Patricia Walker (aka Patsy Walker, aka Trish Walker, aka. Hellcat) is one of the hidden gems of the Marvel universe. From her earliest days as the protagonist of a series of teen-romance comics, to her most recent run as a hyper-optimistic do-gooder, to her turn as a confidant and radio host on Netflix’s Jessica Jones, there’s not really much Hellcat can’t do if she puts her mind to it.
Most often remembered as a staple of The Defenders during the 1970s and ‘80s, Hellcat made a name for herself by standing toe-to-toe with powerhouse heroes like the Hulk and Valkyrie, and refusing to back down from any fight, with friend or foe alike.
While her earliest Patsy Walker comics are fondly remembered (both in-universe and out), the most recent run of Hellcat comics by Kate Leth and Brittney Williams have been credited with being some of the most inclusive, feminist comics released by Marvel, possibly ever. If that wasn’t enough, they’re also all-ages and incredibly funny, making them some of the most approachable comics out there.
Since the series’ cancellation in April of this year, the world is sadly without a Hellcat at the moment. However, with Netflix’s version of The Defenders set to bow soon, and the second season of Jessica Jones not too long after, it’s only a matter of time before we see Hellcat on the small screen.
In the meantime, here are the 15 Things You Never Knew About The Defender’s Hellcat.
15. She Blackmailed the Beast
Because her parents were successful comic book creators, Patsy grew up surrounded by comics. Even as she resented seeing her own life in print, she began to idolize the superheroes she read about in other books. What was she– a “silly female”– to do about it?
Well, blackmail, obviously.
While her husband was busy with the Air Force, Patsy struck out on her own and became an assistant to Hank McCoy, aka the Beast, while he was on hiatus from the X-Men and working at the Brand Corporation’s laboratories. Only she didn’t know he was him yet, not until he accidentally turned himself blue and came barging into her apartment.
Not about to let an opportunity go to waste, Patsy promised to keep his identity a secret if he promised to help her become a superheroine. Beast agreed and, a few years later, when he and the Avengers were back at Brand, Patsy cashed in her chips and joined up with team. A few issues after that, Hellcat was born.
14. She Married the Son of Satan (And Then Killed Herself)
After her stunning debut, the Avengers offered Hellcat a membership with their illustrious organization, which she politely declined. Instead, Hellcat made a name for herself as a core member of The Defenders, alongside Valkyrie, Nighthawk, and the Hulk.
A few years into her run there, the ever-shifting team joined up with Daimon Hellstrom, the actual Son of Satan, to fight off some supernatural baddies. He and Hellcat were clearly interested in each other, and once he “cured” himself of his demonic aspects, the two were married. Quitting the team to become occult investigators in San Francisco, they would occasionally help out the West Coast Avengers or Doctor Strange, but mostly laid low for the better part of a decade.
Eventually, the two would get their own comic, Hellstrom: Prince of Lies. Because sometimes you can judge a book by its cover, Daimon Hellstrom almost immediately goes full evil and drives Patsy insane. She ends up vegetative in a mental institution, where Deathurge, Marvel’s abstract entity of self-destruction, talks her into suicide.
13. She Fought Magical Bears and Teamed Up With An Army of Bunnies
After signing the Superhuman Registration Act, Hellcat is sent to Alaska, all by her lonesome, as part of the 50 State Initiative (as documented by the Patsy Walker: Hellcat limited series).
It’s kind of a crazy story, but here goes: stopping in North Spirit, Hellcat sniffs out some magic and ends up fighting two magic bears and a sea monster, before get flushed down a hole in a frozen lake.
She ends up in a witches’ den, then agrees to help them find their missing daughter, embarking on an arctic road trip and collecting passengers along the way: one of the bears she’d earlier skinned, a lemming, a talking stone calendar, an enormous wolf, and a ton of bunnies that are able to form a bridge when needed.
Eventually, Hellcat finds the girl – only she wasn’t kidnapped, she ran away to live with her yeti boyfriend. The girl hates her witch moms, and her dad is the calendar. Also the sea monster shows up again.
Anyway, the girl’s super obnoxious so Hellcat punches her, takes her home, and then helps talk the witches into letting the girl go to art school.
12. She Was Drawn By Guys From Mad Magazine And Archie Comics
If a cutesy comic about a guy torn between two girls with differently colored hair sounds familiar … well, that’s actually just how romance comics tended to work back then. However, that doesn’t mean that Patsy Walker didn’t have some Archie connections of her own.
Al Hartley (son of the Congressman who gave us the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act) was the artist for Patsy Walker for over a decade, before having a change of heart when superheroes started taking center stage at Marvel. Becoming a born-again Christian, Hartley jumped ship for Archie Comics, covertly sneaking churchy messages into his books until they politely asked him to stop.
On the other end of the spectrum, Al Jaffee, a future Mad Magazine cartoonist and the creator of the “Fold-In” back cover gag, wrote and drew most of the early issues of Patsy Walker, several of which included the highly stylized visual jokes and one-page strips that would eventually become synonymous with Mad.
