In “Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat!” #1, Kate Leth writes a story that does the kind of things you want good book to do: connect with audiences of all ages with a character-driven plot featuring relatable themes, while still scaling to a larger audience with hidden jokes and Easter eggs from artist Brittney L. Williams. Williams’ independent style integrates into what I’m calling the “Brooklyn Marvel Universe,” the corner that involves more slice-of-life tales of New York, filled of humor and bright colors and simple but effective page layouts inspired by webcomics more than comic book pages.
In her new series, Trish Walker echoes the desires readers have had for the character for quite a while now: that she needs to leave her incredibly complicated past behind her and work on carving out her own identity as a person with her own story to tell — not as a reserve Avenger to stand on the edge of a panel and scream “Cap, look out!” The debut issue offers a new, fresh takes on existing properties, which speaks to a new audience while recognizing existing inter-universe relationships and reconciling even the most ridiculous of continuities, like Trish Walker’s preteen star status, her terrible, mystical love life and strange power set. What’s more, Leth and Williams pack plenty of humor into the issue, from “Wicked” references to the way She-Hulk deals with getting multiple drinks spilled on her to Trish Walker’s latest read “Butts Vol. IX” (which may make readers wonder if the bookstore has Volumes I-VIII available).
Following the sudden appearance of a bajillion Inhumans, Leth cleverly has Trish Walker decide she’s going to help them all find jobs — not superteams, but jobs where their skill set would be an asset to the business; for instance, take Telekinian, the telekinetic weirdo she stops early in the book who finds employment at Burly Books, moving stock with his mind.
Williams uses an Eastern influence in her art, with exaggerated character illustrations that let the art tell stories which would otherwise bog down the comic book if the emotions were to be scripted. Megan Wilson’s colors mesh nicely with Williams’ line art and fit right in with the Brooklyn Marvel Universe, all bright and reminiscent of animation and perfect for digital consumption.
Even though the book’s tone is very different from Netflix’s “Jessica Jones,” readers will recognize that editor Wil Moss is developing a creative voice within Marvel that is driving the Brooklyn Marvel Universe, allowing his writers and artists to craft their own voices within the company sandbox, rather than bending their work to a rigid structure that belies why they would have been hired in the first place.
“Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat!” #1 is a fun, fresh take on an undervalued classic, and it’s cleverly positioned as a midcard Marvel story that delivers new ideas that could be developed alongside the other corners of the universe.