5712 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Hellcat (Patsy Walker) (Marvel Comics) in the black costume

Hellcat

(Patsy Walker) (Post-suicide profile)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Patsy Walker is a character with a particularly odd history. She originally starred in 1940s romance comics, but was brought back completely out of the left field in 1976 to become a minor super-heroine. She has since prowled in and out of super-hero stories, often in atypical roles.

This profile is about a very specific era in Hellcat’s heteroclite career. It only covers events from 2000 to 2004, with a strong focus on the Hellcat series by Steve Englehart that was published in 2000.


Background

  • Real Name: Patricia “Patsy” Walker – formerly Patricia Hellstrom, formerly Patricia Baxter
  • Marital Status: Divorced, separated from her second husband
  • Known Relatives: Joshua Stanley Walker (father), Dorothy “Betty” Nancy Walker (mother, deceased), Mickey (brother), Bea (stepmother), Robert “Buzz” Baxter (aka Mad-Dog, ex-husband), Daimon Hellstrom (aka the Son of Satan, aka Hellstorm, husband, separated), Marduk Kurios (aka “Satan”, father-in-law), Satana Hellstrom (sister-in-law), Victoria Wingate Hellstrom (mother-in-law, deceased), Mikal Drakonmegas (brother-in-law), Ben, Jim, Tex and Tom (uncles), Rose, Martha, Matilda and Jo (aunts), Beverly, Birdseye, Dextrose, Hal, Henry, Norbie, Sweetiepie (cousins). The major Hell Lords (Mephisto, Satannish, Thog, Asmodeus…) are considered to be in-laws.
  • Group Affiliation: Defenders ; reservist for the Avengers ; former member of the Legion of Unliving (fifth version, if I count right); former Girl Scout.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile
  • Height: 5’8” Weight: 135 lbs
  • Eyes: Icy blue Hair: Rich red


Powers and Abilities

Hellcat has always been a ferocious and very agile fighter, and was further hardened by years and years of constant warfare on the battlefields of Hell.

Her combat skills are now incredible. She moves like a particularly acrobatic bolt of lightning, hits extremely hard and doesn’t stop. Hellcat can sweep the floor with packs of armed demons before breaking a sweat. She knows how to handle almost any low-tech weapon due to her Infernal experiences.

Hellcat (Patsy Walker) with the dark blue / black costume

Patsy has become essentially impossible to scare or intimidate, even when faced with infernal principalities or the like. She generally has an enormous strength of personality. She doesn’t run around making speeches or influencing people, but when really needs to produce her A game nobody says no to Patsy Walker, not even Captain America or the Lord of Hell.

It’s a cat of magic

Hellcat can now mystically manifest her costume around herself. This includes the steel claws on her fingers and toes that let her slash opponents and climb stuff with great skill.

This is but one of the various mystical tricks she learned in Hell, or derives from previous training in psionic  science, or stems from her potential as a mystic. For instance she can also :

  • see magic and magicians as a glow
  • slide free of binding spells one is not supposed to wiggle out of
  • resist mental control
  • dodge some magical spells by twisting her body so that they glance over her aura

Her abilities to detect supernatural traps and defenses is peerless. Navigating wards and stationary defences was easier for her than it was for Mephisto himself.

As part of her unique ability to see magic, Patsy can sense and use dimensional wormholes she whimsically calls “catflaps” or “cat doors”. These allow her to move from one dimension to another. These apertures seem too subtle to be sensed by others.

“Catflaps” likely have a very specific magickal signature nobody ever looks for, or which can normally only be found by a lengthy and obscure ritual.

Among related series of dimensions, such as the various Hell Dimensions, “catflaps” seem to be a fairly frequent occurrence. Essentially, Patsy has her own quasi-private network of transdimensional secret passages.


History

Years after Patsy Walker married Daimon Hellstrom, she witnessed her father-in-law injecting her husband with his previously banished Darksoul, restoring his full infernal heritage. This sight shattered Mrs. Walker-Hellstorm’s mind to the point of raving, thrashing insanity, and she was confined to her bed.