11. Her Backstory Is Hella Meta
For the first few years, Patsy Walker and the other teen romance books released by Marvel seemed to exist on their own, separate from the publisher’s superhero efforts. That all changed in 1965, when Patsy Walker and Hedy Wolfe made a cameo appearance at the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm in Fantastic Four Annual #3, establishing the Patsy Walker comics as true Marvel canon. (You know, until they weren’t.)
Once Patsy became Hellcat and joined The Defenders, she explained that the Patsy Walker comics in our world were also comics in the Marvel world, written by Patsy’s mom. Patsy, unsurprisingly, wasn’t a huge fan of this, but whatever. She still got along with her mom – even crashing at her place in New Jersey with the rest of The Defenders – and the comics were nothing more than a footnote.
Recent comics (and Netflix’s Jessica Jones), however, have put a lot more emphasis on the in-universe Patsy Walker comics. Because the books were an invasion of Patsy’s privacy, her relationship with her mom became strained, and the eventual re-release of the comics by Hedy Wolfe caused Patsy no end of distress– even if they were super popular.
10. She Was Rescued From Hell (Twice)
After killing herself, Patsy Walker ends up in Mephisto’s realm, where she’s forced to fight a never-ending battle in the Arena of Tainted Souls, because this girl cannot catch a break. Her opponent? None other than Bobbi Morse, aka Mockingbird.
Eventually the Grim Reaper shows up – the villain, not the skeleton in the cloak – and resurrects the two heroes, along with a bunch of others, warping them into an Avengers-hating army.
Scarlet Witch undoes the Reaper’s magic, reluctantly sending her friends back to Hell. On the way back down, though, Mockingbird gets a message to her husband, Hawkeye, who then goes in after her. Intending to free her, he teams up with Daimon Hellstrom, only to be tricked by the Son of Satan into bringing back Patsy instead.
Later, in the questionable Marvel Divas mini, Patsy agrees to spend one night in Hell with her ex-husband in exchange for him curing Angelica Jones, aka Firestar, of cancer. One again Hellstrom lies, Patsy is trapped, and her girlfriends have to use a monkey’s paw to bring her back home.
9. She Was Not The First Cat-Themed Hero To Wear The Costume
The Avengers #144 found Patsy and the Avengers fleeing from the Squadron Supreme, only for the head of Roxxon to fire a bunch of guided missiles at them, separating the heroes.
Along with Captain America and Iron Man, Patsy stumbles into a storage room deep within the Brand complex. To everyone’s surprise, the Cat’s costume is just sitting there, hanging out on top of a bunch of crates.
The Cat, aka Greer Grant Nelson, had been another female crimefighter and an acquaintance of the Avengers. After a few outings as the Cat, she was transformed into the were-cat Tigra and ditched her duds. Iron Man surmises that Brand or Roxxon must have purchased the suit on the black market, because who wouldn’t want a super suit? Patsy Walker sure as heck did.
While the two men are debating whether or not it’s safe to give Patsy the suit, she straight up takes it from Cap’s hand, then orders them to turn around so she can get changed, right then and there.
8. She Rescued Hell Itself (Once)
In between turns getting rescued from Hell, Hellcat actually went in a third time, on her own – and this time she rescued Hell itself.
After accidentally being brought back to life by Hawkeye and his Thunderbolts, Patsy Walker was, understandably pretty messed up. Depressed and doubting herself, she hung up her tights and went back home to Centerville, California, only to discover the town was overrun by Nicholas Scratch and his cult, the Sons of Serpents.
One of the Serpents let slip that Dormammu was plotting to take over all of the Hell dimensions, including the ones governed by Mephisto and Daimon Hellstrom. Figuring Dormammu would be an even worse devil, Hellcat once more went into the breach, uniting the demons and death gods and driving Dormammu back to his own dimension.
No longer depressed and now imbued with the ability to sense magic and the occult, along with the nifty ability to create her own costume at will, Hellcat triumphantly rejoined The Defenders – even though that version of The Defenders was cancelled after a year and their memory was erased from existence by Doctor Strange.
7. Netflix’s Trish Walker Is Inspired By The Ultimate Patsy Walker
On paper, Netflix’s version of Patricia Walker doesn’t have a ton in common with the comic book version. They’ve both got the domineering mom who ripped off their lives for a comic book, yes, but there’s not much else.
For starters, they have different nicknames: Trish and Patsy. Trish is blonde, while Patsy has always been a redhead. Trish is in training, but she’s not a superhero yet; Patsy’s been Hellcatting for over forty years.
Also, obviously, Patsy Walker isn’t a radio news host – at least, not the Earth 616 version. Ultimate Patsy Walker, on the other hand, is a news host, shown discussing Doctor Strange and interviewing Norman Osborn. Let’s hope that’s where the similarities end, though – The Ultimate Defenders were kind of terrible, even before they ended up being corrupted by Loki.
6. She’s Best Friends With She-Hulk
Perhaps stemming from her earliest days as a teen-romance icon, Patsy Walker has remained a social butterfly and amazing friend in all of her iterations, often championing her female friendships in times of crisis.
