Patsy Walker

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Hellcat
Patsy Walker (Hellcat).jpg
Hellcat.
Art by Stuart Immonen.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance as Patsy Walker Miss America Magazine #2 (Nov. 1944)
as Hellcat The Avengers #144 (Feb. 1976)
In-story information
Alter ego Patricia "Patsy" Walker
Species Human (empowered)
Team affiliations Defenders
Avengers
Lady Liberators
Legion of the Unliving
Abilities Telekinesis
Psychic resistance
Retractable claws
Wrist grappling hook
Well-trained martial artist

Hellcat (Patricia "Patsy" Walker) is a fictional character appearing in books published by Marvel Comics. She premiered as the star of a teen romantic-comedy series and was later integrated into Marvel superhero franchises such as the Avengers and the Defenders.

Created by Ruth Atkinson, Patsy Walker first appeared in Miss America Magazine #2 (Nov. 1944), published by Marvel precursor Timely Comics, and became Hellcat in The Avengers #144 (Feb. 1976). The character was ranked 95th in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.[1]

Publication history[edit]

Teen-humor heroine[edit]

The humor-comic Patsy in Patsy and Hedy #72 (Oct. 1960). Cover art by Al Hartley.

Created by Ruth Atkinson, Patsy Walker first appeared in Miss America Magazine #2 (cover-dated Nov. 1944), published by Marvel precursor Timely Comics. Redheaded Patsy Walker, her parents Stanley and Betty, her boyfriend Robert "Buzz" Baxter, and her raven-haired friendly rival Hedy Wolfe appeared from the 1940s through 1967 in issues of Miss America, Teen Comics, Girls' Life, and the namesake teen-humor series Patsy Walker and its spin-offs: Patsy and Hedy, Patsy and Her Pals, and the single-issue A Date with Patsy. Attesting to its quiet popularity, Patsy Walker (along with Millie the Model and Kid Colt, Outlaw) was among the very few titles published continuously by Marvel from the 1940s Golden Age of Comic Books, through Marvel's 1950s iteration as Atlas Comics, and into the 1960s Silver Age of Comic Books.

Future Mad Magazine cartoonist and "Fold-In" creator Al Jaffee wrote and drew most of the early issues, several of which included Mad founding editor Harvey Kurtzman's highly stylized "Hey Look!" one-page humor strips. Jaffee was succeeded by Al Hartley, who would go on to Archie Comics and produce many Christian comic books starring Archie characters and others. Morris Weiss drew Patsy and Her Pals. Millie (the Model) Collins made guest appearances in #92 and 98.

Following Patsy's high-school graduation, in issue #116 (Aug. 1964), the title switched from humor to become a young career-gal romantic adventure. Patsy Walker lasted through issue #124 (Dec. 1965), with Patsy and Hedy outlasting it to its own #110 (Feb. 1967).

Patsy and Hedy made a cameo appearance in Fantastic Four Annual #3 (1965), establishing them in the Marvel Universe. The superhero-team comic The Defenders #89 (Nov. 1980) further established that the earlier stories were fictional works published within the fictional Marvel Universe itself, and written by Patsy's mother Dorothy Walker though based upon Patsy's own life and friends.[2] The Patsy Walker profile in Marvel Legacy: The 1960s Handbook #1 (2006) establishes that Walker indeed experienced many of the events from these stories.

Patsy Walker #95 and the science-fiction anthology Journey into Mystery #69 (both June 1961) are the first modern comic books labeled "Marvel Comics", with each showing an "MC" box on its cover.[3]

Hellcat[edit]

Patsy Walker becomes Hellcat in The Avengers #144 (Feb. 1976)

Amazing Adventures vol. 2, #13 (July 1972) introduced the concept of Walker as a superheroine. Writer Steve Englehart recalled that Walker's cameo in Fantastic Four Annual #3 had

struck my fan's eye by including her in the Marvel Universe. ...I thought it would be cool to bring her in as a real character, with things to do. Part of my 'training' as a Marvel writer was writing romance stories and Westerns, but Patsy [Walker] was defunct as a comic by the time I got there.... Still, as a fan, I had collected everything Marvel, including Patsy Walker and Patsy and Hedy ... so I knew them as characters....[4]

In The Avengers #144 (Feb. 1976), originally under her married name of Baxter, Walker was reintroduced. She would adopt the name Hellcat, taking on superheroine Greer Grant Nelson's costume from her discontinued identity as The Cat. The name "Hellcat" itself had originally been proposed for Nelson.[5] The suit's look was later adapted slightly.