After she was released from the asylum, she returned to the home she used to share with Daimon in Fire Lake. The elderly Gargoyle (Isaac Christians) served as her in-house nurse.

Despite Christians’ ministrations, Walker’s mental health improved at a glacial pace. She kept ranting about otherworldy visions in her bed, and remained perillously underweight. Her demonic husband started having an affair with the powerful supernatural, Jaine Cutter.

Where do bad folks go when they die

One day, Patsy woke up with her mind restored. She had decided to die, and as a consequence the Deathurge entity manifested to her. Though Patsy died, her ghost remained able to weakly manifest on Earth, mostly by speaking through the radio – but her soul was clearly in Hell.

Hellcat’s time in Hell lasted for subjective years if not decades. It was apparently interrupted in 1998 when she was made a member of the Legion of the Unliving when the Grim Reaper (Eric Williams) summoned her soul.

Generally, the Legions of the Unliving are not assumed to be composed of the souls of the actual deceased persons. But this version seems to have been an exception and to feature the actual dead. This proved the Grim Reaper’s undoing, as the Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) talked to the zombies and turned them against their summoner.

The undead Hellcat and her fellow revenants freed the captive Avengers and turned against the Reaper, though Williams banished them in time.

Hellcat (Patsy Walker) deflects a magical bolt

Some time later, the Thunderbolts entered the Hell Dimensions with the intend of bringing back one of those deceased Avengers, Mockingbird (Barbara Morse). However, Morse was following a mysterious plan that required that she stay in Hell, in a place of eternal war. She duped the Thunderbolts — the woman whom they managed to get out of Hell was actually her friend Patsy Walker, not Mockingbird.

(It was later established that the Mockingbird who was in Hell was a Skrull imposter, slain while pretending to be the heroine. The real Barbara Morse was a captive of the Skrulls for several years, and was never killed. Why the Skrull Mockingbird saved Patsy Walker remains unrevealed as of this writing.)

Dead Hellcat bounce

Walker had to adjust back to life on Earth quickly. Her agent wanted to milk her incredible comeback for everything it was worth. While the Maria Stark Foundation was straightening out her legal status as a resurrectee, a best-selling book (Gidget goes to Hell, whose lurid cover depicts a cheerleader outfit in a pool of blood) was ghost-written within a week.

Patsy was soon appearing on TV shows.&mesp;America still remembered her comic book stardom back in her youth. She went back to her hometown of Centerville CA, now largely converted to a theme park about the idealised, innocent 1950’s and 1960’s chronicled in the various Patsy Walker comics.

Due to the machinations of Nicholas Scratch, Centerville was now largely controlled and inhabited by demons. Walker sensed the truth, spontaneously turned into Hellcat (to her own surprise) and investigated, but was hunted down and captured.

Nevertheless, she telepathically alerted her former instructor Moondragon, who came to the rescue along with the Avengers. After some difficulties, the ragtag group of Avengers defeated the demons, though they did not detect Scratch’s carefully concealed involvement in the matter.

Despite her usual peppy, strong-willed and cheerful demeanour, Patsy was still struggling with her time in Hell and resurrection. She was hovering dangerously close to depression. To bolster her morale, she chose to concentrate on her role as a super-heroine and protector.

When agents of Scratch attacked anew, she came into alignment with herself. Her costume magically inverted its colour scheme. She now demonstrated extraordinary combat power and agility, as well as a host of minor mystical defenses and perceptions.

Hellcat cleft through Scratch’s defenses and took him out. But the magical ritual Scratch was conducting somehow completed itself – and Scratch’s master, Dormammu, appeared. Dormammu, not seeing Hellcat as a threat, dismissed her to remote corner of the Dark Dimension.

Cheese, crackers and the Lords of Hell

Meanwhile, with the help of Scratch and the traitorous Hell-Lord Satannish (whom he claimed to have created), Dormammu plotted to conquer the 5 major Hell dimensions. Using clever military manoeuvring, leveraging Hellstorm’s refusal to trust the others and milking Satannish’s sudden and inevitable betrayal, Dormammu and his allies brought down and imprisoned Mephisto.

