Patsy Walker

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Hellcat
Patsy Walker (Hellcat).jpg
Hellcat.
Art by Stuart Immonen.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceAs Patsy Walker:
Miss America Magazine #2 (Nov. 1944)
As Hellcat:
The Avengers #144 (Feb. 1976)
Created byAs Patsy Walker:
Stuart Little (writer)
Ruth Atkinson (artist)
As Hellcat:
Steve Englehart (writer)
George Pérez (artist)
In-story information
Alter egoPatricia "Patsy" Walker
SpeciesHuman (empowered)
Team affiliationsDefenders
Avengers
Lady Liberators
Legion of the Unliving
Notable aliasesHellcat
Abilities
  • Well-trained martial artist and gymnast
  • Psychic senses
  • Force field generation
  • Wrist-mounted retractable claws and grappling hooks

Hellcat (Patricia "Patsy" Walker) is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic 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 Stuart Little and Ruth Atkinson, Patsy Walker first appeared in Miss America Magazine #2 (November 1944), published by Marvel precursor Timely Comics, and became Hellcat in The Avengers #144 (February 1976).

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a version of the character (Patricia "Trish" Walker) was portrayed by Rachael Taylor as a main character in the Netflix created series Jessica Jones, as a recurring character in The Defenders, and as a guest character in Luke Cage.

Publication history[edit]

Teen-humor heroine[edit]

Created by writer Stuart Little and artist Ruth Atkinson, Patsy Walker first appeared in Miss America Magazine #2 (cover-dated Nov. 1944), published by Marvel precursor Timely Comics.[1] 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,[2] as well as in the spin-offs Patsy and Hedy,[3] Patsy and Her Pals,[4] and the single-issue A Date with Patsy.[5] 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 Mad Fold-in creator Al Jaffee wrote and drew most of the early issues of Patsy Walker,[6][7] several of which included Mad founding editor Harvey Kurtzman's highly stylized "Hey Look!" one-page humor strips.[8][9][10][11] Jaffee was succeeded by Al Hartley, who would go on to Archie Comics and produce many Christian comic books starring Archie characters and others.[12] Patsy and Her Pals was drawn by Morris Weiss.[13]

The humor-comic version of Patsy (left) in Patsy and Hedy #72 (October 1960), a spinoff of the flagship title Patsy Walker. Cover art by Al Hartley.[14]

Following Patsy's high-school graduation in issue #116 (August 1964), the title switched from humor to become a young career-gal romantic adventure.[15] Patsy Walker lasted through issue #124 (December 1965),[16] with Patsy and Hedy outlasting it to its own #110 (February 1967).[17]

Patsy and Hedy made a cameo appearance in Fantastic Four Annual #3 (October 1965), which established them in the Marvel Universe.[18] The superhero-team comic The Defenders #89 (Nov. 1980) revealed 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.[19] The Patsy Walker profile in Marvel Legacy: The 1960s Handbook #1 (February 2006) establishes that Walker indeed experienced many of the events from these stories.[20]

Patsy Walker #95 – together with the science-fiction anthology Journey into Mystery #69 (both June 1961) – are the first modern comic books labelled "Marvel Comics", with each showing an "MC" box on its cover.[21]

Hellcat[edit]

The Beast feature in Amazing Adventures vol. 2 #13 (July 1972) introduced the concept of Walker as a superhero.[22] 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... ."[19]

Because the Beast feature was dropped from Amazing Adventures just three issues later, the storyline with Patsy Walker was temporarily abandoned.[19] Walker was reintroduced in The Avengers #141 (November 1975), having resumed her maiden name of Walker, and accompanied the Avengers on a couple of adventures.[23] Shortly thereafter, she adopted the name Hellcat, taking on superheroine Greer Grant Nelson's costume from her discontinued identity as The Cat.[24] The name "Hellcat" itself had originally been proposed for Nelson.[25] The suit's look was later slightly adapted.

In 2010, Englehart recalled:

"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."[19]

Patsy Walker becomes Hellcat in The Avengers[24]

Hellcat joined the superhero team The Defenders in issue #44 (February 1977).[26] After several adventures with the group, she met the supernatural adventurer Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan, in The Defenders #92 (February 1981).[27] They marry in The Defenders #125 and become husband-and-wife occult investigators,[28] 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.[29] Through Hellstrom's manipulation of the superhero Hawkeye, she was resurrected in Thunderbolts Annual 2000, a summer Annual of the superhero-team comic Thunderbolts, and returned to Earth with new abilities acquired while in Hell.[30] The story, which began in Thunderbolts Annual 2000, concluded in Avengers 2000.[31] A three-issue Hellcat (September–November 2000) series takes place immediately following the events in the Thunderbolts and Avengers 2000 Annuals.[32] 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–February 2002).[33]

