Rather audaciously, Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti begin Claws II from the point they ended their previous Black Cat and Wolverine team-up, with the pair in a swanky restaurant celebrating their escape from an island intended as a death trap and their burial ground. Not a good time for a bunch of stick-up merchants to come robbing, then. Also audaciously, once the goons have been dealt with, the scene switches to Arcade and Miss Locke, previously dumped in the Savage Land as revenge to end Claws.

Previously credited as Joe Linsner, this time round the artist formerly known as Joseph Michael Linsner reverts to that name. He also reverts to a consistent style closer to his usual approach. The tone is still wacky comedy over the first chapter, but it’s not oversold for Claws II.

It might be thought that the inclusion of a Linsner written and drawn Killraven back-up feature is completely out of place, yet that’s not the case. The opening encounter with Arcade is just a method of popping Black Cat and Wolverine into the future where they immediately run into giant tripod war machines indiscriminately dealing death from on high. Killraven isn’t a big deal in the Marvel universe these days, not least because his 21st century future is now history, but his 1970s outings were ahead of their time in more than the obvious sense. However, those glories aren’t repeated in the title story. Black Cat could be replaced by pretty well anyone, Gray and Palmiotti’s plot is bombastic, but not greatly interesting, and while they try to include all the memorable characters from the 1970s series they do few of them justice. The joke of Black Cat wanting to jump Wolverine’s bones wears very thin also. Overall, this reads like fan fiction where sex scenes aren’t permitted.

Linsner’s art is extremely variable. He’d obviously prefer there was no movement, and his pages are generally better when it’s not required. The art improves altogether on the Killraven solo, but he’s likely to have had less in the way of deadline pressure for it. It’s the highlight, beating out the main story, although may be too slow for some tastes. It’s a homage to the 1970s interludes, which would have Killraven away from his allies and discovering something, in this case a woman in suspended animation since the 1970s awakening in 2020. Linsner contrasts idealism with reality and there are several touching moments.

It’s some state of affairs when the story thrown in to bulk out the book is a classier effort than the headline piece, but that’s the case here.