But as it turned out, Patsy Walker had a plan.

Moving swiftly across dimensions and nimbly dodging numerous demons, Hellcat reached Mephisto’s prison. She offered to break him out and take him to Hellstorm to discuss an alliance. Mephisto took her offer and Hellcat, using her peerless mystical senses and transdimensional ’catflaps’, delivered.

Hellcat (Patsy Walker) manhandle demons in Hell

Hellcat then bounced between dimensions to contact Hela, then Hades. She even came back to the Arena for Mockingbird, who refused to leave. Having been taught by Doctor Strange that Hell was “all in the mind” and that sufficiently powerful mentalities could reshape it, Walker convince 4 Hell Lords to ally. She wanted them to concentrate upon extinguishing all flames in the conquered Hell of Mephisto.

The plan worked. Hell froze over hard enough that even the Flame of the Faltine around Dormammu’s head was put out. He and Scratch had to hurriedly join forces to get out before they were trapped into the ravenous ice. Mephisto then ambushed Satannish and blasted him into a charred corpse.

The thankless Mephisto was about to return Hellcat to his realm, but Patsy played her trump card. She explained her theory that Hellstorm was actually the son of Dormammu through Satannish, and that it was the reason why he had turned Mephisto down.

The Prince of Lies then revealed himself as the Son of Satannish in front of his ex-wife and Mephisto. The two Hell Lords briefly fought, and Mephisto decided to let Walker go and personally protect her from her ex-husband to spite him.

(As it was later learned, Patsy’s theory was only partially right. The origins of Daimon Hellstrom are even more complicated than that. Why Hellstorm and Mephisto played along her erroneous revelation is unclear. It is possible that Patsy got enough facts correct that the two wrongly assumed that she knew something they didn’t.)

Hell’s kitten

In 2001, in San Francisco, Patsy rescued a very sick homeless man, in part because she sensed magic about him. The man was actually Yandroth. As soon as he was back on his feet and fed he knocked Patsy out and put in motion his master plan.

This machination hinged on a curse he had put on the four original Defenders (Dr. Strange, the Silver Surfer, the Hulk, and Namor the Submariner), forcing them to intervene together to prevent crises all over Earth and teleporting them there without warning.

Patsy contacted the other available “core” Defenders from the heydays of the team — Nighthawk (Kyle Richmond) and the Valkyrie. Together they rescued the original 4, who had been defeated by Pluto and another Valkyrie (long story).  Hellcat played a decisive role in foiling the plan of Pluto and the Ice Queen to conquer the Earth.

An occultist on retainer for Nighthawk then crafted an artefact. It would allow the 3 least powerful Defenders (Hellcat, Nighthawk and the Valkyrie) to follow the other 4 where the curse took them. The Defenders again operated more or less as a team.

The Defenders fought a nihilist cult among the Avians, Attuma’s rebellion in Atlantis, and Helleyes. They also savagely beat up poor Everett K. Ross, who was then trapped in a perfect replica of Mephisto’s body.

Hellcat (Patsy Walker) smiling

Hellcat, the Valkyrie and Nighthawk then nearly defeated the Headmen, but the villains were teleported away by their A.I.M. allies in the nick of time. Thanks to MODOK and his yellow-clad troops, the Headmen soon gained access to the stone idols that control… Orrgo ! Orrgo the Unconquerable ! He lives ! He walks ! He conquers !

In short order, the world fell prey to the immeasurable power of Orrgo. The arguably insane Headmen reigned over Earth. Hellcat, Nighthawk and the Valkyrie remained free – having touched the idol, they were immune to Orrgo’s mind control.

They contacted the four more powerful Defenders, who had been off-planet during the crisis, but the Headmen and MODOK just threw hundreds of mesmerized supervillains at the “big 4” Defenders.

