Continuing on the theme of essential issues of Spider-Man love interests (see the Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacy posts), the next logical essential issues list subject is Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat.
Spider-Man and the Black Cat Essential Issues
The Black Cat’s First Appearance
The Black Cat made her first few appearances in the Amazing Spider-Man #194, almost immediately after MJ left the picture. She first plays more of an enemy than ally. She “drowns” in Amazing Spider-Man #195
The Black Cat Reveals Her Love
The first three runs featured a standard template of two-issue-runs which end with the Black Cat seemingly dying, playing off the theme of nine lives. Her next appearance begins in the Amazing Spider-Man #204, where Spider-Man learns of the Black Cat’s obsession of him. In Amazing Spider-Man #205, we learn more of her origins.
Spider-Man and the Black Cat Try To Get Together
In Amazing Spider-Man #226, the Black Cat returns, and Spider-Man and the Black Cat start to fall for each other. Spider-Man manages to get amnesty for the Black Cat, but the Black Cat “dies” before he get the good news in Amazing Spider-Man #227.
Spider-Man and the Black Cat Begin Dating
Forgoing the two-issues runs for a more long term, permanent role in the Spectacular Spider-Man title, the Black Cat returns in Spectacular Spider-Man #74 just as Peter ends his latest relationship with Debra Whitman. The decide to begin a relationship, but only to have the Black Cat severely between by Doctor Octopus in Spectacular Spider-Man #75. She gets admitted to the hospital in Spectacular Spider-Man #76
Spider-Man Reveals His Identity to the Black Cat
Spider-Man and the Black Cat get closer once she heals up and joins him on his rounds, so he reveals his identity to her in Spectacular Spider-Man #87. However, Felicia would rather not want to know his real identity, as she’s only in love with the “Spider”.
Spider-Man and the Black Cat Essentials
Spectacular Spider-Man #87 (BUY)
The Black Cat Gets Real Powers
Eventually, the Black Cat feels the need to get her powers to match those of Spider-Man’s, so she sells out to the Kingpin, who grants her “bad luck” powers in Spectacular Spider-Man #89. After succumbing too often the bad luck powers himself, Spider-Man discovers the truth in Spectacular Spider-Man #98, which leads to their split in Spectacular Spider-Man #100.
After Spider-Man and the Black Cat split, Spider-Man goes to Dr. Strange who removes the Black Cat’s powers, which plays out from Spectacular Spider-Man #115 to Spectacular Spider-Man #117. Unfortunately, she is battling Sabretooth at the time, a battle she loses badly in Spectacular Spider-Man #119.
The Black Cat’s Revenge
Since Spider-Man and the Black Cat broke up, Felicia has been plotting her revenge. In Spectacular Spider-Man #129, Spider-Man learsn that she has been working with the Foreigner. She leaves for Europe in Spectacular Spider-Man #156, only to return in Amazing Spider-Man #316, where she learns of Peter’s recent marriage to MJ and also unfortunately runs into Venom, who breaks her nose.
Felicia Hardy and Flash Thompson
The Black Cat decides to get even with Peter by dating his friend, Flash Thompson, seen in Amazing Spider-Man #329. She threatens MJ in Amazing Spider-Man #331, eventually aids Spider-Man when he loses his powers in the Powerless storyline running from Amazing Spider-Man #341 to Amazing Spider-Man #343
Spider-Man and the Black Cat Team Up Again
Spider-Man and the Black Cat continue to occasionally team-up, and Felicia gets some new gear courtesy of the Tinkerer during the Invasion of the Spider-Slayers storyline. She also plays a role on Spidey’s team during Maximum Carnage.
The Black Cat Falls In Love With Flash, Gets Dumped
Eventually, the Black Cat realizes she loves Flash and proposes to him in Spectacular Spider-Man #209, only to have him reject her offer in Spectacular Spider-Man #210, revealing that he knows her secret identity.