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Hell's Belle

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Kathryn Immonen is not a writer most often associated with super-heroes. Why, then, is she writing Patsy Walker: Hellcat, Agent of the Initiative (in stores July 2)? Well, perhaps because Patsy Walker herself is not your average super-hero, having started out as a very different kind of character in Marvel’s old romance/humour comics. Kathryn’s recent Hellcat four parter in Marvel Comics Presents made those two worlds collide in the most unexpected way, but what does this latest outing have in store for Marvel’s flighty feline? Let’s find out…

BROKEN FRONTIER: Is the book basically a continuation of your recent Hellcat series in Marvel Comics Presents, or something different? That story was unusual, to say the least – is the new book as unusual?

KATHRYN IMMONEN: It’s a continuation in that the Marvel Comics Presents story generated enough interest at Marvel that they were receptive to another pitch but it’s not, I wouldn’t say, a narrative continuation. Is ‘unusual’ the new code word for fun? The MCP piece was a little ridiculous but then so, I think, is Patsy. She’s a psychic detective! She’s a top model! But it was also, I hope, a little poignant as well. And I’m still embracing this approach with the new miniseries.

BF: Why the fascination with Patsy Walker? I don't think anyone has given this character a solo outing since the late 90s, yet you've tackled her twice in a year. Is she a particular favorite?

KI: What can I say... I love Patsy with the white hot fire of a thousand suns. I think the genesis of her character, and I mean right back to the 40s and I’m not necessarily talking about her back story, is fascinating and really rich. Even with the way her previous publication history was reconfigured once she came into continuity, the characteristic feistiness, can-do attitude and good humor persisted. You can’t beat that out of Patsy with a stick, and goodness knows people have tried.

BF: I gather the series is set in Alaska - not a setting often seen in Marvel comics and hardly a State overflowing with super-types. Are there any other familiar faces likely to be showing up in the frozen north, or are we looking at all-new characters?

KI: Yeah, um, this is not the Alaska you’re going to necessarily find on any map. The Patsy/Hellcat connection to magic is strong and it’s inevitable that either she finds it or it finds her. Iron Man makes a cameo in the first issue but after that Patsy’s on her own, but not really. At its heart, I think this story is about the family you get and the family you choose. It’s also about kicking and punching.

BF: The title being Patsy Walker, I'm half expecting Hedy or Millie the Model to be in it...

KI: Holy hell, I wish.

BF: Given events elsewhere in the Marvel Universe this summer, is this a standalone series or does it have links to the wider world?

KI: The 50 State Initiative is what gets her there but this story does stand alone. I think what makes it ‘important’, if you want to use that word, is that it really does re-establish a strong character and drive for Patsy Walker/Hellcat. It ramps up her somewhat half-baked super-heroic abilities and I truly hope that it will make it more possible for this to not be the last we see of her. She’s pretty good at making herself useful!

BF: Are we to take it that Patsy's adventures will be entirely free of Skrulls, for instance?

KI: What’s a Skrull?

BF: Just how long have you been planning to write Hellcat?

KI: It’s funny, actually. I was going through some boxes of art and came across a copy of a pin-up that Stuart and I did a million years ago for an Amazing Heroes swimsuit issue sometime around 1990. It’s Patsy and Buzz and I’d totally forgotten about it. It’s pretty terrible, that’s probably why. But I guess I’ve had a girl

crush on Patsy for a long, long time.

BF: What can you tell us about working with David Lafuente, and how did he end up as the artist on the book? As I recall, your husband Stuart drew the MCP series. Do they have similar styles, do you think?

KI: I think David’s story is quickly becoming the stuff of legend. But as I understand it, C.B. Cebulski found him drunk at a leprechaun wedding. My Hellcat pitch was on Nick Lowe’s desk and he matched us up. To say that I’m lucky is an understatement.

David is relentlessly enthusiastic and that is exactly the kind of Hellcat he’s drawing. The real difference between working with Stuart and working with David is that Stuart and I have been together so long, share the same vocabulary, have the same experiences, that I’m rarely surprised by the visual choices that he makes. That is not the case with David and it’s been a terrifically good time.

BF: What else are you up to right now? Anything coming up that we should be looking out for?

KI: Stuart and I continue to update Moving Pictures  online every Friday but we have found a print publisher for it and hopefully it will come out mid-2009. And that’s pretty exciting. We’re also doing a short story in the second Outlaw Territory anthology from Image. And that’s going to be stinking beautiful.

BF: Ok, now that you've done Hellcat-who would you like to tackle next, given free rein? Are there any characters you'd really love to do something with?

KI: I’d like to know where Electric Eve drove off to in that van but I don’t think anybody else really cares... and rightly so. But really, I’d love nothing more than to bring Frankie Raye back for one last hurrah. And Pixie... jeez, I love that little blabber mouth.

Patsy Walker: Hellcat, Agent of the Initiative #1 is out July 2 from Marvel priced $2.99

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