Published May 13, 2022

Patsy Walker: From Romance Comic Star to Super Hero

Follow Hellcat's journey from romance comic star to Super Hero before Tony Stark pops the question in 'Iron Man' #20 this June.

Hellcat has faced some pretty incredible challenges over the years. Nevertheless, she has overcome them all and seized the opportunity to shine as a leader and a hero. As we get closer to Iron Man’s upcoming proposal to her in IRON MAN #20 and the fallout from that in IRON MAN/HELLCAT ANNUAL #1, let's look back at Patsy’s history and the rollercoaster ride that took her from a romance comic lead to a full-fledged Super Hero.

Early Stardom

Patsy is a rare example of a Super Hero who, at least in her early life, was more famous as herself than as her alter ego. Growing up, Patsy was the star of a comic book written by her mother, Dorothy, which was based on a fictionalized version of her life. The book, as well as Patsy’s stint as a fashion model, threw her into the spotlight at an early age. However, as she mentioned in IRON MAN # 18, Patsy struggled with the fact her mother spent more time writing an idealized version of her than connecting with her real daughter.

Patsy was cast as an “America’s Sweetheart,” despite never actually wanting the fame, and she was relieved when the comic book series finally came to an end. Nonetheless, all those years of constant exposure to comic books left her with an admiration for Super Heroes.

Patsy grew up in the suburban town of Centerville, where she dated Robert “Buzz” Baxter and worked through drama with frenemy Hedy Wolfe. Patsy and Buzz got married, and it looked like they were headed toward a happily-ever-after.

Super Hero 101

Buzz became a U.S. Air Force colonel, but he and Patsy eventually became estranged. In 1972’s AMAZING ADVENTURES #13-15, Patsy began to chart a very different course for herself. She became an assistant to Hank McCoy, AKA Beast, who was working as a scientist while taking a hiatus from the X-Men. With the hope of becoming a Super Hero, she went with McCoy on a mission with the Avengers in 1975’s AVENGERS #141. She ultimately donned her costume – which used to belong to Greer Nelson, AKA Tigra – and became Hellcat.

At first, Patsy relied largely on her natural athletic ability, which came in handy when fighting everyday villains. When going up against tougher villains, though, she made use of her costume’s built-in claws and grappler cables. She was also trained by the Avengers and Moondragon, who helped her refine her fighting skills. Over the years, she also supplemented her abilities with a magic cloak that opened dimensional portals, “demon sight” perception that allowed her to sense mystical energy, a magic field that deflected mystical attacks, and psionic abilities.

Part of Something Super

Patsy initially built up her powers during a training period with Titanian priestess Moondragon, which began in AVENGERS #151. Following that, she encountered the Defenders and, in DEFENDERS #46, she accepted their offer to join the team, rather than joining the Avengers, which had been her previous goal. 

During this time, she met and married Daimon Hellstorm. Eventually, Daimon’s “dark soul” returned, and it was revealed he was literally the Son of Satan. Patsy struggled to maintain her sanity and asked for her spirit to be freed from her body, which essentially killed her – but this being comics, she eventually made a comeback. The villain Grim Reaper resurrected her, but as Mockingbird, not Hellcat. With the help of Scarlet Witch, though, Patsy regained her true personality.

During CIVIL WAR, Patsy supported Super Hero registration and registered herself in 2006’s SHE-HULK #10. She also had prominent roles to play in CIVIL WAR II and other major storylines and events. She worked closely with She-Hulk, Jessica Jones, and others and fought a wide range of supervillains, including Doctor Doom and Dormammu. She would ultimately go on to join the New Avengers in NEW AVENGERS #59.

Clearly, Patsy has come a long way since her days as a teenage celebrity. She has faced plenty of demons, both literal and figurative, and she has grown into a formidable Super Hero. While her earlier attempts at love didn’t exactly work out, things look more hopeful for her now with Tony Stark, whose own experiences mirror hers in a lot of ways.

To catch all the drama of this superpowered proposal, pick up IRON MAN #20, on shelves June 15, and IRON MAN/HELLCAT ANNUAL #1, coming your way on June 29! In the meantime, don't miss Patsy's return to her rom-com roots in PATSY WALKER INFINITY COMIC #1, which is now available on the Marvel Unlimited app.

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