WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Spectacular Spider-Man #300
Batman's wedding will make history for DC Comics, but Marvel is already having fun - with a Spider-Man marriage proposal to his own Catwoman, Black Cat. And before any comic fans get their pitchforks to wage war anew between Marvel And DC comic fandom, the homage isn't intended to be missed by anyone. Which means fans of Batman and Spider-Man can both enjoy the laugh.
The tribute to Tom King's current Batman run comes as part of Spectacular Spider-Man #300, an oversized anniversary issue written by Chip Zdarsky. But it's the back-up story to this special release that DC fans will want to flip to. A story called "The Canary," that sees Black Cat Felicia Hardy wonder what might have been between her and Spidey...
To appreciate the joke readers will need to know the basic of King's Rebirth romance between Batman and Catwoman. To make a long (and fantastic) story short, Bruce Wayne eventually realizes that his love for Selina Kyle isn't something he should be fighting. The fact that she's got an arm full of stolen diamonds and a warrant for her arrest doesn't matter. All that matters is the diamond Catwoman stole the first time she met Batman. The diamond Bruce kept on a hunch, now mounted in an engagement ring. After musing about the endless fleeing and chasing, Bruce gets down on one knee and pops the question.
It's a beautiful moment that took fans by surprise - but they were nowhere near as surprised as Spider-Man when Black Cat is cornered on her own rooftop, and gives him the same treatment - perfectly recreated by artists Goran Parlov and Giada Marchisio.
The moment calls out the symmetry between the two couples without mentioning names, but one femme fatale cat burglar with a soft spot for a masked vigilante can spot another. The backup story also happens to be called "The Canary," a reference to the (fake) diamond Black Cat has just stolen. Unfortunately, Peter Parker is just as stunned as Selina Kyle... but without the heartwarming intent behind Black Cat's actions. Bruce Wayne was a bit more respectable, but what do you expect from a cat burglar?
The turn of the page reveals it was all a ruse for Black Cat to get the jump on Spidey's famous Spider Sense. And get the jump she does, slashing her way out of the problem and leaving Peter to tend to his wounds - both physical and emotional. The fact that Peter is left more confused than anything, and moaning about black Cat toying with his "feelings" means this gag is squarely for the readers who know a joke when they see one.
Still, considering the similarly sordid past shared between Peter and Felicia... not cool.
The homage is only the latest clever DC/Marvel crossover of several in recent weeks, all delivered with a wink to the fans. First came the suggestion that in the various parallel worlds of Marvel's comic universe, one 'Captain Marvel' was actually DC's Shazam at home in Marvel's Multiverse. Soon after, DC used Booster Gold to suggest that Iron Man and Jarvis exist in DC's Multiverse, too.
Let's just hope, for Spider's sake, that Black Cat may make it up to him someday (Peter and Mary Jane are back together, but... for how long this time?).
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #300 is available now from Marvel Comics.