Advanced Review: Mary Jane And Black Cat Beyond #1

Full disclosure: upon first hearing about this comic, there was a bit of confusion. Why would Mary Jane Watson and Black Cat be featured in a comic book together?

The two characters have had a bit of interaction lately. Spider-Man recently became gravely injured during a fight with Ben Reilly against the U-Foes. As he recovers in the hospital, Mary Jane has been at his side. Felicia Hardy, Spider-Man’s ex, has also been by to check on him and make sure he’s not in danger. The fact that the two care for Peter has allowed them to be civil to each other. Civil enough to “team up” in the same comic?

Mary Jane & Black Cat Beyond cover art by J. Scott Campbell and Sabine Rich.

While Mary Jane has recently stared in her own comic miniseries, The Amazing Mary Jane (by Leah Williams and Carlos Gomez), which involved her teaming up with Mysterio and kind of fighting the Sinister Six, she is still a civilian character. She can definitely hold her own in a dangerous situation, but she and Felicia live in different worlds. Why would she be on any sort of mission or adventure with Black Cat?

The answer is simple–Jed MacKay came up with a brilliant story.

It should be made clear the official synopsis for this issue isn’t quite accurate. Things have definitely changed. It was stated that Felicia was kidnapped and Mary Jane would need to be saving her. The actual story here makes much more sense. The details for the two teaming up is made clear in the preview pages. Skip over the preview if you’re avoiding spoilers!

MacKay is no stranger when it comes to writing Black Cat. He has made me love the character even more than I did before. I strongly urge you to read the past volumes he has written. His depiction here continues to flesh out Felicia into more than just the cat burglar stereotype we saw in the past. The reason for Felicia and MJ teaming up is perfect. MJ definitely plays a crucial role in solving the big problem they’re dealing with. MacKay also allows the two to have a meaningful conversation that really shows how much the two characters have evolved over the years.

The art and colors by C.F. Villa and Erick Arciniega is fantastic. There are lots of moments where we see the expression and emotions on characters’ faces. This adds to the enjoyment of the story and adds more credibility to the wacky adventure the two leading ladies embark on. Seeing some cameos from other characters was an added bonus.

It should also be noted that Travis Lanham’s lettering was pretty great as well. When Felicia does her inner monologging, it’s presented in a black box with a blue trim. The black with white lettering made it easy for my aging eyes to read. There were also a couple moments of sound effects presented in a flashy way, which is always fun to read.

Mary Jane and Black Cat Beyond #1 is a joy to read. This is the sort of comic we need more of. We are given a cool story with great art and colors. There is plenty of character building mixed with loads of action. And of course, Mary Jane and Black Cat show there are plenty of ways to defeat supervillains. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book.

Mary Jane and Black Cat Beyond #1 is on sale January 26, 2022.

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