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Spider-Man/Human Torch #4

Posted: Friday, May 20, 2005
By: Ray Tate



"Cat's Paws"

Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Ty Templeton(p), Tom Palmer & Drew Geraci(i), Sotocolor's J. Rauch(c)
Publisher: Marvel

If you're going to do a story co-starring the Black Cat, Spidey's Catwoman, it had better involve a heist. Thievery is the milieu of the Felicia Hardy a.k.a. The Black Cat, and Slott of course is smart enough to know this. "Cat's Paws" is a superb heist tale firmly clawed into Marvel's eighties continuity.

Whereas J. Michael Straczynski unearthed a dead Spider-Man character for the purpose of a contrived piece of rubbish that merely demonstrated the author's inability to carry out simple arithmetic, Dan Slott unearths a dead Spider-Man character to accomplish many things, all of which enhance the story.

One, the character helps sets the era. Two, she helps remind the readers that despite being with Spidey at the time, Black Cat was still considered a thief. Three, she reminds the reader of what a great character she was. Four, she catalyzes the recall of the story in which she died and what was discovered after her death. The character just may have been one of Spider-Man's lost loves. Five, such is her resonance, she almost haunts the story, and this contrasts the happy-go-lucky heist tale to give the period piece a little more substance.

Slott also has a treat for his She-Hulk readers. The Jade Giantess makes a cameo appearance at Johnny's door, and while bearing the characterization of Slott's recent incarnation, she still fits the Byrne era writing of her adventures in The Fantastic Four.

You would think that three super-heroes would be enough, four if you count the Black Cat, but no, Slott adds a fifth guest-star, and here again exemplifies a subtle use of continuity. The character's legacy provides the impetus for the tale, and he makes a good argument as to why he should not trust Spider-Man.

Artistically, Ty Templeton is as usual on the ball. He captures the look of the era all in his deceptively simple artwork. He even preserves perhaps the worst haircut Johnny Storm ever had, makes She-Hulk look damn cute in a fetching getup that's cheesecake by definition but not in presentation. Templeton captures the essence of our mystery guest stars, and the inking by Palmer and Geraci gives added texture to the astonishing variety of black costumes seen in the adventure. J. Rauch must also be noted for the natural shadowing of the flesh tones on display--especially with regard to Felicia's daring but tasteful gown.



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