Patsy and Buzz: a 1950 cover.


Medium: Comic Books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1944
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Patsy Walker is the Marvel Universe's queen of genre bending. She started out in teenage humor, dabbled in romance during the early 1950s, became …

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… a superhero in the '70s, wound up married to Daimon Hellstrom, Son of Satan, and has since joined the ranks of the Undead.

Patsy debuted in the second issue of Miss America Magazine (November, 1944) (where the eponymous hero was only one of several features). She got her own comic in 1945, as part of Marvel's girl-protagonist line, which at the time was rather extensive. With the possible exception of Millie the Model, Patsy was the most successful of the lot — her title was published continuously for twenty years; and that wasn't all. She also had a couple of spin-offs (Patsy & Hedy, 1952-67; and Patsy & Her Pals, 1953-57), and appeared in All-Teen, Teen Comics and Girls' Life (no relation) during the 1940s and '50s.

During that time, Patsy was more-or-less a female Archie — a redhead who had a dark-haired rival (Hedy Wolfe), as well as the usual accoutrements of boyfriend (Buzz Baxter), parents, teachers, etc. Her publisher occasionally used the Katy Keene schtick of having her wear clothes based on readers' designs, and she did have a brief fling, starting in 1950 (when one of the hottest comics on the stands was Young Romance), of her comics being packaged like romance magazines. But otherwise, she was a fairly typical representative of the high school hijinx genre.

By 1967, when the last title she was appearing in finally ended, Marvel had established a tradition of nurturing series-less characters, and trying to find ways to capitalize on them. That practice had hitherto been applied only to superheroes and the like — but in 1972, Patsy was back, as a supporting character in a series starring The Beast, a former member of The X-Men.

During the intervening years, she'd graduated high school and married Buzz — but their marriage was already on the rocks. By the time The Beast's short-lived series ended, she was a free woman, and had irrevocably become part of the superhero milieu.

It wasn't long before she got super powers of her own, first by acquiring devices formerly used by a minor early-1970s Marvel character called The Cat, and later through training by an older superhero, Moondragon, on Saturn's moon, Titan. Dubbing herself "Hellcat", she hung around with The Avengers for a while, then found a longer-lasting berth in The Defenders. In Defenders #89 (November, 1980), writers David Anthony Kraft and Ed Hannigan, and artists Don Perlin and Pablo Marcos, paid homage to Hellcat's off-genre origins by contriving to devote a page to a map of Patsy Walker's neighborhood.

It was during this period that Patsy met and married fellow Defender Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan. Since then she's been killed off, got better, been retconned into Satan spawn in her own right, and later had her own comic again, or at least a mini-series — only this time, the name of it wasn't Patsy Walker, but Hellcat.


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Text ©2001-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.