Meanwhile the “little 3” Defenders snuck into the Headmen’s base and fetched the idol. Using the idol, Dr. Strange commanded Orrgo to put everything back in order. The big 4 started discussing what to do now they could wield the power of Orrgo. Sensing corruption, Hellcat told them off and smashed the idol.

Orrgo was now free, but Hellcat confronted him and argued he had always been beaten back when trying to conquer Earth. Getting her point, Orrgo left rather than risk another defeat. Strange, however, palmed the large gem in the smashed idol — the Star of Capistan.

The Order

The Defenders, with their 4 most powerful members still under Yandroth’s curse, ended Attuma’s reign over Atlantis and then defeated the Chronarch.

However, Strange palming the Star was but the first sign of an apparent side effect of Yandroth’s curse. It stripped the big 4 of their human side and made them cold, callous world dominators. The 4 started crushing every military or super-heroic resistance in their path as they formed the Order.

Hellcat, Nighthawk and the Valkyrie worked with the occultist Papa Hagg to stop the Order by restoring them to normal. They assembled female counterparts of the Order — She-Hulk, Namorita, Clea — and ambushed the Silver Surfer with a special mystical knife to make him bleed energy that turned into a female form called Ardina.

The plan eventually worked. Although Yandroth had been harnessing energy from the fights led by the Order to return to life, neither his home planet nor Earth were destroyed as he intended. The big 4 snapped out of his spell, and the Earth Goddess Gaia broke Yandroth’s curse.

As of this writing, Hellcat was last seen among the assembled Avengers when the Scarlet Witch went insane. She helped battle the conjured Kree soldiers and other menaces along with every living Avenger.


Description

The reversed, chiefly black costume was used in 2000, though during her time with the reunited Defenders her costume flipped back to the chiefly yellow appearance.

As the black-clad Hellcat, her speech and thought balloons are coloured in gradient pale yellow. What sort of voice this might indicate is left to your imagination, but it might sound slightly preternatural and unusually low-pitched for a woman. In the classic costume she spoke in normal balloons.


Personality

Hellcat is a fierce protector, as well as a tremendous warrior who escapes her inner demons by kicking arse to protect the innocent. She is haunted by her marriages, her suicide and her subsequent time in Hell, and has to keep relentlessly moving or start sinking.

In DC Heroes terms this is represented by her Guilt. She does not actually have a by-the-book guilt problem (except when it comes to her suicide, and her role in Yandroth’s curse), but if she doesn’t keep adventuring she’s likely to get bogged in depression, nightmares, doubt, bad memories, etc. modelled by the loss of Hero Points .

Patsy knows that nobody ever really escapes from Hell, and that Mephisto is going to get her back at some point, somehow, no matter what. If she gets sufficiently bogged down in her depression she might even deny being a borderline supernatural and super-heroine, angrily affirming that she’s just a normal girl and there’s nothing wrong with her.

This denial is presumably meant to ward off thoughts of going back to Mephisto’s Hell.

When she is on a roll and adventuring with her friends, Patsy is perky and cheerful. In fact one gets the impression the trauma of her hellbound imprisonment left her slightly bipolar. Patsy always was famous for her peppy, chipper behaviour but there now can be a sarcastic edge to it.

Hellcat is utterly resistant to intimidation. She stands up to Hell Lords and call them derogatory nicknames (Mephisto was “Muffy” and Dormammu “Dormouse”), refusing to experience any fear and dealing with them as if they were family members… which, well, they are.

This worked, too, since none of them expected that behaviour in a human, even the daughter-in-law of Satan. Furthermore, the only thing that made sense given the unusual circumstances was to listen to her.

She’s uncompromising and never afraid to stand up to even the most powerful entity with some blunt truths. Were she ever to back down in fear, the whole system she erected to cope with her life and unlife would collapse.

On top of being as fearless, brazen and ferocious as the name “Hellcat” implies, Patsy is extremely adaptive. She will quickly take decisive action in even the most disorienting environment. Among the Defenders, she’s often the one who comes up with the clever and decisive actions.


