Like their feline-inspired namesakes, the title character of Marvel Comics “Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat” series and Felicia Hardy (AKA the Black Cat) are often stubborn and tenacious. The former is persistent in unyielding in her quests for justice and to do right by her friends, while the latter is unbending and relentless in her quest for wealth and power. So what happens when the Black Cat decides that Hellcat is an obstacle in her path?
The answers to that question and more come in writer Kate Leth and artist Brittney Williams' “Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat” #11, which kicked off the series next multipart story arc. We spoke with Leth about how her protagonist copes with tragedy, the way in which the Black Cat’s vendetta against Patsy will unfold, and how Patsy’s friends will be impacted by her clash with the Black Cat.
CBR: "Hellcat" #10 ended with a dire warning from the Demon Belial that Patsy's rage would consume her and she'd beg for his help with vengeance. It's clear that she tries to remain a nice and positive person, but do you think she's processed some of the bad things that happened to her, both in the past and recently, in the most healthy of ways? Does Patsy bury her anger?
Kate Leth: One of the things I felt was innate about Patsy's character was her constant ability to move on. As someone who has been in so many stories, so many incarnations, yet never at the center of them, I write her as a girl who has been through so much that she's just learned to deal - but no, not in the healthiest ways. She doesn't like to face her pain, and keeps herself busy to avoid it. That's why moments like issue #8 were so interesting to write; she couldn't keep running. Now, with She-Hulk's status a bit of a mystery, it's tricky to figure out how much trickles back into her world.
I imagine we'll find out more about Patsy's anger when she runs afoul of the Black Cat. What made you want to bring Felicia Hardy into the book? And what's it like bouncing her off of Patsy?
It's funny, because the first two issues of the Black Cat arc are almost Patsy-lite. We get to see a lot of development of side characters, like Ian and Bailey! Hellcat and Black Cat are facing off. As for why I brought her in - she's just so fun as a bad guy, and who can resist the chance for even more cat puns? But it's a lot about who gets caught in the crossfire, which is something we touched on in the “Civil War II” issue, too.
We saw the Black Cat targeting Patsy at the end of issue #10 and while she was observing Hellcat in action she was in the company of a mysterious woman named Lina. What can you tell us about her? Is Lina an established character?
Lina is brand new, and part of a girl gang Brittney and I put together. They're inspired by some pretty badass girls we know.
How does the Black Cat's vendetta against Hellcat unfold? What kinds of action are Patsy and her friends going to become embroiled in during this arc?
Black Cat sees a lot of opportunity to take what's hers, especially with so many of the A-list heroes off fighting bigger battles and maybe not seeing what's going on, street-level. Hellcat is one of the few protecting Brooklyn right now, and Black Cat wants to take her out.
Earlier you mentioned Ian, who finally kissed his boss, Tom, (who also happens to be one Patsy's high school chums) in Issue #10. So what can you tell us about their status quo when issue #11 begins? How big a role will Tom and Ian play in this story?
Honestly, this arc focuses a bunch on Ian. His identity, his relationships, and his past. His views of super-heroism. Tom isn't present much for the first couple issues, but he has a large part to play in the second half. I don't want to spoil too much, but one of the Black Cats (the aforementioned girl gang) has a long history with him, and it'll put everything he and Tom (and Patsy) have built to the test.
Patsy's newest friend is her assistant, Jubilee. She's a character who I don't recall ever encountering Patsy, but she seems to be a great fit for the book and you seem to enjoy writing her. So what inspired you to bring her in to the book? Which aspects of the character do you find especially interesting?
[Laughs] Well... with She-Hulk absent, we looked into other characters to join Patsy's world. Jubilee was actually suggested by a friend of mine, and Brittney's eyes just lit up when I floated it by her. We both love '90s Mall Jubilee, and even though she's a vampire mom now, we're basing a lot of her personality on that era. She's a lot of fun.
In an era where having a long run with a regular artist is rare, Brittney Williams has done almost all of your issues of "Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat." Not only is she great at the humor and fun elements of the book, but she's also fantastic with some of the more diverse and dark stuff you've given her in recent issues. What's it like knowing you can rely on Brittney to bring your scripts to life? Which of her artistic strengths will be on display in this new arc?
Hellcat would not be Hellcat without Brittney, that's for dang sure (although I'd be thrilled to work with Natasha Allegri again, she just killed that stand-alone issue). Brittney's history with animation and character design has given her such a good eye for expression, emotion and just such a solid sense of style. Our new arc has a lot of new characters and a lot of emotion, so look to see her showing you what she can do.
Finally, Patsy is a nice and enthusiastic person so it's natural that she'd make friends and have some interesting team ups with characters like Howard the Duck and Jessica Jones. Are there any other established Marvel characters that you'd be especially interested in bouncing off Patsy soon or perhaps further on down the road?
There are so many! We get a lot of suggestions, and I have ideas -especially the Young Avengers, and more Squirrel Girl. Patsy's a social butterfly, both on the battlefield and in her off hours. There are never enough pages! [Laughs]
I wanted to conclude by giving a shout-out to Megan Wilson, our long-suffering and brilliant colorist, who recently left the book. She did so much to establish the look and feel of our world, and we love her! Rachelle Rosenberg is joining us for this arc, and she's fantastic, bringing all kinds of new elements to it. I can't believe how fortunate I've been to have such a damn talented team on this book. I hope you'll like “Cat VS Cat” - it's going to be a purrrrrfectly exciting arc.