Review: Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #16

In Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #16, writer Kate Leth expertly weaves together a tapestry of plot threads and connects Patsy’s  “pandimensional stress flu” to her general feelings of inadequacy about balancing superheroing and a temp agency plus her strained relationship with arch-frenemy Hedy Clarke. She, artist Brittney Williams, and colorist extraordinaire Rachelle Rosenberg use reality warping illnesses, hell dimensions, and magic in general as a metaphor for negative feelings and interpersonal tension. And along the way, Williams continues to make Hellcat one of the cutest comic book existence by even making a demon named Belial hella adorable. (He’s so cute that he made Itty Bitty Hellboy jealous.)

Hellcat #16 is all about Patsy Walker the human being, how she’s changed over the past 16 issues, and who she wants to be. Is she a superhero, is she a queer and superhuman friendly entrepreneur and job creator, or is she just a sad, freaked out woman? Leth and Williams give Patsy all these qualities as she keeps switching up reality and even sends everyone to hell for a spell. The supporting characters, like Jubilee and her landlady Sharon King, are mostly played for comic relief with Jubilee changing form yet again to a Bela Lugosi-style vampire, and Sharon remaining focused on getting her building back in the midst of demons and mean girls. Their comedy keeps Hellcat #16 from getting overly dramatic and makes sure the book never loses its sense of fun.

Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors act as kind of tether in a comic that is constantly switching mood and locale, much like its heroine. She uses a pink background interchanged with a devil red in the foreground to show Hedy’s unlikely romance with Belial, who she calls Benny because sweater rocking, dog petting demons deserve pet names. Throughout Hellcat #16, she uses a light orange to show Hedy’s trip to Hell, which is much smoother than Patsy’s and ends with her getting a boyfriend. Orange is less intense than the reds that Rosenberg predominantly uses for Hell and makes it easier to relax and laugh off the non-stop drama of Daimon Hellstrom, who banishes people to Hell first and then asks questions.

Daimon is a hilarious character, and it’s nice that Leth and Williams brought him back before the end of the series complete with overwrought dialogue and pentagram. A shared laugh over his ridiculousness is the first time that Hedy and Patsy haven’t been antagonistic towards each other and is the first small step in repairing their relationship that ends with an apology, hugs, and ramen. Holding grudges sucks, but revenge is also a powerful feeling, and sometimes it takes the pissy Son of Satan to drive that point home.

Towards the end of Hellcat #16, Kate Leth and Brittney Williams tag team with powerful dialogue and timely panel angles to create an overflow of emotion as Patsy talks out her feelings to Belial, who is taking on the form of her best friend, Jennifer Walters aka She-Hulk. Williams does an extreme close-up of Patsy’s face and eyes as she admits that Jen’s injury shook her up. Patsy’s misses Jen’s ability to be a rock in the midst of dealing with all the stressful things in her life. But Belial, who is honestly the nicest demon in existence, switches to Jen as Williams’ art fades away, and Patsy cries in her arm and finds a bit of catharsis. It’s super tender and a great reminder of how important their relationship is. And even if Hellcat is ending, the bond or lack of one between Patsy and Jennifer is an important part of Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon’s Hulk series.

In Hellcat #16, Kate Leth, Brittney Williams, and Rachelle Rosenberg prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that feelings are tougher to come to terms with than supervillains or hellions. They do this while throwing together the previous Hell dimension storyline and the current short flu arc to create one tasty concoction of a showdown between Patsy and Hedy. Also, Williams continues to draw Jubilee as the cutest X-Man turned vampire ever.

Story: Kate Leth Art: Brittney Williams Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review