ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Mary Jane/Black Cat: Beyond,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Mary Jane Black Cat Beyond #1 - But Why Tho

Mary Jane/Black Cat: Beyond #1 is written by Jed MacKay, illustrated by C.F. Villa, colored by Erick Arciniega, and lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham. It’s published by Marvel Comics. Ever since Peter Parker landed in the hospital after a battle with the U-Foes, he’s been looked after by his girlfriend Mary Jane Watson and ex-girlfriend/occasional partner Felicia Hardy — better known by her alter ego the Black Cat. Trouble strikes when Parker Robbins, formerly known as the demonic crime lord the Hood, threatens to kill Peter unless Felicia steals back his trademark hood. Felicia embarks on a quest throughout the criminal underworld, with MJ helping out in more ways than one.

As a Spider-Man fan, I’ve been witness to multiple arguments surrounding the web-slinger throughout the years. And the biggest one — other than who Peter’s greatest foe is or who’s the best live-action Spidey — is who the love of his life really is. Considering the history Peter’s shared with both MJ and Felicia (and Gwen Stacy, who is briefly discussed toward story’s end), writers tend to pit them against each other. Thankfully, MacKay isn’t interested in that game and instead explores how both women work surprisingly well as a team. Felicia obviously knows her way around the criminal underworld and manages to get Robbins’ hood back, but MJ also puts her acting skills to use-which comes in help during the finale and when the duo need to get information from Count Nefaria (who turns out to be a huge cinephile.) And the two have a heartfelt conversation about their unique places in Peter’s life-which leads to the hilarious conclusion that a nerdy superhero from Queens manages to have romantic relationships with insanely gorgeous women.

The one-shot also reunites MacKay with Villa, who previously illustrated the Black Cat ongoing series. Villa continues to illustrate with a fluid grace that puts him in a rare class of artists including Radiant Black‘s Marcelo Costa and Static: Season One‘s Nikolas Draper Ivey. Villa especially excels at a sequence that has MJ and Felicia pull off a heist that has them leaping from a skyscraper and another where Robbins’ reunion with his hood takes a dark turn. His facial expressions also lead to some of the most hilarious moments of the one-shot, including the aforementioned Count Neferia meeting. Joining Villa on art duties are Arciniega and Lanham, who previously worked on the Darkhawk miniseries; Arciniega’s rich, vibrant colors bring the streets of New York to life and a brilliant sunrise as well. Lanham takes over lettering duties from Ferran Delgado — though he still keeps the same black and white color scheme that fits Felicia.

Mary Jane/Black Cat: Beyond #1 features an unorthodox team-up between the two most important ladies in Peter Parker’s life, resulting in a fast-paced and funny tale. Between this story and the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man #87, which is slated to debut later this week, I’m glad MacKay has joined the Beyond Saga.

Mary Jane/Black Cat: Beyond #1 will be available wherever comics are sold on January 26th, 2021.


Mary Jane/Black Cat: Beyond #1
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TL;DR

Mary Jane/Black Cat: Beyond #1 features an unorthodox team-up between the two most important ladies in Peter Parker’s life, resulting in a fast-paced and funny tale. Between this story and the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man #87, which is slated to debut later this week, I’m glad MacKay has joined the Beyond Saga.