Working on last week’s Guide to Black Cat and this week’s update to my Guide to She-Hulk drew my attention to Marvel’s other major feline heroine, who has been a diva along with Felicia Hardy and a BFF to Jennifer Walters. That’s right – today’s new guide for “Pledgeonaut” Patrons of CK is an issue-by-issue Guide to Hellcat, Patsy Walker!
Hellcat is actually one of Marvel’s longest-running characters! Her civilian alter-ego Patsy Walker debuted in the Golden Age as one of the stars of Marvel’s burgeoning line of teen and romance comics. While most people assume those books petered out by the time the Silver Age began with Fantastic Four in 1961, Patsy’s titles kept on running – one of them as late as 1967!
Yet, in that time she was never a hero – just a regular teenage girl who liked to hang out with her best friend Hedy.
(And, actually, if we’re being specific, those comics are not actually Patsy’s earlier continuity, but a fictionalized version of it that existed as in-universe comic books in the Marvel 616 as written by Patsy’s mother!)
Steve Englehart changed that in 1972, when he introduced Patsy as a bit character in the transformation of Hank McCoy into the blue-furred Beast during the X-Men’s publication hiatus. Then, Englehart imported Patsy into his ongoing run on Avengers, gave her both the motive and the means to be a hero, and set her up to be adopted by David Anthony Kraft & Roger Slifer in their run on The Defenders.
Every issue of that transformation is covered in this new Guide to Hellcat, as well as nearly 100 issues of Defenders, a half-decade of guest appearances, and Patsy’s eventual string of 2000s mini-series and an eventual ongoing in 2016.
What’s so interesting to me about Patsy Walker’s character arc is how it continuously swings between two extremes. She is a character who other people try to use and control, but whenever they do her fierce independent streak sends her careening off into the other direction.
It was her ex-husband’s control that sent her towards the heroic life. It was learning of the depth of her mother’s control that ultimately sent her into the arms of her second husband Daimon Hellstrom. It was being used as a pawn in Hellstrom’s eternal struggle against his father Satan that spun her off into being a solo hero.
And, even within her solo hero life, times when Iron Man has tried to set her on a specific mission or She-Hulk has tried to hire her for an odd job tend to lead to the moments where she expresses herself the most.
That makes Hellcat an odd leading character for a solo book – she’s much better when she has other characters to bounce off of. She has always been acerbic and full of witty comments just as much as she has always been fiercely loyal to her friends and teammates. That’s why she worked so well as the glue on The Defenders without many moments to shine on her own, and it’s why she has spent the past 15 years often playing back-up to other women of Marvel like She-Hulk.
If you want to learn more about Patsy Walker, this new Guide to Hellcat is available to all patrons of Crushing Krisis! It includes multiple suggestions of where to start in Hellcat’s reading order, plus a condensed “greatest hits” so you can read all of her best stories with none of the fluff – and I know that because I read EVERY ISSUE EVER from her heroic continuity to put together this guide!
Patrons of Crushing Krisis currently have access to…
Exclusives for Crushing Cadets ($1/month): 28 Guides!
Marvel Guides (22): Alpha Flight, Angela, Beta Ray Bill, Black Cat, Blade, Captain Britain, Dazzler, Domino, Dracula, Elsa Bloodstone, Heroes For Hire, Legion, Marvel Era: Marvel Legacy, Mister Sinister, Sabretooth, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man – Peter Parker (2018 – present), Thunderstrike, Valkyrie, Vision, Weapon X, X-Man – Nate Grey
Exclusives For Pledgeonauts ($1.99+/month): 56 Guides!
All of the 28 guides above, plus 28 more…
DC Guides (14): Animal Man, Aquaman, Books of Magic, Catwoman, Flash, Harley Quinn, Houses & Horrors, Legion of Super-Heroes, Justice League, Mister Miracle, Nightwing, Outsiders, Suicide Squad, Swamp Thing
Marvel Guides (14): Ant-Man & Giant-Man, Champions, Darkhawk, Falcon, Gwenpool, Hellcat – Patsy Walker, Loki, Moon Boy / Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, Power Pack, Sentry, Silk, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Venom
Indie & Licensed Comics: None right now