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.

Patsy Walker: Hellcat

Reading them all at once, I was impressed and entertained with a story about Patsy Walker 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.

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11 Responses to “Patsy Walker: Hellcat”

  1. Ray Cornwall Says:

    Holy crap- I can’t order it on Amazon? Just…wow.

  2. James Schee Says:

    Seems an odd choice of title to decide to limit to direct market only.

  3. Paul O'Brien Says:

    Marvel do this occasionally with superhero books that sold particularly badly in serial form, presumably because they have so little faith in its selling power that they’re not prepared to do anything more than print to order.

  4. Marc-Oliver Frisch Says:

    “Marvel do this occasionally with superhero books that sold particularly badly in serial form, presumably because they have so little faith in its selling power that they’re not prepared to do anything more than print to order.”

    It’s a line of thought that still strikes me as odd, although I understand it’s far from unusual.

    Given how the direct market works and who it caters to, why would anyone presume that a book’s appeal to a more general audience can be gauged by its performance as a periodical? Isn’t it the point of reaching out to the book market to reach people who WOULDN’T set foot into a comics store?

    This kind of choice suggests that mainstream book-market sales are still very much negligible for most comics, and that publishers don’t really know what to do about it.

  5. Lyle Says:

    Given how the direct market works and who it caters to, why would anyone presume that a book’s appeal to a more general audience can be gauged by its performance as a periodical? Isn’t it the point of reaching out to the book market to reach people who WOULDN’T set foot into a comics store?

    It’s like Marvel learned nothing from when the Tsunami books did well outside of the DM…

  6. Argo Plummer Says:

    It’s really a shame that Marvel made this a direct market only item. I would’ve zapped on over to Amazon and ordered it right away after this review, which I have done recently for Galaxion and Blazing Combat after reading about them on this blog.

    However, the reality is that by the time I get around to my local comic store I will probably either have forgotten about this or have too many other things on my list to buy.

    Oh well, I’m sure I will pick it up eventually, but my enthusiasm sure has dropped.

  7. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for ordering through links from this site, Argo. I’m flattered that you find my recommendations helpful (and I appreciate the referral bump). And I know what you mean about buying when you hear of it or not at all … and that’s assuming that your local comic shop even has a copy.

  8. James Schee Says:

    I guess one could always go to In Stock Trades and order it, but its still silly to not involve Amazon.

  9. Craig Welsh Says:

    Well, this all but assures that I won’t get this now, unless some comic book store I visit next time I’m down south carries it, which is doubtful. I order all my comics from Chapters/Amazon in Canada and I was looking forward to buying this. Now, it’s going to take a lot more work if I want it. Kind of stupid, really.

    Maybe they’ll reconsider if Marvel Divas does well….

  10. Blog@Newsarama » Blog Archive » Wednesday Linkblogging Says:

    [...] Comics Worth Reading has a nice review of Patsy Walker: Hellcat that makes me want to read it. [...]

  11. *Moving Pictures — Recommended » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] approach comics by Kathryn Immonen with curious trepidation, because I know no matter what subject she covers, I’m going to be [...]

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