Review: Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #15
On the outside, Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #15 seems like a special catch-all holiday special issue with Patsy, the temps, Jubilee, and special guests like her landlady Sharon King and Ms. America enjoying some mid-February cheer after some stressful times with Civil War II, Hedy, and most recently, Black Cat. But then writer Kate Leth, artist Brittney Williams, and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg make a comic take a turn for the reality warping thanks to the common With trips to Hell and magical bags, Hellcat has always been pretty trippy to go with its slice of life meets quirky street level superheroics, but it’s mostly been contained into special locales. But the weird visuals have arrived fully formed at Patsy’s temp agency building, and Williams gets to draw all matters of mostly adorable and occasionally creepy images intruding on the “real world”.
In addition to featuring a fierce, sentient tiger plush named Mr. Sniffles, chibi Jubilee, and a Canadian flag rocking Ms. America, Leth uses Patsy’s sickness and possible new powers to zero in on how she is changing. She has spent so much of Hellcat fighting and dealing with drama that as soon as it’s party time, she sneezes out the personification of her stress and negative feelings. Instead of doing yet another team up with friends and save the day plot, Leth has Patsy fight her own battles and use her words and agile kicks to overcome her fears. Mr. Sniffles is pretty much Patsy’s subconscious so she uses her knowledge of herself and what’s she really freaked out about (US politics in 2017.) instead of her past or insecurity. It’s also kind of nice to have a superhero uncertain about how the United States is going to turn out under Trump, and this feeling stems from Patsy’s deep friendships with women, queer people, and people of color in both her home, work, and superhero circles.
And in focusing on Patsy’s “secondary mutation”, or whatever the Disney/Inhuman friendly phrase in this day, Leth and Williams don’t neglect her supporting cast. Ian and Tom Hale are hopefully off smooching somewhere, but Sharon King, Ms. America, Bailey aka Attache, and Jubilee each get a moment of badassery, insight, or cuteness. Sharon is really the only character with both feet firmly in the real world of rent and bills, and her resignation-filled dialogue bits are some of Hellcat #15’s funniest scenes. She gets to punch something too. True to her reputation, Ms. America does a lot of punching in this comic and also gets an adorable pajama set from Williams and Rosenberg. And Jubilee seems to be the one constantly getting transformed in different going from tiny to giant in turn of a few pages and is also very understanding about the changes in Patsy’s life and power set.
Brittney Williams’ artwork on Hellcat has occasionally featured chibis, but she gets to all out with them thanks to Patsy’s new sneezing abilities. Chibi Jubilee puts Skottie Young’s baby covers and Marvel Tsums Tsums to shame especially when she starts petting Mr. Sniffles. But Williams can tap into horror too when Patsy sneezes out a giant wasp that leads to a lot of sad reaction faces from her friends. Rosenberg takes a break from her soft, happy palette and uses an angry pink background for the wasp attack. If you look at the background of every panel, you can tell Patsy’s emotional state instantly thanks to her colors, which furthers Hellcat #15’s goal of being an intense exploration into her character and a general turning point.
Kate Leth, Brittney Williams, and Rachelle Rosenberg throw out a bunch of crazy ideas in Hellcat #15, including connecting the sniffles and Scarlet Witch-lite reality warping powers, and most of them stick thanks to the fact that the weirdness stems from Patsy’s own issues. Also, Jubilee shapeshifting into a cloud will never not be hilarious.
Story: Kate Leth Art: Brittney Williams Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review