The Marvel Super Heroes Podcast

The Marvel Super Heroes Podcast Episode 012

Beware! The Claws of… The Cat! (1972)

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Face Front, True Believers! This week #Frank’sAgenda is in full flower as we revisit Marvel Comics’ 1972 stab at drafting a feminist super-heroine, The Cat! First Illegal Machine & Frank dissect the debut issue, then Mr. Fixit & Frank dive into #2 (32:00,) with the Diabolical One ranting a bit about #3-4. Stan Lee and Marie Severin get the creation credit, while Linda Fite writes (with editor Roy Thomas,) and there’s fill-ins galore throughout the brief experiment. We finally reopen the mighty Marvel mail bag (44:58,) with Fixit & the Ill Mac taking the fore ‘fer once! Frank probably would have preferred if things had turned out more P.C., but the show is entertaining, which is the paramount concern. Note: We like our language NSFW salty, and there be spoilers! We have an extensive episode art tumblr here. Even in an extra-length episode, we can’t fit everything, but we do have replies to your comments again and this handy text addendum…

  • The Cat #1 was reprinted in one of the earliest Marvel Comics trade paperbacks, 1977’s The Superhero Women, as part of the Simon and Schuster Fireside series of comic book collections for the bookstore market. She was joined by reprints of stories prominently featuring Medusa, Red Sonja, Invisible Girl, Ms. Marvel, Hela, The Wasp, Shanna the She-Devil, Black Widow, and Princess Lyra of the Femizons (don’t ask.)
  • #1 Amazing Origin Issue!
  • The Cat #1 was also featured in the initial volume of Marvel Firsts: The 1970s, while The Cat #2 & 3 can be found in the Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades omnibus
  • Zabo actually survived his first confrontation with the Cat, and turned up in a 1983 issue of Marvel Team-Up seeking revenge for the death of his brother… Malcolm Donalbain!
  • #2 “The Owl and the Pussycat!”
  • Marie Severin left the series following #2 after being promoted to head Marvel’s coloring department.
  • Greer Grant Nelson was named after Paty Greer, a former assistant to the series’ initial artist and co-creator, Marie Severin. Greer drew the third issue of The Cat, then went on to draw the alien races in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, as well as working as a colorist and an overseer of production art. Today she’s better known as Paty Cockrum, wife of the late great Dave Cockrum.
  • Breezy synopsis of #3.
  • According to a synopsis of #3 found online, Dr. Tumolo was slowly recovering from her minor brain damage.
  • Frank Miller had a fan letter in The Cat #3 where he praised the proactive heroine.
  • Gerry Conway, creator of DC’s The Vixen, also wrote Marvel Team-Up #8, the issue referenced in the podcast featuring Man-Killer. It was released with an April 1973 cover date, the same month as The Cat #3.
  • #4 “Stampede!”
  • One year and one month after the release of The Cat #4 (with the scrapped #5 still in a file drawer,) Greer Nelson would return in a radically altered form in Giant-Size Creatures #1. Despite the change, The Cat appeared in September 1975’s Spidey Super Stories, with The Owl as featured villain. This was under a John Romita cover was a story by the Night Nurse creative team of Jean Thomas & Win Mortimer. Linda Fite had co-written the final issue of Night Nurse (#4) with Thomas. The Cat returned for a story in #13 (with The Falcon & Kraven the Hunter) while Tigra turned up in #21 (again, against Kraven, but this time written by Pat Thackray.)
  • Linda Fite left The Cat and Marvel (again) following the birth of her first child with Herb Trimpe. They eventually had three children together before divorcing. Fite went on to work for New York’s Times Herald-Record.
  • The Cat made her cover-featured British debut in the 4 October 1975 issue of The Super-Heroes (#31.) She and Ant-Man were joining the original X-Men in the weekly anthology title, where she presumably resided until #38, exhausting the U.S. content. She was also on #32’s cover (on both her costume was colored dark green,) and continued to have her head featured in the corner box thereafter.
  • Of the 1972 female friendly launches, Stan Lee was said to have had the greatest optimism toward The Cat, her origin story, and her creative team. However, Lee noted in editorial content for The Superhero Women that the title “struck out” after that team fell apart.

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13 thoughts on “The Marvel Super Heroes Podcast Episode 012”

  1. I have very little knowledge of the Cat/Hellcat outside of some random Defenders issues and now the current She-Hulk. So thanks for covering these and linking to the sites that have the pages. The art is luscious. I am a fan of Severin and Wood so seeing them together was a peanut butter/chocolate team-up. And I do like the material here. It must have been considered groundbreaking for the time.

    I had to chuckle a bit at her powers. For those who don’t know, Supergirl also had ‘super-female intuition’ in the earliest Action Comics stories, something even Superman couldn’t boast in the heyday of the Silver Age!

    And in terms of feedback, yes the Iron Man comics I had he did sport the roller skates! But I also remember he had a springloaded cryogenic bomb in his shoulders which he used to freeze a Dreadnaught that had him in a bearhug. Seemed too convenient.

