- Pat the Brat – Bunty: #1638 (03 June 1989) – #1647 (05 August 1989)
- Artist: Colin Merrett?
Pat Barnet, is a good tennis player but doesn’t have the killer instinct, she plays for fun not to win. At some point in the past, her mother died of unnamed reasons, so it’s just her and her dad at home. Then her father gets in some serious trouble when he borrows money from a charity fund he is treasurer of to help out his own business, planning to pay it back later. An audit is coming up in 4 months and if he doesn’t replace the money by then, he is sure to go to jail.
Pat decides she must start winning cash prizes at tennis and show no mercy to other players. The other girls are surprised at this new attitude, especially when she does dirty tricks to get her opponents nerves, such as “accidentally” breaking a girl’s lucky racquet and throwing people off their game by arguing with the umpire. She starts acting nasty in general, so not to give away the reason why she is suddenly so keen to win. She gets the nickname “Pat the Brat” and she upsets her coach, Anne, even more when she refuses to play in charity match, as it means no money. This ends up with them going their separate ways.
Needing more money Pat goes onto a Europe tournament, she has to keep up her brat act, though one reporter Pauline suspects there is more behind this brat act. Just as Pat is regaining Anne’s trust, she notices Pauline watching so she has to act up again. Back home she goes for her last match against a nice girl Amy, and although she could probably win on her own merits, just to be on the safe side she also shatters Amy’s confidence.
She presents her dad with the money she’s won, so he can replace the money and things also are looking up for his business as he just landed a big contract. She goes on to explain to Anne about the situation, who understands the difficult situation she was in and also promises not to tell, though she does not condone her actions. After their last match Amy has quit tennis. Pat tries to make amends she talks with Amy and helps her get her confidence back. She is also happy to be back playing tennis for fun.
Tennis was one of the more popular sport for girls to play in these comics, usually with an end involving winning some big tournament. Here instead of been driven by a need to prove her talent, Pat is doing it only to help her father. Even if she is quite talented she also feels the need to use dirty tricks as well, though her coach Ann points out their were many matches she could have just won with skill alone. While understandably Pat doesn’t want to take the risk, but it does mean the matches weren’t fairly won and that makes it harder to root for the protagonist.
Overall the story is okay and the art is fine. In lots of ways it is hard to feel sympathy for some of the characters, especially the father. He is the cause of the trouble to begin with, once he mentions his concern that Pat is getting a bad reputation, but for the most part he is so distracted by his own problem he actually doesn’t take much notice of Pat. He also tends to go around feeling sorry for himself, but not really doing anything pro-active to solve the problem. As for Pat there have been many characters that may act hard and nasty to cover their true feelings (for example The Seeker) but it doesn’t really excuse her actions.
So yes there is a moral grey area, but I think the biggest problem I have with the story is actually that it’s a bit boring. Even if I dislike some of the characters actions, it doesn’t make them un-likeable people, but mostly they are just bland and forgettable. I wasn’t eagerly awaiting to see what happened next. I will say my my story preference is more towards sci-fi stories or the unusual, but that’s not to say I don’t like some of the grounded more soap like stories. It may have appealed to other readers but personally I think this is one of the weaker stories printed.