The "Black Cat" title has been used at least twice in the history of comics. Both were pseudonyms taken by female superheroes, one in Home Comics/Harvey Publications, and a later woman in Marvel Comics.
The Black Cat, created by Al Gabriele, debuted in Harvey Publications' Pocket Comics issue #1 (Aug. 1941). She was America's first female costumed hero, predating Wonder Woman by several months. "Linda Turner" was a Hollywood starlet. She had started as a stuntwoman, and was trained in Judo, motorcycle riding, lariat throwing, and other skills. Her father, amateur detective and retired actor Tim Turner, had taught her the necessary investigative procedures. When she suspected her director of being a Nazi spy, she exploited his superstitious fright of black cats to break up his spy ring. She pretended to her boyfriend Rick Horne to disdain her own alter ego to throw his reporter's instincts off the track.
Pocket Comics was not a success, but the Black Cat was, continuing in Harvey Publications' Speed Comics and then in Home Publications' Black Cat Comics. Her title would be renamed Black Cat Western in 1946, and then Black Cat Mystery in 1951, lasting until 1958. These comics also included a regular self-help feature, "Judo Tricks." She also gained a teenage sidekick, the Black Kitten, alias Kit West, an orphaned circus acrobat. Neither ingratiated the comic with Dr. Fredric Wertham, author of Seduction of the Innocent (1954), or Senator Estes Kefauver.
When superheroes became popular again in 1963, Harvey revived the title for three more issues, #63-65, with reprints of Lee Elias's 1940s artwork, but had become known as the publisher of fare such as Richie Rich and the effort fizzled. The Black Cat was recently revived again, in Lorne-Harvey's Alfred Harvey's Black Cat #1 (Jan. 1995), by Mark Evanier and Murphy Anderson. This time, stuntwoman Kim Stone set out to bring the character from the Black Cat movie she's making to real life.
Marvel Comics "Black Cat" debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #194 (July 1979). The character was created by Marv Wolfman, Keith Pollard, and Frank Giacoia. She was originally conceived for an issue of Spider-Woman. Felicia Hardy, daughter of cat burglar Walter and wife Lydia, determined to follow in her father's footsteps. This was despite his and his wife's efforts to deglamourize his criminal activities. Fortunately, through her association with Spider-Man, she gave up her ambitions and became a superheroine.
Although Walter Hardy was a run-of-the-mill burglar, Felicia was determined to stand out. She trained herself in acrobatics and criminal techniques, then created a sexy black bodysuit and domino mask with white-furred gloves and boots. The gloves had clawlike tips of the fingers. She also carried a rope with a grappling hook. Since she had decided to name her criminal alter ego the "Black Cat," she engineered her encounters with an eye to the "never let a black cat cross your path" superstition. Door knobs would break off, walls would collapse, engines run out of gas, etc. at the most inopportune time for her pursuers.
In her first outing, she broke her invalid father out of jail so he could die at home. In a 2-issue story, Spider-Man learns her backstory and begins the long effort to get her to go straight. They develop a mutual attraction that helps Felicia decide to become Spider-Mans partner. In another blow to Spider-Man's ego, he finds that while Felicia is drawn to Spider-Man, when he reveals his Peter Parker secret identity to her, she is turned off.
In a battle with Doctor Octopus and the Owl (while Spider-Man was away at the Secret Wars), the Black Cat was nearly killed. She determined, while in the hospital, that this would not happen again. After recovering, she made a deal with the Kingpin to use the machinery he had obtained from the late Dr. Harlan Stillwell's laboratory. In exchange for receiving some "real" powers, Felicia would perform a "favor" or two in the future. The treatment worked, endowing Felicia with enhanced strength and agility, as well as a psychic ability to alter probability (a real "bad luck" power). What Felicia didn't realize was that the bad luck tended to rub off on people she was near, and the Kingpin was counting on it rubbing off on Spider-Man. Felicia, of course, kept her deal with the Kingpin a secret from Spider-Man, so when he started experiencing a string of bad luck he went to Doctor Strange to get it broken. The Doctor was able to free Spider-Man from the disability, but neither of them realized its source. The Black Cat found out soon enough that her new powers were gone, and had a huge break up with Spider-Man. She also gave Doctor Strange a good dressing-down.
Felicia started dating Flash Thompson, an old high school nemesis of Peter Parker's. She also, as the Black Cat, partnered with the Tinkerer, an old enemy of Spider-Man's. She pursuaded him to recreate some of her old powers. He gave her additions to her costume to enhance her speed and agility, special earrings to aid her sense of balance, and contact lenses to aid in seeing in the dark. Her partnership with the Tinkerer did not last very long, since she kept to a moral code to not kill anyone in her criminal exploits. She also broke up with Flash after proposing to him.
In the alternate reality of the Spider-Girl comic book, Felicia stayed with Flash and bore him two children, Gene and Felicity. The marriage did not last, and Felicia gave up her Black Cat identity not long after. She made a living as a private investigator. Felicity created her own costumed identity, the Scarlet Spider, and attempted to become a partner for Peter and Mary Jane's daughter May, aka Spider-Girl.
In the 1994-1998 Saban/Graz Entertainment animated Spider-Man series, Felicia and the Black Cat had a different origin. Felicia's father, John Hardesky (known as the Cat) was revealed to have been present at the creation of Captain America in the 1940s and to have memorized the super-soldier formula. Felicia's mother, Anastasia, changed their name after John disappeared, not knowing that SHIELD had taken him into protective custody. The Kingpin arranged to break John out, and had Felicia kidnapped. He blackmailed John into revealing the formula by threatening Felicia, and then (to make sure the formula was authentic) used it on her to change her into the Black Cat. Then he compelled the Black Cat to follow his orders by threatening her father. Spider-Man helped them both to escape. John returned to SHIELD's custody and Felicia took up a crime-fighting career.
Spider-Man director Sam Raimi has indicated that both Felicia and the Black Cat are to appear in sequels to his 2002 movie. Actress Elisha Dushku is rumored to be cast for the part.