Felicia Hardy’s dominance as one of the current best characters at Marvel Comics continues in another really fun, character-heavy, gorgeous issue that balances all of that and fleshes out the plot/new characters so well. Every time it seems that we’re going to go hungry without this fantastic character and her world, we’re given a new treat that sustains the audience for a while longer. A truly delightful comic book experience.
For the past few years any comic with Black Cat within it, especially her solo series, has been pretty darn enjoyable while being high on character moments/development and moments that tug at the heartstrings. Full of beautiful and wonderful artwork, colors, and lettering that elevates everything to such high levels. Iron Cat continues that winning formula while throwing in some Iron Man and an ex-girlfriend/partner of Felicia Hardy to bring even more fun to the table.
When a new character with big ties to the main character is thrown into a story, it generally means that there will be an issue spent really filling in the backstory of that character. Many times, these can mean a lot of exposition while the overall action or plot movement slows down. Not when this is a Jed MacKay issue.
Here we get the backstory of Tamara Blake through well-placed caption boxes, thanks to the work of Ariana Maher, peppered around a whole action sequence showcasing how Tamara was able to break into a facility where the new A.I. version of Tony Stark’s nemesis Sunset Bain was being kept. All of that is brought to fantastic life by Pere Pérez and Frank D’Armata. By going this route, it keeps the issue moving so that when it does switch over to actual flashback scenes, they are more impactful because they aren’t half or more of the issue which can happen sometimes. Not that there is anything wrong with going the route of more flashbacks, it works great many times, this route just maximizes space used in a limited number of issues that the series has to work with.
Each of these series and one-shots that MacKay writes with Felicia keep adding so much to her character, and not only do we get to learn about Tamara, but we learn even more about Felicia’s view on heists. The joy that she finds, and her equating it to music and how being prepared for things failing is part of what makes her so able to swerve and win in the end most times. Which we’ve seen in action so many times.
Peppering the backstory moments around Tony and Felicia going back and forth while trying to piece things together was a great move. They are the perfect quipping/verbal sparring sort of duo. Sometimes the best team-up is between characters that wouldn’t want to actually team-up in a million years unless they are forced to do so in some way.
Every bit of this issue just is energetic and beautifully flows thanks to Pérez and D’Armata’s work. There are not only tons of very intricate detail displayed on each page, but the way that Pérez lays out panels works well for these stories. There is nothing standard or routine about the choices, going for panels that slide around the page or overlap, using white space to frame, and really drawing the eyes along the path of the page. With this being another story full of emotion and character, we get plenty of those shots that really hammer home how characters are feeling with great facial work and close-ups that make sure we see what characters are feeling in the moment.
D’Armata brings in a variety of color palettes here that shift playfully through the moments, some of them bring brighter and wilder or closer to superhero bright popping colors while others are more grounded in nature. Going with green for the digital realm of Madam Menace and pink hues for the flashbacks makes them stand out even more and hits on their nature of being somewhat outside the norm. There are great washing-out effects put into place to show how the artificial lights of Stark’s complex or the A.I. prison are very different from the lights that are either natural or artificial in the outside world, especially at night.
Lettering is always going to be fun, bold, and energetic when Maher is the one that is bringing it to life on comic book pages. There are little things within the dialogue of characters that makes it feel like their personality, with those like Tamara or Tony who are more to the point not feeling quite as energetic as someone like Felicia or even Madame Menace (both driven in different ways by their personal desires). Emphasizers in the right spot, like the use of bold font, as well as the great colors that are found in the bubbles and caption boxes just add even more energy to the whole situation.
Iron Cat #2 is now available from Marvel.