Review: Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #17
Like a cinnamon sugar pretzel for Auntie Ann’s, Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #17 is a sweet treat of a comic book and a hell of a bit of icing on the cupcake that was Kate Leth, Brittney Williams, and (for the second half of the series) Rachelle Rosenberg’s run on the title. Patsy has finally come into some money thanks to getting back to the book rights to the romance novels and has decided to treat her friends to a nice shopping spree. (Color me jealous.) Cue a bevy of montages, food court scenes, and a celebration of friendship, queerness, and even a touch of fandom at the end.
I really like that Leth and Williams focused on the core cast of Patsy, Jubilee, Ian Soo, and Tom Hale in Hellcat #17. Before the shopping action even starts, we get some playful banter between Patsy and Ian, and it’s hard to believe that they were hero and villain sixteen issues ago until bonding over musicals. The bonds and interactions between characters have been my favorite part of Hellcat so far, and Leth indulges this by going full slice of life in the series finale. Williams counters with some wonderful (and wearable) fashion and adorable set dressing like Patsy’s cat themed cover set and slippers on the first page with a touch of Brooklyn sunlight from Rosenberg to show this is a perfect day. While also being a celebration of fun and friendship, Hellcat #17 also embraces body positivity with the diverse body types of its main cast, and an any outfit can look cool/cute attitude. (Someone needs to show me where Ian got his.)
Hellcat is still a superhero comic, and there is a “villain”, but Leth and Williams have a couple twists up their sleeves as the “Somnambulisters” transform from Z-list villains to vampires and finally big fans of Hellcat and queer teens. Williams uses choppy panels with simple backgrounds, puffs of smoke, and punching when it seems like Hellcat is fighting some of Jubilee’s vampire frenemies. However, she opens it up when it’s revealed that Stevie and Danica are Patsy’s biggest fans, and that fact ends up being facepalm-worthy thanks to dialogue from their very friendly villainous dialogue. (Also, one of the pair sits out during the brawl to take pictures like the other is visiting Patsy’s booth at a convention.) Speaking of dialogue, Kate Leth writes fast-paced, melodramatic teen dialogue and can cut to the core of the subtext behind the banter, which is that Stevie and Danica love each other. It’s a super cute touch to Marvel’s most queer-friendly book that featured a gay bookstore as a hangout/place to meet attractive gingers, like Tom Hale.
In its first issue, Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat set out to be a comic book about super-powered individuals who just wanted to make ends meet, have a good, and not fight costumed villains or have run-ins with the authorities. Sure, there were fights against the Black Cat and journeys to hell along the way, but Hellcat #17 recaptures the spirit of Kate Leth and Brittney Williams’ original thesis for the series. Patsy doesn’t knock out the Somnabulisisters, but instead listens to them and finds out they have a passionate for Hellcat and each other. She doesn’t send them to jail, but helps them return their costumes to “Goth Topic” and even recommends they visit Tom’s LGBTQ bookstore to help them with their feelings for each other. This is just like Patsy helping Ian find work moving books at Tom’s store in Hellcat #1 instead of throwing him in jail for badly attempting to steal an armored car as Telekinian.
Even though it has quirky jokes and fierce style thanks to the dialogue of Kate Leth, the facial expressions and costume design of Brittney Williams, and a palette that uses just the right amount of pink from Rachelle Rosenberg, Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat is a comic all about community building through organic friendships. It’s great to see characters go from awkward half-strangers or acquaintances from days past, like Tom who was in the Patsy Walker romance comic many moons ago, to friends in arms and finally, in shopping. That’s why it’s fitting that Hellcat #17 doesn’t end in a cliffhanger or final battle, but an overhead shot of friends spending time together.
P.S. Marvel editorial and future creators better not forget about Ian Soo, who will always be my bi bae and had a great arc throughout the series, and his backstory even tied into some of the villain fights.
P.P.S. This comic pair wells with “Safety Dance” by Men without Hats.
Story: Kate Leth Art: Brittney Williams Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review