‘Iron Cat’ ups the ante once more as the simple revenge/heist story takes a dramatic turn into a more superhero-like realm as the entire world’s fate is at stake. There is something just genuinely captivating about a gorgeous slick sexy colorful series that wears its heart on its sleeve in between all the best zingers and banter while helping solidify the upper-tier status that Black Cat deserves in this universe.
Comic book characters like Iron Man have been around for so many decades, a lot of potential story avenues or connections with other characters have been greatly explored time and time again. That being said, there are still angles and characters to bounce them off that can bring new stories or interactions. When the Black Cat is involved, everything old is new again more often than not.
Getting the most out of characters is just one of Jed MacKay’s superpowers, able to wring every bit of emotion and character depth no matter what the title is (from Black Cat to Moon Knight to even Taskmaster) or who the characters involved might be. Out of all the characters that he has written and currently writes, Felicia Hardy is probably the one that is the best to bounce off other characters because of her larger-than-life personality. Shifting the perspective to that of Tony Stark is a great choice because of the threat of Madame Menace/A.I. Sunset Bain is something on his level and from his world and getting his thoughts on that issue and the two thieves that he must rely on to save the world leads to some fantastic moments.
One of the things that I truly loved about all of MacKay’s time with Black Cat is how things can be funny or full of heisty goodness one moment and can emotionally gut the character or readers the next. While there is a good chance that the painful moment for Felicia is something that will be wiped out with the final issue of the miniseries, it doesn’t negate the emotions and how well they are showcased through this issue.
All that con banter between the ex-girlfriends as Tony Stark waits exasperated was the highlight of this issue and I’m still laughing as I think about it.
I will mention this repeatedly until there are no reviews left to write it within: this is a truly gorgeous series. Pere Pérez and Frank D’Armata are just on some different level together, as they bring all this action and emotional goodness to bright vivid detailed personality-filled life. I mean, just look at the very first page. Our three Iron-suited characters standing on the wrecked boat with a large Tony looming outside the boat looking shocked and then another Tony at the bottom looking pissed as Madame Menace’s dialogue bubbles and Tony’s caption boxes dance around the figures. That’s the kind of stuff that I love to see with comic books.
Those are just part of the variety of close-ups of emotional moments or a variety of paneling choices that Pérez showcase across these pages. There is a great weight and depth and just reality feeling to everything on the page where the action flows right into the emotional moments, and vice versa, to the point where it feels like it can come off the page or we can tumble right into that world. I especially love the panels showing off each character within the suits, with the futuristic HUD around them and nothing but darkness behind to better frame each person.
Those moments land even more with the coloring work from D’Armata, who is able to switch between brighter slicker color palettes to ones that are still bright but are also shadowed/dark and toned down depending on the scene’s needs. There are bright wild colors on display since it is a superhero story, but they are surrounded by more down to Earth realistic sets of color that we would recognize from the world around us on any given day. Matching that superhero sort of tone and the tone that makes the world around them feel like it truly is the one outside our window is such a great skill.
Rounding out the artistic trio is the ever-fabulous Ariana Maher, who brings an A+ game to every single bit of lettering that ends up on a page. Speech bubbles and caption boxes being different colors for Iron Man and the Iron Cats is the visual way to tell their speech apart, but there is more to it. Maher is able to do little tweaks here and there that allow the personality of each character to be seen within their dialogue which helps us hear the characters’ voices perfectly. Just like the changes to font sizes or shape are clear indicators that make sure we know what the volume or tone or feeling behind certain words should be so that we don’t have to guess.
Just like everything else on this page, SFX are a true art form and when one is really great at creating them it brings so much to an issue. Sure, there is a variety of fonts, shapes, and colors of the SFX but that’s not the thing that takes them to the top level. No, that would be in how they are used and placed within any given scene. There are the smaller ones that almost blend with the scene because they are ‘quieter’ next to those SFX which take up a ton of space right at the moment because they are loud and in your face. One of the favorites though is the SFX that are almost ‘hidden’ within something they are related to such as a giant faded “Whammmmm” being hidden in the motion streaks of an attacking Sunset Bain/Madame Menace.
Comic books are fantastic.
Iron Cat #4 is now available from Marvel Comics.