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Black Cat

Contributed by Ronald Byrd

The daughter of infamous cat burglar Walter Hardy, Felicia Hardy decided to follow in his footsteps and trained herself to become an expert combatant and thief, the Black Cat. Early in her career, she became attracted to the super-hero Spider-Man, and she eventually joined him as a lover and a fellow crime-fighter, earning amnesty for her past misdeeds. However, their relationship had several problems; Felicia was more enamored of Spider-Man’s costumed persona than she was of his true identity, Peter Parker, while Spider-Man felt that costumed crime-fighting was too dangerous for a non-superhuman. To compensate, Felicia acquired super-powers from a mysterious source who turned out to be the Kingpin of Crime, one of Spider-Man’s deadliest enemies, a revelation which further complicated matters, as did the revelation that Felicia’s new bad-luck power might eventually kill anyone in her vicinity, including Spider-Man. Felicia intended to end her relationship with Spider-Man to save his life but, unaware of this, Spider-Man himself broke off the relationship due to their personal differences.

Following the breakup, the thrill-seeking Felicia returned to crime but took to donating her ill-gotten gains to others. Meanwhile, Spider-Man underwent a string of misfortunes as a delayed effect of his association with her; sorcerer Doctor Strange cured Spider-Man by altering Felicia’s powers, removing her bad-luck power but giving her additional abilities in return. Felicia renewed her relationship/partnership with Spider-Man on an irregular basis but finally departed for Paris, France; when she returned some time later, she learned that, as Peter Parker, Spider-Man had married another of his long-time girlfriends, Mary Jane Watson. Felicia began dating one of Parker’s friends, Eugene “Flash” Thompson, as a way of ingratiating herself into Parker’s life and eventually wrecking his marriage, but she developed a true affection for Thompson and abandoned her scheme. She was also robbed of her remaining super-powers by a device of the criminal Chameleon, but, undaunted, she began a career as a private investigator, at times finding herself on both sides of the law, as it seems she wanted all along.

By about fourteen years in the future (or on a present-day alternate Earth where time has proceeded differently and everyone is thus some fourteen years older than on Marvel-Earth, accounts vary), Felicia’s detective agency has achieved worldwide success, and it is known that during the intervening years she married Eugene Thompson (currently a coach at Midtown High School) and bore him two children, Gene and Felicity. However, she has also divorced him, apparently because she fell in love with Diana, formerly a contract operative for her agency. Felicity disapproves of the relationship, possibly because she regards Diana as an opportunist out for Felicia’s wealth; it is not known how her son reacted. Felicia apparently maintained the costumed identity of the Black Cat at least until her divorce and gave it up not long after, but no further details of her later career are known; her abandonment of her costumed identity is another sore point with her daughter.

As of the timeframe of “Spider-Girl,” Felicia and Diana have known each other for nearly six years, although it is not known how long their relationship has been a romantic one. Felicia, Diana, and Felicity move from Paris to Forest Hills, a suburb of New York which is also the home of Peter Parker, who in this timeline remains married to Mary Jane Watson and has a daughter, May, who herself has superhuman powers and fights crime as Spider-Girl; Felicity also adopts a costumed identity, the Scarlet Spider, and attempts to convince Spider-Girl to accept her as a crime-fighting partner, thus furthering the connections between the two families.

For a time, the Black Cat possessed two separate sets of super-powers; the treatments given to her by the Kingpin augmented her strength and agility and enabled her to, either consciously or subconsciously, psionically alter probability fields so that those around her experienced bad luck. After Doctor Strange removed the latter power, her abilities mutated further to grant her even greater strength and agility, as well as the ability to form her hands and feet into claws. In the mainstream Marvel universe she lost this second set of abilities some years ago and again became a non-powered human; whether or not she might have regained or retained these powers in the alternate timeline of “Spider-Girl” remains to be seen.

In her prime the Black Cat was, even without super powers, a highly trained athlete, martial artist, and thief; she usually traveled via a grappling hook swing-line which could also serve as a tightrope or a wall-scaling device. Whether or not she has retained these talents in her late thirties/early forties is unclear, although as the head of her detective agency she presumably remains a skilled investigator.

Felicia Hardy/ Black Cat first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #194. Though Felicia’s bi-sexuality has been primarily established in the alternate timeline of Spider-Girl (Spider-Girl #45 & #47), there was a scene in the Spiderman/Black Cat mini in which she said, “It’s been so long since I’ve had a boyfriend … or a girlfriend”. Director of a private investigation firm; formerly cat burglar, adventurer, private investigator. Felicia lives in Forest Hills, New York.

Art by Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia from the cover of Black Cat #2 (2019 volume).

All rights reserved Marvel Entertainment. Used without permission.

July 1, 2021
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