Black Cat Annual (#1, 2021) – Jed MacKay

4 out of 5

A surprisingly well-balanced kick-off; then a completely bog-standard side-issue; and now an issue that seemingly has nothing to do with the series… this cross-annuals Infinite Destinies event series is pretty uneven, eh? But at least this issue, despite having zilcho to do with infinity stones and their destinies, is a lot of fun. This is MacKay back in primo Black Cat form, combining fun heisting and action with a solid internal narrative from Felicia – giving her a personality, and not just generic antihero snark – an involving story, and just the right dose of humor.

White Fox – leader of the republic of Korea’s superhero team, Tiger Force – waylays Felicia’s flight to enlist her help in a little bit o’ B & E. Okay, the B & E is into some government operation, currently being run by a mind-controlled-and-turned-evil superhero, but same same, and MacKay, with his usual deftness, makes this combo of high action and Black Cat crookly skills seem totally logical, punched up throughout by Joey Vazquez’s angular, strong art. I perhaps would’ve liked to have seen more of Tiger Force, as they’re an interesting bunch and seem to only exist to be punching fodder in the background, but at the same time, MacKay understands who’s name is on the cover, and so keeps her (and White Fox’s) infiltration as the focus.

While I suspect this will tie into Infinite Destinies in either a later annual or some upcoming Black Cat issues, it is definitely odd that nothing currently seems to directly connect, and it gives the conclusion of the book – discovering the baddie behind the mind control – a sense of avoidance, like we’re dancing around looking into things too much so we can save plot points for later. But that comes at the very end of an otherwise totally successful issue that 100% works as a standalone annual… and not as an event crossover.

The Fury backup gets a boost from coming off of the strong entry in the Cap annual, but it would’ve been nice if it tied into the mainline story in the way that one did. Otherwise, these are coming across a little empty – nice art from Ferreyra, though – and I can only hope they add up to something good when all put together.