Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat #8 Review: Marvel Heroines United


For readers who like the super heroines of the Marvel Universe, this was a big week! The 8th issue of Hellcat leads the charge with notable issues of A-Force #7, Black Widow #5, and the Ultimates #9! Prepare to miss She-Hulk even more than thought possible after the events of Civil War II!

Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat #9

Writer: Kate Leth

Artist: Brittney Williams

Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg

Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat has had a long and strange history within Marvel Comics. While she’s been a costumed super heroine since 1972’s Amazing Adventures #13, she first debuted as the star of her own teenage comedy romance comic in 1944’s Miss America Magazine #2 and reigned supreme in multiple titles until 1967. After being established as part of the Marvel Universe via a cameo in Fantastic Four, she’s gone on to be featured in The Defenders and The Avengers.

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Her latest ongoing series by writer Kate Leth and artist Brittney L. Williams has focused more on quirky comedy and Patsy’s transition from semi-retirement of super heroism to landing a full-time career. However, the recent crossover Civil War II has resulted in Patsy’s best friend and supporting cast mate She-Hulk (a.k.a. Jennifer Walters) being severely injured. As such, this issue delves into fairly serious territory and becomes one of the strongest issues of the run due to it.

Awakening to a strange psychic vision of trouble regarding Jen, Patsy learns that her “hunch” was all too accurate when she’s visited by She-Hulk’s fellow teammate from The Ultimates, Miss America, when she replies to Patsy’s text. What follows next is a genuinely sad and painful attempt to confront the tragedy both alone and with the rest of their friends, as well as move forward both emotionally and economically.

What allows this issue by Leth and Williams (which is beautifully colored by Rachelle Rosenberg) to shine is that it ignores many of the themes which most traditional superhero stories would go through with a plot such as this. There is no declaration of revenge or violence from Patsy; when Howard the Duck vows such things, it’s played for laughs. Instead, through flashbacks and chats with friends, the role of She-Hulk in all of their lives is celebrated as they mourn her injuries.

It’s hard to mix comedy with sadness effectively, but this issue does it magnificently. When big crossovers lay waste to swaths of continuity and use major characters like sacrificial lambs, it can become exhausting and lead to cynicism. However, effective comics such as this—showing the aftermath of such things through the eyes of the people touched by such devastation—allows the Marvel Universe to feel more alive and real, and thus a place for fans to get into.

Yet, that’s not the only source for Marvel heroine action, nor the only place to mourn for She-Hulk! Writer Kelly Thompson (Jem and the Holograms), artist Ben Caldwell, and colorist Ian Herring wrap up their second arc of A-Force with a seventh issue focusing on the liberation of the possessed Nico Minoru, the defeat of the dimension hopping villain the Countess, and Dazzler trying to come to terms with her terminal illness.

The impromptu team of heroines (who include She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, and Medusa on their roster) manage to survive a drowning and rally around a parallel universe’s version of Dazzler (who has the powers of Thor) and finally overcome the Countess with their usual mixture of solid teamwork and entertaining banter among themselves. Every issue has some quotable dialogue and Ben Caldwell’s artwork has been both energetic and distinct for the entire cast.

She-Hulk may be the unofficial leader of the team (much to the chagrin of Medusa), it is Nico and Dazzler who get the lion’s share of focus for this arc. Thompson embraces the hot mess of trauma that Alison Blaire has survived as creative potential for moving the character forward. Nico also gets a fairly awesome moment in resolving the conflict, which wouldn’t be out of place in an issue of Jem. Losing Jennifer will be a big gap for this series, which the next arc looks to address.

The Eisner Award winning creative team of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee (with colorist Matthew Wilson) drop a fifth issue of Black Widow which offers yet another dramatic caper of survival and escape for the lead heroine as well as another look at her latest arch enemy, the masked underworld boss known only as Weeping Lion.

Blackmailed into infiltrating the Red Room facility which created her, Natasha is expected to drop off critical files to Weeping Lion’s minions. However, when a wayward SHIELD agent interferes with the drop, she is forced to abandon her mission and risk her worst secrets being revealed to the world in order to save his life from the Lion’s thugs.

Apparently, Weeping Lion himself earns his name from crying whenever he kills someone. It is a gimmick similar to the title character in Kazuo Koike’s 1980s manga, Crying Freeman, although it is unlikely Waid and Samnee are aware of it. Black Widow is a title desperate for some original rogues, and it looks like Weeping Lion has a chance to become that for her with his ruthlessly efficient tactics and international criminal connections. He’s also named after an animal to boot!

While issues of Black Widow seem to be able to be read quicker than most comics, Waid and Samnee are once again in harmony here. Samnee provides a cinematic feast for the eyes while Waid is a master at strategic dialogue and fast moving, yet complicated, plots. Should the sales hold up, this could easily be one of the best runs that Black Widow has ever had!

Wrapping things up this week is the ninth issue of the criminally underrated The Ultimates, written by Al Ewing and drawn by Kenneth Rocafort and Djibril Morissette, with colors by Dan Brown. With a premise of being the ultimate team to solve the ultimate problems (usually with super-science), they’ve effectively replaced the Fantastic Four during Marvel Studios’ current spat with Fox over the license.

This fits the Marvel’s heroines theme since ladies make up half the roster (such as the aforementioned Captain Marvel and Miss America, alongside Spectrum). As Blue Marvel rallies the team around dealing with a reoccurring science threat once and for all, he confronts Carol Danvers over her recent actions in Civil War II. While their debate does get some focus, the real pleasure of this issue is seeing the team resolve a far out super science problem with teamwork and wisdom.

Rocafort and Morissette each draw a different section of the story, each one fitting their skills and styles as artists. Yet the real star of the creative team is Ewing. Not only is he a master at playing with all of the far out aspects of the Marvel Universe in amazingly creative ways, he’s also done a great service to flesh out a great character like Blue Marvel after his creator Kevin Grevioux stopped writing him for Marvel. He’s one of Marvel’s little known treasures.

Don’t let the crossover bar atop the covers of some Marvel comics scare you. There are great stories to be had during this crossover. Their universe is becoming more diverse and offering far more perspectives than ever before, and that has been a wonderful thing for fans of great comics to witness!