Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do is a six issue mini-series written by Kevin Smith with art by Terry and Rachel Dodson.
The story sees Spider-Man investigating the death of Donald Phillips, a student who seemingly died from a drug overdose but with no evidence as to how the drugs got into his system. Spider-Man's only lead is an actor named Hunter Todd. Meanwhile, the Black Cat, Spider-Man's ally and former romantic partner, is searching for her friend Tricia Lane who was last seen with Todd. When they realize the connection between their two cases, Spider-Man and the Black Cat team up to solve them together while dealing with their unresolved feelings for each other and the tragic end of their relationship. Spider-Man and Black Cat's investigation ultimately leads them to Garrison Klum, a mutant with minor teleportation powers which he uses in his drug dealing business. When Garrison is killed, Felicia is suspected but it turns out to be Garrison's brother Francis.
The series was infamous for two things. One was the long hiatus. The series began in 2002, as an intended lead in for a planned run on the main Spider-Man title by Smith. However, after the third issue, the series went on an unplanned hiatus until 2005, when Smith revealed he had finally finished writing the scripts. The final three issues were published in 2006.
The other source of controversy was the Retcon to the Black Cat's backstory. Originally, Felicia Hardy became the Black Cat to follow in her father's footsteps as an expert thief. However, Evil That Men Do rewrites Felicia's reasons for becoming the Black Cat into anger over being date raped by her college boyfriend Ryan. This retcon was not well received and has thus far gone unaddressed outside of this series.
The mini-series' most lasting introduction to the Spider-Man franchise was Francis Klum, the third Mysterio who was last seen being stabbed by the villain Ero.
Tropes used in or associated with Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do:
- Attempted Rape: When Felicia breaks into his house to get information on Tricia Lane, Garrison Klum incapacitates her by teleporting drugs into her system and tries to rape her. The final scene of the third issue is him cutting open her costume. The fourth issue reveals that Garrison is dead and Felicia is in jail under suspicion of killing him. In reality, Francis, Garrison's brother, killed him to stop him from raping Felicia.
- Bathing Beauty: Felicia seems to love to bathe and even calls herself a "shower junkie". The very first scene she has is in the story is a Shower Scene.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Peter and Felicia.
- Better as Friends: Peter (who's Happily Married to Mary Jane at this point) wants to go back to being friends with Felicia. But there's still some Belligerent Sexual Tension between then and Felicia still has feelings for him.
- Big Brother Instinct: Subverted with Garrison. A flashback shows him beating up a bully who picked on Francis for being Jewish. However, this is followed by the reveal that he has been sexually molesting Francis since they were teenagers.
- The Cartel: The Ortega Cartel are the Klums' chief rivals in the drug dealing business. They send the supervillainess Scorpia to kill Garrison at a humanitarian award event but she is thwarted by Spider-Man and the Black Cat. Garrison kills them all in retribution along with the leader's wife. Only their baby survives.
- Combo Platter Powers: Francis has teleportation (far stronger than his brother) and telepathy. Lampshaded by Daredevil who asks Nightcrawler how a Mutant can possess both. Nightcrawler theorizes that Francis' telepathy is an extension of his teleportation in that he is "teleporting thoughts and suggestions into other people's heads".
- Contemptible Cover: The covers for the series, particularly issues 1 and 2, are already worthy of an eye roll. However, the knowledge that the female character who is the subject of them is revealed to be a rape victim takes them from silly to tasteless.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Spidey and Felicia are interrogating an imprisoned Scorpia on who recruited her to assassinate Garrison:Spider-Man: Either you're gonna tell us who hired you, or I'm gonna hang outside your window pegging you with web-balls all night. And if that's not annoying enough, I'll have Black Cat sing "Memories" from Cats. Hit it, Cat!
Black Cat: [without missing a beat] ~MEEEEMO-RIES! ALL ALONE ON THE PAVE-MENT...! I RE-MEM-BER A TIME I KNEW WHAT HAP-PI-NESS WAS...~
Scorpia: All right, all right, all right! God, I hate you two...
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Heavily implied during the Shower Scene at the beginning of the series. Felicia reaches for the detachable showerhead to rinse off some Censor Suds while ruminating on how long it's been since she's had a boyfriend... or girlfriend. The view shifts to outside the bathroom with her Sexy Silhouette standing behind the shower glass.Felicia: FAR too long...
- Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: Averted and deconstructed. Garrison's sexual abuse of his brother Francis (which occurred all the way up to adulthood) is treated just as seriously as Felicia being raped by her college boyfriend. Felicia shows empathy for Francis and all the pain that Garrison's treatment of him has caused him. However, Francis is afraid to turn himself in and tell others about it because he fears people will either not believe him or mock him for it.
- Disc-One Final Boss: Garrison is the main antagonist of the first three issues. Francis takes on the role of the final villain for the last three issues after he kills Garrison.
- Eating the Eye Candy: One cop comments on how fit Spider-Man's butt is, which gets him a lot of disapproving looks from his fellow officers.
- Everyone Has Standards: Felicia is disgusted when she sees the aftermath of Garrison's massacre of the Ortega Cartel.
- Fanservice: The story opens with Felicia talking in the phone wearing only a Modesty Towel since the call interrupted her shower. After finishing she walks bath to the bathroom, drops the towel and resumes showering. We get a lot of close up shots of her washing her body, but a combination of Censor Suds, Godiva Hair and Scenery Censor conceal any actual nudity.
- Gag Boobs: This exchange of dialogue when Spider-Man and Black Cat are trying to extract information from Scorpia about who hired her to kill Garrison Klum.Black Cat: What's [Scorpia] saying now?
Spider-Man: She says no woman with a chest like yours should be able to move as fast as you do! [Scorpia actually does not say this and actually said that she'd kill Black Cat if she ever got out of her cell]
Black Cat: Tell her they act as ballast!
- Hate Sink: Garrison Klum. Being a murderer and a drug dealer would be reason enough to despise him. Then we see him try to rape Felicia. Later, we learn that he sexually abused his younger brother Francis all the way up to adulthood and also molests teenagers.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Peter invokes this to get a low-level drug pusher to give him information about who got Donald Philips involved in drugs.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: One of the things that drives Francis Klum into villainy is the fact that the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his older brother has left him with persistent impotence.
- Male Gaze: Felicia's introduction in the first issue has her wearing a form-fitting towel before taking a shower, a sequence which focuses a great deal on her body, such as a close up of her washing her legs. It isn't until she checks into a hotel while working the case that we finally see her face. Even after that, there are multiple shots in the first three issues which focus on her breasts, ass or both at once. The covers also draw a lot of attention to her figure.
- Malicious Misnaming: Felicia refers to Mary-Jane (who doesn't appear in this story) as "Mary Plain".
- Mind Control: Francis can telepathically "prompt" people into doing acts they don't want, such as having Spider-Man and Daredevil beat each other up or forcing a prostitute to have sex with him.
- Mood Whiplash: The first two issues are a mostly fun rump with humorous banter between Peter and Felicia. Then the third issue ends with Felicia about to be raped by Garrison Klum. The three remaining issues feature discussions of rape and sexual abuse as well as anti-Semitic motivated bullying all while we have your usual snark from Spider-Man and Daredevil.
- Mutants: Garrison and Francis are descended from concentration camp inmates who were implanted with mutant genetic material stolen from mutants.
- Playing Hard to Get: Felicia when she acts nonchalant about inviting Spider-Man to her apartment.Felicia: Stay or come it's your call. But I'm going.
[Felicia jumps off the roof and starts swinging away]
Felicia's Thought Ballon: Please be following me... Please be following me... Please be following me...
- Pragmatic Villainy: Francis frequently criticizes Garrison for his Sadistic and ruthless ways, often going out of his way to do so and risking exposing their crimes. Which ends up being half the reason Francis kills him.
- Professional Killer: Scorpia is hired to kill Garrison by a rival drug Cartel. Thanks to the intervention of Peter and Felicia, she fails.
- Not So Different: Felicia finds common ground with Francis in being a rape survivor like him.
- Rape and Revenge: Subverted with Felicia. She wanted to kill Ryan for raping her but he died in a car accident leaving her without any closure and a lot anger issues which she used as motivation to become a thief. Somewhat played straight with Francis killing Garrison who had been sexually abusing him since they were kids though it took seeing Garrison attempt to rape Felicia.
- Rape as Backstory: Both Felicia and Francis. Felicia is retconned into having been date raped by her college boyfriend which was the catalyst for her becoming the Black Cat. Francis meanwhile was sexually abused by his older brother Garrison.
- Rape Discretion Shot:
- Issue #3 ends with Garrison undressing an immobilized Felicia and getting ready to rape her, when the scene cuts to outside the apartment as a Dramatic Thunder goes off. But it turns out to be a subversion as Francis kills Garrison before he could rape her.
