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Best Shots Review: Black Cat #11 (9/10)

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Black Cat #11
Written by Jed Mackay
Art by C.F. Villa and Brian Reber
Lettering by Ferran Delgado
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Felicia Hardy sets her sights on Stark Enterprises in Black Cat #11, and the results are every bit as fun as you could have hoped. Bringing the same swagger and sense of humor as an Ocean’s Eleven movie, writer Jed Mackay and artist C.F. Villa stack the deck against Iron Man in a layered and believable way, culminating in a crowd-pleasing bit of fan service that will hook readers onto the next issue.

The Black Cat has a fully-functioning Randall Gate in the back of a truck, but she’s missing the dimensional resonator to make it work — but thankfully, Tony Stark has a nanoforge that’ll square that up in a jiffy. Easy enough to break into the vault of a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, right? Mackay gives Felicia a perfect angle to hit Marvel’s resident man of steel right where his armor can’t reach — namely, his unmatched ego — and then pulls off a heist that’s fun, breezy, and light on its feet. 

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

What’s particularly great about Mackay’s writing here is not just how many plates he’s able to spin at once, but that he’s able to do it in such a character-driven perspective. It’s very reminiscent of Dan Slott’s work, the way that Mackay is able to bring together Felicia’s personality alongside Tony Stark’s in a method that feels both organic and fresh. (How Tony’s eyes go wide the moment that Felicia calls him a coward? Priceless.) And by coming up with such a smorgasbord of complications for Felicia to navigate, the book feels tense and densely paced, so readers aren’t just going to have fun — they’re going to be getting a lot of bang for their buck.

Artist C.F. Villa, meanwhile, feels very reminiscent of that Lee Garbett style — he’s not the flashiest artist in the world, but he absolutely nails the energy and expressiveness this story requires. Villa’s artwork does just as much heavy lifting as Mackay’s characterization to getting us on Felicia’s side — he doesn’t traffic in over-the-top cheesecake, but instead portrays Felicia as witty, confident and down-to-earth. He also does a great job at balancing bursts of action with key moments of emotion — watching Felicia’s face as she challenges Tony Stark to his face is the highlight of the issue, but even Villa’s body language for Tony’s defensiveness looks great. There are times where Villa’s figures get a little sketchy, but this is when he’s typically juggling six-panel pages without skipping a beat. It’s great stuff.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

It’d be easy to overlook a series like Black Cat, particularly when its hypersexualized covers don’t really reflect the tone of the story inside — but you’d be making a big mistake. This series has been consistently fun and engaging, covering the Marvel Universe from the point of view of an unorthodox underdog. Mackay and Villa deserve plenty of credit for delivering such an entertaining series, and it’s something that should be added to your pull list as soon as possible.