Hellcat’s contact list is a long one: she’s BFFs with She-Hulk, as well as Jubilee, Firestar, Black Cat, and the second Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau. There’s also Squirrel Girl and Miss America, and, from back in her earliest Defenders days, Valkyrie and Moondragon, and of course, there was Beast before that. Captain America also took a liking to her, volunteering to teach her how to fight.
She even appears as Jessica Jones’s only friend in the Netflix corner of the MCU. (In the comics, the slightly less anti-social Jones pals around with Carol Danvers, the current Captain Marvel.) Will Trish hit it off with any of the other Defenders? Only time will tell, but we’d bet on “yes.”
5. She Is Older Than Marvel Comics
Patsy Walker first appeared in Miss America Magazine #2 way back in 1944 when Marvel was still Timely Comics. Created by writer Otto Binder and artist Ruth Atkinson, redheaded Patsy Walker – along with her parents Stanley and Betty, her boyfriend Robert “Buzz” Baxter, and raven-haired frenemy Hedy Wolfe – remained popular well into the 1960s.
She showed up in the pages of Miss America, Teen Comics, Girls’ Life, and her very own teen-humor series Patsy Walker, Patsy and Hedy, Patsy and Her Pals, and the one-off A Date with Patsy.
Patsy Walker was among only a handful of titles that were published continuously by Marvel from the 1940s, through their 1950s stint as Atlas Comics, and right into the 1960s Silver Age.
In fact, Patsy Walker #95 – along with Journey Into Mystery #69, headlined by alien monkey Korilla – was the first comic to be released under the Marvel Comics banner in 1961, making her, technically, Marvel’s oldest existing character.
4. She Ran A Job Agency For Superpowered People
Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat! by Kate Leth and Brittney Williams opened with Patsy getting fired from Jennifer Walters’ law firm and kicked out of the storage closet she was living in.
But, hey, Patsy has literally been to Hell and back; this was nothing. Accosting a hapless supervillain/attempted bank robber on the street, Patsy discovers that Ian Soo, the Inhuman thief in question, really just wants a job – only most folks don’t want to hire Inhumans.
Conveniently running into an old friend, Patsy ends up getting Ian a job at a book store that very afternoon, sparking the idea for a job agency for superhumans. After her friends express interest, Patsy begins in earnest, running odd jobs to get the money for it, while simultaneously pursuing legal action over her reprinted comics.
In the end, everything works out, and the temp agency is successful enough that Patsy even hires Jubilee as an intern, finally giving her something useful to do.
3. She Has Psychic Powers (Sort Of)
Already a fit and agile human person, Patsy Walker’s original Cat suit supplemented her natural abilities slightly. Not being enough for her, though, she trained with Captain America, then traveled to Titan, one of the moons of Saturn, to train in advanced martial arts with Moondragon.
While she was there, Moondragon noticed latent psychic abilities within Patsy and the two began to develop them, Yoda and Luke-style, until Hellcat bailed to join The Defenders. Moondragon was understandably cheesed about the move, so she turns off all of Patsy’s telekinetic training, because apparently that’s a thing she can do.
Years later, after Hellcat was retrieved from Mephisto’s realm, she discovered that she did have some psychic abilities after all: she can detect mystical and occult energy from a distance, and see through glamours and illusions. She can also summon her suit, magically exchanging it with whatever she’s wearing.
2. She Had A Hellcatmobile
Like any superhero worth her salt, Hellcat had a fancy car that she gratuitously named after herself. Unlike most of those other supercars, though, the Hellcatmobile didn’t really do anything other than drive and be expensive.
Purchased by her teammate Nighthawk for $50,000 in 1975 money, the red Lola Mk1 racecar was meant to be a way for The Defenders to get around in style. Patsy Walker took it for a test drive and no one else was able to take it back.
The Hellcatmobile appeared a few times over the years, most notably during the “Defenders for a Day” story, where Hellcat used her tiny sports car to give a lift to Iron Fist, White Tiger, and Hercules, with poor Havok hanging off the bumper.
1. She Once Caught A Cold That Allowed Her To Change Reality
Shortly after “Civil War II,” Patsy Walker throws a party for her friends, celebrating all the holidays they missed during the rampant hero-on-hero brawling. Then Patsy sneezes and things get weird.
Specifically, she sneezes her friends into Luke Cage and Valkyrie’s outfits, sets a glass on fire, and then makes a building disappear. Oh, and she also creates a giant, angry plush tiger named Mr. Sniffles that keeps trying to kill her.
Eventually, she realizes that she caught the “pan-dimensional stress flu,” and its symptoms are, as the name suggests, exacerbated by stress, like, say, her best friend She-Hulk ending up in a coma, and her first best friend Heda Wolfe dating a demon.
Ultimately, though, that very same demon, Belial, helps talk Patsy through her struggles, getting her to stop sneezing magic and decide to be Hellcat full time again. The world was forever better for it. Thank you, Belial. And thank you, Patsy, just for being you.
Can you think of any other interesting facts about The Defenders‘s Hellcat? Let us know in the comment section!
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