Recalled Englehart in 2010,

I wasn't real interested in the Cat. I read the books and they seemed like pandering, frankly — not very good stories written to appeal to a demographic. Once [Patsy] entered the [Marvel Universe], met the Beast, confronted her husband — all that began to change the Patsy I had inherited to someone a little more savvy. By the time she became the Hellcat, she could stand back far enough to see the ironies in her taking over a feminist creation. But she was really more about jumping into the superhero pool than standing back.... She didn't muse on the irony; she wanted to be a heroine.[6]

Hellcat joined the superhero team The Defenders in issue #44 (Feb. 1977). After many adventures with the group, she met the supernatural adventurer Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan, in The Defenders #92 (Feb. 1981). They marry in The Defenders #125 and become husband-and-wife occult investigators, but Hellstrom's demonic nature asserts itself, and Walker is driven first mad and then, in Hellstorm: Prince of Lies #14 (May 1994), to suicide. Through Hellstrom's manipulation of the superhero Hawkeye, she was resurrected, in Thunderbolts 2000, a summer Annual of the superhero-team comic Thunderbolts, and returned to Earth with new abilities acquired while in Hell. (The story which began in Thunderbolts 2000 concluded in Avengers 2000.) A three-issue Hellcat (Sept. - Nov. 2000) series takes place immediately following the events in the Thunderbolts and Avengers #2000 Annuals. Briefly adopting a new costume and then returning to her traditional yellow outfit, she rejoined the Defenders in a short-lived revival series, The Defenders vol. 2, #1-12 (March 2001 - Feb. 2002).

After appearing in occasional guest roles, Hellcat starred in the miniseries Patsy Walker: Hellcat #1-5 (Sept. 2008 - Feb. 2009). Following this, she was an ensemble star and narrator, alongside the superheroines Firestar, Black Cat, and Photon, in the miniseries Marvel Divas #1-4 (Sept.-Dec. 2009), which writers Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Tonci Zonjic had pitched it to Marvel editors as "Sex and the City in the Marvel Universe".[7]

Fictional character biography[edit]

After growing up in suburban Centerville, graduating high school and marrying high-school sweetheart Robert "Buzz" Baxter, Patsy Walker becomes an assistant to scientist Hank McCoy, the mutant superhero the Beast, who at that time was on hiatus from the X-Men.[volume & issue needed] Estranged from her husband, now a U.S. Air Force colonel, Walker befriends McCoy,[volume & issue needed] and, desiring to become a superhero, accompanied McCoy on an adventure with the superhero team the Avengers.[volume & issue needed] She adopts an ability-enhancing costume that formerly belonged to Greer Grant Nelson, the former masked adventuress the Cat, and Walker takes on the name Hellcat.[8]

After having used her natural athletic abilities and good instincts to rescue the Avengers, Walker is offered membership in the team.[volume & issue needed] The cosmic adventurer Moondragon persuades her to decline and instead accompany Moondragon to the Saturn moon of Titan for training in psychic ability and advanced martial arts.[volume & issue needed] Walker's training is abbreviated when she returns to Earth to assist the supernatural hero Doctor Strange, and then join the superhero team the Defenders. Moondragon revokes her psychic abilities, citing Walker's ineffective use of them as the cause.[volume & issue needed]

