Iron Man and Hellcat Annual #1 is a one-shot published by Marvel, written by Christopher Cantwell, art by Ruairí Coleman, colours by Tríona Farrell, and letters by Joe Caramagna. After declining to marry Tony Stark, Hellcat moves to San Francisco, where an abandoned family mansion has been passed down to her. But inside that mansion are denizens of Hell, and she may need the help of her ex-boyfriend once more.
As a plot concept, this annual has a really investing story. It deals with something that is much more of Hellcat’s world, unfortunately, and that is demons and Hell. This is not something Cantwell has explored in Iron Man yet, truly changing the genre. Iron Man and Hellcat Annual #1 is a horror comic and a really unsettling one at that. The comic takes a while to get set up, and for the creepiness to set in, the pace at the beginning of the comic is rather slow. But as soon as we are in the house, Iron Man and Hellcat Annual #1 comes alive.
There’s a great blending of using nightmares and early foreshadowing with reality. So much of the last part of the annual is a huge surprise. And the elements that maybe could have been seen coming, including the characters, are introduced in a breathtaking way. There is action, but they appear in a twisted fashion, fitting a demonic psychological horror instead of technical.
This entire comic is built around Hellcat, so much so that maybe the Iron Man inclusion in the title wasn’t necessary. Cantwell beautifully dives into her history, reliving her most traumatic experiences. But it isn’t focused on the past, as everything that happens is set in the present day. Patsy is a truly tragic character, with every part of her life filled with pain, paranoia, and pacts with the Devil. Almost every interaction people have with her is dangerous or unsettling. The villain in this issue was a real throwback, and their motive is terrifying. Another device involved, part of Hellcat’s childhood, serves to unnerve. Iron Man’s role is interesting as he seems the most out of place, but it was great to see him act like a hero after so long being out of sorts.
The art is phenomenal. Coleman perfectly instigates a transition inside the comic. The opening is very clean, and the locations and landmarks of San Fransisco are beautifully brought to the page. And then, when the horror elements leak in, it is a gentle yet sudden lurch. Some of the imagery is bizarre, with dream sequences being truly disturbing. Even when it is a scene solely including Marvel’s most prominent characters, Coleman finds a way to make it seem “not right.” The fight at the end of the comic is terrific, with horrifying monsters illustrated with tremendous detail. Costumes are blended with new looks to be truly breathtaking.
The colouring is clever. The swap from reality to alternate realms is almost imperceptible at first glance. Everything gets just slightly darker, the shades turning sickly and uncomfortable. In some instances, it may be difficult to truly make out what we can see, but then it was a gut punch when I realized. The lettering is dynamic and amazing when it comes to denoting tone and volume. When a character is losing confidence, the font gets smaller and tails off.
Iron Man and Hellcat Annual #1 is a wonderful love letter to Patsy Walker. If this is her send-off from Cantwell’s series, it is a fantastic final part. Throughout that first arc, Patsy’s trauma and history with Hell and marriages have been violently reminisced about but never shown. This annual brings that to life in a chilling fashion. Those demons (some literally) are put in front of her to face through incredibly intelligent scripting and artwork.
Iron Man and Hellcat Annual #1 is available where comics are sold.
Iron Man and Hellcat Annual #1
Iron Man and Hellcat Annual #1 is a wonderful love letter to Patsy Walker… Throughout that first arc, Patsy’s trauma and history with Hell and marriages have been violently reminisced about but never shown. This annual brings that to life in a chilling fashion. Those demons (some literally) are put in front of her to face through incredibly intelligent scripting and artwork.