After appearing in occasional guest roles, Hellcat had starring roles between 2007 and 2009 thanks to artist Stuart Immonen and his wife Kathryn. With the impending relaunch of Marvel Comics Presents, Stuart was asked by editor Nick Lowe if he wanted to do a Hellcat story, which was spread across the title's first four issues (September– December 2007). Marvel remained open for Hellcat miniseries, and out of what Kathryn first conceived as a "Hellcat Christmas Special", inspired by endurance car races in Mongolia and research on the Inuit, came the five-part series Patsy Walker: Hellcat (September 2008–February 2009), drawn by David Lafuente with covers by Stuart. A tie-in to the Avengers 50-State Initiative, it features Hellcat being assigned to watch over Alaska.[34][35] 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".[36]

Walker became part of the All-New Marvel NOW! event in She-Hulk vol. 3 #2, when Jennifer Walters starts her own law firm. Walters hires Patsy as her private investigator, who uses her Hellcat alias on assignments.[37]

The All-New, All-Different Marvel line in 2015 led to a new ongoing Patsy Walker title, Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat!. Written by Kate Leth and drawn by Brittney Williams, it attempts to combine the romance and superhero comics with a more comedic approach, which Leth compared to a Saturday-morning cartoon.[38][39] In it, Walker tries to establish a job agency for superpowered people following her dismissal by She-Hulk, and also recover the rights to old Patsy Walker comics which have been republished by Hedy. In February 2017, Leth announced that the series would be ending that April with its 17th issue. She praised Marvel for "giv[ing] us space to wrap up the story exactly how we wanted in 3 volumes."[40]

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. Estranged from her husband, now a U.S. Air Force colonel, Walker befriends McCoy,[41][42][43] and, desiring to become a superhero, accompanied McCoy on an quest with the Avengers.[44] She adopts an ability-enhancing costume that formerly belonged to Greer Grant Nelson, the former masked adventuress the Cat, and takes on the name Hellcat.[45]

After having used her natural athletic abilities and good instincts to rescue the Avengers, Walker is offered membership in the team.[46] The cosmic adventurer Moondragon persuades Hellcat to decline and instead accompany her to Saturn's moon Titan for training in psychic ability and advanced martial arts.[47] Walker's training is soon interrupted when she returns to Earth to assist the supernatural hero Doctor Strange, joining the Defenders in the process.[48][49][50] Later, Moondragon revokes her mind powers mentioning Walker's ineffective use of them.[51]

She meets her future husband Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan, during the course of a quest with the Defenders.[52] After learning that her mother had promised her soul to Satan,[53] and briefly being lied to by the Devil that he was her father,[54] Walker reunites with her real father and marries Hellstrom. The two then retire from being superheroes.[55] Ultimately, Hellstrom's demonic inheritance took possession of him and drove Walker insane. Institutionalized, she was driven to suicide by the otherworldly being Deathurge.[56]

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.[30] Resurrected and back on Earth, Walker retains the powers she developed in Hell, and she is also able to manifest a costume at will.[57] 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,[57] and the otherdimensional ruler Dormammu.[58]

During the Civil War storyline, Hellcat registers.[59] She serves as one of the young superheroes' instructors at Camp Hammond.[60] She was then assigned as the Avengers 50 State Initiative official superhero for Alaska,[61] but eventually returned to New York City.[62] Hellcat develops and maintains a deep friendship with the superheroes Firestar, Black Cat, and Monica Rambeau, partly stemming from their support to Firestar, who develops and then survives breast cancer.[63]

Hellcat is later seen with She-Hulk and facing personal problems. After a night of heavy drinking and partying, Hellcat and She-Hulk invade a warehouse that A.I.M. was using as a hideout and defeat two agents wearing high tech suits. She-Hulk then hires Hellcat as her private investigator to help with her economical situation.[64] She then helps She-Hulk in protecting Kristoff Vernard, the son of Doctor Doom, who was trying to defect to the US.[65] She is later seen talking with Tigra about a case involving a lawsuit but ends up fighting her when she mentions the plaintiff's name, George Saywitz.[66] After recovering in a hospital,[67] she helps She-Hulk and Hank Pym in a recovery mission to save Reza, the partner of inventor Rufus Randall, to settle an argument between them over a device known as the Shrinko, which they were planning to sell to Pym.[68] They later wind up helping Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, with a lawsuit involving a murder that happened in 1940.[69]

As part of the "All-New, All-Different Marvel" line, She-Hulk eventually gets unable to afford Hellcat as an investigator and fires her friend, which also forces Walker to move out of Walters' office building (the same place where Howard the Duck works). Walker moves to the Brooklyn apartment of Ian, an Inhuman who she met when he used his powers to steal from an armored truck. Ian gets a job with Walker's old friend Tom Hale (known as "Tubs" in the romance comics) and inspires her to open a work agency for other superpowered people. To her chagrin, Walker also learns that her old rival Hedy Wolfe has obtained the rights from Walker's late mother Dorothy to republish the Patsy Walker comics. With the help of She-Hulk and Jessica Jones, Walker gets the rights back by proving that Dorothy was sedated and thus not in full mental capacities when she signed the comics off to Hedy, making it a void contract.[70]

