Across his nearly six-decade run, Spider-Man has a long roster of enemies, lovers, and allies. One special lady just so happens to fall into all three categories. This expert burglar, skilled gymnast, and martial artist pounced into the pages of Marvel Comics 40 years ago. Do you know who this is?
Felicia Hardy, a/k/a Black Cat, was created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist Dave Cockrum and made her debut in The Amazing Spider-Man #194 in July 1979. Felicia was born in Queens, New York to world-renowned cat burglar Walter Hardy. Although she grew up as a normal teen with interests including cheerleading and baseball, she eventually learned of the excitement that comes in her father’s career. Following date rape at the hands of her boyfriend, she studied self-defense, and enrolled in various martial arts classes with the sole intent of killing her rapist. But when he was killed in a drunk driving accident, she was denied the chance for revenge.
After donning the Black Cat costume, Felicia utilized her new skills to follow in her father’s footsteps. When she learned that her father was dying, Felicia was determined to break him out of prison. This prison break caused her to cross paths with Spider-Man, with whom she felt she had a special bond. Although she initially had no superhuman abilities, a test induced by the Kingpin later gave her the psionic ability to affect probability fields. This “bad luck” power caused anyone in her immediate vicinity that she perceives as a threat to be susceptible to freak accidents. It also caused problems for anyone spending long periods of time around her, whether she perceived them as a threat or not.
For a time, Spider-Man and Black Cat were adversaries, but eventually they fell in love. This romantic relationship motivated the Black Cat into becoming an antiheroine, and work alongside Spider-Man as his partner. When it became apparent that Black Cat was only attracted to his alter ego and had little interest in his life as Peter Parker, the pair broke up. Despite being broken up, Black Cat continued to serve as one of Spider-Man’s most trusted allies and for years the pair enjoyed an on-again, off-again romance. Unfortunately, much to Spider-Man’s dismay and annoyance, she later lapsed back into her criminal ways. As one of his principal love interests, Black Cat has been featured in many comic and media adaptations related to Spider-Man.
Although she has yet to be introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the web-slinging hero has certainly had his fair share of bad luck lately. Maybe the arrival of the Black Cat isn’t all that far off…