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Month of Cool Avengers/X-Men Comic Book Moments – Debut of the Hellcat!

All month long we will feature brand-new Cool Avengers and X-Men Comic Book Moments in celebration of their fiftieth anniversaries this month. Here is an archive of all the past cool comic moments that I’ve featured so far over the years.

Today we look at the debut of a new Avengers, the Hellcat!!

Things are going poorly for the Avengers in Avengers #144 (written by Steve Englehart and drawn by George Perez and Mike Esposito). They are trapped in the Brand Corporation’s headquarters lowest levels. They just survived a missile attack (a scene so cool that I might feature it in the future) and the team is split up into smaller groups, ripe for attack by the brainwashed Squadron Supreme, who the Brand Corporation had under their control.

Captain America and Iron Man split up with Patsy Walker, who was the one who alerted them to the problems at Brand (her jerk husband worked for Brand).

Cap and Iron Man come across the costume of the former heroine known as the Cat (who had since become Tigra).

We got a quick recap of the Cat’s history and then Cap makes an interesting offer…

This leads to the dramatic debut of the Hellcat…

Wow, early Perez and it was already awesome!!

21 Comments

The Crazed Spruce

September 22, 2013 at 5:22 am

I love how Cap changed his mind during Patsy’s epic three-page flashback. It’s like she was staring off into space for a good five minutes or so reminiscing, and he thought, “Nah, this ain’t gonna work…”

Patsy Walker was the Avengers answer to Kitty Pryde even before Kitty was even created.

I got this as a back issue while collecting the series around 1981-1983. Given Tony’s rep, I wouldn’t rule out that he’d sneak a peek at Patsy undressing if only he hadn’t been arguing with Cap, who is still sore from losing Boss Hogg’s son-in-law to that great Dead Cap Sidekick Society in the sky.

Make that brothers-in-law, actually.

Rhis whole arc is pretty awesome, from the follow-up to the plotlines and political themes of Engelhart’s Captain America, to the end of the Kang War and bringing Two-Gun Kid to the present, to the Squadron Supreme part that’s a flat-out parody of the contemporary Justice League of America comic titled “20, 000 Leagues under Justice” (which prompted Engelhart to write himself into his first story in JLofA to apologize for not taking the League seriously enough or something; personally, I think he should’ve apologized for writing Mantis in later on for no real reason).

The problem with this scene is that in the original Cat series, the costume DIDN’T enhance the user’s physical abilities- Dr. Tumolo’s treatment did that. In fact, in the original series, a woman who volunteered for Tumolo’s treatment but didn’t follow the instructions tries on the costume and winds up getting killed almost immediately. So, logically, the same thing should have happened to Patsy.

“Miss Walker, could you play… Cat?”
“Yes! YES!”
“No. I’m sorry. I’ve changed my mind.”

It’s even funnier if you read Cap’s lines with the voice of John Cleese. :)

You know, read by itself, the intro panel to this column is kind of dirty…

“Wait a minute, Avenger.”

UGH! An Avenger referring to someone else as “Avenger” is a grade A way to take me out of a story. So dumb.

So, is this where they got the idea for those toe sock-shoes I keep seeing?

I love the whole idea that the blink-and-you-missed-her Cat was a legacy that needed filling at all. I guess if the costume could come in handy, that’s fine, but any recap of her history would necessarily be quick because she hardly appeared at all before transitioning into Tigra.

I’m not knocking Hellcat, mind you, because Patsy was great.

Technical point, the Supremes (as presented in this arc) weren’t brainwashed–they simply saw siding with the military industrial complex as a sensible thing to do. The idea of brainwashing didn’t come up until Gruenwald’s Squadrom Supreme 12-parter years later.

love how pattsy when becoming hell cat wound up not only telling beast look you are a fine one to talk but telling cap too hey you need some help and i am all you got even if you think i am nuts wanting to be a super hero with out any powers. plus interesting to learn patty had a first husband before she hooked up with damian hell storm. not to mention always thought tigra was just tigra not the cat

Minor colouring mistake– The Beast should’ve been grey when she found him on the doorstep. He didn’t turn blue (actually, black with blue highlights– he just sort of became blue gradually after that) until he was lying on her couch. This really upset him when he regained consciousness because it meant he was still mutating.

I’ve only ever read two issues of his Amazing Adventures series, but that’s one of them.

Back in the day when my teenage self first saw that hellcat panel it was love at first sight.

I first read this issue when it was collected in the Avengers: The Serpent Crown trade paperback several years ago. Yeah, I do think that Patsy assuming the identity of Hellcat is kind of awkward. But I’ve always liked the character. I think it’s nice that, despite having “Hell” in her name, she has usually been written as a cheerful, upbeat character, rather than grim & gritty. I mean, yeah, things got REALLY dark for her in the Hellstorm series, where she went insane, committed suicide, and ended up in hell. But once Kurt Busiek resurrected her, Hellcat was soon back to her usual, enthusiastic self.

I didn’t like the way she went back to her usual self, though- the entire reason Daimon went evil was because he had been separated from his Darksoul, was dying as a result and Patsy remerged them against Daimon’s wishes. I agree that it was a stupid plot but unless it’s been retconned, she should feel some guilt over what Daimon’s become.

Honestly, I never much liked that particular marriage, which was done more in the interest of pensioning off both Patsy and Daimon than in keeping them viable or interesting as continuing characters (well, OK, and for the joke of the Girl Next Door marrying the ex-Antichrist.).

Also, in defense of Patsy’s actions, Daimon-with-Darksoul was rarely if ever quite as awful in the 1970s and 1980s comics where they met as he was in the revived Hellstrom title. The guy who helped the Defenders fight the Sons of the Serpent and battled his father was the guy she thought was coming back, and with good reason. She simply didn’t realize that she was in a supernatural horror comic rather than a superhero comic.

This was my first issue of the Avengers. (Within a year or so, I had most of the issues from #130 on. I picked them up at used bookstores priced at 2 for a quarter.) Such a great time for the Avengers!

And such a great storyline to start with! Not just an intro to the Avengers, but also to Kang, Marvel’s western heroes, the Squadron Supreme, Patsy Walker, the Beast’s 1970s series, Greer Nelson. Wow!

And how aout Iron Man’s nose! (I know a lot of people think it looks strange, but he had it when I started reading Iron Man and the Avengers, so it doesn’t look at all peculiar to me.)

Teen heart throb Reed Richards!

This is an interesting earlyish example of the sliding timeline. Whereas other 1940s characters required some kind of explanation as to how they remained so young (Cap, Namor, Nick Fury), with Patsy they just said the hell with it and moved her teen heyday from the 1940s to the late 1960s, just like things would mostly be done in comics in the future.

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