Monday, January 5, 2009
Monster Mondays: Giant-Size Chillers and Tigra
Last month, I wrote about Giant Size Creatures, that introduced Dracula’s daughter, Lilith. Marvel was determined to expand their line of horror characters with female versions of their famous monsters. Soon after Lilith appeared, Giant-Size Creatures #1 appeared on the newsstands (which was re-titled Giant-Size Werewolf with issue #2), featuring a female were-creature: Tigra!
The cover was not half-bad, it definitely peaked my interest to see a female werewolf teaming up with Jack Russell to fight a horde of Hydra agents.
This issue was written by Tony Isabella, and drawn by Don Perlin and Vince Colletta. Now I have to say something that almost got me lynched at a con once…Vinnie Colletta is my least favorite inker in the entire world. Some people love Colletta on Kirby’s Thor, but I do not. One of the worst art teams that I can think of would have to be Colletta paired with Don Perlin. I never really cared for Perlin on Werewolf by Night, he killed the book for me after Ploog left the series. See how they depicted this dramatic scene of Tigra clashing with the Werewolf on a moonlit beach? This is the best scene in the whole book, true believers!
Tony Isabella certainly took the creation of Tigra seriously. I was really surprised to discover that Tigra was really Greer Nelson, from Marvel’s short-lived Claws of the Cat series. Instead of making Greer a woman with a werewolf curse, she joined an underground group of Cat People who saved her life by transforming her into a were-cat. Unlike Jack Russell, she retained her intelligence and preferred not to change back to human form.
Tigra was awarded a series try-out, starting in Marvel Chillers #3, and her artistic depiction was immensely superior. Will Meugniot, the artist who would later go on to draw the sexy DNAgents, immediately knocked me out with this splash page. Meugniot emphasized all of Tigra’s curves, oomphed up that bikini, and gave Tigra some nice cat-bling to go along with it.
The stories in Marvel Chillers #3-7 pushed Tigra firmly into super-hero territory, although the artistic teams shuffled with almost every issue. Marvel Chillers #4 had a fill-in story by Chris Claremont and Frank Robbins, #5 saw Isabella and Meugniot return, #6 featured a pretty good early job by John Byrne, and #7 finished things off with dynamic cover by Jack Kirby. Even back in the 70s, Tigra was single-handedly fighting off a Skrull invasion!
Even though Tigra lost her series, she was never forgotten in the Marvel Universe and became more well known that Jack Russell. Tigra was a founding member of the West Coast Avengers and became a fixture of Marvel’s super-team. Which leads to the modern era, where Frank Cho doesn’t miss a beat in depicting Tigra as a sex-kitten. Oh that Frank Cho…exposing the dark underbelly of our Marvel consciousness!
Even though Tigra and Skrull-Pym’s little love-nest got interrupted by an Ultron-invasion, we just learned in Avengers: The Initiative #20 that they hooked up later on. Tigra confesses to Hellcat that she is pregnant and Skull-Pym was the father! Perhaps this subplot ends here, with Tigra later saying that she will terminate the pregnancy. But it is ironic to see Tigra in a scene with Hellcat, since the Greer Nelson started out wearing this costume in the 1970s! Nuff said.