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Review: Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #6

Hellcat6CoverPatsy Walker AKA Hellcat #6 takes a break from the main storyline featuring Hellcat facing off against the Hedy Clarke for the rights to the romance comics featuring her to have its main character and her best friends Ian Soo, Tom Hale, and She-Hulk spend a day at Coney Island. However, X-Men villain/general annoying nuisance Arcade shows up, and the beach trip is a little less relaxing. Natasha Allegri of Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake and Bee and Puppycat fame turns up the adorableness to eleven while having clever page layouts and outrageous facial expressions. Her colors also add a lot to the story going from sky blues as the gang relaxes with food and arcade games on Coney Island to intense blues, reds, and oranges when they face Arcade. Writer Kate Leth brings the fun and crafts a standalone superhero adventure with plenty of quips, puns, and bisexuality.

Hellcat #6 is the comic book equivalent of a heart emoji as Leth and Allegri as they take the format of the Bronze Age Chris Claremont one and done Marvel Team-Up stories and imbue it with manga and animation influences while featuring a diverse cast of characters. Leth subverts  damsel in distress tropes by making Tom the “prize” in Arcade’s claw machine to be rescued and by having Ian be the only character to fail his challenge. (Of course, the guy who doesn’t have his driver’s license is the one who has to do the trippy driving game that makes Diddy Kong Racing look like Baby Park in Mario Kart Double Dash.) And this makes sense in the context of the story because She-Hulk and Hellcat are veteran superheroes while Ian and Tom are co-workers at a super cool gay bookstore. It’s also nice to get supporting characters in a superhero comic, who break out of the usual “damsel” or guest superhero role, and are just well rounded human beings.

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Leth and Allegri give Hellcat a determined underdog vibe as she takes on the strength challenge as she blows off his insults and puts her Krav Maga training to good use in a test of strength. Allegri draws her like a whirling dervish of energy as she freaks about Ian getting electrocuted by Arcade’s traps or just hugs She-Hulk after the big battle. Patsy cares about her friends and helping superpowered people, and her enthusiasm is infectious. Allegri’s character designs enhance characterization as Arcade looks like a JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure character with his posturing, villainous monologues, and preening even as tries to belittle Ian’s masculinity. (It doesn’t work.) Her Jessica Jones is suitably cool and mysterious and matches Leth’s quickfire dialogue for her as she easily deduces Hellcat’s civilian identity. And Allegri gives She-Hulk the best side eye and a hint of rage as she has to restrain her super strength to play by Arcade’s “rules” to save Tom.

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And even if it’s a one-off story, Leth packs Hellcat #7 with some great character moments. One that particularly stands out to me is Ian nonchalantly coming out as bi to Patsy after he tells Arcade that men and women can be platonic friends and not just love interests. It’s just one panel, but Leth and Allegri fill it with a nice dash of humor as Ian jokes about secret identities and forgetting to actually rescue Tom in the heat of battle. For years, mutants and Inhumans have been used as queer subtext, and it’s nice to see Leth make it text in Hellcat and for a male bisexual character play such a prominent role and not necessarily be a superhero. (He gets a great foot stomp in on Arcade though.)

With soothing and energetic art from Natasha Allegri and a script filled with friendship and action from Kate Leth, Hellcat #7 is a reminder that superhero comics can be fun sometimes. This issue is also a great jumping on point for new readers as Leth and Allegri deftly establish the main cast’s dynamic and personalities on the really long commute to Coney Island.

Story: Kate Leth Art: Natasha Allegri Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9  Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

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