Pop culture at the moment remains superhero-crazed, and Balladeer’s Blog’s readers always want more articles about them. Here is a look at the early adventures of Tigra the Werewoman from the 1970s.
Before Greer Grant went on to become Tigra, she started out as the Cat, a superheroine whose escapades led to the transformation. Therefore, it will be necessary to start this blog post with the five stories featuring the Cat before she was turned into Tigra.
THE CAT Vol 1 #1 (November 1972)
Title: Beware the Claws of the Cat
Villain: Malcolm Donalbain
Synopsis: Chicago resident Greer Grant was the lab assistant for her former physics professor Dr Joanne Tumolo, who was working on an experimental method of taking women to their physical and intellectual peak. Having run out of grant money, Tumolo accepted money from eccentric investor and playboy Malcolm Donalbain.
After subjecting both Greer Grant and Donalbain’s underling Shirlee Bryant to the process, Dr Tumolo accidentally discovered that Donalbain planned to combine Joanne’s enhanced females with high-tech cat-suits which would grant them additional abilities. Through mind-controlling collars he would use his army of super-powered Cat Women to take over the United States. Dr Tumolo saw Shirlee Bryant fall to her death while testing the cat-suits, then stole one for proof and fled to tell Greer Grant what she had learned.
Before Greer and Joanne could take any further action, Donalbain’s underlings attacked Dr Tumolo, and her lab blew up, destroying her notes and equipment. Greer donned the stolen cat-suit and with her new super-strength plus the cat-suit’s night-vision, wall-crawling abilities and deadly claws, defeated Donalbain’s minions. Malcolm shot himself to death to avoid prison. Greer decided to continue being a superheroine called the Cat.
THE CAT Vol 1 #2 (January 1973)
Title: The Owl and the Pussycat
Villain: The Owl
Synopsis: In this story the Cat found herself in battle with Daredevil’s frequent foe the Owl. Our heroine taught the Owl to stay out of her territory of Chicago by thwarting his plans for criminal supremacy of the Windy City and for extending his power over the rest of the country.
The Chicago setting added a nice novelty to the tale just like it did in the previous issue. The quick tie-in to the rest of the Marvel Universe via this battle with a Daredevil foe was nice, but I would have preferred that she would be compiling her own individual Rogues Gallery of foes.
References to the Avengers or other Marvel Comics figures could have worked just as well.
THE CAT Vol 1 #3 (April 1973)
Title: From Far Beneath the Mirror of the Moon
Villain: Commander Kraken
Synopsis: While investigating strange phenomena at the bottom of Lake Michigan, the Cat discovers a small domed city inhabited by a still-unnamed alien race. After the usual misunderstandings and conflicts, Greer learns that the aliens are just doing scientific research.
She and the alien officer Belag then fight together against the Sub-Mariner’s old bionic foe Commander Kraken and his crew of high-tech pirates when the villain raids the underwater city. Kraken and his men are defeated and the aliens decide to fly off the Earth and never return. The Cat watches them depart.
I’ll repeat that this superheroine was mishandled and should have been getting her own villains to help develop her own individual lore.
MARVEL TEAM-UP Vol 1 #8 (April 1973)
Title: The Man-Killer Moves At Midnight
Villain: Man-Killer (Katerina Luisa Van Horn)
Synopsis: When the Cat fails to stop a super-powered villain called the Man-Killer from assassinating the Mayor of Chicago, she trails the murderer to New York City. Realizing from her defeat at Man-Killer’s hands that she will need help, the Cat sees Spider-Man swinging around New York and decides to recruit him.
She bizarrely decides to attack him first to “show what she can do.” After they fight she explains the situation and Spider-Man agrees to help the Cat find and capture Man-Killer. Elsewhere in the city, the villainess has reported back to the all-female militia group which gave her her powers and we learn her origin.
She was a former Olympic skier who accepted a man’s challenge to race him, Billie Jean King vs Bobby Riggs-style, though believe it or not, this comic book story came BEFORE that real-life tennis match. The man was killed in the downhill ski-race and the future Man-Killer was crippled.
All this brought her to the attention of the “militant female” organization, whose scientists provided the former skier with a high-tech exoskeleton and other features which gave her incredible super-strength. Spider-Man and the Cat arrive to defeat the militia members AND Man-Killer when the group tries to “strike at the male power-base” by blowing up a power plant. The Cat and Spider-Man go their separate ways.
THE CAT Vol 1 #4 (June 1973)
Villain: The Man-Bull
Synopsis: This was the final issue of the Cat’s promising but ultimately mediocre series. Highlighting the problems is the fact that she is once again fighting a Daredevil villain, in this case the monstrous Man-Bull.
At a Chicago bar, Greer Grant is hit on by the Man-Bull in his secret identity. When he won’t take no for an answer, she spills a drink on him. This infuriates him to the point that he transforms into the Man-Bull and rampages through the city.
After a drawn-out fight, culminating at the Chicago Stockyards, the Cat defeats the Man-Bull. She risked getting arrested but a lieutenant in the Chicago Police Department spoke up for her, pointing out that Chicago needs a superhero of its own since most of them are in New York.
When she next appears, Grant will get turned into Tigra.
GIANT-SIZE CREATURES Vol 1 #1 (July 1974)
Title: Tigra the Werewoman
Comment: This was one of Marvel’s quarterly Giant-Size issues that they experimented with briefly in the 1970s.
Synopsis: When the Cat saves her old physics professor Joanne Tumolo from being kidnapped by the agents of Hydra, she falls victim to Hydra’s latest radiation weapon. Greer is dying, so Tumolo reveals to her that she (Joanne) is secretly a member of the race of Cat-People, and takes Greer to the Land Within, their secret underground home.
