Kate Leth (Writer), Brittney L. Williams (Artist), Megan Williams (Color Artist), VC’S Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
June 15th, 2016
Have you been reading Hellcat since the beginning, or was this your first issue? What made you pick it up?
Melissa: I’ve been reading more or less since the beginning—I missed an issue at some point, because my LCS was sold out, but I picked up the rest direct from the source at Emerald City Comicon and had a blast catching up on the series after we went home for the day. It wasn’t a hard sell for me; I like Kate Leth’s writing, I thought the art looked adorable, I love cats, and the only superhero titles I really seek out are the ones where superheroes do things other than punch/kick/laser beam criminals.
Kayleigh: This was my first issue! Hellcat’s always been a great character, and the book looked promising, but it took a Jessica Jones guest spot to kick my ass into the comic shop. Honestly, it’s completely inexplicable to me why Jessica Jones doesn’t have her own solo series. (Though maybe that’s changing?) I find her appearances in Power Man and Iron Fist disappointingly regressive—there, she’s the nagging sitcom wife who stays home while her husband has adventures. So bless Leth and Williams for letting Jessica do detective work again!
Hellcat #7 “introduces” Patsy Walker to Jessica Jones (and Alias Investigations). The characters were, of course, depicted as foster sisters and best friends in Netflix’s Jessica Jones series. Were you a fan of their relationship in the show? How did you feel about their interaction in Hellcat #7?
Melissa: I really liked their relationship in the show. I could talk forever about how important it is to see the way that abuse affects different people and how abuse doesn’t always look one particular way. Trish and Jessica are very different people who have had awful things happen to them, and the way that they heal and protect themselves is one of my favorite parts of the show. However, I really like the fact that we get to see something completely different of both characters in Hellcat. Jessica Jones, the show, is a tough thing to get through and it’s nice to see the characters interacting in a way that isn’t fraught with danger and tension and sadness; both characters deserve a moment of levity and hijinx. In the comic, we get to see them both be friends outside of their trauma, which is really refreshing and positive and feels so, so good to me, especially because I was introduced to both through the show.
Kayleigh: The relationship between Jessica and “Trish” Walker is one of the best things about Jessica Jones; it’s tender and heartbreaking and feels very real. The comic characters simply don’t have that shared history, which is fine! They don’t need to be carbon copies of one another. But it’s great to see Jessica and Patsy building a new relationship in Hellcat; their dynamic is pretty fun and they could be good foils for each other moving forward. For the sake of new readers who may be picking up this series, because of its Jessica Jones connection, it makes sense to treat Jessica and Patsy’s meeting here as their first (while still poking fun at the “Wait, don’t all superheroes already know each other?” tangled web).
The issue pokes fun at Marvel continuity—it jokes about whether Jessica and Patsy have met before, and the plot hinges on something Patsy’s mother did all the way back in Defenders #95. How seriously do you take continuity in a book like Hellcat?
Melissa: I only read one other Marvel book—The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl—and I feel pretty similar about continuity in both of them in that I don’t particularly care what’s happening or what has happened outside of these two books. I’m slightly interested in diving back into Patsy Walker’s history, because I didn’t know there was a history of romance comics, which I am way into, but generally I just kind of make note of the references and move along. Mainstream comics continuity is difficult to parse for the casual reader (Why are there so many worlds? Why is there one where Storm is an air traffic controller?), myself very much included, and I look at it as more of a “huh, okay, weird story direction but I’ll take it,” moment than an enticing tidbit to go chase down and read for myself. I think the shifting nature of comics history makes it hard to stay entirely in continuity, so I’ll take whatever the writer says as canon until that person is no longer writer and everything resets in a world-shattering event or whatever.
Kayleigh: Patsy Walker has such an interesting relationship with comics continuity. She’s been around since the 1940s, predating the Fantastic Four by almost twenty years, and all of her Golden and Silver Age romance comics were folded into mainstream Marvel continuity as fictionalized comic books published by Patsy’s mother. I think Leth makes the right choice by playing a bit with continuity. I haven’t read the Defenders issue referenced here, but Patsy’s recap is an interesting reminder of just how over the top comics can be. Both the Jessica Jones show and the Hellcat comic establish that Patsy’s mother was abusive, but while the show presents Mrs. Walker as a familiar, recognizable kind of evil—the awful, controlling stage mother—the comic books have Mrs. Walker making a deal with a demon to exchange Patsy’s life with her own. Sometimes comic books are so next level. What even is Patsy Walker’s life?
Melissa: So adorable. That’s part of the charm! It feels like a fresh and fun comic because of the way the art and the writing work in tandem. They match each other perfectly; they’re cheerful and colorful and clean rather than being bogged down in darkness and heaviness. I’m a big fan of comic art that feels cartoony when it suits the story, and I think that, in this case, they’re an excellent match. It’s also great to see Jessica Jones’ varied facial expressions—she can go from tough to smiling without it ever looking out of place. Brittney Williams really has a gift for capturing facial expressions.
Kayleigh: The facial expressions are so cute! Williams draws Patsy with an adorable, catlike grace, and overall, the comic has a winsome animated quality. I’m so used to Jessica as drawn by Michael Gaydos in that grittier, more realistic style, so it’s refreshing to see such a different take on her. (Disney Princess Jessica Jones, enchanted whiskey bottle sold separately!) I also love that Williams draws She-Hulk with a big physique; too many artists draw her with the Generic Skinny Heroine body type, just slightly taller than everyone else. She’s a hulk! She’s big and beautiful and could snap me in half, and I’d still ask for a selfie with her after.
Melissa: I’m also head-over-heels in love with the cover. I’m a big film noir fan and the genre is sadly devoid of lady detectives. The slatted blinds and Patsy’s fancy dress—reminiscent of Lauren Bacall’s in this iconic scene from The Big Sleep—would probably have gotten me to pick up this issue even if I wasn’t a regular reader. I’m a sucker.
Kayleigh: Hellcat’s gown reminds me of 1940s comic heroine The Blonde Phantom, which would be a cute nod to one of Patsy’s Golden Age contemporaries, if that was any inspiration.
What did you think of the resolution of the issue and Patsy’s relationship with her old frenemy Hedy?
Melissa: I definitely don’t think it’s over. Jessica’s detective work showed that there’s a lot out there already connecting Patsy to not only the Hellcat identity, but also the superheroes that are part of her temp agency. I have absolutely no idea what’s going on in Civil War II, and I’m not interested in wading into that other than how it affects the titles I’m already reading, but I imagine that there’s going to be a connection between Patsy’s work with the temp agency and whatever is happening in the larger conflict.
Kayleigh: As soon as I saw that the next issue is a Civil War tie-in I froze up a little bit, and that’s before I even remembered She-Hulk’s role in that comic. As for Hedy, I’m not familiar with their older Patsy & Hedy comics, but this issue does a good job conveying their complicated shared history. It feels like Betty and Veronica after they’ve grown up and their relationship’s curdled and gone sour. As far as Big Bads go, there’s no one worse than that one awful mean girl from high school, is there?
Melissa: I like the resolution, especially because it comes without either of them really having to use their superpowers beyond the breaking and entering bit. This definitely feels like a less traumatic version of Patsy than what we see in the show, which I appreciate, but I love that she gets the rights to her comic and her name back in the end. The comic and show are very different entities but it’s pretty clear that Patsy has been through some terrible things—her mother trying to make a deal with a demon for her own life, for example—so the resolution of having her take back her stories and name is pretty great, I think!