Black Cat Annual (#1) – Jed MacKay

4 out of 5

Continuing his streak of writing fun and intelligent comic pop, Jed MacKay closes out his first year of Black Cat with an annual team-up of Cat’s lil’ thievin’ group, and her friendly neighborhood fling, Peter Parker. Behind a cover (and some lead-in hype) that suggests that Felicia and Parker are gonna get hitched, Jed very smartly drops any attempt at pretending like that’s legit on literally the opening pages: Cat needs Spider’s help on a heist, from the maggia. Ya see, when maggia clans go to war, they settle it with a marriage ‘tween the rival families, sending the couple in to a private room where, y’know, one has to murder the other, and settle the war. That’s our “in” for our faux couple to go undercover.

Where it proceeds from their is entertainingly inventive, and justifies each member of the crew’s part in things, with different illustrators taking up the slices dedicated to those crew members: Cat and Spider fighting off maggia security; Bruno stealing an important car; Doc doing tech. The varying styles sync well with each other, but are also nicely suited to their individual focuses, although this is a lot of juggling for a regular sized issue, and so the gimmick feels a bit wasted – Felicia and Peter take most of the spotlight, with only a couple pages allotted to the others.

But it’s still a very tightly scripted romp, with MacKay playing our leads’ styles of banters off of one another supremely well (as he’d also do in his FCBD entry), and the wrap-up giving us some justifications for why this whole thing went down, and how Pete was able to be roped into it in the first place.