Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat #1
Writer – Kate Leth (@kateleth)
Artist – Brittney L. Williams (@anotherbrittney)
Colorist – Megan Wilson (@MeganEngiNerd)
Letterers – VC’s Joe Sabino & Clayton Cowles
Review by Joey Braccino
“Do I need to kick the jerk? I’m super great at kicking.”
Before we begin, do check out this week’s Talking Comics podcast, in which the estimable, ineffable Bob Reyer walks listeners through the complex, delightful history of Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat. From the character’s debut back in 1944’s Miss America Magazine (Timely) to Rachael Taylor’s incredible performance in this year’s Jessica Jones, Patsy Walker has had a long and storied tenure at Marvel.
And now she has her own All-New All-Different solo series!!! And from the all-female writing/art team of Kate Leth, Brittney L. Williams, and Megan Wilson (with Joe Sabino and Clayton Cowles on letters!)!!! And, Cheese and Crackers, Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat #1 is damn good!!! And funny, too!!!
Bottom line, folks, is that I literally laughed out loud before I finished the first page. And then I laughed out loud again at least once on every page that followed. Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat (oof, what a name…) is one helluva first issue that engages and entertains on its own while promising a fun and dynamic series down the line.
The lengthy title of Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat may be a bit cumbersome, but it actually captures the duality of the character that writer Kate Leth (Edward Scissorhands, “Kate or Die”) presents in issue #1. Patsy debuted as the co-star (alongside Hedy Wolfe… who may or may not make an appearance in this new series) of a teen romance comic in the 1940s; it wasn’t until the ‘70s when she was reintroduced to the Marvel Universe and romantically paired with the Son of Satan (yeah… #wild) that the Hellcat superheroine identity became a thing. Here, Leth smashes those two identities together, as the superheroics of Hellcat and the not-so-escapable past of Patsy Walker start to mingle.
Throughout PWAKAH #1 (I’m trying a thing), Leth imbues the narrative with a sense of lightness and fun that parallels the titular character’s personality. Patsy Walker loves being a superhero. She loves punching and kicking and saving the day. Her life might not be going her way (rent, unemployment, copyright infringement and likeness misappropriation), but Patsy has a sense of drive and optimism that is infectious, and Leth does an expert job of capturing that every step of the way.
Also, So. Many. References. I don’t care—I love it. I was laughing all the live long day.
Brittney L. Williams and Megan Wilson deliver some of the most spirited and cheery art I’ve ever seen in a book with HELLCAT on the cover. Reminiscent of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and classic Archie comics, the lighthearted, pop-inspired cartooning in PWAKAH (It’s growing on me) is absolutely perfect for the humor and tone of Leth’s story. Megan Wilson’s vibrant color palette is stunning, and in a book where the eponymous red-headed heroine wears a bright yellow and blue cat-suit… the colors need to be perfect. Williams and Wilson do a wonderful job of illustrating PWAKAH—I’m flipping through the book again now as I write this review and I’m smiling and/or laughing at every page.
Williams does this whimsical little thing where every once in a while Patsy will morph into an anime or chibi version of herself for a panel or two. It’s weird and wonderful and I love it.
Finally, one last shout out to VC’s Sabino and Cowles for going with the mixed-lettering for this book. It pulls the book down to a more intimate, street-level—save that ALL-CAPS for space and capes and stuff.
BUY BUY BUY BUY. Calling it now: Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat is going to be one of the best comics of the new year, so jump on with this brand new first issue! Kate Leth and Company have something truly delightful here—something fun and whimsical and oh so entertaining.