Quotes

“You’re still a lap behind me, Hedy. I killed myself. And I went to Hell. I was down in the pit with Mephisto, the Prince of Lies. Escape from Mephisto is a lie. I may be back on Earth now. I may be alive. But he’ll never really let me go.”

“You can never just give up — forget you’re in Hell. But it was an Avenger and a Defender. I *honed* my soul in the Arena.”

(Focusing her eyes to detect magic) “Room 7. Glowing with the real stuff. And the cat wants IN !” (Kicks the door open).

(Dripping with sarcasm) “Oh, cheese and crackers ! I hope I didn’t hurt you, Mister Mayor !”

Dormammu: “I heard you were a pure soul, but you attack like a devil.”
Hellcat: “I’ve fought a lot of devils – outside and inside. And while we’re bonding, I love what you’ve done with your hair. So now that we’re buds, I’ll be goin’.”

Hellcat: “You think I’m that dumb ? Jeez, you can’t tempt me ! I slept with the Son of Satan !”
Umar: “*You* are His wife ?”
Hellcat: “Ex-wife. And what’s it to you ?”

A charging cadre of big demons: “Kill the human ! Kill the human now ! KILL !”
Hellcat: “I heard you the first time. Now get the hell out out of my way.”

(Putting her big plan into motion) “I feel like I did when I first became Hellcat — the day Captain America handed me the costume ! Who would have thought I could ever feel like that again ? But my body’s always been perfect. It’s just a fact of life. And distance just drops away beneath my claws ! Another veil… another cat-door !” (Somersaults through the “catflap” and right into the throne room of Hades) “Whassssupp, Pluto ?”

Hellcat (facing Mephisto): “Hear me *out*, Muffy.”
Hela: “Muffy ?”
Pluto: “It hath a ring…”

Mephisto: “Female intuition, eh ?”
Hellcat: “I’m just a normal girl.”

“I learned a real lesson tonight – whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. And… even… whatever does.”

“Oh come on, Doc. Think of the good times with the Defenders — when we hung at your place, ate all your food — all the fights we’d have, bursting up your furniture. No, on second thought, maybe you shouldn’t.”

“Shhhh, Hulk, you’re spoiling the moment.”

Hellcat (jumping on the Hulk’s back): “Hey, Hulkie ! Tickle-tickle- tickle !”
Hulk: “Why is cat-girl bothering Hulk ?”
Hellcat: “That guy up there ? He says his metal suit’s so strong even *you* can’t take it off him.”
Hulk: “WHAT ?!” (Jumps on the Chronarch and starts proving that Hulk is strongest one there is)


DC Universe History

Hellcat would most likely be a member of the Doom Patrol during the Morrison run or possibly among the mystical defenders known as the Shadowpact.


That yellow costume

Patsy fans have long noted a continuity discrepancy around the “Cat” costume (see also the Mal Donalbain profile for some background). The following conversation recapitulates everything you may want to know:

Darci says

Although the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe gives the same origin for the Hellcat costume, it cannot be correct. There are several differences between the Cat uniforms and the Hellcat costume.

One if the most visible is this: the Cat uniforms all had a “cat’s paw” emblem on their chest (this may have been a sort of in-joke for Malcolm Donalbain, given the definition for cat’s paw: dupe, tool; one used by another), while the Hellcat costume did not.

My explanation would be that Brand heard the same rumors that Iron Man quoted in Avengers #144 (“the rumor in financial circles was a crackpot named Donalbain created the costume, and its powers, for his own purposes…”) and decided to try making one of their own.

The suit alone, however, was not enough to make a Cat (or a Hellcat). Shirlee Bryant, Greer Nelson, and Patsy Walker all had other powers whether they wore the suit or not. This may be why the Avengers found the suit mothballed in Brand’s warehouse. All we can say with certitude is that the Hellcat resembles the Cat.

Chris says

Greer/Tigra identifies Patsy’s suit as being her suit (and as being designed to enhance the strengths of the woman wearing it) in West Coast Avengers #14-16  (which I recommend you get if you like the characters as it’s good stories).

