Patsy Walker knows the life changing power of opportunity. It’s lead her from being the star of a series of romance comics that her mom wrote, to the world of costumed heroics where she fought along the Defenders and Avengers as the heroine known as Hellcat. It even allowed her to escape death and the Marvel Universe’s infernal realms to get a fresh start on life. So she’s determined to give the newly super empowered people of the Marvel Universe the same chances she’s had.
In the new ongoing “Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat” series by writer Kate Leth and artist Britney Williams she’s trying to do just that. It’s not been an easy quest though. Old foes from her days as both a teen and a super hero have risen up to oppose her. Fortunately Patsy’s not alone on her quest. She’s reunited with an old friend, made a new one, and is about to make more.
CBR News spoke with Leth about Patsy’s friends and foes, her upcoming team up with Howard the Duck, what kind of impact “Civil War II” will have on the series, and whether or not she’s interested in examining some of the dark points in Patsy’s past.
CBR News: Issue #3 revealed Asgardian sorceress Casiolena, an old school Defenders villain who I don’t think has been seen in some time, was effectively the “big bad” of these initial stories. What made you want to bring Casiolena into the book and cast her as Patsy’s opposite number?
Kate Leth: Casiolena’s brought in as a kind of antithesis to Patsy, even though realistically she was only in the original “Defenders” for a couple of issues — panels, really. I liked her, though, and her wild hair! [Laughs] We’ve reimagined her as someone who sees all these empowered young people as an asset to build an army of villains, where Patsy wants to help them. That chasm between their ideals grows, and will definitely hit a fever pitch!
The other person making trouble for Patsy in these initial issues is her old best frenemy from when she was a teen, Hedy Wolfe. What’s your sense of Patsy and Hedy’s relationship and what’s motivating her current actions?
I don’t want to spoil too much — it might take a bit for everything to get worked out between Patsy and Hedy, because they have a very complicated history (and Patsy has a super villain to deal with, too!) but when they finally go head to head — watch out. Nobody can fight like former best friends, and Hedy’s got more than a few secrets.
Issue #3 ended with Patsy scoring her first real victory over Casiolena by getting her landlord’s son, Federigo, a legitimate job where he could use his insect powers. Meanwhile, Hedy has some schemes in the works involving the contracts for the comics about her and Patsy’s teen years. What’s Patsy’s state of mind going into issue #4?
Patsy’s encouraged by her first victory in terms of what she wants to do, but she’s still trying to make ends meet. She starts out issue #4 feeling very confident (while working the counter at Tara’s tattoo shop, from “Howard the Duck”) but, of course, things don’t always go as planned, do they?
These first three issues weren’t just an introduction to Patsy and her antagonists. You also introduced us to her friend and roommate Ian and her old friend Tom. What kind of roles will they play moving forward? You seemed to be hinting Ian might have some romantic interest in Tom. Is that a sub plot we’ll see more of?
It is! I’d make a whole book about Tom and Ian if I could. [Laughs] Tom and Ian have an awkward crush on each other — Tom isn’t sure if Ian’s interested, and vice-versa. I’m personally well acquainted with the old game of “I have a crush on her, but is she into girls?!” and there’s a bit of that going on between the two of them. They’re very different people, but yes — the sparks are there.
As you mentioned, Patsy enters Howard the Duck’s world in “Hellcat” #4 and the extradimensional duck detective guest stars in the issue. What’s it like bouncing someone like Howard off of somebody who tends to be more cheery and upbeat like Patsy?
Howard’s great. I love Chip, I love that book, and I love Howard. I wrote him initially as very snarky towards Patsy, but I had a hard time believing it- Patsy’s relentless upbeat attitude might even crack that egg. I think in a longer story, Howard would have a kind of paternal instinct towards her — until her pop songs drove him nuts.
It also looks like your guest stars continue in issues #5 and #6 with appearances by Patsy’s former employer and current legal counsel She-Hulk, and is that Hercules on the cover of issue #6? What kind of role does he play in the issue?
Oh, I hate to disappoint — Herc isn’t actually in issue #6 — at least the draft I’ve got going right now. [Laughs] Issue #6 takes place at Coney Island, so Brittney had the brilliant idea of drawing our heroes in the Mermaid Parade. Herc is just such a great Neptune-esque character — how could we resist?
I’ve loved Brittney Williams’ work on this book. She’s got a fun style that reminds me of western animation with hints of anime. What’s it like working with Brittney? What are some of the things she’s added to the book in her art that some readers might not be aware of?
Once I get started on how great Brittney is, I can’t stop. “Hellcat” wouldn’t be “Hellcat” without her, if it existed at all. Brittney comes from an animation background, and she’s a master of fluid, vivid storytelling. I love how she plays with Patsy’s size and appearance — you’ve probably picked up on that! Also the way she draws Patsy’s fangs, just so good. I love her attention to fashion. Between her and Megan Wilson’s colors, I feel incredibly lucky. They are exactly the right team for this book.
Patsy’s adventures take place in the Marvel Universe, and as you’ve shown, she’s a pretty well connected person with lots of friends. What does that mean for her role in a big event like “Civil War II” where her friends might be fighting each other? Do you have plans to touch on that in “Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat?”
I’m not a big crossover person, I’ll be honest. I try to keep Hellcat separate from the larger Marvel world, because I want it to be a book anyone can read, not just a hardcore comics fan. Also, it’s an all-ages book, so it doesn’t entirely mesh. That being said, there are events coming up in “Civil War II” that will affect her life — they’ll affect everyone’s! We will deal with it, but Hellcat will always kind of be its own thing, much like “Squirrel Girl.”
Finally this book has been a pretty fun and funny title and it looks like that will be the usual tone of “Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat,” but your protagonist does have some pretty dark elements to her past, particularly with Daimon Hellstrom. Are you interested in touching on those elements eventually? Is this a series that might occasionally go to some dark places?
There are things I’ve mentioned and brought up in the book that I want to touch on, and things I don’t. Patsy’s definitely been mistreated in her past, and it’s pretty obvious (I think) that we’re working with a theme of “starting fresh.” Still, I haven’t forgotten Hellstrom, nor has Patsy, and you can’t run from your past forever…
As our first arc moves towards its conclusion, we’re planning a lot of bigger and crazier things for the next one, and yes, Patsy’s past coming back to bite her. There will be changes, for good and bad, in her universe, and I’m excited for everyone to follow along as she deals with them.
“Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat” #4 goes on sale March 23 from Marvel Comics.