Creator: Kentaro Yabuki
Publisher: Viz
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Action
RRP: $7.99
Black Cat v7
Reviewed by Michael Aronson

�Train Heartnet, also known as �Black Cat,� was an infamous assassin for a secret organization called Chronos . . . until he abandoned that cold-blooded existence to live life on his own terms as an easygoing bounty hunter. But is Train�s past as far behind him as he thinks? Train finds himself on the wrong side of an eerie case of d�j� vu when he comes to the aid of a troubled boy seeking revenge for the death of his parents � and is forced to confront his own vengeance-laden past. Meanwhile, Rinslet creates a shaky new relationship with a dangerous old enemy.�

It�s hard to put a finger on, but something about Black Cat clicks. The pacing, layout and action scenes seem rather restrained in comparison to the usual manic sequencing of typical action manga, so perhaps Black Cat can be described as less Japanese and more western in this respect. The pages breathe, the panels breathe, and the reader interfaces with the story that much more easily.

And the characters are just likeable. Train, the smooth operator and leader of his crew, is quirky without being obnoxious and thus remains genuinely interesting and full of surprises. Rinslet keeps her wits about her when the mysterious Jenos crosses her path, but not to the point of rejecting a potential ally. Sven�s the good-natured sidekick who will still stick to his guns if something smells fishy. There�s a confidence to each character in addition to his or her foibles. And with simple-yet-sharp designs and dialogue that�s to the point, they balance their scenes well.

In terms of plot development, not a whole lot happens in this one volume. There are surprises, deceptions and double crosses, but it feels relatively inconsequential. It was nice of Train to help young Tim on his quest for vengeance, but after all is said and done, what was really accomplished? Volume seven makes for a good jumping on point, if only because it�s not heavily involved with a greater plotline.

Black Cat aims for a simple, fun tone with likeable characters and thus easily achieves what it sets out to do. I hope later volumes build toward something greater.

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8 October 2008
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