Wedding proposals aren’t always bliss as we recently learned from Hellcat and Iron Man in Iron Man #20. In response, Hellcat is headed to San Francisco in Iron Man/Hellcat Annual #1, out this Wednesday. It’s a special that delves into Hellcat’s past while further exploring her feelings around potentially marrying Tony Stark.
As the preview shows, the wedding is on and many Marvel heroes are invited. Kinda odd Hellcat and Iron Man are going with “Hell-Iron” for the last name, but let them do them. Soon we see, though, that the very odd wedding is a dream and Hellcat is having a nightmare. She’s actually on a plane headed to California but is made physically sick from the dream. Writer Christopher Cantwell sets up early on Hellcat is reeling from a few different things, not least of which is the pressure of marriage.
As the story unfolds, it’s clear Cantwell truly loves Hellcat. There are some callbacks to her past that avid Marvel fans will pick up on and casuals will be learning about firsthand here. Frankly, I found this story enlightening as it fleshed out the complexities of the character, her family, and her ties to Hell. Typically Marvel has treated her more as a sidekick and it’s a breath of fresh air to get a fuller look at the character in this one-shot.
There’s an empowering story that unfolds here as well. Cantwell supplies Hellcat with an adventure of discovery, but also one of manipulation. One can see she turned Tony Stark down for marriage in part because she needs to get her house in order. Given the supervillains that show up, there’s a lot to unpack for her and for the reader. It’s also exciting to see the story lean into the supernatural.
The extra-sized issue has a great opening, good confrontation, and some interesting insight into Hellcat and her family. It does take a bit to get going once the nightmare opening ends, however. Over ten or so pages could the pace be quickened, or a minor conflict amp things up? Possibly. It doesn’t help Hedy Wolfe is an annoying sort of character who eats up a lot of these pages.
Art by Ruairi Coleman has a fluid feel that suits the nightmare in the opening and the hellish goings-on midway through the issue. There’s a dreamlike quality to the style that suits the different aspects of the story. Supervillains look great too, along with Iron Man, who makes an appearance later in the issue.
Colors by Triona Farrell do a lot to create an ominous atmosphere or set apart flashback-style scenes. When Iron Man shows up, Farrell adds tons of volume to the Iron Man suit giving it a lot of depth and appealing edges.
Letters by Joe Caramagna are solid per usual. His sound effects are fabulous–I seem to mention them at least once a week depending on whatever book he’s lettering–helping guide the action with a “whaack” or a “shhllaakk.” Screams and shouts are also well emphasized.
Iron Man/Hellcat Annual #1 is a good Hellcat-focused one-shot spinning out of Iron Man and offering some much-needed focus on the character. If you dig the supernatural and Marvel deep-cuts, don’t pass on this great one-shot.
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