Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Trade Waiting - Patsy Walker: Hellcat

While Patsy Walker: Hellcat is a good collection, there is something incredibly stupid about it. Actually, it's something stupid with Marvel. What's my problem? This is a direct market only collection, meaning it is not available in book stores or at Amazon.com.

Aside from my inherent disgust at something like this, I fail to see the logic behind it all. The first issue ended up at 118 on the direct market sales chart and the final issue at 186. Why would you sell something like this in the direct market only when that market has already showed very little interest in it. With the style and tone of the book, it is something that would likely have a larger audience in book stores or at Amazon.

I can understand the desire to draw people to the direct market who would not normally shop there, but how are those people going to be aware of this book? And, let's say someone does find out about this book and wants to buy it, what are the odds that they actually go to a comic shop and then the odds that a comic shop actually has it, given how well it didn't sell the first time around? Not very likely I'd say. Anyway, enough pontification, hit the jump for my review.

Written by Kathyrn Immonen
Art by Stuart Immonen and David Lafuente
Collects Patsy Walker: Hellcat #1-5 and material from Marvel Comics Presents #1-4

This trade is divided up into two stories. The first is a four part short story from the most recent volume of Marvel Comics Presents and then the actual miniseries, Patsy Walker: Hellcat.

The MCP story involves Patsy going on a date, but, while getting ready, she accidentally opens a diary of her's. Unknown to her, doing so has unleashed aspects of her personality and they all end up going to the restaurant where she is having her date. Hilarity ensues. There is not much depth to the story, but it's funny and endearing. Plus, Stuart Immonen draws it, so that's another plus for it and he does do a wonderful job with the material. A nice, enjoyable tale, overall.

The other story is the Pasty Walker: Hellcat miniseries that gives the collection its name. The story involves Hellcat going to Alaska to serve as the state's 'team' for the Initiative, with her being the only member of the team, at the request of Iron Man. Once there, Hellcat is recruited to find the lost heir of a group of witches, of the non-evil variety, and then sets off on her quest.

The story is pretty simple, with Hellcat going from Point A to Point B and no major detours or other subplots, but it's an interesting and amusing journey. There is a lot of magic involved and Immonen does a great job making it interesting. She also does a lot of great things with it that help move the story forward without having it feel contrived. There is also a nice twist with the resolution of the story and, while not anything overly original, I did enjoy it. It's a very non-superhero ending, which is a way to describe a lot of the book.

This is, obviously, not to say the book is bad, because it is good, but that fans of typical superhero stories are not going to find what they might expect, which is what I actually liked about this story. Immonen just tells her own story without adhering to standard superhero tropes, cliches and themes, which makes her story stronger.

Hellcat is a pretty good character when written by Immonen. She's fun, spunky and, I guess, peppy, for lack of a better word. She is amusing and highly entertaining and is actually the force behind the story. She is also the best thing about the story due to her quirky nature which helps with the comedic tone of the story.

It's also a pretty light hearted adventure which makes it all the more enjoyable. The various characters that show up throughout the book are also enjoyable, though none can match the awesome character that is Hellcat here. I would love to see more stories with Hellcat by Immonen, but the chances of that happening at this point are quite slim.

The art by Lafuente is fantastic. Simple as that. His art is vibrant and emotive, which really helps to bring the story alive. The facial expressions that he uses on Hellcat are just delightful at times and just add another layer of detail to the story. His layouts are also very good and he has no problem with action sequences either. The various character designs in the book are pretty good, too. His art also matches the tone of Immonen's story perfectly. Great job for whoever matched these two creators up.

Perhaps the best thing I have to say about the trade is that it has convinced me to buy other works by the creative team. For instance, I will definitely be buying the first trade of Immonen's Runaways run after reading this and Lafuente's art has also sold me on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. Or, rather, it would have had Marvel not done everything else in their power to kill my interest in it with Ultimatum, delays, foil covers and what have you.

Verdict - Must Read. A delightful tale that should please people looking for something different from their superhero stories.

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Klep said...

I agree with you regarding the DM-only nature of this trade. I've read the MCP story and the first issue of the mini and quite enjoyed it. If it was an option for me, I would consider buying it. As is, Marvel has basically guaranteed that I won't.

Kirk Warren said...

I also read this as it was coming out and loved it for the simplistic nature and plain fun story. It's not for everyone, but worth checking out if you're the least bit interested.

I hadn't heard about the direct market nature (or forgot about it) of this trade, so was surprised to read it wasn't going to be at Amazon or bookstores. Would have figured it'd be a surefire thing for Amazon and Barnes and Nobles, etc. Seems liek it would find the perfect audience for casual readers that just wanta fun book to pick up.

Rich said...

When I found out it wouldn't be available from Amazon, I added this TPB to my latest DCBS order since my local shop didn't order any. I really liked the art in the MCP story, and flipped the first issue of the mini-series before deciding to wait for the collection. Thanks for reviewing it, Kirk. Looking forward to my copy.

Kirk Warren said...

@Rich - Eric actually reviewed this one, so all credit goes to him.

Eric Rupe said...

Klep - There are plenty of online comics shops that you can order it from if you can't get to a physical comic shop.

Klep said...

@Eric - What places would you recommend?

Eric Rupe said...

I use InstockTrades.com. Free shipping on orders over $50 otherwise it's a flat $4, discounts about the same as Amazon, and they use foam padding or foam/packing peanuts, which makes me geek out to no end. They only carry trades though.

Here's their listing for Hellcat.

Rich said...

Eric, my bad -- didn't pay attention. Thanks again for the review.

Klep, I also recommend DCBS for pre-orders and InStockTrades.com for stuff that's already out. You can also find competitive prices at A1books.com if you are just looking for one book, but the shipping adds up fast ($4/book).

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