Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat! Volume 3: Careless Whisker(s) collects the title’s final five issues. There are vampires, demons, and cats aplenty, but is it good?
This volume gets off to a decent start, as its first two issues finish up a plotline that began in volume two. Patsy and her friends square off against the Black Bat, who has come into possession of mystical claws that enable her to take control of anyone with just a slash. Artist Brittney L. Williams does a great job drawing the fight scenes (as well as the main characters’ more mundane but humorous interactions) throughout this portion of the volume. Unfortunately, however, Black Cat is never made all that compelling. The best parts of this series thrive off of the characters’ relationships to one another, and Black Cat doesn’t have much personal connection to any of the core cast. She’s just a villain who happens to recognize Patsy’s status as a threat.
Fortunately, the last three issues in this volume make up for the beginning (which, while not bad, doesn’t live up to the title’s usual standard). In part of the volume, Patsy suffers from a mystical flu. Every time she sneezes, some aspect of reality is altered. This is often played to comedic effect, such as when America Chavez gets garbed in Canada-themed clothing. The plot takes a turn toward serious emotional development, however, when Patsy realizes that in order to overcome her ailment she must acknowledge the various pressures and anxieties that have been weighing her down. Writer Kate Leth does a fabulous job addressing the story’s serious content in a way that feels truthful and heartfelt while still being consistent with the series’ all-ages-appropriate approach.
Leth’s emotionally sincere insights extend to the rest of the characters as well. Ian and Tom’s relationship blossoms, and the two are adorable together. Jubilee is also a standout, whether she is humorously bloodthirsty or getting back in touch with her mallrat roots. Even Belial, the demon who tormented Patsy back in volume two, is made likable here. Having simmered down after finding love, he acts as a bit of an armchair psychologist archetype when Patsy needs one most. Overall, Hellcat’s social circle is very well fleshed out by a large variety of friends and co-workers, each with their own distinct personality and problems to work through.
Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat! Volume 3 is a strong final installment for the consistently charming and emotionally impactful series. The first half of the volume’s focus on Black Cat drags the overall experience down a tad, given that nothing memorable is ultimately achieved with the character. Nonetheless, those issues still have plenty of redeeming qualities, and the volume’s second half is simply stellar. Overall, this collection is not one to be missed.