on dumb luck. I mean they have no clues to speak of beyond a voice on the phone, so isn't it lucky that during their aimless wanderings around Manhattan the two just happen to be passing by when the villain they're looking for is being targeted by a costumed baddie. They then benefit from another stroke of incredible luck when the villain uses the exact same line of dialogue when he's busy thanking them for their timely arrival/rescue, that he used when he was taunting them on the phone at the end of the first issue. Now I realize that Kevin Smith is more interested in detailing the interaction between Spider-Man & the Black Cat, and for good reason as he earned his fan base thanks to his ability to deliver highly entertaining dialogue exchanges. Still, there is something a bit worrisome about a writer who's willing to place such a strong focus on one element of his writing, at the cost of another.
Terry & Rachel Dodson are nicely suited to this book as Kevin Smith is at his raunchy best, and their art is cheesecake at its finest. It's quite clear that the art is trying to flaunt the Black Cat's figure, but then the story isn't exactly shying away from the idea that Felicia recognizes that she looks great, so as I just said it's a ideal pairing. The art also does a nice job conveying the action, as there's a great little sequence where Spider-Man rescues a falling Black Cat, that's actually a little more complicated visually than it sounds. The sequence where the two are simply moving through the city is also a lot of fun, as the art nicely compliments the playful, somewhat risqué mood that exists between these two. It also doesn't hurt matters much that the art is also quite strong when it comes to its facial expressions, as the mystery villain's smarmy nature is perfectly captured by the art, and the sheer delight on Felicia's face as she dives out of the building is picture perfect. Now the visual design for the costumed villain in this issue was rather bland, but given she's a disposable threat, and it's unlikely we'll see her again, I guess it's not all that important.
The plot takes a noticeable back-seat to the simple idea that Spider-Man & Black Cat are working together on this case, as this issue is far more about the interaction between these two characters, than it is about delivering an engaging plot. So we have plot advancement that shows clear signs of direct manipulation by Kevin Smith as he advances our two heroes through their investigation with such speed that one wonders why he simple didn't have this issue begin with our heroes noticing the victim's phone had caller ID. Still it's hard to pick on this book when it's doing such a great job delivering its most important element, which is the interaction between Spider-Man & the Black Cat. In fact as long as one is willing to accept that Kevin Smith is clearly playing to his strengths as a writer than you should have a grand old time with this issue. It's certainly one of the funniest comics I've seen from Kevin Smith, though I will admit I'm only familiar with his super-hero work (Daredevil, Green Arrow).
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!