As Marvel’s Dark Web crossover event begins, Mary Jane Watson and Felicia Hardy are unlikely partners in an all-new adventure from Jed MacKay.
Mary Jane & Black Cat #1
- Jed MacKay
- Vincenzo Carratù
- VC’s Ariana Maher
- Cover Artist:
- Federico Vincentini
- Release Date:
- Brian Reber
Reunited after their debut team-up comic earlier this year, Peter Parker’s on/off love interests are joining forces again in Mary Jane & Black Cat #1. Written by stalwart Black Cat writer Jed MacKay, with art by Vincenzo Carratú, colors by Brian Reber, and letters by VC’s Ariana Maher, the Dark Web event has kicked off with a demonic army wreaking havoc in New York City. Also included as a complementary little Christmas gift is the short bonus comic “The Mask of Doctor Doom,” created by MacKay and artist Michael Dowling.
Mary Jane & Black Cat #1 opens as Limbo’s demons, under the thrall of Madelyne Pryor and Ben Reilly, attack New York City. Black Cat travels across the city to check in on Mary-Jane Watson and her family, but the interdimensional destabilization pulls both women into Limbo, where Mary Jane and Felicia must fight for their lives and plan a daring heist.
MacKay is quickly becoming the definitive Black Cat author at Marvel, handling all Black Cat stories since rebooting her solo line in 2019. Mary Jane & Black Cat #1 definitely resonates with the same devilishly gleeful tone fans have come to enjoy. There are some nice callbacks to Black Cat’s links to Tony Stark and her ever-complicated entanglement with Spider-Man. Although Peter Parker is the foundation of MJ and Felicia’s relationship, it is refreshing to see the two women interact without the web-slinger. This unfettered dynamic between MJ and Black Cat makes the comic stand out. Loaded with tension, teasing, and genuine affection — the compelling connection developing between these unlikely friends carries the expository aspects of the comic. The bonus comic “The Mask of Doctor Doom” is a riotous journey through one of Black Cat’s characteristic bluffs. The short, fast story is a funny, incisive, and charming portrait of her character.
Carratú’s art is clear and distinctive throughout Mary Jane & Black Cat #1. But he primarily focuses on the protagonists’ anatomy, which can occasionally leave the comic feeling a little generic and underdeveloped in terms of background art and style. Dowling’s work in the bonus comic demonstrates that this doesn’t always have to be the case when depicting the bombshell women of the Spider-verse, marrying slick and stylized visuals with character design that brims with personality. Reber’s colors are relatively flat throughout the main comic but add to the dynamic action scenes. His most impressive work in this issue is in the bonus story, perhaps because the subject matter is arguably more “out there” than the flagship story. Maher’s letters do great work punching up the wit and humor of Mary Jane & Black Cat #1, using emboldening and italics to add cadence and emphasis to internal narration as well as the all-important dialogue.
Mary Jane & Black Cat #1 isn’t the most dynamic debut ever, but it introduces a strong structure for future issues. This issue could have been an opportunity to let the artists really shine, but both the art and the writing are a little underwhelming. Luckily, the opposite is true of “The Mask of Doom,” which is so good on its own merits that it makes this comic worth reading for any Black Cat fan. This first issue gives the series a lot of room to grow in lots of interesting ways. With two fan-favorite characters leading the way, this promising first issue can bloom into something unique and amazing.