For Your Consideration: Marvel’s Tigra: The Complete Collection


Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger


by Robert Greenberger

Tigra: The Complete Collection cover by Howard Chaykin and Bernie Wrightson, who also appear on the cover.

Tigra: The Complete Collection cover by Howard Chaykin and Bernie Wrightson, who also appear on the cover.


Tigra is a character that has always seemed to bubble under the surface, a B- or C-list character better known for being a werecat in a blue bikini than anything else. Her potential has rarely been fulfilled. She was created during an era where experimentation was rampant and if something didn’t work, they tried again. Those developmental stories, written and drawn by a mix of tyros and veterans, are collected in Tigra: The Complete Collection, which includes The Cat #1-4, Marvel Team-Up #8, 67, 125; Giant-Size Creatures #1; Marvel Chillers #3-7; Marvel Two-in-One #19; Marvel Premiere #42; Tigra #1-4; and a story from Monsters Unleased #10.

It all began in 1972, as feminism and equal rights were among daily issues confronting America. Newly installed Publisher Stan Lee told new Editor-in-Chief Roy Thomas he thought they needed female-centric titles to appeal to the underserved demographic. Romance titles had stopped selling so maybe heroic women would do better and that summer readers were introduced to Claws of the Cat, Night Nurse, and Shanna the She-Devil.

Linda Fite, then an editorial assistant who had been angling for writing assignments, was given the nod, paired up with penciller Marie Severin and inker Wally Wood. Stan had generated the broad strokes of the character and Fite ran with it. “I thought, ‘A cat? Oh, my God, how original. We’ll have a woman and we’ll call her Cat and she can be in catfights.’ But I was just happy to have the chance to do it,” she said in an interview.

The Cat #1

The Cat #1


Greer Grant was a young, insecure, college sophomore who dropped out to marry overbearing policeman Bill Nelson, who died in an off-duty shooting. Lost, she wound up volunteering for a university study with Dr. Joanne Tumolo. He was looking to enhance women’s innate capabilities including the famed “sixth sense”. Greer learned it had been financed by Mal Donalbain, an underworld figure, looking to build a powerful all-women army, wearing the skintight yellow cat-suits as their uniform. Greer stole an outfit and took down the criminal before the plan could be enacted.

Severin told Dewey Cassell in Back Issue!, “They wanted her to look like a cat. The sash was my idea, I’m pretty sure. The sash was just for an element of flair, not having a tail. She had something on her feet so she could climb up buildings.”

She was somewhat surprised when the finished inks to issue #1 arrived from Wood. “Yes, I remember saying, ‘My God, I drew this woman and Wally inked her like she’s wrapped in Saran Wrap.’ His storytelling always had lovely inking, nice blacks and everything, but I didn’t have her that revealing. The boys loved his work, though. She was hot stuff.”

Marvel Team-Up #8

Marvel Team-Up #8


Apparently, not hot enough since the series was abruptly cancelled with issue #4, with issues 1-2 pencilled by Severin, while issue 3 was from Paty Greer and Bill Everett, and issue 4 was from Jim Starlin, Alan Weiss, and Frank McLaughlin. (Ramona Fradon pencilled a fifth issue which never saw print and should be included if possible.) And while Greer took down Donalbain’s operation, a Cat suit survived, found by Patsy Walker in 1976’s Avengers #144, turning her into Hellcat.

Giant-Size Creatures #1

Giant-Size Creatures #1


The Cat faded from view for over a year before Roy and Tony Isabella decided to totally reinvent her as the lead in Giant-Size Creatures. Here, in a story drawn by Don Perlin and Vince Colletta, we meet the Cat People, transformed from felines by sorcerous means during the Dark Ages. Their champion was known as the Tigra, but she couldn’t prevent a cabal from exiling them to a netherwordly realm. Two managed to remain on Earth, hidden. They refined the magical processes, blending science and sorcery, until they could easily turn humans into cat-like beings. In modern times, one of the living cat-people proved to be Dr. Tumolo, whose secret was learned by Hydra. As they tortured her to learn the “Final Secret”, Greer became aware of this, donned her Cat suit and tried to save her. When she was mortally wounded in the battle, the doctor brought her to the hidden coven, where they used their powers to transform her. She became Tigra, their scared champion, who partnered with Werewolf by Night to stop Hydra from unleashing the secret, which proved to be the infamous Black Death.

Marvel Team-Up #67

Marvel Team-Up #67


Tigra then appeared throughout the Marvel Universe in numerous places, teaming up with Spider-Man a few timers, for example. On more than one occasion she did battle with Kraven the Hunter, as seemed obvious.  She also sought help from the Thing to retrieve the Null-Bands which were being used by a robot version of Fantastic Four foe, the living totem Tomazooma (first seen in FF #80), controlled by a foe called the Cougar.

Marvel Chillers #7

Marvel Chillers #7


She was even given her own series, headline Marvel Chillers from issues #3-7, written mostly by Isabella, aided by Chris Claremont, before Jim Shooter wrote the final installment. Art was by Will Meugniot, George Tuska, John Byrne, and Frank Robbins., In a less obvious confrontation, she battled the Rat Pack, led by Joshua Plague, who was revealed to the Super-Skrull. In this cycle of stories, she even fought alongside Red Wolf (I guess pairing up with similar animal names was required).

Isabella is most closely associated with Tigra have plotted and/or written much of her 1970s appearances, including a nice piece, with Claremont and artist Tony DeZuñiga, from the black and white Monsters Unleashed.

Tigra #1

Tigra #1


Perhaps the most interesting story in the collection is also the most recent. The 2002 eponymous miniseries from Christina Z.  and Mike Deodato, Jr. was a nourish detective tale that used her in an unusual and unique manner.

There are some forgotten gems here, and another glimpse into how Marvel, its characters and creators evolved through the years.