Hellishly Good Hellcat Mrowl

Hellcat #1, written by Kate Leth, art by Brittney L Williams, colours by Megan Wilson, letters by VC’s Joe Sabino & Clayton Cowles, cover by Brittney Williams

I prepared for the 2016 comic book version of Hellcat by reading some of the old 2008 run (the only other exposure to Patsy Walker I’ve had before this was on the Jessica Jones Netflix series). In the old comics Patsy was enthusiastic if haphazard, bouncing around solving things using her mystic senses, some punching, and a lot of talking. The modern Hellcat of 2016 modernizes but builds on the old Patsy and the ground laid by Marvel’s She-HulkSquirrel Girl, and DC’s Gotham Academy.

The new Hellcat is written by Kate Leth (@kateleth), art is by Brittney L Williams (@AnotherBrittney), colors are by Megan Wilson, and letters by VC’s Joe Sabino & Clayton Cowles. Brittney Williams did the cover art for the first issue. Yes, the creative team are all women – YAY! The question you want answered most: is Hellcat any good?

I’m happy to say the answer is a resounding yes, Hellcat is really good, for so many reasons. Firstly the script: if you like the humor and the philosophy ofSquirrel Girl then you’re going to love this. Not everything in comics is about punching or throwing cars at the moon. Hellcat solves issues through ideas, talking and, well, with just a little bit of punching; after all it is a super-book, but it’s far more down to earth than most.

I’ve read other reviews of Hellcat #1 that have said it’s ‘a clone of Squirrel Girl, so what’s the point.’ This ignores the vast plethora of super books out there that are alike. Just how many Bat-titles are currently getting published? Fourteen I think just starring Batman, that doesn’t include the wider Bat-family or Bruce Wayne books.

So few books star a woman protagonist, even fewer are all ages appropriate, even fewer still are written and drawn by women. The one thing this book isn’t is a clone of anything else Marvel is currently publishing, it is similar to one other book on Marvel’s roster – Squirrel Girl. Dude-bro reviewers are writing off Hellcat as a Squirrel Girl clone while not calling out Batman’s current fourteen comics. Why? Because these books are women-centric and part of the new wave of women’s comics.

In the new Hellcat Patsy is out of work, living in a storage closet, and in need of a job fast; this is the basic premise for issue one. The simple premise is relatable while the characters remain extraordinary–we’ve all got to live and we’ve probably all struggled at some point. Hellcat is sweet and clever in an understated way.

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The artwork by Brittney is super cute and accessible; having Hellcat as an all ages book is a great move and the art adds to that appeal. The artwork also includes a variety of PoC and people of different body shapes, which is still surprisingly rare in comics. The colors are heavily blocked and simple–this isn’t Gotham Academy, but it suits the art style well.

Partway through issue one the main protagonists, Patsy and her new friend Ian, a telekinetic inhuman, stop off in a LGBTQ+ bookstore. Neither character comments on this, and no-one is stated as LGBTQ+. Small things like this normalise LGBTQ+ life and it makes me very happy to see it here.

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Hellcat #1 is a good read and it’s another step towards better, more inclusive and women-friendly comics. I highly recommend it, it’s well worth buying.