Back in Black ... Cat? Joe Kelly on Her 'Amazing' Return

Back in Black ... Cat? Joe Kelly Talks

Newsarama readers already got the scoop on the return in August of Spider-Man's ex, Mary Jane Watson. But now comes word that Peter Parker's girl troubles won't stop with the return of just one of his old flames.

In Amazing Spider-Man #605-606 in September, Black Cat returns to Spider-Man's life in a story by writer Joe Kelly and artist Mike McKone tentatively titled "Back in Black Cat."

First appearing as a sexy cat burglar named Felicia Hardy who wins Spider-Man's attention, the character has developed an ongoing relationship with the web-slinger that has traditionally been driven by the thrill of not knowing who the masked hero is. That all changed when Spider-Man unmasked during the events of Civil War, and Black Cat was disappointed to lose the mystique of Spidey's unknown identity.

But along with the rest of the Marvel Universe, Felicia doesn't remember now who is under the Spider-Man mask. And with this storyline, she not only pops into his life for a visit for the first time since that status quo change, but it looks like she's going to be sticking around for awhile.

We talked to writer Joe Kelly about the return of Black Cat and why this storyline was a nice change from his work on this summer's dramatic "American Son" storyline in Amazing Spider-Man.

Newsarama: Okay Joe, so first we have MJ coming back in August, and then Black Cat is coming back right after that?

Joe Kelly: Yep. He's got a lot of girl trouble at the moment. [laughs] It's definitely how I like it. Even at his lowest point, Peter's got one or two girlfriends giving him trouble. It just seems like, with Mary Jane back, there's a lot of women orbiting Peter right now. And we just thought it would really shake things up to have someone go gunning for Spider-Man. Black Cat's thing is that she likes the excitement of Spider-Man. She was the first one to say, "Let's leave the mask on." So if we're going to rock Peter's world by having Mary Jane back, then it's just the law of equal and opposite chaos to have somebody to rock Spidey's world as well. So Black Cat is so far the best one to do that.

NRAMA: What's the premise of the storyline in which Black Cat returns?

JK: After American Son and then the events of #600 and Red-Headed Stranger, there's a lot of heavy stuff dumped in Spidey's lap. For me, the Black Cat story was a chance to have a little fun. Obviously, it's in the context of stuff that's meaningful for Spidey. It's the first issue that I'm writing that really feels like the new status quo, with Jonah as mayor and the ramifications of that, Mary Jane back in town, and his social circle out of whack.

And there are other ladies in his life right now who are kind of messing with his head. Nora's a character who keeps coming up, and she's this very bizarre thorn in his side. There's another character that's evolved, and I don't want to say who it is yet because there are some other surprises with her. So Pete just doesn't have his head screwed on straight, so what better time to re-introduce Black Cat?

But we'll also see hints of stories that are coming down the road. You'll start to see rumblings pretty soon about this Gauntlet that Spidey's going to be running through. We're going to see some hints about that not only in #600, but also in my issue.

NRAMA: There are so many older characters coming back into Peter's life over the next few months. Did you guys pitch which one of those you wanted to write? Or was it a matter of a list that you got to choose from?

JK: Black Cat, I was definitely wondering how long until we can bring her back. She's so much fun and she messes with Spidey in so many ways. But the Gauntlet stuff and the stories that are attached to that came out of the fact that we didn't really see them during the year-and-a-half since Brand New Day started. A lot of the classic guys were off the table, which is always great for a soft reboot of a character like Brand New Day. And to go back to those characters all the time diminishes them. So we took those characters off the table, and now we have a chance to tweak them and to pump them up and maybe see them in a new way. And Black Cat is included in that because she's such an interesting force of chaos in his life. It should be a big deal that she comes back.

So all those Gauntlet guys, we talked about them in a room, and everybody had their favorites, so we were picking and choosing who wanted to do what. But there was a lot of pitching in the room for what would be a cool story for how these characters would come back. But as these guys re-appear and come back into Spidey's life, including Black Cat, you'll see that each one of them is really, really interesting and has changed in a cool way. And it's all leading to something pretty heavy duty.

NRAMA: Will Black Cat have a new status quo? Is she the Black Cat we've always known and loved?

JK: Well, I know they've played around with her powers and tried to make her more real. But I like the Black Cat that is just this irresistible force that Pete just can't take his eyes off of. And when she's around, it's just trouble, you know? With all the bad luck powers. She really is the one he should stay away from. So no matter what he does, things are going to go bad. I love that about her. And she's a really good character with good motivations.

She is going to have status quo changes that integrate her into Spider-Man's world, so it won't be where she's just a random character who sort of bounces in and out all the time. The point is to keep her around as another romantic interest.

NRAMA: Mike McKone's doing the art, and since this is coming out in September, I assume you've seen it?

JK: Oh yeah. Mike McKone is great with the ladies. I have no concerns. We've actually wanted to work together for a long time, so it's great to have the opportunity.

NRAMA: Is there anything else you want to tell people about the story?

JK: Just that it's going to be a lot of fun. After writing something as heavy as American Son, it's fun to write something that's just about Spidey and his raging libido and a lady in black spandex.

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