Patsy Walker contains multitudes. She’s been a teen idol, a paranormal detective, and so many other things. As pointed out by one of the reader letters at the end of this debut issue, Patsy Walker has a “bizarrely unique” history in the comics realm, and this new miniseries from Christopher Cantwell, Alex Lins, and KJ Díaz appears poised to take full advantage of that fact. Cantwell’s script cleverly embraces the whole of Patsy Walker’s comic book history, including the use of a dual narrative that takes its cues from the old Patsy and Hedy comics to comment on Patsy’s “real world.” Every few pages, the book will then show us a page from the in-universe comics about Patsy’s teenage years, juxtaposing them with scenes that show the reader that things weren’t all bubblegum and sock hops for the young hero.
The creative team clearly relishes the opportunity to play in both of these worlds. Cantwell fills these segments with pitch perfect “gee willikers” dialogue, while Lins and Díaz make exquisite stylistic choices throughout to further separate the present action from the comic-within-a-comic. These scenes feel like they could fit right into a certain “Town with Pep!” without anyone being the wiser — but the fact that the book frequently shows us just how fraught Patsy’s childhood actually was makes these cutesy stories stand out even more as the lies they truly are. Meanwhile, the earthy tones and jagged edges of Patsy’s flashbacks to the mysterious massacre that killed her boyfriend further illustrate just how lost she is at the start of this mystery.
There are so many brilliant choices being made here that perfectly delineate the many timelines at work, making the book a cinch to follow and presenting us with an in-depth examination of every facet of Patsy Walker.
This already feels like it’s going to be a hugely important statement on one of comics’ most versatile characters. Patsy’s journey to superhero leading lady has always been a strange one, and this book makes no apologies for the years of tangled threads. In fact, Cantwell and company bring in every woman that Patsy Walker has ever been and force them to have a narrative conversation with one another.
It’s possible that this could be someone’s first Hellcat book, and yet they’d get a full picture of where she’s come from and where she might be headed. Meanwhile, longtime fans of the character may be surprised to learn new elements of her history as Patsy kicks and slashes her way into tomorrow. The book doesn’t miss a step from Cantwell’s Iron Man run, yet it also immediately forges a bloody, dreamlike path all its own. I’m a little bit in awe of the work that has already gone into this first issue, and I eagerly await the next chapter.
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