For many of Marvel’s superheroes, just saving the world is simple compared to the Herculean task of balancing a heroic and personal life. This is especially difficult for heroes that have a drama-filled past — heroes like Patsy Walker.
Created by Ruth Atkinson for 1944’s “Miss America Magazine” #2, Patsy originally starred in a series teen humor and romance comics, but in 1965 she was introduced into the modern Marvel Universe via a cameo appearance in “Fantastic Four Annual” #3 and, several years later, she became the superhero Hellcat and joined the Avengers. But Patsy’s teen adventures from the Golden Age weren’t forgotten; instead, her original teen romance comics were revealed to be fictionalized accounts of her adolescent years by her mother.
This December, a new chapter begins in Patsy’s life as writer Kate Leth, artist Brittney Williams, and colorist Megan Wilson launch “Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat!” The ongoing series finds the titular character looking to do the impossible: bring balance to both her personal and costumed lives. CBR News spoke with Leth and Williams about their protagonist, the role those early Patsy Walker comics will play in the new series and the book’s tone — which mixes healthy doses of humor and superhero adventure with character-driven drama.
CBR News: Patsy Walker has played many roles over the decades; she’s been a romance comic star, an Avenger, a Defender, the wife of Marvel’s literal Son of Satan, the official superhero of Alaska and, most recently, an investigator for She-Hulk’s law practice. Kate, I imagine that’s part of the appeal of writing the character. Which elements of her character are you especially excited to explore?
Kate Leth: Patsy is such an incredibly interesting and unique character, and also has been around longer than most superheroes — her first romance comic appearance was in 1944! She has all this history, all these varied and strange appearances. There’s so much to draw from. Now, the primary goal for me in doing a superhero series is to make it new-reader-friendly, so it might not be front loaded with all this history, but you can be sure it will show up! As for my favorite elements, I love that Patsy’s a survivor, but more than that, she thrives. She’s snarky, funny, flirty, kick-butt, vulnerable, flawed — she loves adventure.
Brittney, who is Patsy Walker to you? Which aspects of her character do you really want to make sure you capture in your art?
Brittney Williams: To me, Patsy is just your average everyday girl who wants to have fun and pay her rent — she just happens to be a superhero. I’m really looking forward to drawing her day-to-day life.
When you pick things up with Patsy in issue #1, eight months will have passed off panel since the end of “Secret Wars” — and even more time has passed since we last saw her in “She-Hulk.” What can you tell us about her status quo when the series begins?
Leth: I can tell you that Patsy’s looking for work. Her job with She-Hulk isn’t cutting it to pay the bills in New York, and she decides to take a break from superhero-ing to make ends meet — but it’s not that easy.
Will Patsy’s past adventures as a romance comic character factor into this series? And is there a chance that you might tell some new teen Patsy stories to appear as sort of a comic within a comic?
Leth: Oh, I think there’s a very strong chance of that. Brittney and I are both big fans of the romance comics and all that comes along with them. You’ll see homages in more ways than one. We’re having a lot of fun with this book.
Who are some of the supporting players that we will see in “Hellcat”?
Leth: We’ll definitely see her with She-Hulk; their friendship is something I loved and want to play with. We’ll also see some characters from the original Patsy Walker books, including her frenemy Hedy. I can’t say too much more, but she’ll be hanging out with plenty of our favorite characters as the series progresses.
Williams: It’s the coolest thing to draw She-Hulk, because it’s She-Hulk!
A book’s setting is often a supporting character and “Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat!” is set in the heart of the Marvel Universe: New York City. The city can have many different sides based on the character involved and the book’s atmosphere. Brittney, what aspects of the city do you want to evoke with your background art?
Williams: New York is an amazing, diverse, melting pot of cultures and people. I really want to show that.
Can you tease some of the opponents she will be facing down in the series?
Leth: We’ll see some from Patsy’s past, some new enemies, and some well-established ones…
Overall what kind of tone do you want “Hellcat” to have? What I’ve read suggests this series will be a fun, character-driven, superhero comedy adventure. Is that a fair description?
Leth: That’s pretty much it! Fun is the name of the game. This is not grim-dark, self-serious stuff, although that doesn’t mean we won’t get real with it. It’s an adventure book, a romance book, a crime-fighting book! It will have plenty of jokes, action, feelings and sweet fashions. I like to think of it as living in the “Squirrel Girl” and “Howard the Duck” family (especially with Canadian Authors and Adorable Artists), but with shades of Saturday Morning Cartoons and Real Life Woes in there.
Williams: Overall I’m aiming for a fun and appealing look with the art.
What’s it like collaborating on a book like “Hellcat”? Have the two of you worked together before?
Williams: Kate is a great writer and artist, plus she’s really down to Earth. I couldn’t ask for better collaborator!
Leth: I love everything about Brittney’s art. We came together for a “Secret Wars Too” story, just a short one, and when “Hellcat” was on the table I hoped beyond hope she’d be our artist. It all worked out, and I couldn’t be happier. I love artists whose work feels animated! Matt Cummings, Ian McGinty, Jake Myler, Arielle Jovellanos, Drew Rausch, Zachary Sterling, Troy Little — I feel like most of the artists I’ve worked with have a lot of movement and life in their work. It’s something I’m drawn to. Brittney’s style will definitely influence the tone of the comic! She and I have complementary tastes in a lot of things and are both coming into this with a ton of enthusiasm, which I think makes for a better book.
What sort of hints and teases can you leave us with about your initial story arc on “Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat!”? What kind of action will Patsy become embroiled in?
Leth: I can tell you that Patsy is dealing with whether or not a person can escape their past. I can mention that she’s on the hunt for a job and to figure out where she’s headed. Her ability to sense mystical and magical energy will definitely come into play, and she’ll make new friends. She’ll wrestle with demons both literally and figuratively.
This book is something I’m thrilled to be writing. I worked in a comic shop for five years and the amount of titles I could excitedly recommend to teenage girls was pretty abysmal for awhile. It’s definitely getting better, and I have that audience in mind while writing — although I, of course, want there to be something for everyone! “Spider-Gwen,” “Silk,” “Ms. Marvel,” “Young Avengers” and “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” are all fantastic — and if I’m allowed to mention the Other Company, “Batgirl” and “Gotham Academy” — and we need more of it. That audience is voracious and massive and deserves all the recognition in the world.
Williams: Don’t forget to check this book out, it’s gonna be great!
“Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat!” bounds into stores in December.