Oct 17, 2014

Unstable Molecules: Cataclysm

"Hey, my eyes are...well, I guess they are down there, too."
(Amazing Spider-Man #3, written by Dan Slott, art by Humberto Ramos and Victor Olazaba)

The Black Cat just got a new costume in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man.  As with most Humberto Ramos designs, it's good - and it doesn't really deviate that much from her previous costumes, most of which have been slight variations on the one she wore in her first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #194. For the most part, her costume only varies in cleavage, which ranges from reasonable...

(Amazing Spider-Man #205, written by David Michelinie, art by Keith Pollard and Jim Mooney)

...to "maybe you should zip that up"...

(Amazing Spider-Man #316, written by David Michelinie, art by Todd McFarlane)

...to "I guess that's just glued to your mons pubis, then".

(Amazing Spider-Man #371, written by David Micheline, art by Mark Bagley and Randy Emberlin)
But there was a time when the Black Cat did get an entirely new costume - a costume so bad it ties in with Secret Wars II.

So let's sum up where the Black Cat was at circa 1986. She'd hooked up with Spider-Man, but there were a couple complications: a) his secret ID, Peter Parker, was just some schmo, and not the dashing rogue she was hoping for, and b) she didn't actually have any powers, which made fighting Spider-Man's rogues gallery of half-animal freaks rather hazardous to her health. She couldn't really do anything about the first one, but as for the second, hey, this is the Marvel universe.  People are handing out super powers like free samples at Costco. Felicia found herself a benefactor, and ended up with catlike agility and reflexes, as well as some nebulous "bad luck" powers. Unfortunately, her benefactor turned out to be the Kingpin, and as he'd intended, those bad luck powers ended up making Spider-Man into a regular Joe Btfsplk...more so that usual, even. So before he found himself getting squooshed by a falling piano, Pete went to Dr. Strange to get rid of his bad juju - but because Dr. Strange is the worst, this also had the effect of taking away all of Felicia's powers, just as she was fighting a bunch of the Foreigner's goons. She escaped with her life (and a gold notebook*), but ended up with a broken nose.

(*During Secret Wars II, the god-like Beyonder turned an office building and all its contents into solid gold. Spider-Man had to shut up and take it when the US government hired the Kingpin to dispose of the building so it wouldn't destroy the global economy, but he did steal a gold notebook in a fit of pique. He ended up selling it to a fence to pay Aunt May's friend Nathan Lubensky's medical bills, and that fence sold it to the Foreigner - Recappin' Rob!)

So in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #117, she swapped out her regular cat's-eye mask...thing for a Lone Ranger mask to cover up her busted schnoz, but for some reason that meant she had to make a completely new costume to go with it. So she combined an aerobics leotard, a gold-studded leather jacket (with gold studs made from the melted-down notebook), and a ponytail into...this thing, courtesy of Rich Buckler, Dwayne Turner, Bob McLeod, Del Barras, Keith Williams, and Joe Rubinstein:

"No, please, keep it."

I know a lot of comics at the time were going for a more gritty, realistic vibe - especially Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man, then under rookie writer Peter David - and because it was the '80s, gritty and realistic = leather jacket. It must not have been terribly popular, because in PPTSSM #128, it was traded in for this Alan Kupperberg number, which was a little closer to her original.

"Thanks for everything, Julie Newmar."

This one I kinda like, actually.  I think it's the mask.  But despite getting a shout-out on the cover, this look only lasted two issues (and a guest appearance in Cloak and Dagger) before she went back to her original.  Maybe, with the gold belt and the cat ears, it was a little too close to the '60s Batman TV show Catwoman costume - and the Black Cat is already juuust this side of being a Catwoman ripoff, so it had to go.  Sometimes, you just get it right the first time.

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