The friendship between Jessica Jones and Patsy Walker was a key part of Netflix’s Jessica Jones series, and now it’s coming to Marvel Comics inside Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat! beginning in June’s #7, the “Best Frenemies” story-arc will feature Jessica and Patsy’s meeting for the first time while the former is working on a case. Will sparks fly, or the claws come out, so to speak?
Newsarama talked with series writer Kate Leth about this new arc, and where she’s coming from in defining their relationship in comic books. The writer also digs into how much the Netflix series was an influence on her book, in both Krysten Ritter’s portrayal of Jessica but also Rachael Taylor’s Patsy.
Newsarama: Kate, let’s get right to this -- Jessica Jones is coming to Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat in June’s #7. Viewers of Jones' Netflix series know they're friends, but how are they connected in comic books?
Kate Leth: They haven't yet met in the books, but they're definitely about to. Jessica's been set on the case to find out all she can about Patsy Walker, but it quickly becomes more complicated than that when she discovers that Patsy is also Hellcat!
Nrama: Is the Jessica Jones show itself inspiring you at all in how you write the character? Or Rachael Taylor's Patsy Walker?
Leth: There's definitely an influence. I love Kristen Ritter's dry sarcasm and vulnerability as Jessica Jones, so those elements are reflected in her appearance in Hellcat. As for Rachael Taylor, I definitely tweaked some bits of Patsy after watching the show because Rachael is just so incredible, but comic Patsy's attitude was already pretty well-established. Obviously our comic is a very different animal than the TV series, so it's all about picking the bits and pieces that work in our world.
Nrama: The title of this storyline is said to be called "Best Frenemies." What is Jessica and Patsy's relationship like -- that bad?
Leth: “Best Frenemies” refers to a number of things, involving Patsy, Jen, Jessica and Hedy, but primarily the classic rivalry between Patsy and Hedy. There's some double-agent action going on on Jessica's part that complicates everyone's relationships!
Nrama: In the first three Hellcat issues, Patsy's social sphere is quite organic, from former Defenders alums to some non-superhero relationships and more. How'd you piece it all together in your head? A lot of research? A lot of imagining? A lot of both?
Leth: Definitely a lot of both. I researched so much of Patsy's history, both as a superhero and a romance comic heroine, and chose the bits that really sang to me. It needed to be fun, and it needed to be its own thing, easy to pick up and read even if you weren't familiar with her or her backstory, but also rewarding if you do! Valkyrie showed up because I love her friendship with Patsy in the Defenders books; Jessica comes because I love her friendship with Trish in the Netflix world, She-Hulk stayed on for her partnership/best-friendship from the Soule/Pulido comic... Patsy's an incredibly social character, and she works best surrounded by people she can play off of.
Nrama: Another big event coming up is Civil War II. Any chance Patsy might get pulled into this hero vs. hero slugfest?
Leth: It's important to me that Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat!, the comic itself, be its own book and not involved in too many crossovers to keep track of. That being said, Civil War II is such a massive event involving so many characters and books, it's impossible to not to be affected. We'll definitely see that play out over the next five issues, on top of storylines already in motion. I can't say much more!
Nrama: Brittney has really done well in visualizing Patsy's body language and presence differently in different situations. How are you and her working that out in the script and in talking to have it end up that way on the page?
Leth: Brittney is amazing and I trust her implicitly. I love how she draws our book and I love how Patsy's always changing - it gives the book such an animated feel! I leave a lot of those decisions up to her. Sometimes we talk it out in pencils, sometimes we tweak, but mostly I leave the characters' appearances up to her, because she always knocks it out of the park.
Nrama: Another key thing that some overlook but makes a big subconscious twist on this is Clayton Cowles' use of mixed-case lettering, which is far from the norm in comic books. Is that something you asked for? And either way, what do you think about that in the way it's employed in this series?
Leth: Isn't that great? I never specified that, but it works so well. Much like Brittney's art and Megan's colors, that choice only adds to the feel I've always hoped the book would have. Honestly, we just have such a great team, and I feel so lucky for it.