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  2. None of us were all that familiar with The Cat before choosing to cover her on the podcast, so we all got to experience her highs and lows together. Rest assured, the Hellcat will cometh, as well. What, pray tell, did Supergirl’s super-intuition entail?

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  3. I had never read any of these pre-Tigra stories of Greer Nelson, so thank you for the introduction. I checked out the first issue on Marvel Unlimited and found that, despite some awkward bits and silliness, it was a pretty solid outing for the character. It’s a shame to hear the next three issues sounded pretty underwhelming-to-terrible.

    I was really surprised at how much story Fite and Thomas packed into a couple pages establishing Greer growing up, meeting Bill Nelson, his murder, her desire to make something more of her life. This feels like this could have been whole issues of a Marvel romance comic from the decade before, and I found myself as intrigued by Greer’s personal everyday life struggles as her super heroics later on.

    Wait, Donalbain’s plan was to create super-amazon women who staff his Gold’s Gym franchise? And that was going to make the larger human population more active and athletic..? Why not just use the technology to make everyone super-athletic? Was his only real crime the negligent death of Shirlee? That’s pretty pedestrian by criminal mastermind standards. Then again, he does employ naked giants and goons who think dynamite is crucial to making death look accidental.

    I love Marie Severin’s art in this issue, especially the panels where Dr. Tumolo is blowed up and Greer has to climb over the wreckage to dig her out of the rubble. Great stuff!

    On to the feedback portion of the show:

    Matt Fraction’s Marvel work is very hit-or-miss for me, but I think his INVINCIBLE IRON MAN–at least for the first couple years–was a really excellent. He tapped into a lot of the things that audiences loved about the movies. His Tony Stark had more of Downey, Jr.’s characteristics than before, he brought Pepper Pots to the fore, and the first villain he fought was Obadiah Stane’s bastard. I would recommend checking out at least the beginning of Fraction’s time on the book. It’s also probably Salvador Larroca’s best work.

    If you see one of Matt Fraction’s THOR comics, on the other hand, throw acid on it and run away.

    At the 57-minute mark when Mac starts to crack, voicing his exasperation over the “vibrating Iron Man” page… hilarious!

    Who the hell read the outro/disclaimer? Was that Frank? Sounds like he got punched in the throat!

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  4. His run began a new volume of Invincible Iron Man in 2008, so it started with issue #1. After 33 issues, the series hit a milestone and renumbered to #500 and went on from there. I haven’t read that far into the series, so I can’t attest to its quality. The first 19 issues, which comprised the “Five Ghosts” and “World’s Most Wanted” story lines were really good.

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  5. Kara’s super-intuition was a bit scattershot. Sometimes she would intuit that someone was lying. Other times she would know to go left vs right.

    It wasn’t emphasized beyond the first year or so.

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  6. Big fan of Tigra since the West Coast Avengers, but never read her original stories as the Cat. I just realized Greer sounds likes Grrrr, which is perfect for a tiger-woman, though perhaps not as obvious for a cat-woman.

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  7. Hi guys,
    Very insightful comments on The Cat #s 1& 2. Since you haven’t read #3, I’ll just say it repeats all the failings of #2. The story promised at the end of #3 was the one penciled by Ramona Fradon, which was never published. I hadn’t read that Starlin & Weiss produced the replacement #4 issue in 2 days, but it’s obvious it was a rush job.
    FYI, Mal Donalbain’s name is an allusion to Macbeth. The murdered King Duncan’s two sons were Malcolm and Donald (known as Donalbain, that is, Donal the Fair).
    Keep up the good work!

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  8. Glad you enjoyed the episode, Darci! While The Cat was canned, we continue discussing related properties in the Tigra and Patsy Walker/Hellcat episodes (the latter being Frank’s favorite podcast to date.) Thanks for making the Macbeth connection, which us philistines would have never noticed on our own.

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  9. Going back to Count Drunkula’s questions (“Wait, Donalbain’s plan was to create super-amazon women who staff his Gold’s Gym franchise?” “Was his only real crime the negligent death of Shirlee?”):
    I think Donalbain’s original plan was to use his health clubs to put will nullifiers on all the members. As Frank, I believe, correctly pointed out, Zabo wore one. Mal’s plan really came together when he learned about Dr. Tumolo’s project, which would make his clubs more commercially viable. Any of you guys belong to a gym? Would you be more likely to if super-Shirlee was your trainer?
    Let’s see, what were Donalbain’s other crimes? Lying to Shirlee (violating a contract). Illegal restraint (the mind control bit). Violating the contract with Dr. Tumolo (instead of using a mutually-agreeable subject). Human experimentation violating the Nuremberg Code (unless Dr. Tumolo took care of the documentation of the subjects’ agreements). Assault and battery. Attempted murder (probably first degree) of Dr. Tumolo (dynamite) and Greer (pistol). Anything else?
    Thanks!

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