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Patsy Walker Hellcat #4

Posted: Tuesday, December 23, 2008
By: Shawn Hill

Kathryn Immonen
David LaFuente
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Patsy Walker Hellcat #4 arrives in stores tomorrow, December 24.

"The Snowball Effect: Part Four"

Plot: In which Patsy Walker finds the object of her arctic adventure, and learns that pots of gold aren't always located at the end of rainbows, or in this case bridges made out bunnies that land you on a Yeti's grounded pirate ship. The Yeti, by the way, is named Pete.

Comments: If you've stuck with me this far, it's because you've succumbed to Immonen's whimsical magical realism (with Alaskan motifs!) long ago. This series, in a very nutty nutshell, features all those tropes you might remember from Northern Exposure, or Twin Peaks, or 30 Days of Night even, glammed up in a girl-friendly pink-highlighted ride through an endlessly inventive imagination. It's surreal, it's silly, and if you squint at it long enough, it almost starts to make sense.

LaFuente keeps pace with each of Immonen's ever-wilder ideas, peppering the panels with rich little visual jokes. LaFuente's work has begun to resemble the Byzantine complexities of the late, great Seth Fisher, and that's high praise indeed.

Moreover, aside from being silly, the book is also funny. Walker's nonchalance in dealing with (just in this issue) a polar bear wearing antlers, a talking wolf, a legion of bunnies, a Yeti in plaid slacks, and a very cranky "heir to the shamanic kingdom" is akin to the dizzying repartee of old school Hollywood comedies. She's the ultimate wise-acre straight man. She's not always making the funny herself, just making the saucy, and no little witch brat (despite all the dyed pink hair in the universe and the usual oversized teenage attitude) is going to phase her one bit.

Immonen makes the going even weirder with frequent asides to alternative modes of storytelling (a flashback to Walker's favorite childhood dollhouse, a sequence from some parallel time book about other great mystics and their wanderings), but Walker's the sort of character who easily provides a center to all the chaos. She's fought with the Avengers and the Defenders, she's been an acolyte of Moondragon and a BFF of the bouncing blue Beast, she's been betrayed by husbands from other dimensions and one from Hell itself; at this point, she's proven that she's a roll with the punches kind of gal.

And, in Marvel superhero fashion, punching is just about the best way she knows to deal with some problems. Though she ultimately apologizes for beating up Pete, who turns out to be the tiny shaman's boyfriend (not kidnapper), she lands a big one on the little terror herself, silencing all opposition finally. "There's no talking to her, ever," laments Pete.

It's around this time that Patsy learns that the talking Aztec calendar accompanying them in their overloaded SUV is the girl's father, but, hey there's plenty of dysfunction left for the next issue. Why not sign on to one of the weirdest rides (with the best covers currently coming out on any title, each a work of glory by Immonen's husband Stuart) currently coming from the House of Ideas?







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