A post from my old Marvel blog concerning comics I worked on and made a mess of. As with yesterday’s post, the preceding installments of this series haven’t turned up yet.
Rounding out our survey of comic books that I loused up in one way or another, we come to the HELLCAT limited series. This was a project that was embarked upon with the best of intentions, but which ultimately flew off the rails a little bit.
Originally, Kurt Busiek and I were looking for a concept for the 2000 AVENGERS ANNUAL, and at around this same time Steve Englehart had expressed some interest in wanting to do some more work for Marvel. I believe it was Kurt who hit upon the idea of doing a story that would run from the THUNDERBOLTS Annual to the AVENGERS annual and into a HELLCAT limited series, resurrecting Patsy Walker (who had been killed some years earlier in Warren Ellis’ HELLSTORM–though there was an exchange that indicated that she might be coming back at some point). And since Steve had pretty much created Hellcat, assembling her out of of pieces, he was a natural to write the limited series. And artist Norm Breyfogle would draw the entire thing, to give it all a certain unity.
Kurt came up with a premise and a set-up to place Patsy in, and a concept that could drive her solo series. And then, we put all of the pieces in place in that AVENGERS Annual.
The first problem came when Steve, while he was interested in playing with the character, wasn’t interested in the status quo that Kurt wanted to set her up in. So he used most of his first issue to write it all back out again–a pretty substantial waste of resources all things told. And I could have stopped him, but I wanted him to have a good Marvel experience, and to be comfortable with the story he was telling.
But then, by the time we got to the third issue, he came to a revelation that I thought was pretty wrong-headed, and which didn’t have a whole lot to do with Hellcat directly–that Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan (who had at one time been married to Patsy Walker, hence the connection) was not actually the son of Satan at all, but the son of Dormammu, by way of Satannish. I didn’t really see the need for this revelation, or the benefit to doing this, but at this point Steve was committed to his story, and he didn’t want to change where he was going. I told him that I would let him do what he wanted to do, but asked him to build me an “out” if we wanted to reverse this story in the future. Steve, understandably, didn’t want to do this–and so, I let Steve have his way.
The response was pretty universal–virtually nobody liked the twist, and it’s been ignored by everybody who’s written the character ever since. Deservedly so, I think. So today’s lesson is that sometimes you need to stick to your guns–not every idea that a creator comes up with is going to be a winner.
The choice to switch Hellcat’s costume colors so the blue was predominant was mine–I thought, especially as a headliner, she’d look better that way. And virtually nobody liked this outfit, and it was discarded the next time the character made an appearance. So lesson two is that, as an editor, your ideas may not be any better than anybody else’s, so be careful not to fall in love with your own inspiration.