Things are getting spooky for Patsy, including the return of her ex who is literally the devil. No, I mean LITERALLY. Your Major Spoilers review of Hellcat #1 from Marvel Comics awaits!
Writer: Christopher Cantwell
Artist: Alex Lins
Colorist: KJ Diaz
Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher
Editor: Martin Biro
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: March 8, 2023
Previously in Hellcat: Hellcat is back! Patsy is back on the west coast, living in a demon house haunted by the ghost of her mother! When someone close to Patsy’s inner circle is murdered, Hellcat becomes the prime suspect! Now Patsy must prove her innocence and evade both the police and the supernatural Sleepwalkers. To add to the perils she faces, her demonic ex Daimon Hellstrom is waiting in the wings and that’s never a good thing…
A MYSTERIOUS MURDER
We open with Hellcat, battered and bloody, handcuffed in the back of a squad car, wondering whether or not she’s a good person or not. Given that she’s actually been consigned to Hell more than once in her lives, it’s a valid one, moreso now that a man is dead. After returning to her childhood home in the recent Iron Man Annual, Patsy Walker is now living with her dead mother’s spirit, which has led her back into old relationships. When she visits her old frenemy Hedy, she meets one Spalding Grantham, who charms her, despite being Hedy’s ex, which leads to a whirlwind courtship and Grantham’s horrifying murder. When she investigates the scene, though, Patsy finds one important clue that leads her to another prime suspect: Rick Sheridan, the man who hosts Sleepwalker!
AN UNEXPECTED GUEST STAR
That reveal is the moment that takes Hellcat’s adventure in a whole new direction, and that’s to the benefit of the story. Cantwell just completed a long run on Iron Man, and brings some of that baggage here, specifically Hellcat’s use of alcohol to dull the pain of getting her face caved in for a living. That part of this issue feels a little bit too much like Fraction/Aja Hawkeye, which feels weird as we also address Patsy’s multiple deaths, her ex-husband the devil, the telepathic powers she got from an alien one time, and more of her history. The art is appropriately gritty for the story being told, though not necessarily for a Hellcat or Sleepwalker story, but Lins excels at the human moments. Hellcat’s flashbacks to her childhood look really good, and the moments in the police station that opens the issue are likewise very attractive.
BOTTOM LINE: SURPRISING AND MOODY
In short (or not for long), Hellcat #1 manages to place Patsy Walker in an interesting place in the Marvel Universe, a normal girl whose life went crazy and who has seen nearly everything, making for a strong premise, with art that gets the point across for 3 out of 5 stars overall. Given the number of people who wanted more Hellcat based on her place in Iron Man’s story, I hope that this series gets the numbers to keep coming out long enough to finish the obvious long game Cantwell and Lins are prepared to play.
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Fresh off her relationship with Iron Man, Patsy Walker has gone solo again, and her late mother doesn't approve. Throw in a murder investigation and a washed-up super guest star, and it's a solid launch.