How Marvel Turned An Avenger’s Childhood Into A Popular Comic Book Series

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Today, find out how Patsy Walker’s comic book past was retroactively incorporated into the Marvel Universe.

In “Our Lives Together,” I highlight some of the most interesting examples of shared comic book universes. You know, crossovers that aren’t exactly crossings.

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PATSY WALKER DEBUTS

By 1944, Archie Andrews had proven so popular that he had been given his own title a few years earlier and it was clear that Archie was a major hit…


Meanwhile, Marvel Comics had released a superheroine named Miss America earlier in the year. After just one issue of his comic, Marvel (well, Timely Comics at the time) decided to reformat the comic as a magazine, with the name changing to Miss America Magazine. In the comic, Stuart Little (husband of Bea Little, the comic’s editor) and Ruth Atkinson (one of the Golden Age’s top female artistic talents) presented Timely’s response to Archie Andrews , a female version named Patsy Walker, as Timely Comics was a big fan of following basically every popular trend in comics at the time.



Patsy had typical teenage issues with her little brother…


But her main problem here is that she’s trying to win a date with a famous radio star, but her rival, Hedy Wolfe (spelled Wolf in this first appearance) wins the contest first…


Patsy is so pissed off that she even turns on her stablemate, Buzz Baxter…


Luckily, her little brother has some information that he helps pass on to Patsy and suddenly Patsy has a whole different view of the radio star (he wears a toupee and Patsy makes the toupee fall off while he dances with Hedy and Hedy is Like Archie, Patsy hasn’t always been the nicest person).


Of all the Archie Andrews knockoffs from different companies, Patsy Walker has been by far the most successful. In fact, Patsy Walker remained one of Marvel’s most popular books for the next DECADE more! Even when Marvel launched its superhero series in the 1960s, they continued to make room for new Patsy Walker comics. She was just too popular. Eventually, however, Patsy’s sales petered out a bit and they tried one last approach to keep it afloat by getting Patsy to graduate and become a career woman. It didn’t work out and his two running titles ended in the late 1960s.


PATSY WALKER JOINS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE

In 1971 Marvel was greatly expanding its comic book lineup and as a result there were suddenly more features and comics than there were writers to write them (especially with Stan Lee cutting back on his writing from comics), and thus a whole new generation of comic book writers was joining Marvel.

Already new writers, like Gerry Conway (who wasn’t even 20 at the time) were quickly replaced by even NEWER writers as Conway moved on to bigger books.

So after Conway launched the Beast feature in Incredible Adventures #11…


New writer Steve Englehart got his first regular Marvel assignment in the following issue, as he took over the feature Beast…



In the following issue, Englehart, a bona fide student of comics history, cleverly introduced Marvel’s answer to Archie Andrews, Patsy Walker, firmly into the Marvel Universe by casting the now-adult Patsy as a supporting character with her husband, Buzz Baxter, now in the military and assigned to the same operation where the Beast worked as Dr. Hank McCoy…


The series was not particularly popular, so Englehart continued to think of ways to help the book sell more. This led him, Incredible Adventures #15, offering the direction of its artist, Tom Sutton, to simply “Draw Patsy Walker in a negligee”…



It’s worked into the story as Beast comes to Patsy for help and she learns his secret identity in the process (and blackmails him about it)…


At the end of the number, Patsy covers for Hank in front of Buzz (you have to love Buzz’s reaction to Warren’s beauty. “I could believe THAT guy could have ladies. He’s GORGEOUS!”) and we learn that he is due to this mysterious conversation they had…

The problem is that the Beast feature ended after the next issue (it technically went to Amazing Adventures #17, but that was mostly just a reprint issue), so Patsy and Hank’s deal n simply has not been re-discussed.

That is, until Beast joins the Avengers and Patsy shows up telling him he better pay off the debt he owes her.

He agreed to let her come on a mission. Unfortunately, the mission ended with the Avengers being captured.

In avengers #144 (by Steve Englehart, George Perez, and Mike Esposito), when Patsy and the Avengers were cornered and faced with tough villains, Captain America was forced to let Patsy use a super-suit to help them fight their way through out of the mess. We learn that Patsy always asked Hank to get a super suit and become a superhero!

Later, Hellcat became a longtime member of the Defenders.

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PATSY’S COMIC PAST IS WORKED IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE

As we saw above, Patsy’s mother in her comic was named Mary, and she was just a typical teenage humor comic mother. However, years after Patsy entered the Marvel Universe as a grown woman and became the superhero known as Hellcat, Marvel decided to try to tie those old Patsy Walker comic books to the Marvel Universe, and they did it through Patsy’s REAL mother.

On the Jessica Jones TV series, Trish was a child star who starred in a TV show called It’s Patsy, pushed into it by her controlling and abusive mother. In Defenders #89 (by David A. Kraft, Ed Hannigan, Don Perlin, and Pablo Marcos) we see the basis for this story, for here her mother used her as the basis for a popular teen comic book heroine, transforming her girl into the kind of girl she always wanted to have…

Sadly, that wasn’t even the worst thing Patsy’s mom did to her (she also sold her soul), but that’s a story for another day!

Alright, friends, if you have a suggestion for another interesting piece of shared continuity, message me at [email protected]!

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