Kevin Smith’s long delayed series is finally out in paperback today. Since we missed the review in time for last year’s hardcover, we’re catching up today.
Title: Spider-Man / Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do
Author: Kevin Smith
Illustrator(s): Terry Dodson on pencils, Rachel Dodson on inks and (for issues 1 and 5) colours, and Lee Loughridge on colours for issues 2-4 and 6.
Original Publication Date: Cover dates range from August 2002 to March 2006 for these six issues.
ISBN: 0-7851-1079-8 (for the paperback edition, which hits comic stores today)
Cover Price: Each issue $2.99 US. Prices range from $4.25 to $4.75 Canadian.
Past comic reviews can be found here.
People with no physical signs of drug use are dying by overdosing. Spider-Man and Black Cat are both drawn into the investigation from different ends, and naturally they team up.
These two make a fun pair of investigators when they’re working together.
Smith seems to have a much harder time finding Spider-Man’s voice than I’d expect. The first issue involves massive pop culture references (and some out of character empty threats), but then the second issue
involves Peter completely missing out on pop culture references that the Black Cat makes. He’s trying to be funny, but Smith’s style of humour just doesn’t work for Spider-Man.
The originality in this series comes from creating a new villain, and dealing with a social topic (sexual assault) that is rarely even mentioned by this medium. (By the way, this series started two years before Identity Crisis, though it finished two years after, even though it lasted fewer issues.) I give it 5 out of 6.
The artwork on people in costume tends to be great. The faces of people out of costume don’t seem to be quite as consistent. I give it 4 out of 6.
The story gets the job done, but isn’t very consistent. The “current” status of the Kingpin changes drastically through the course of the series, simply due to the four year schedule this six issue series was published in. (Sadly, Smith’s other miniseries that started in 2002 is even later; the first issue of Daredevil: The Target came out in 2002, and the second issue hasn’t been published yet.) Apart from that, there are detail problems, where Spider-Man recaps his involvement for the Black Cat, and describes a completely different investigation than he actually did. (He even names the wrong victim that got him involved!) The big picture’s good, but the details can’t always stand a lot of scrutiny. (Just as a rough indication of the lack of long term planning involved: this was originally solicited as a four issue series. Issue three was published as issue 3 of 5, and when issue 4 came out over a year later, it was issue 4 of 6.) I give it 4 out of 6.
The characterization of the Black Cat is good, keeping in line with what we’ve seen of her in the past, while adding some depth with a previously unrevealed portion of her history. As mentioned before, Spider-Man himself doesn’t seem quite right. I give it 4 out of 6.
The emotional response is good. The fun of the first few issues and the banter involved nicely contrasts the serious nature of the last three issues. I give it 5 out of 6.
The flow of the set is good when read as a collection, apart from the changes in the Kingpin’s status. (It was miserable when read as individual issues, thanks to all the delays, but since I’m reviewing the complete package, that won’t impact the score here.) I give it 4 out of 6.
Overall, this is a decent miniseries that’s worth considering, but I wouldn’t say it’s a must-have. I give it 4 out of 6.
In total, Spider-Man / Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do receives 30 out of 42.