Sunday, November 17, 2013

365 Comics...320: Tiger-Man #1 (1975)

The Goodmans may have been willing to spend more money on artists with Atlas comics, but they kind of skimped a bit in most other aspects of their brand's launch.  They only had two editors to start, across 20-some bi-monthly books and magazines, which I'm sure didn't do their production values any good.  Case in point, Tiger-Man #1 is an uncredited issue.  It's only from the 1/2 page bullpen article "What's Happening With Atlas" that we learn the writer is Gabriel Levy with Ernie Colon on art (Colon did sign the cover as well as a tip off).

One of the things to note about Atlas/Seaboard was not only were they a publishing company, but also a nostalgia/geek mail-order business.  The center splash to Tiger-Man is not given to any grandiose illustration, but rather to five ads for hobby kits... Super-hero kids (Superman, Batman, Hulk, Spider-Man, Captain America and Tarzan, $3.00 + $0.50 postage), Star Trek model kits ($2.50 - 2.75 ea), Glow-in-the-Dark Monster Models (Creature and Wolfman were $2.50 each, Godzilla and King Kong were $3.25 each, plus postage), Planet of the Apes (6 different kits for $3.50 each) and a Flintstones  model with Fred riding the Rock Cruncher for $1.80.

Beyond that they also sold home movies, which in the 1970's were Super-8 reel-to-reel spindles.  They were 200 foot lengths of film, or about 12 minutes of movie time.  They were $7.95 per reel, but I don't understand if they were just a random 12 minutes of the film or if it was like a sizzler reel of highlights of the films.  They had all five Planet of the Apes films, which you could order together for $36, for one full hour total screen-ape time.  "Have a monkey party for your friends... be the talk of the neighbourhood."  They also had Toho greats like Rodan, Ghidrah, Battles of Ghidrah, Godzilla vs The Thing, and the Return of Captain Marvel from the '40's serials.

I'd take 12 minutes of any of those than reading the dire Tiger-Man again. It's the story of Dr. Lannie Hill, a doctor operating a clinic in Zambia who manages to  isolate the chromosome that makes tigers so powerful.  He tests the serum on himself in time to face down a tiger let loose by a jealous tribal shaman.  He kills the beast with his bare hands then heads for home, the tribal leader giving him a present of the tiger's hide.  The night he returns home his sister, a famous Broadway star is murdered and naturally Hill's inclination is to make a costume out of the tiger hide and become a vigilante hunting her murderers.  I think it's a cop of Spider-Man's origins, but it's so clunky in its assembly it's hard to really tell.  The direness of it reminds me more of The Pumaman (a notable MST3K target), but it predates that awful film by five years.

It's never quite clear what exactly Tiger-Man's abilities are either, though the "What's Happening..." article dubs him "the most powerful character in the Atlas line-up".  He seems to be stronger than the average man, and he has scent tracking skills and an ability to hide in plain sight in a ridiculous costume (actual dialogue: "Hey, now! That's a right purty outfit, an' no mistake!  Didja sew it up yerself, honey?"), plus his gloves have some serious claws for shredding and rendering.  Again the What's Happening..." announces "his steel claws and feline jaws make him the most formidable nemesis to crime our world has ever known" (the only problem, he has no "feline jaws", his mask is non-functional). Throughout the book he's referred to as "Tigerman" instead of the hyphenated Tiger-Man as is the book's title.  In the opening pages he appears to be wearing just the tiger skin over his torso, gloves boots and mask, whereas later in the book he's got blue tights on underneath it all.  This book was very sloppily edited.  Colon's art is generally nice but the subject matter is so terrible it fails in elevating it.

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