Happy Pride, Hellcats! In honor of this month’s Pride’s celebration, let’s take a moment to look back on one of this year’s best LGBTQIA+ comics, PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT!

Hellcat’s ‘Average’ Superhero Life Represents The Real World

Just looking at Hellcat, it’s easy to see why one would fall in love at first sight with the comic. With the clean lines, bold colors, and amazing character designs done by Brittney Williams and Megan Wilson, or the fantastic writing by Kate Leth who fluidly combines slice of life and superhero genre, the comic instantly captures your attention and holds it hostage. PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT! follows the life of Patsy Walker. This is after her life post-Hell (long story) as she tries to start up a temp agency for people with powers, or people who previously had powers, who have a hard time getting employed in New York. In addition to all the aforementioned reasons, PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT! is one of my favorite comics ever because it is one of the most queer-positive ones I’ve ever read.

READ: Check out our review for PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT! #1!

Ian Soo

PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT!
From PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT!, courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Ian Soo alone deserves a section of his own. My initial introduction to Ian had been the same as Patsy’s in issue #1, seeing this shady character in sunglasses (yes, I made a terrible joke) lingering around an armored car full of money, who calls himself Telekinian — and yes, he is aware the name is awful. After proceeding to confront this suspicious character — and giving him a black eye in the process — Ian and Patsy immediately bond over their mutual love of WICKED and why it hasn’t received a cinematic adaption. They actually become friends to the point that Ian offers to be her roommate. Ian and Patsy’s friendship is a beautiful thing to see, as it is built on a foundation of mutual, platonic affection and interests, in which Patsy and Ian are there to support each other through romantic woes, urban living, and your average supernatural shenanigans.

PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT!
Image from PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT! #6, courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Ian is also undoubtedly bisexual. I had my suspicions since issue #1 of the series, but was happily correct when PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT! #6 confirmed it with a simple affirmation. Ian casually uses the actual word “bi” when referencing himself. This is rarer in fiction than it should be. I can’t emphasize how uncommon it is to see a canon bisexual character in fiction, much less a bisexual man of color, like Ian, who in addition to being bisexual is also Chinese-American.

Strong Characters Avoid Stereotypes

Unfortunately, bisexuality is still fairly underrepresented in any fictional medium, and when it does it often comes with awful stereotypes that reduce one’s humanity to clichés. However, Ian Soo’s character avoids all those pitfalls. He is shown with unique individual traits, insecurities, and strengths that acknowledge him as a person rather than a token character.

For example, Ian is given various character arcs within the comic. These include him falling in love with his co-worker, Tom Hale, and exploring his painful and toxic relationship with an ex-girlfriend who has denied his bisexuality to the point that she has refused to acknowledge his past relationships with men. She even accuses him of cheating. This acknowledges the ever-present biphobia people like Ian face in real life. In addition, Ian is shown as many things: an amazing dresser, an avid fan of musicals, a loyal friend, touching upon his most important identity as a multifaceted human being.

READ: Want better Asian representation in popular media? So do we!

Queer-Normativity of HELLCAT

PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT!
PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT! #9

In addition to the wonderful Ian Soo, queer characters populate PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT! One of these is Tom Hale, Patsy Walker’s childhood friend, and Ian Soo’s love interest. Another is Sharon King, She-Hulk’s landlord, who is a lesbian and ex-mutant. In fact, the entire atmosphere of PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT! is seen as a casually open environment. This is shown by various examples of queer culture in Tom’s LGBTQIA+ bookstore Burly Books. The book also showcases music references and queer fashion throughout the book. Reading PATSY WALKER, A.KA. HELLCAT! is like being covered by a warm, familiar blanket in which queer identity is treated as something entirely accepted and acknowledged, a rarity that should be expanded upon in canon fiction. If you’re a fan of queer-normative titles like MARVEL’S YOUNG AVENGERS and DC’s BOMBSHELLS, then PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT! will be a welcoming series to read.

READ: Want more LGBTQAI+ Comics? Learn more about DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR!

Just For the Hell of It

From adventures involving magical purses to evil sorcerers, PASTY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT! is an amazing comic to read. It’s like a fantastic dream that you never want to wake up from. Patsy Walker herself is fun and vivacious. She’s also powerful in many ways, as is the company she surrounds herself with. Whether job hunting in New York or eating burgers with fellow superheroes, the comic takes you along Hellcat’s journey at a break-neck speed, while never losing its capacity for humor or joy.

PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT!
Image from PASTY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT!, courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Unfortunately, the series is currently at a close with seventeen issues. This was a decision that the creators claimed was on their terms, so one might take some relief from that. Nevertheless, the creators of PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT! have given its audience something wonderful: a strong and lovable female protagonist, a kick-ass supporting cast, and beautiful queerness that I want in more of my comics. Kate Leth herself had such positive words for the series. “It, like our audience, is queer, fun, weird, delightful, and almost purely made of joy. So, thank you! Thank you with all my heart.”

I wish you all a Happy Pride — hopefully spent reading amazing LGBTQIA+ comics like PASTY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT!

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