I know that doesn’t match up with what I hear about the original Cat series but apparently Steve Englehart, who wrote these issues of WCA and the Avengers issues when Patsy became Hellcat, retconned some stuff. So, according to both Greer and Patsy (via Steve Englehart), Patsy’s Hellcat suit was the same suit Greer used as the Cat.

Some of the cosmetic differences may be the result of re-tooling by the Brand Corporation. The rest is due to evil retroactive continuity .

Darci replies

I know that Greer said “What do you know about it, Hellcat? That suit you’re wearing was designed for me —! I understand the difference between real powers and artificially-induced ones !” and “This wonderful suit was designed to extend any woman’s strengths, but especially mine!” and “The cable-claw was designed to beat enemies you might face, since the woman who designed it was one of you — but then she gave it to me!” in WCA #15 (Dec 1986).

I also know that Patsy said “Besides, the cat-suit was made for you !” and “Yes, Greer — it’s time for the original Cat to prowl again.” in the same issue.

However, Greer may have been speaking on the basis of misinformation that the Balkatar fed her in WCA #5 (March 1986): “She labored for years on her Cat project, which, as you know, was designed to give women the powers of the Cat-people through artificial means!” and “And when she succeeded with you — had she not created something very like an artificial Tigra —?” All other sources credit Donalbain with the creation of the Cat uniforms.

Patsy, of course, would know nothing first-hand about the Hellcat costume’s origin. She didn’t even know the rumors Iron Man quoted. When I read this, I wondered if Steve Englehart had ever read anything earlier than Giant-Size Creatures #1, or if he even read that?

Speaking of evil retroactive continuity, the Official Marvel Handbook of the Marvel Universe contains another example in Tigra’s entry. It states that Greer managed to have Donalbain sent to jail. All other sources prior to this show Donalbain committing suicide. I wonder what Mark Gruenwald was thinking when he wrote this ?


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Hellcat

Dex: 09 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Upholding the Good
Int: 09 Wil: 06 Min: 08 Occupation: Adventurer
Inf: 10 Aur: 07 Spi: 08 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 032 HP: 050

Powers:
Claws: 07, Cling: 02, Detect (Traps/alarms): 25, Detect (“Catflaps”): 10, Iron will: 02, Magic field: 02, Magic sense: 05, Running: 05

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Claws and Cling are technically part of her costume, but are treated as Powers since she can summon the costume at will
  • Cling is Contingent on Claws
  • Detect (Traps/alarms) has No Range, but can be Combined with Magic Sense (and then acquires that Power’s Range, though it requires line-of-sight)
  • Detect (Traps/alarms) only works on trap and alarms erected by a magician or supernatural being, or intended to protect or inform a magician or supernatural being, or that are magical or supernatural in nature. She could thus detect warning lasers around Scratch’s sanctum — though technological and set by a security firm, they were laid to protect a witch.
  • Magic field is Self Only (-2)

Skills:
Acrobatics*: 09, Artist (Actress, singer, model, writer): 03, Martial artist (incl. Techniques)*: 09, Occultist (Occult knowledge): 03, Thief (Escape Artist): 15, Thief (Stealth): 07, Weaponry (Melee, thrown)*: 09

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Hellcat’s Thief (Escape Artist) can only be used against magical restraints such as Snare (ML), Glue (ML), Mystic Freeze, etc. – and it only takes one Dice Action to use (if it works, Patsy is free on the beginning of the next Phase)
  • Hellcat’s Acrobatics (Dodging) can also be used to augment her RV against attacks with INF or AUR as an OV – but she can only dodge those attacks as long as they have a visible manifestation such as a beam or bolt

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Hell Dimensions), Gift of Gab, Insta-Change, Iron Nerves (x2), Lightning Reflexes, Popularity (as Patsy Walker), Sharp Eye

Connections:
Moondragon (High), Avengers (Low), Hedy Wolfe (Low), Defenders (High), Valkyrie (High)

Drawbacks:
Guilt, Public ID

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel Universe

Helper(s): Frank Murdock, Kal El el Vigilante, Darci386, Chris Cottingham

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