- Played Straight with Francis raping a prostitute and Ryan raping Felicia.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The story does not pull any punches about how horrible rape is and the effect it has on the victims. Ryan and Garrison are portrayed as the lowest form of scum for being rapists. Felicia's conversation with Matt Murdock who is serving as her defense attorney in issue #4 spells this out blatantly.Felicia: Have you ever been raped, counselor? Have you ever had anyone climb into your body that you didn't want there? And I don't just mean someone you got tired of sleeping with but didn't know how to dump. I'm talking about someone who forces himself into you, against your will. And the whole time, you know he's not doing it because he wants you. He's doing it to hurt you. He's doing it because he wants you to know how powerless you are. He's doing it to take away everything good and positive about yourself. He's doing it to humiliate you. He's doing it to break you.
- Save the Villain: Spider-Man and Black Cat end up saving Garrison and Francis from Scorpia, although it's before they know they're the real villains.
- Self-Made Orphan: Garrison discovered he had powers when he teleported some mouthwash into his mother's heart, killing her instantly. Unlike most examples of this trope, Garrison's killing of his mother was an accident but given his complete lack of regret or remorse, he might as well have done it on purpose.
- Shield Surf: Spider-Man surfs in a garbage lid, whiled webbed up to a car with the criminals he's chasing.
- Siblings in Crime: The Klums. Though it could not be more clear that Garrison is the one truly calling the shots.
- Sleeping Dummy: Garrison uses one to get the drop on Black Cat when she comes for him in his apartment.
- Start to Corpse: The story begins with Tricia's dead body being found in a dumpster.
- Stronger Sibling: Not only does Francis have greater teleportation powers than Garrison, but he is also a telepath who can influence people and project illusions. Though Francis is far less evil than Garrison and only comes into conflict with Spider-Man due to confusion, fear and misunderstanding.
- Teleportation: Garrison and Francis both use this ability to dangerous effect throughout the series.
- Garrison has the ability to teleport small amounts of material over a distance. He uses this ability to deliver drugs directly into his customer's system, avoiding telltale signs of drug use such as needle marks. He can also kill or incapacitate people by teleporting a few grams of heroin straight into their heart.
- Francis' teleportation powers are far less limited. He can teleport himself, anyone else he is carrying and smaller items so long as he can visualize them and where they are. He fights off Spider-Man by teleporting Felicia's mask into his neck and was able to kill his brother Garrison by teleporting into his body and blowing him up.
- Thanks for the Mammary: Garrison pushes up against Felicia's breast while thanking her and Peter for saving him from Scorpia. Given that he later tries to rape Felicia and is revealed to have been sexually abusing his younger brother Francis since they were kids, it's likely him touching her breast wasn't an accident.
- Trauma Button: When Peter finds Felicia and Francis at the top of the Queensboro Bridge, he flashes back to The Night Gwen Stacy Died and thinks Francis is trying to kill Felicia the same way the Green Goblin killed Gwen. This causes Peter to fly into a blind rage and attack Francis.
- Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Francis' powers activated during his mother's funeral.
- Vengeance Denied: The story retcons that Felicia trained herself to get revenge on the boy who raped her, but he ended up dying in a random drunk-driving accident before she could get her hands on him.
- Villainous Incest Francis outright states that his big brother Garrison sexually abused him for years, to the point where Francis became unable to enjoy consensual sex, which led to his discovering his Mind Control abilities.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Garrison Klum's public persona is that of a rich man who donates to charity. The second issue has him receiving an award for donating money to victims of 9/11 before he is attacked by Scorpia.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Peter and Felicia have this dynamic along with some heavy Belligerent Sexual Tension.Felicia: I really hate you, you know that?
Peter: And I am thoroughly disgusted by you. Welcome back, party-hardy.
- Who You Gonna Call?: Nightcrawler is the Marvel Universe's foremost expert on Teleportation and is contacted by Spider-Man and Daredevil to provide exposition about the Nazis' experiments with mutants from which Garrison and Francis are descended.
- Will Not Be a Victim: After Felicia was raped by her boyfriend, she Took a Level in Badass and became the Black Cat because she "didn't want to be another statistic". This attitude is deconstructed; in the present Felicia says that she wished she had reported the rape and gotten therapy instead.
- Working with the Ex: Peter and Felicia's relationship did not end well and is a source of conflict in their partnership.
- You Are Fat: Peter makes a few jokes about Felicia having put on some weight which she shows some annoyance at, even going as far as asking him if he's trying to make her bulimic. A flashback to Felicia's college years has her expressing worry about gaining weight from the beers she is drinking suggesting that she might have some body image issues.