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 both of 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 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 spoiler: anger over being date raped by her college boyfriend Ryan. This retcon 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 raping Felicia.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Peter and Felicia.
- 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".
- 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.
- Everyone Has Standards: Felicia is appalled when she sees the aftermath of Garrison's massacre of the Ortega Cartel.
- 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 cause enough to despise him. Then we see him try to rape Felicia, 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.
- 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. It isn't until she checks into a hotel while working the case that we finally see her face. Even after that are multiple shots in the first three issues which focus on her breasts, ass or both at once.
- Malicious Misnaming: Felicia refers to Mary-Jane (who doesn't appear in this story) as "Mary Plain".
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- Siblings in Crime: The Klums.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 where 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.