Black Cat #3 Review

by Charles Martin on February 24, 2021

Black Cat #3 Review
Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: C.F. Villa
Colourist: Brian Reber
Letterer: Ferran Delgado
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Felicia Hardy's slice of the King in Black event remains absurdly, riotously over the top in this third installment.

Grasping the last remnant of Dr. Strange's Yggdrasil Staff converts the Black Cat into a gold-and-white god of Asgardian magic. But it has an even more important internal effect: Felicia finds herself split from the start of this issue, not only fighting symbiote dragons in the real world but also confronting Ultimate Magical Power in her mindscape.

The UMP takes the form of the Fox to converse with Felicia. And his/its motivation is transparent: To tempt the Cat with power beyond her imagining. (Giving up her soul in exchange is implied but not stated outright.)

It's a story so old that it's literally Biblical. The serpent in the garden and the temptation of Christ are direct inspirations for this comic. But Jed MacKay writes this 21st-century thieves' version with all the wit and insight required to make it feel new. 

By the end of the first act, Felicia wins the right to put her new power to work in the real world and protect her crew. The script continues to concentrate on the mental struggle.

But C.F. Villa will not let the real-world fight be ignored! He flexes his considerable combat muscles to invest every cutaway to Asgardian Felicia with eye-catching weight. Posing, striking, zapping, even just emoting -- the Asgardian Black Cat is in constant danger of completely stealing the show from the internal conversation.

Mr. Villa is also getting comfortable with his protagonist and has the confidence to tweak her basic design. I love the frazzle-haired Felicia that emerges in the final pages. The art alone makes it clear she's been through the wringer -- but also that she's not done fighting.

Brian Reber continues his trend of turning the previous volume's palette on its head. In total contrast to the chilly tones he used before, this issue features his warmest colours yet. Flesh tones are rich both in the real world and the mindscape, and both settings feature lots of yellows and oranges. Granted, in the real world, they come at maximum intensity in the form of Felicia's magic blasts, but the colours remain consistent throughout.

Back to the scripting! As noted above, the Ultimate Magical Power runs a classic temptation playbook on Felicia. Where Mr. MacKay shines is in crafting Felicia's responses to reflect her character and the unique voice the author has cultivated for her. 

The UMP's strategy shifts at the end of the second act, going from humbling the Cat with past moments of helplessness to tempting her with the fantastic possibilities of accepting his offer. Both sides of this pitch show great insight into the Black Cat's continuity, pinpointing the reversals and misfortunes that sting her the worst -- and the ones she would most like to change. (Sadly, though, this issue doesn't focus as much as #2 on Felicia's relationship to Venom.)

Mr. MacKay also does formidable work outside Felicia's mindscape. He slides enough concern from her crew (and Dr. Strange, once he finally wakes up) into the real-world pages to amplify the tension of the mental scenes and make the stakes terrifyingly clear.

Black Cat #3 pulls off a formidable trick: It maintains the over-the-top cosmic struggle established in previous issues while turning most of its attention to a far more internal conflict. Felicia faces (and, of course, masters) ultimate temptation on her way through the King in Black event. It looks terrific, it sounds brilliant, and it maintains a breakneck action-movie pace -- all while taking an impressively deep look at what makes the Black Cat tick.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
C.F. Villa goes the extra mile and then some on this issue's many surprised faces. I love it.