Once there, the Cat-People use their science to save Greer’s life by transforming her into Tigra the Werewoman, making her far more powerful than she was as the Cat. Hydra attacks, planning to steal all the technology of the Cat-People, but Tigra fights them. She is helped by Jack Russell, the Werewolf by Night, who was passing by when Hydra took action.
Hydra is defeated by Tigra, Jack and Tumolo, who unleashes the Black Plague on the Hydra soldiers. Tigra is given a Cat’s Head Amulet to wear. It will let her turn back and forth from Greer Grant to Tigra at will.
MARVEL CHILLERS Vol 1 #3 (February 1976)
Title: Holocaust Is Our Business
Villains: Joshua Plague and the Rat Pack
Synopsis: In Kepkeville, CA Tigra and Dr Tumolo seek help from a Professor Leon, another secret Cat-Person living among humans as a scientist. Tigra wants a way to be restored to her human form permanently. Leon is arrested under suspicion of criminal activity so Tigra sets out to clear him.
Meanwhile, a sinister figure named Joshua Plague leads a motorcycle gang called the Rat Pack (later renamed the Saboteurs) and they follow him in an attack on the Indian Reservation patrolled by the Native American superhero called Red Wolf. They want an artifact called the Soul-Catcher, which is held on the reservation.
Tigra and Red Wolf battle Joshua Plague and the Rat Pack.
MARVEL CHILLERS Vol 1 #4 (April 1976)
Title: Night of the Huntress
Villain: Kraven the Hunter
Synopsis: Back at the University of Chicago now, Greer Grant must become Tigra when Spider-Man’s old foe Kraven the Hunter kidnaps David Malraux, one of the scientists at the University.
Kraven wants the scientist to use his biological treatments on him to increase the speed of his reflexes.
Tigra tracks down Kraven and the kidnapped Malraux and dukes it out with the villain.
MARVEL CHILLERS Vol 1 #5 (June 1976)
Title: Cat and Mouse
Villains: Joshua Plague and the Rat Pack
Synopsis: Back in California, now, our state-hopping heroine once again clashes with Joshua Plague and the Rat Pack.
Tigra is once again aided by the Red Wolf and his lupine sidekick Lobo.
In the surprise ending it turns out that Joshua Plague is really the Super-Skrull, who was believed dead in an old issue of Captain Marvel during the Thanos War.
MARVEL CHILLERS Vol 1 #6 (August 1976)
Title: Soul Catcher
Villains: Super-Skrull and the Rat Pack
Synopsis: Tigra and Red Wolf wind up clashing with each other as well as the villains this time around, still in California.
Again, I can’t help but reflect how mishandled Tigra’s 1970s stories were.
She’d have been an ideal character for horror-tinged superhero adventures but she kept getting used to take on other heroes’ villains and had her authority undermined by repeatedly partnering her up with the Red Wolf, whose own series had gotten canceled a few years earlier.
MARVEL CHILLERS Vol 1 #7 (October 1976)
Title: The Masque of the Green Death
Villains: Super-Skrull and the Rat Pack
Synopsis: The Super-Skrull explains how he survived his previous encounter with Captain Marvel.
Meanwhile the battle between Tigra, Red Wolf, the Super-Skrull and the Rat Pack concludes. Super-Skrull tries to steal Tigra’s soul with the Soul-Catcher but winds up trapped inside it himself.
The legendary Jack Kirby drew Tigra on the cover of this issue.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #19 (September 1976)
Title: Claws of the Cougar
Villain: The Cougar
Synopsis: Tigra breaks into the Baxter Building but instead of finding the entire team on hand, the only one home is the Thing.
After the typical misunderstanding, she explains to him that she has trailed a renegade Cat-Person called Curtis Ranklin to New York. He is really the Cougar and has stolen the null-bands which powered the Fantastic Four’s old robotic foe Tomazooma to increase his own powers many times over. Tigra wants the Thing’s help to stop him.
The pair battle armed minions of the Cougar and then the Cougar himself. Tigra and the Thing emerge triumphant and the Cougar is killed by his own fiance.
Jack Kirby again drew the cover.
MARVEL TEAM-UP Vol 1 #67 (March 1978)
Title: Tigra, Tigra, Burning Bright
Villain: Kraven the Hunter
Synopsis: Tigra is on the trail of the escaped Kraven. He lures her into a trap, then sneaks a control collar on her.
Next he sics her on Spider-Man but he manages to free Tigra from the collar. Kraven escapes the vengeful duo.
Later, Tigra and Spider-Man track down Kraven but he uses a virtual army of wild animals against them. Naturally our heroes win out and Kraven is recaptured.
MARVEL PREMIERE Vol 1 #42 (June 1978)
Title: Nightmare’s Evolution
Synopsis: During Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Tigra is contacted by the ghost of her late friend Dr Joanne Tumolo. She warns our heroine about a menace named Tabur. He was a normal cat evolved by the High Evolutionary (a frequent Marvel villain/ hero) into a humanoid cat.
The Cat-People took him in and let him live with them, but he apparently resented them and plotted against them. When Dr Leon from several issues back at last perfected a device that would transform Tigra back to her human form permanently, Tabur stole it.
Tabur re-engineered the device like he had learned from the High Evolutionary and instead went around New Orleans with the invention, using it to de-volve Mardi Gras celebrants into their savage primate ancestors and transform cats into saber-tooth tigers. He turned zoo animals into their ancient counterparts, too.
Tigra summoned the Cat-People to help her take down Tabur and his army and restore all his victims to normal. Tabur himself wound up de-volved back into a normal cat, like he was before the High Evolutionary experimented on him.
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