Black Cat (Vol. 1) #1

 Lookback: Year of the Woman
 Posted: 2008


Peter Parker is married to Mary Jane Watson-Parker, and they are on friendly terms with Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, yep, the often unstable, one-time girlfriend of Peter Parker, former partner of Spider-Man, and (semi) reformed cat burglar. After her recent breakup-with Flash Thompson, she is very upset, and prowling around Manhattan, looking for the one person to whom she can actually talk; her old friend Spider.

Story 'Sharp Turns'

  Black Cat (Vol. 1) #1
Summary: Cardiac, Spider-Man Appears
Arc: Part 1 of 'Chimera Lost' (1-2-3-4)

It is night in the Big City and Felicia prowls the rooftops of Midtown Manhattan looking for her old pal, Spider, and she comes upon him, battling Cardiac. It seems that Cardiac has a mad on against Morelle Pharmaceuticals because of their sub-standard business practices, while Spidey is simply trying to prevent Cardiac from acting as judge, jury and executioner against the company.

Felicia joins the fracas already in progress and sides with her pal Spidey. The three of them slug it out for a couple of pages as Cardiac attempts to explain his moral high ground, as Spidey tries to explain that Cardiac is putting innocents at risk by his brash actions. During the fight Spidey and Cat manage to pull each other's butts out of harm's way, while Cardiac's power staff destroys a power coupling for an air condition unit, allowing him to beat a hasty retreat.

Cat tries to pursue Cardiac but Spidey stays behind to prevent the unit from blowing up. Realizing that she can help, she drops back to the deck and snips the power wire and prevents the unit from exploding. The danger over Spidey bawls out Cat, telling her that her "help" was unnecessary and if she hadn't interfered he would have been able to stop Cardiac, and catch him, without putting others in danger.

It is only after he has his outburst that Spidey realizes that the only reason that Cat came out was probably to talk to him, as he is really her only friend. Offended by his outburst, Cat deflects his overtures by grousing about the lost opportunity of scoring the bounty that was probably on Cardiac's head. Needless to say, this display of avarice on her part simply irritates our hero, and so he webs off, leaving Cat alone on the roof.

As Spidey swings off Cat's heart all but breaks as she teeters on the edge of despair. In fact the only thing that keeps her from snapping is the approach of a man named Paul Proust, who is a representative of Morelle Pharmaceuticals. He offers Cat the opportunity to earn some cash, and reveals to her that Spider-Man has planted a tracer on her.

Proust tells Cat that he wants her to recover something called the Chimera, which is what Cardiac was looking for. The Chimera is in the possession of a rival pharmaceutical conglomerate, Cobalt Chemicals Corporation. At this point we cut to a prison hospital upstate, where a mysterious man is being treated for something. There are plenty of guards who seem to be protecting both the medical staff as well as the prisoner himself.

Cut back to the Hardy apartment, where Felicia and MJ are chilling to a hot cup of coffee and talking about their common ground, that is to say, Peter. It is at this point that MJ reveals that not only does she completely trust Peter, but she isn't about to be (or show) jealousy. It is during this relatively calm moment, that Spidey stumbles in from the deck. He is bedraggled and beat from whatever is going on in the rest of his life at the time (Fighting Punisher in Spectacular Spider-Man, The Lizard in Web of Spider-Man, Mutants in Mutant Agenda, Venom in The Enemy Within, Hobgoblin in Spider-Man, and The Vulture in Amazing Spider-Man, not to mention, teaming with Daredevil, Nova, Shroud, and Thunderstrike).

Felicia offers Peter an overcoat belonging to Flash (apparently he left some of his clothes behind when he and Felicia split up). Left alone with her thoughts, she calls Proust and tells him that she'll take his assignment. The next thing that happens is that Felicia is in a bar pumping some big lug for information. Cut to a ship at sea, and a helicopter hovering over head, with the Cat descending on the ship.

The Ship (which is owned by Cobalt Chemicals Corporation) is populated with a team of paramilitary types, who Cat takes out without much trouble. When she questions one of the guards she learns that they really don't know much. Just as she is about to go searching for the Chimera she is startled by a man in a blue jumpsuit, identifying himself as Faze, phases through the bulkhead of the ship, calling her a trespasser.

General Comments

This is a classic tale of Spidey at the height of his appeal during the '90s. All the women in his life have big hair, and extraordinarily buxom. Everything is flash and style in this comic. There is loads of action in this story, piling one on another that truly offers a fun read. Given as this is a limited series starring a second-tier supporting character in Spidey's orbit it is a sure bet that nothing of major consequence is going to happen in the course of the run of this book. Still, we can be guaranteed a wild ride, as that is the sort of stories that were told back then.

Overall Rating

I missed this story the first time around, as I had (mistakenly) walked away from the industry for a short time. So reading this now, even out of sequence, is something of a throw-back thrill for me. I love this time period in Spidey's life (especially given as what is going today it the series). So while I know that there are some folks who are less then impressed with Terry Kavanaugh's work on Spidey, I have no problem with this material, and, quite frankly, prefer it over most of what I am reading today.


Knowing The Cat's unstable history makes her not the proper partner for either Peter or Spider-Man, but this is unfortunate that is the way she wound up getting written, and there was a time there (before Peter married MJ) that this reviewer felt that she would have made the ideal partner. Who knows, with the future outcome of Spider's life in flux due to Brand New Day, I suppose that anything is now possible.

 Lookback: Year of the Woman
 Posted: 2008