Black Cat #6 Review

by Charles Martin on May 12, 2021

Black Cat #6 Review
Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: Michael Dowling
Colourist: Brian Reber
Letterer: Ferran Delgado
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The previous issue of Black Cat dropped a couple of big bombshells. This number is all about unpacking them and charting out Felicia's response.

I'm gonna do my best to review this issue without spoiling not just its developments, but also those of the larger arc. It's a great story and it gets terrific mileage out of firing Chekov's Guns that have been primed for years

But Black Cat #6 is not a perfect comic, and in my opinion, the imperfections lie mainly in the visuals. Michael Dowling is a talented artist. His layouts are strong, and he's just as good at making his characters anatomically realistic as he is at posing them dynamically. He also reads the script's cues well, illustrating the right emotions to get art and words working in harmony. But he's stingy with his details, leaving many poses and panels looking unfinished.

He also likes to use celebrities for "facial inspiration." That's a problem for me. As a reader, I want to focus on the characters and their story. I don't want to be distracted with questions like "Is John Goodman the best casting choice for Bruno?" or "Should young Black Fox look like Tombstone-era Val Kilmer?"

Colourist Brian Reber does his best to enhance the art. His shading, frankly, does as much or more than the lines to give the characters three-dimensional shapes. But there are also points where the colours overwhelm Mr. Dowling's very delicate lines, obscuring some of the already too-rare detail.

And some flaws fall outside the visual realm, too. This issue jumps abruptly past a fight scene in a cut that's handled poorly in both words and art. (Or Marvel has accidentally left a page out of my review file, which would not be unprecedented.)

But that's all the bad stuff out of the way. There's considerable good stuff left, even without getting spoilery with the plot developments! Jed MacKay's voice for Felicia Hardy remains one of the greatest things in Marvel comics. It's in particularly fine flower in this issue, with betrayals and reverses presenting her with practical problems and emotional heartache in equal measure.

As the Black Cat's heist turns into something altogether different, she has to rapidly shift allegiances, turning against old allies and seeking help from former antagonists. She also has a brief but devastatingly beautiful run-in with Spider-Man. 

And this issue fully explains the last-minute twist the Fox introduced in the previous number. It sounded bad at the end of #5; now #6 shows us that yes, the heist has gone apocalyptically bad. Felicia is in serious trouble and she's far from the only one. But as this title's initial King in Black tie-in arc showed us, the Black Cat isn't one to despair in the face of overwhelming "out of her league" opposition.

Whether she's facing the literal end of the world or a more personal, metaphorical apocalypse, I trust the Black Cat to face the music with courage, wit, and audacity. That's exactly what her creators set her up to do in this issue. Though the art rubbed me very much the wrong way, it still harmonized with the excellent script to deliver an enthralling story and keep me fully committed to following Felicia Hardy.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
One of the frustrating things about Mr. Dowling's "celebrity inspiration" is that he doesn't appear to need it; some characters (like Dr. Korpse, for instance) seem fully original and none the worse for it.