Jul 30, 2012

Back Issue Ben: Why Is This Tigra Comic Under Your Mattress?

Back Issue Ben is a column written by Ben Smith for the Comics Cube! See his archives here.

Why Is This Tigra Comic Under Your Mattress?
by Ben Smith

Chris Claremont and John Byrne are one of the more storied creative teams in comic book history. Their work on X-Men in the late 70s and early 80s would influence that franchise, and even the entire Marvel universe, up until this very day. What you might now know is their work before that, on books like IRON FIST and here on MARVEL TEAM-UP. This time, I'm going to focus on issue #67 of MARVEL TEAM-UP, guest-starring Tigra. I never was a big fan of Tigra as a youngling, but it's not hard to see the appeal of the character. She's basically a sexy cat-lady that runs around only wearing a bikini at all the time. Don't worry, Batman; the case is solved. She also happens to be a really interesting character too, and this is one of her early appearances.


Let's take a look, shall we?



The story begins with a restless Spider-Man swinging across the city at night.


His ever reliable spider-sense alerts him to danger in the form of a mysterious man hiding in the shadows.


Spidey goes to investigate, only to get a fistful of Kraven the Hunter.


(On a side note, the voice of Kraven will now forever be represented by the voice actor that played him in the 1981-82 Spider-Man cartoon. "My dinosaur army---")


They fight, with Spider-Man eventually getting drugged and knocked out.

Is he ever not going to fall for that?


Now, I've yet to have been hit with a tranquilizer, but I really wonder if it makes you hallucinate as much as it seems to do in fictional stories.

Anyway, he wakes up to find himself in chains, with a smug Kraven presiding over him and the future Avenger we know as Tigra.


Now, the great thing about MARVEL TEAM-UP was, obviously, you got to see Spider-Man teaming up with Marvel's greatest characters, but it also helped occasionally give a boost to the lesser-known or newer characters in that universe by having them team up with the most popular one. At that time, Tigra had yet to become an Avenger, and had only had a short run in MARVEL CHILLERS and a guest-starring role in FANTASTIC FOUR.

Kraven sends Tigra after Spider-Man.


The next several pages are....well, let me just let the pages do the talking, in the interest of preventing myself coming off as creepy as much as possible.



Spider-Man eventually discovers that the collar Tigra is wearing seems to be what is controlling her, and breaks it off. (A clever way to provide a different take on the heroes fighting only to team up later, a Marvel tradition.)



Kraven throws down some smoke all ninja-like and makes his escape, giving Tigra the opportunity to get Spider-Man (and us) up to speed on how she ended up in this predicament.

Tigra is really rocking that coat and hat.


Incidentally, the trenchcoat and hat business must be very strong in Marvel New York.
 

We get a bit of characterization for Tigra here, with the cat part of her persona always on the verge of taking control, a story element that would be explored to great effect later on in WEST COAST AVENGERS.


Our heroes head outside to hunt down Kraven, only to find themselves in the middle of a stampede of jungle beasts. Tigra and Spider-Man nimbly make their way over the top of the stampede, on the backs of the animals. Tigra gets to Kraven first, only to be subdued by a sonic blaster.


Spider-Man lets loose with a web-ball to the back of Kraven's head, but not before falling into the middle of the stampeding animals. (Don't worry, he makes it out just fine though.) Kraven tries to sneak up behind them, only to get a fistful of Spider-Man in his stomach.

Is he ever not going to fall for that?


Kraven's down, Tigra's free, and Spider-Man found a cure for his restlessness. All that and plus the promise of Man-Thing in our near future, which are the sweetest words any comic fan could ever read. (Okay, maybe not.)

There you have it. Not the most Earth-shattering of stories, but a solid, fun little romp by a creative team that will go down as one of the all-time best. Claremont wasn't at his most wordy yet, and Byrne wasn't quite the best penciller in the industry he would later become, but they were still head and shoulders above most of their peers at that time. (I'm guessing, what do I know, I wasn't even born yet.)

So, if you like the images of a female werecat in a bikini fighting Spider-Man, don't worry, you're not alone. If you don't, then...well fine, I guess I'll be the weird one. Forget you guys.

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