Patsy Walker: Hellcat #1

Written by Kathryn Immonen
Art by David Lafuente
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

I will freely admit that when it comes to the big, world-changing events in the Marvel Universe, I normally couldn’t care one way or the other. (That’s also pretty true for DC, so I’m not choosing one company.) When friends told me about how Marvel now has the “50 States Initiative” where each state gets its own officially-licensed super-hero or group, I smiled at the idea, and even made a few jokes about the high level of super-villains rampaging through Montana. Well, I might not have cared about the 50 States Initiative before, but if it’s going to spawn mini-series like Patsy Walker: Hellcat, I might have to revise my interest level.

When her country came calling, Patsy Walker was ready! Fashion model as well as super-hero, is there nothing that she isn’t ready for? As a member of the 50 States Initiative, she’s received her deployment. Unfortunately, she didn’t get her first choice of Florida, but surely there’s a lot to be said for getting stationed in Alaska. With approximately 0.2% of the country’s population, just imagine the excitement waiting in store for Hellcat. Right?

Kathryn Immonen’s take on Patsy Walker is the centerpiece of this comic: a sweet, breezy, slightly oblivious woman, with dialogue that can’t help but entertain. With her panel-long fantasy interludes involving musical botany or Alaska via a Victorian-era Swiss Alps ski resort, you almost instantly get a strong impression on exactly who this woman is and how she sees the world. At the same time, though, she’s able to take life’s little disappointments with great aplomb. So she’s a tiny little town instead of Anchorage? No big deal! So the most menacing thing lately is word of angry polar bears? Well, why not check it out? There a great point where halfway through, one of the locals says, “You’re a kook, but I like you.” That really sums up the first issue of Patsy Walker: Hellcat; she’s a nut, but she’s also immensely likable.

David Lafuente draws Patsy Walker: Hellcat in a very stylized manner, one that works for Patsy’s airy, fashion-filled head. He’s easily at his best when it comes to the more extravagant, over-the-top parts of the comic; not only does he draw bring Patsy’s fantasies to life, but does so with beautiful baroque backgrounds that really make those moments pop out at the reader. There’s also a great level of attention paid to clothing in Patsy Walker: Hellcat, from the new dress that Patsy is helping model at the opening of the issue, to her yellow, green, pink, and purple outfit she chooses for traveling to Alaska. (The purple snow boots, in particular, are a real winner.) There are some spots where Lafuente’s storytelling seems to be skipping some pieces of transition, though. When exactly did Ruben end up on the fire escape, for instance? And when Hellcat is being attached on the snowmobile, she goes from head towards a forest in the distance, to suddenly exiting the trees, almost as if they’d sprung up around her. It may not sound like much, but it’s distracting and really pulls the reader out of the story when they notice it.

Patsy Walker: Hellcat #1 is a fun, strange little comic. If Immonen and Lafuente can keep this up for four more issues, I’ll be quite pleased. Of all the unlikely characters to get a mini-series, I freely admit that Patsy Walker was near the bottom of my list of ones I’d expect to be interested in. It’s nice to be proven wrong.

3 comments to Patsy Walker: Hellcat #1

  • Dan

    This is the first comic I’ve bought in a little over 2 years. I was originally looking for some ‘Art Of’ type books and skip the comics because they’re not as fun or entertaining as I’d like (too serious, too many cross referenced story ties). I looked at this one by chance, and between the style, coloring, and lightness of the humor I was amused and bought it. I hope that Immonen and Lafuente keep it up till its completion as I think they’ve done some great work on #1. My general fear about American comics is that the artists will be swapped for others and in this case (actually, most cases), that would really suck, they have a nice enjoyable quality I think this heroine needs.

  • […] not something you have to worry about here, though. After all, if Kathryn Immonen can tackle a superheroine/supermodel transplanted into a mystical Alaskan tundra, well, this is easy. So sure, there’s no huge over-arcing plot, but it’s a light and […]

  • Mooostache

    Musical botany? Slightly oblivious? Oblivious to what? WHATEVER! I dare say Mr. Cactus, you can count on having a lengthy discussion about this in your future.