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Sunday, August 25, 2019 

Black Cat marrying Spidey, or is Marvel just pulling our leg?

Either way, I don't think this is going to impress Spider-fans who want Mary Jane Watson back as Peter Parker's wife, and not just his girlfriend, as is still the pseudo-status quo. This Newsarama announcement says:
"You are cordially invited to the wedding of Black Cat and Spider-Man!"

That's how the solicitation for the just-revealed Black Cat Annual #1 coming out this November begins.

While they've been on-and-off-lovers for decades, making the relationship serious has been until now left to the imagination (that and 1991's What If? #21, ""What If... Spider-Man Married the Black Cat?")

However, in recent issues of Amazing Spider-Man, Peter and Felicia became re-acquianted after some time apart.
And Mary Jane's still merely a girlfriend; the marriage of 1987 remains obliterated. Well I'm certainly not falling for this, even if it's just another marriage that'll never come to pass. I'm as big a Felicia Hardy fan as the next Spider-fan is, but if it'd work better for Peter Parker to wed a civilian, it'd be the same for Felicia. This stunt won't replace what would please the Spider-crowd far better - a rejoining of Peter and Mary Jane as husband and wife.

Bam-Smack-Pow noted what happened in more recent storylines:
Things have been rough for the Black Cat. She spent a few years trying to act as a crime-lord but has since reformed back to non-lethal thefts with occasional acts of anti-heroism. But she’s since benefited from Marvel Comics’ endless promotion of Spider-Man and all related spin-offs. Jed McKay (Daughters of the Dragon, Man Without Fear) has led a new ongoing series for her, which has sold exceptionally well. Even the second issue in July was a top 10 seller, edging out the immensely popular Immortal Hulk.

It will remain to be seen whether this wedding is genuine or a clever way to sell an annual. Historically, annuals tend to sell poorer than regular issues of an ongoing series — so much so that Bill Jemas, during his tenure as publisher of Marvel Comics from 2000-2004, replaced annuals with 13th issues of ongoing series each year. And this is coming off last summer’s X-Men Gold No. 30, in which a wedding teased between Colossus and Shadowcat turned out to be a ruse to hitch Rogue and Gambit instead. It’s probable this “wedding” will just be a ruse for one of Black Cat’s heists. But readers won’t know until November, will they?
It may be one thing to depict her as a thief. After all, so long as she were to rob wealthy criminals, that's what would make her stories work. But depicting her as a crime-lord or a syndicate leader is honestly unsuitable for anti-heroes, and IIRC, this happened with Gambit too in 1999, and it was tasteless. Now didn't Felicia originally reform by the mid-80s? One more reason why these recent reversions were a disfavor to Marv Wolfman and Dave Cockrum's creation.

As for annual issue sales, that's awfully vague to say they sell badly compared with monthly, because when Marvel tried them again in 1976 (and DC later in 1982), they did considerably better than the first time in the mid-60s. It was only towards the end of the century annuals really began slipping, mainly because of how bad superhero comics were getting by then with all the crossover stunts that even clogged the annuals (DC's Eclipso: The Darkness Within and Bloodlines were truly awful). So it shouldn't be a surprise annuals were affected.

And after all the trouble Joe Quesada caused with One More Day in Spider-Man back in 2007, that's why purists, no matter how much they love Black Cat, shouldn't be taken in by this, no matter how enticing J. Scott Campbell's cover may be. The difference this has from DC's botched non-wedding between Batman and Catwoman is that here, we're dealing with a lady like Mary Jane who spent a decade suffering some of the worst injustice mainstream superhero fare could go through, and fans detested Quesada's mishandling. But, speaking of OMD, it's being revisited, astonishingly enough, according to this post about ASM #29. Which makes one wonder if they really are going to at least reverse that atrocity altogether, which will put any concerns about the Black Cat storyline to rest.

If they do, that could certainly salvage C.B. Cebulski's withering reputation, and even prove they're not seated that firmly on the anti-marriage bandwagon. Trouble is, that still doesn't guarantee good, merit-based writing is to be expected going forward. But then, what else was to be expected in an era where superhero comics are on the verge of collapse?

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