Overview

Spider-Man/Black Cat #4

Review

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Spider-Man/Black Cat #4

Credits

  • Words: Kevin Smith
  • Art: Terry Dodson
  • Inks: Rachel Dodson
  • Colors: Lee Loughridge
  • Story Title: The Evil That Men Do- Part 4
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Dec 7, 2005

Dare I say that a three-year hiatus between issues may have actually strengthened the storytelling of a mainstream comic?

I was all ready to take the easy way out with this review, and start making pot-shots at Kevin Smith’s inability to finish something he last delivered on when I was in my late twenties (I’m 31 now--and maybe that qualifies as a little jab). But then a strange thing happened when I started reading the story: I liked it…a lot.

When last we saw Felicia Hardy, a.k.a. the Black Cat in this series, she was in quite a dangerous predicament. Rather than start up right where that cliffhanger left off, Smith moves the time forward a little. Now Felicia is in jail for the murder of her dangerous assailant, and she looks and acts very guilty. Because of this dilemma, Peter Parker goes to Matt Murdock and asks him to be Felicia’s attorney. Using his abilities as Daredevil, Matt cannot detect any signs in his client that she is lying about not committing the crime. In the face of overwhelming (though circumstantial) evidence that implicates her, Peter hatches a plan to break her out of jail with the aid of Matt’s alter ego. Things…don’t go as planned.

It’s hard to say how long Smith has had this ending kicking around. Brian Bendis’ shake up of Matt Murdock’s life in Daredevil has probably changed it a few times. Smith does a wonderful job of not only referencing this current continuity, but he enriches the story with it. Peter displays some nifty debating skills with Matt to get the lawyer to go against his better judgment

Despite the colorful characters, Smith also brings a nice level of maturity to this story with Felicia’s and Matt’s discussion over what happened to her prior to the murder she’s in jail for. Black Cat has historically been depicted as more of a happy-go-lucky part-time criminal with some street smarts and a continual unrequited crush on Pete. The situation she’s been thrust into under Smith’s pen shows that she is more complex, and may be dealing with some buried personal issues.

Terry and Rachel Dodson haven’t been waiting around for three years to get back to Spider-Man and Felicia. With the first twelve issues of Marvel Knights Spider-Man (with Mark Millar), the Dodsons stayed sharp and in tune with both characters. It was sharp then, and it remains that way now. Terry offers smooth, dynamic (and yes, often cheesecake) sequencing and Rachel finishes them like the pro she is, with just the right touch of aura and mood. I’ve not seen one working without the other, and at this point I don’t see reason why they should.

Kevin Smith is a talented individual. He’s made some enjoyable films and comics, but like every creator he has an occasional misfire. His money is made in feature filmmaking, so it’s not hard to see the motivation behind focusing on them instead of this "hobby" of writing the funny books. Like many comic fans, I find huge delays in release deplorable, especially when it’s the writer’s fault. However, Marvel is to blame for putting the cart before the horse on projects like this and Daredevil: Target (which is also supposedly completely scripted now). Rumor has it that they have learned their lesson, which is to get most if not all the finished scripts and at least a few finished issues of art before soliciting/releasing books…no matter who the creators are.

Despite the glaring problem of lateness, The Evil That Men Do continues what it started. It ups the ante with each successive issue, and tells an entertaining and original story worthy of the Spider-Man mythos. Those with the patience to come back to this series are finally being rewarded. The next issue is due to be in stores at the end of December with the conclusion to come a month later.

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