For this years… unique Free Comic Book Day, Marvel paired their Black Cat and Venom teams together for a double feature in Spider-Man FCBD. Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, and JP Mayer build on the upcoming Venom story in their segment, while Jed MacKay and Patrick Gleason deliver a one-off Spidey / Black Cat versus the Vulture story that hints at things to come in the Black Cat series. Together, do these two shorts make a satisfying comic?
The Spider-Man / Black Cat story kicks Spider-Man FCBD off with an action-packed quickie, as the two leads flirt and quip while foiling the Vulture's latest plan. It's a cute story and succeeds most when it focuses on Spider-Man and Black Cat talking openly and honestly. The quipping during the battle is a little weaker than under the pen of previous writers, but at least MacKay's writing is self-aware of the corniness. The artwork makes it a very fun read through it all, though, and Patrick Gleason's linework is complimented well by David Curiel's colors and VC's Clayton Cowels letters. The story does best with its more grounded drama when the heroes drop the performance they put on for the Vulture and connect on a one-to-one level. Black Cat fans won't want to miss this one, though, as it hints at storylines to come in that title.
The Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman Venom story starts with a hell of an opener: Eddie Brock has gathered the Avengers to confess to them that a horrible force is coming to Earth, and it's his fault. As he leaves, having been berated by Tony Stark, he is attacked by an Iron Man-esque villain called Virus. As Bleeding Cool reported, this storyline will play out in the main Venom title, but this was a fun introduction for dedicated readers and the uninitiated alike. Cates handles all of the Marvel characters well, as usual. The art team of Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, colorist Frank Martin, and Clayton Cowels create scenes that look like Howard Chaykin at his most nightmarish. With detailed lines, shadows that loom and threaten to swallow, and stylized characters that create unique, bombastic action.