Patsy Walker: Hellcat
This paperback is my latest lead exhibit in the argument for collections being better reading experiences than miniseries. When the five issues of Hellcat were running monthly, I had no idea what was going on. Writer Kathryn Immonen wasn’t hand-holding the reader (refreshingly), so I quickly got lost with the time gap between issues.
Reading Patsy Walker: Hellcat all at once, I was impressed and entertained with a story about Patsy in Alaska, helping find the missing heir of a tribe of shamans. There are polar bears with antlers, spirit guides, a talking stone calendar wheel, a very bouncy lemming, odd uses for rabbits, a pushy teenage goth witch, and some crazy driving in the snow.
The dialogue is funny, full of distinctive voices. Patsy has a light approach to life punctuated by a wisecracking motormouth and the tendency to talk to herself if there’s no one else around. (It reminded me of how Spider-Man used to be, once upon a time, only without the “woe is me” aspect.) Artist David Lafuente keeps up with the visuals, with some dynamite costuming and gesture.
Before that comes another story, reprinted from Marvel Comics Presents #1-4 and illustrated by Kathryn’s husband Stuart. As she heads out on a first date, Patsy’s various guises come to life to make things difficult. The book also contains the pitch for the series (a very enlightening document — it’s fascinating to see what made it in verbatim and what changed) and a sketchbook section.
I was surprised to see that this collection is direct market only, which means it’s not easily available. That’s unfortunate. Although the second story’s framing device is related to a stupid Marvel crossover premise, something about a 50-state initiative run by Iron Man, the result is fun for anyone who enjoys something like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And the first story, about Patsy trying to integrate her various personalities and roles at different ages, is something any woman can relate to.