Per reader requests Balladeer’s Blog presents another overlooked superhero.
Secret Identity: David Merryweather, Private Investigator
Origin: As a child David Merryweather, his parents and his sister were traveling through the jungles of Burma when bandits attacked, robbed and killed all but David. Left to die, David instead bonded with his mystic totem animal – tigers – and survived. Over the years the boy was educated by Burmese villagers and learned to control the powers that his totem animals had granted him.
As an adult David Merryweather moved back to the United States, where he eventually became a Private Investigator. In order to battle criminals that were beyond the reach of traditional law enforcement he donned a costume and used his super-powers under the name Cat-Man.
First Appearance: Crash Comics #4 (August 1940). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1946.
Cat-Man had greater than human strength, could leap several times his own height and could see in the dark. His other senses were also enhanced, making him the ultimate urban hunter. In addition Cat-Man possessed incredible agility and speed.
The hero also had the fabled nine lives of a feline and came back to life after being killed in action. He had used up two of those nine lives as of the end of his Golden Age run.
Comment: Cat-Man was Holyoke’s most popular and longest-lasting superhero. He and his eventual sidekick Kitten (Katie Conn) are among the few characters from that company who still have a following here in the 21st Century.
The archenemy of Cat-Man and Kitten was the supervillain Doctor Macabre.
FOR THE REST OF THE HOLYOKE SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE
FOR MY ARTICLE ON THE MEMBERS OF INFINITE HORIZON CLICK HERE
FOR THE AUSTRALIAN SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE
FOR MORE SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE: Superheroes
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12 responses to “CAT-MAN: HOLYOKE SUPERHERO”
Ah, yes. Cat-Man. Probably my personal favorite obscure Golden Age Superhero. Would love if a trade collection of Cat-Man adventures would be published. Roy Thomas, where are you!?!
Yeah, good old Roy Thomas! He did more to keep the obscure Golden Age heroes “alive” than anyone else. And I agree, a TPB Cat-Man collection is long overdue.
A Catman and Kitten TPB would possibly sell a lot of copies, IF you are willing to “go there” in marketing and advertising about the rumors and gossip of David Merrywether’s complicated relationship with Katie Conn, which were apparently pretty rampant even in the 1940s.
Kitten first appears in late 1941, a month or so before Pearl Harbor. In that same issue, Merrywether is now a brand new Army lieutenant, indicating he has a college degree. He was a private investigator briefly in 1940, with a primitive costume, and his inexperience got him killed twice. Going through Army Officer Candidate School, then an MOS school, then a duty station can be done in less than 6 months, which accounts for Catman’s brief hiatus in early 1941. A good age estimate would make Catman about 23 when he met an 11 year old Katie a month before America entered the war.
It’s likely Catman was given a girl sidekick because everyone else with a sidekick had one who was the same gender. Making Kitten a blood relative would’ve made things less complicated, but Catman had no known relatives, and the comic company may have simply overlooked the potential controversy, especially if they had originally intended to not allow Catman and Kitten to age.
Kitten, all of 4’11” and perhaps 90 lbs. at 11 years old, was never intended to be an actual participant in fighting. Catman always asked Katie to stay behind, but she never listened, and often snuck along anyway. She would’ve been a horrible partner for Batman or any other hero with no super powers. Catman, with actual super powers, including being able to come back from the dead 9 times, was able to handle the actual physical confrontations. In their final 1946 appearance, 16 year old Kitten, by now fully developed, was still about a foot shorter than Catman. Her full adult height would only be about 5’1″, making an adult crime fighting career unlikely.
Perhaps the smoking gun that indicated their relationship was slowly becoming something more, was the issue where they fought Aztec cultists. Captured, about be become human sacrifices, and in a dungeon, Catman regrets letting Kitten come along, Catman, who still had 6 of his lives remaining, plus the strength to possibly escape, tells Kitten that she could’ve been safe at home. Kitten, maybe 14 years old, tops, replies, “No, I would rather be here with you, even now!” That kind of statement is love, not infatuation. The two of them hug. Later, since ordinary ropes can’t hold down the Catman, the story has a happy ending.
Since the Catman features only took up a third of each issue, all 30 or so stories could fit in a TPB.
Market Catman as a straight up superhero feature, and the TPB might get modest sales. However, let the general public know beforehand that they are watching a 5 year journey of how a well meaning 23 year old superhero and a good hearted 11 year old with a crush, slowly became a 28 and 16 year old who were heading toward a pretty obvious ending, even if if it was never shown. That the story was never intended to be that way makes it all the more interesting.
Thanks for the comment! I certainly agree that a Cat-Man tpb would probably sell. In fact I’d love to see more of the Golden Age superheroes from the companies like Holyoke and Centaur, etc get compilation tpb’s.
As mentioned, supernatural elements lurked around the corners of the universe of Hoyoke superheroes, but never predeominated. A Tibetan mystic named Shangra appeared to have some magical powers. Dr. Diamond, with his supernaturally-infused strength of fifty men, should have cut a wider swath but never did. The Pied Piper briefly played a magic piper that could dissolve metal. Mr. Nobody, briefly echoed by Madam Nobody, was a supernatural figure of seering conscience. Fail to follow his cautionary advice and Satan, himself, was available in the Holyoke realm to make hellish mischief. Women fared relatively well in this realm. Miss Victory was among its most powerful heroes and Black Venus among its best aviators. Kitten was a rare girl sidekick, the loyal, fighting niece of the Cat-Man. Diana was an equal partner to Boomerang, each wielding complementary weapons with equal skill. The usual batch of female reporters and detective were also in evidence. The Blue Falcon was an aerial adversary of Captain Aero who just happened to be female. Baroness Hartlesse, the Flagman’s enemy was just that. Pantha Claw was the exotic enemy of Detective Click Hunt.
I know what you mean.
This was one of my grandfather’s favorite super heroes!
That is good to hear!
I absolutely love the nice breakdown you did about his powers and origin!
Catman needs to put on some pants.
Ha! I agree.