During the "Civil War II" storyline, Patsy Walker learns that She-Hulk is in a coma at the Triskelion. Miss America allows Patsy to visit her. After the visit, Patsy tells Howard the Duck and the other tenants about She-Hulk's current condition, and moves her offices to where Jennifer operated as a lawyer.[71]

Afterwards, Hedy dupes Patsy's ex-husbands Mad-Dog and Daimon Hellstrom into fighting her. Daimon sends Patsy to a dimension ruled by the demon Belial, who tries to bring Hellcat to his side.[72] Patsy then confronts her former friend Black Cat, now leading a gang of criminals.[73] Patsy suddenly catches a cold that causes her to alter reality when she sneezes. After several disasters, Patsy accidentally makes a building disappear. Hedy then calls Patsy and reveals that she is dating the demon Belial, who helps Patsy overcome her grief over She-Hulk and cures her of the cold.[74] Patsy then receives a check for a big amount of money from She-Hulk and takes Ian, Tom, and Jubilee to the mall. While shopping, they encounter two teenage girls pretending to be supervillains, who are revealed to be Patsy's biggest fans. Ian then figures out that the girls like each other and resolves their dispute. After that, Patsy expresses joy of how her life has changed.[75]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Hellcat is in possession of a magic cloak that enables her to sense mystical phenomena or deflect mystical attacks. She is able to summon her costume at will. She also possesses retractable claws and grappling hooks on her wrists. Patsy is also a well-trained martial artist and gymnast, having trained with the Avengers and Moondragon.[76]

Other versions[edit]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

Variant cover to Ultimate Comics New Ultimates #1. Art by Leinil Francis Yu.[77]

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,[78] then as a swimsuit model for Maxim magazine,[79] a talk show hostess, presenting a biography on Doctor Strange,[80] and finally interviewing Norman Osborn.[81] In addition, she appeared in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, hosting an instructional video for the Baxter Building.[82] Patsy assumes her Hellcat identity in Ultimates and was a founding member of the ill-fated Defenders.[83] Walker later shows up with the Defenders in Ultimate Comics: New Ultimates, powered up by Loki.[77]

Heroes Reborn[edit]

In the "Heroes Reborn" universe, Hellcat appears as a member of the Avengers. This version of the character sports a more bestial, "werecat" appearance, similar to Tigra. Envious of Scarlet Witch's beauty, she is manipulated by Loki into siding with Hawkeye against the rest of the team. Patsy takes possession of Scarlet Witch's body, but is killed after Agatha Harkness forcibly expels her essence.[84]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

Rachael Taylor (right) as Trish Walker in the Netflix television series Jessica Jones.
  • Patricia "Trish" Walker appears in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Netflix shows, portrayed by Rachael Taylor as an adult and by Catherine Blades as a teenager.
    • Introduced in Jessica Jones, she is a former child star of the television series It's Patsy, the best friend of Jessica Jones,[85] and the daughter of Dorothy Walker. Desiring her own set of powers and to become a hero in her own right, Trish eventually gets superpowers at the end of the second season, when she volunteers to let Karl Malus experiment on her, nearly killing her in the process. She seemingly develops enhanced superhuman strength, though she is not as strong as Jessica. She also acquired enhanced endurance, agility, balance, and reflexes as well as razor sharp nails and enhanced vision, allowing her to see in the dark. It is also revealed that between the events of the second and third season, Trish began training excessively and used her newfound abilities to become proficient in acrobatics and gymnastics, while also seeking to develop investigative skills like Jessica. At one point, while testing out different disguises, Trish tries on a yellow leotard with a navy sash around the waist and a black cat mask, reminiscent of the costume worn by Hellcat in the comics, to which she replies "Hell, no!". Throughout the third season of Jessica Jones, Trish goes from being a vigilante hero to a villain. After her mother is murdered by serial killer Gregory Sallinger (inspired by the character Foolkiller), Trish gives in to her rage and begins brutally attacking, then later murdering, individuals she deems as evil, believing it to be her duty to make the world a better place by killing them. This ultimately puts her in a confrontation with Jessica and eventually, Jessica is forced to apprehend her and turn her over to the authorities. After she is taken into custody, Trish finally understands that it is she who has become the villain. Trish is last seen being escorted onto a helicopter, presumably bound for the Raft, a prison for super-powered individuals who are a threat to society.
    • Trish makes a voiceover cameo in Luke Cage during season one's "Suckas Need Bodyguards", fielding calls from listeners of her radio show Trish Talk.[86]
    • Trish is a recurring character in The Defenders.[87]

Video games[edit]

References[edit]

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