Sometimes you don’t realize how much you miss something until it comes back.
One of the best parts of Spider-Man’s supporting cast are the female characters he meets, befriends, and sometimes dates. Glory Grant, Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane, Betty Brant, Liz Allan, and probably a dozen others. They ran the gamut from weepy and hot-for-teenager Lee/Ditko-era Betty Brant to determined Gwen Stacy to party girl with a heart of gold MJ.
While Aunt May and MJ’s Aunt Anna were both pretty much cut from the same cloth, with Aunt May being a little more frail on occasion, the rest of the women came from all walks of life, and the series benefitted from it. One woman who is absolutely in my top three, though, is Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat.
Felicia brought a more realistic version of the Clark/Lois/Superman love triangle to comics. In a world where you honestly have a choice between the heroic hot dude and the shlub who just kinda stutters a little, who in the world would choose the shlub? Felicia is an attractive cat burglar and lives the high life. When Spider-Man reveals his identity, all she can say is, “Put your mask back on!” It’s Spider-Man she loves, fabulous man of mystery and amazing hero, not Peter Parker, Dude Who Worries About His Rent.
Felicia brings something to the Spider-books that MJ or Gwen never could. She’s got abilities that raise her above the level of “normal comic book girl.” Her bad luck powers are only icing on the cake for her agility, general physical fitness, and ability to plan a crime. She knows the risks and enters into them of her own free will. Her fun-loving nature, too, provides a wonderful contrast to Peter Parker’s constant gnashing of teeth.
She was actually in my first comic, though she jobbed to Venom there. Amazing Spider-Man #316, the beginning of Venom’s big comeback tour. She comes looking for Spider-Man, not knowing that 1) he’s married and 2) moved out. Venom catches her while she’s in Spider’s old apartment, beats the snot out of her, and leaves her in tears. Great going, guys.
Amazing Spidey #606 brought the Black Cat back into the Spider-Man family proper, with her first appearance in the flagship book since Maximum Carnage. Do the math: that’s 16 years. She showed up in various miniseries and probably Spectacular or Web Of, but Amazing is the Spidey book. Seems like a long time, doesn’t it? Luckily, her return to Amazing Spider-Man is also a return to form, as she reminds me of the character that I loved back in the day.
From Amazing Spidey 606, words by Joe Kelly, pictures by Mike McKone, with Chris Chuckry on colors:
Welcome back, Felicia Hardy.