Iron Man and Black Cat Join Forces in Marvel’s Iron Cat #1

This week Marvel is releasing the much anticipated Iron Cat #1, a neon-tinted team-up comic featuring Iron Man and Black Cat. The pairing of the Avenger and the burglar might feel unexpected to those who haven’t been keeping up with the recent smash-hit Black Cat runs, but it is a welcome return for hardcore Felicia Hardy fans. Black Cat’s Iron Suit was fabricated by Hardy herself during a heist at Stark Tower that went sideways in Jed MacKay and CF Villa’s 2019 Black Cat #11. She eventually relinquished the armor to the care of Stark, but a third party has managed to seize the suit, leaving Stark and Hardy to reclaim it. Long-time Black Cat writer Jed MacKay has returned to spearhead to series with artist Pere Pérez, colorist Frank D’Armata, and letterer Ariana Maher.

Iron Cat #1 opens up on Black Cat doing what she does best, stealthily cracking a safe, intent on acquiring the treasure inside. A flashback reveals that this particular haul has been a long time coming, since her teenage years studying to be a world-class thief. The heist is interrupted by none other than Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man), demanding the nonplussed burglar return the Iron Cat suit. But when the suit attacks Hardy, it becomes clear that this is a brand new enemy. It will take the combined might and moxie of Black Cat and Iron Man to defeat the new armored villain.

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MacKay has established himself as the flag-bearer of the Black Cat series. In MacKay’s hands, Black Cat has grown from a simple Spider-Man seductress to a complex figure. The writer returns to the fan-favorite anti-hero with his most meaningful look into Hardy’s past so far. Despite the partially retrospective nature of Iron Cat #1, MacKay manages to keep the tone light and witty. It is also very gratifying to see MacKay’s long-form storytelling pay off, with a consistent but tantalizingly vague thread he has been weaving throughout the past three years of Black Cat finally coming to fruition in Iron Cat #1.

Pérez’s artwork raises the bar in this issue. It is gorgeously detailed, and the artist has a particular knack for capturing complex facial expressions and emotions. His action sequences are also fantastic, infusing his work with an incredible sense of momentum and dynamism that ratchets up the stakes from high-octane to electrifying.

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D’Armata delivers a tour-de-force of contrasting color palettes in Iron Cat #1. He jumps between the dark cityscape of the present and Hardy’s memories. The flashbacks are imbued with beautifully soft technicolor that bleeds into a sepia, making the sequences feel dated but gloriously rose-tinted. D’Armata absolutely nails the dark, sultry feeling of a heist in the opening pages, using a blue-tinted almost monochromatic spread to perfectly set up the tone of the series. Maher’s letters are powerful and efficient. She uses different weights to draw out the witty and acerbic tone of Black Cat’s narration. Although the sound effects in this issue aren’t particularly interesting, the use of different speech bubbles for the various Iron Suits is a nice touch that helps to sell the robotic nature of their voice modulators and adds a brilliant touch of color.

Iron Cat #1 draws together many elements of the mythos that have been steadily building around Black Cat. It is very exciting to see a relative newcomer like Black Cat being pushed further into the mainstream with a team-up with a prominent Marvel character like Iron Man. With any luck, we’ll see a whole new generation of readers checking out Black Cat and her previous solo comics. That being said, Iron Cat #1 is as much about the future as it is the past, and this first issue sets the stage for a thrilling adventure.

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