She meets her future husband Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan, during the course of her Defenders adventuring. After learning that her mother had promised her soul to Satan, and briefly being lied to by the Devil that he was her father, Walker reunites with her real father and marries Hellstrom. The two then retire from superheroics. Ultimately, Hellstrom's demonic inheritance took possession of him and drove Walker insane.[volume & issue needed] Institutionalized, she was driven to suicide by the otherworldly being Deathurge.[volume & issue needed]

Trapped in Hell, Walker's spirit is used in a series of gladiatorial-like combat scenarios. There, she learns to develop and use her psychic powers. Hellstrom tricks the archer superhero Hawkeye into returning her spirit to Earth; Hawkeye believes he is retrieving his presumed-dead wife, Mockingbird, from the demonic lord Mephisto's realm.[volume & issue needed] Resurrected and back on Earth, Walker retains the powers she developed in Hell. Now able to manifest a costume at will, Walker adopts a reversed version of the Cat costume, with a blue cat-suit and cowl with yellow gloves and boots.[volume & issue needed] In this new guise, and once again a member of the Defenders, Hellcat focuses on combating occult evils, notably Nicholas Scratch, who had based himself in her hometown of Centerville,[volume & issue needed] and the otherdimensional ruler Dormammu.[volume & issue needed]

During the superhero "Civil War" over the federal Superhuman Registration Act, Hellcat willingly registers.[volume & issue needed] She serves as one of the young superheroes' instructors at Camp Hammond.[9] She was then assigned as an official superhero in Alaska,[10] but eventually returned to New York City.[11]

Hellcat develops and maintains a deep friendship with the superheroes Firestar, Black Cat and Monica Rambeau. Part of this is their support of Firestar, who develops and then defeats breast cancer.[12]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Hellcat can sense mystical phenomena or those items or persons touched by mystical energy. She can use a force field that deflects mystical attacks. She is able to summon her costume at will. Patsy is a well-trained martial artist, having been taught by both Captain America and Moondragon.

Other versions[edit]

Cover to Ultimate New Ultimates #1. Art by Leinil Francis Yu.

Patsy Walker has appeared in Marvel Comics' Multiverse Ultimate Marvel imprint. In Ultimate Spider-Man, she first appears as a spokeswoman for a security firm (#11), then as a swimsuit model for Maxim magazine (#14), a talk show hostess, presenting a biography on Doctor Strange (#70), and finally interviewing Norman Osborn (#113). In addition she appeared in Ultimate Marvel Team-up, hosting an instructional video for the Baxter Building, although this issue is not necessarily canonical.[volume & issue needed] Patsy has taken her "Hellcat" identity in Ultimates and was a founding member of the ill-fated Defenders. Additionally, Kitty Pryde has (within the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man) constructed a costume visually similar to the 616 Hellcat's, differing in color and mask design only. She later shows up in Ultimate Comics: New Ultimates, apparently powered up from a mysterious source.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Frankenhoff, Brent (2011). Comics Buyer's Guide Presents: 100 Sexiest Women in Comics. Krause Publications. p. 59. ISBN 1-4402-2988-0. 
  2. ^ Miller, Jonathan. "Beware the Claws of Patsy Walker: The Hellcat Cometh", Back Issue #40, May 2010, p. 66
  3. ^ Marvel : MC (Brand) at the Grand Comics Database.
  4. ^ Englehart in Miller, p. 62
  5. ^ Cassell, Dewey (August 2006). "Talking About Tigra: From the Cat to Were-Woman". Back Issue (17) (TwoMorrows Publishing). pp. 26–33. 
  6. ^ Englehart in Miller, p. 63
  7. ^ Abnett, Dan; Lanning, Andy (2009-04-09). "MyCup o' Tea". MySpace Comic Books. Archived from the original on 29 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  8. ^ The Avengers #144 (Feb. 1976)
  9. ^ Avengers: The Initiative #10
  10. ^ Patsy Walker: Hellcat #1-5
  11. ^ Marvel Divas #1-4
  12. ^ Young Allies #1-6 (2010)
  13. ^ New Ultimates #1

External links[edit]