The Cat, and other STRONG Women of the '70s Marvel

I was reading the advance excerpts from the new book "Marvel Comics: The Untold Story" that is due out October 9th.


I am very interested in this, as it gave me insight into a era of Marvel Comics that I had tuned away from as a young man in high school.  SOME of the issues and developments that they discussed, I recalled seeing hit the stands, and most discouraged me. It just seemed like they had lost their way.

I vaguely recall seeing a copy of "The Cat" #1 hit the stands, but I'm sure if I saw Commander Kracian on the cover I would have fled big time.

 

I was amazed to read in the extended excerpt about a stunt alledgedly pulled by Wally Wood, where it was said that he had inked the cover figure of the Cat, and that she was without clothes.  It's not clear if that was the intent, or if that was just the impact of the inking job.  The excerpt went onto say that white out was used to remove nipples and pubic hair. (see quote below)...

 

"Like Luke Cage, the Cat was subjected to medical experiments that gave her super powers. Instead of just super-strength, though, Greer Grant, formerly a docile homemaker, was given an intensified "women's intuition." (Two years later, the character was subjected to radiation, which transformed her into a furry, striped feline named Tigra. Her costume was simply a bikini.) Alas, the message of empowerment was lost on Wally Wood, whom Stan Lee hired to ink the cover of The Cat #1. Wood sent back Marie Severin's pencil art with the heroine's clothes completely removed, and Severin — who'd had more than her fill of boys' club shenanigans over the years — had to white out the Cat's nipples and pubic hair."

 

I've been looking on ebay and GCD at the cover of the first issue, and now that it's been mentioned, I think I can see this. But I'm wondering if the original artwork is around.  What do you think it showed?

 

Also, considering that The Cat became the fury, nude Tigra in the next integration, I wonder if there had been some thought that she was ALWAYS supposed to be rendered this way? (that is, in the fury all-together.)  Does anyone know?

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I guess I left before "They Killed Kenny  Sharon" off.  I remember the Femme Force being introduced, but no idea what to do about them.  Was that the conflageration that claimed Sharon?  What issue was this?  And what was the excuse they used for her excaping burining to death... or WAS there any explanation given?

Kirk G:

"Was that the conflageration that claimed Sharon?  What issue was this?"

You'll have to look it up... but... it was one of the first issues written by Roger McKenzie, who came in after Steve Gerber, who came in after Don Glut spent months on end filling in for Roy Thomas, who never managed to find the time to write the story he started, who came in after Jack Kirby left for the 3rd-- and final-- time.

Hope that helps.

Kirk G:

"I remember the Femme Force being introduced, but no idea what to do about them."

Yes, well, between John Romita and Gary Friedrich, neither of them really seemed to know what they were doing. I mean, when Gerry Conway takes over and he's an IMPROVEMENT, well, that really says something, doesn't it?

On re-reading that run, one of the things that really stood out in my mind was the issue with the story title "BURN, WHITEY, BURN!" actually hit the newsstands the SAME month as the CAMDEN RIOT which burned out so many local stores that it inspired the "white flight" to the suburbs. It was followed a week later by a hurricane and, in one area near here, a flood.  It was really "disaster of Biblical proportions" time.

It was really a Godsend when Steve Englehart took over.  He was the first writer since Jack Kirby to really treat Jack's character, Sharon Carter, with any respect.

Maybe it was like  that Star Trek TNG episode "Time's Arrow" where they keep reliving the same day over and over for three weeks, sort of like "GroundHog Day" until they can figure it out and escape!

Emerkeith Davyjack said:

...Maybe it was the Mort Wesinger influence coming across town to Marvel :-) ???????

  Thank you .

Henry R. Kujawa said:

"...Henry , is that that 1970s DS annual which Craig did a (Prestige Format slick) re-make of in the late 90s " which re-used just one panel from the original " ?? I used to have the 90s one , not the 70s-er..."

Yeah.

There was such a difference between what I came to call Craig Russell's "transitional" style and what came to full flower by the time of ELRIC: THE DREAMING CITY (and everything else since). But there were a lot of problems with that ANNUAL besides the art.  Apparently, the whole thing was completely Russell's idea, and he worked on it-- "on spec"-- for 3 or 4 years in his spare time!  Then, when Marv Wolfman took over DR. STRANGE (as a result of Gerry Conway driving Steve Englehart nuts to where Steve QUIT the company, and planned to QUIT comics altogether-- a real over-reaction to ONE person being a pain-in-the-ass, wouldn't you say?), Marv slotted it in BETWEEN stories of his then-ongoing, utterly directionless non-epic.  So it didn't get a chance to stand on its own, as it deserved, instead, it became a "detour" on a long, meandering (so-called) "plot".  Then Marv CUT a huge number of pages from it, and on top of that (according to Russell), over-wrote the dialogue to death. Not only that, but someone pasted the word balloons down on Craig's art, instead of doing them on an overlay as he requested.

Craig apparently steamed the word balloons off the art, put them in an envelope and mailed them back to Marv, his sarcastic way of telling him, "I QUIT!" I don't think Craig did any more work for Marvel after that, except under the separate contracts of the Graphic Novels.

Now, as the graphic novel tells essentially the IDENTICAL story (although they did change the names of the characters), much like one of those 3rd-season SPIDER-MAN cartoons that were remakes of 1st or 2nd season cartoons, I came up with a theory to explain it.

In the ANNUAL, Doc was zipping from one dimension to another to another, when he ran across the one he had that adventure in.  As the remake was SO MUCH BETTER, given a choice (and totally unlike the Bakshi-Morrow remakes on the Spidey show), I'd prefer for the remake to be the "official" version.  Within the context of the series, this can work... IF you figure that, while zipping from dimention to dimension, Doc encountered a VISION of a FUTURE adventure.  So he didn't have the same adventure twice... he just saw a dark, distorted vision of it, then, years later, finally had the ACTUAL adventure.  (Makes sense to me!)

Crazy but true:  Craig's story (both of them) is actually a remake of a Steve Ditko episode from STRANGE TALES #133.  For many years, once I noticed the striking similarity, I thought Craig's story was a sequel... until I re-read the original, and then noticed the names of the characters were different. Once I realized this, well... I couldn't come up with an explanantion for how he'd have the same adventure THREE times!

Thanks, Robin. That's helpful.  They tried to pull it out of the fire at the end of the series, eh?

Robin Olsen said:

I looked it up in my OVERSTEET'S COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE for you, Kirk - Sharon got killed off in CAPTAIN AMERICA #233.

I remember thinking "This reads like a TV show" when I was reading Ms. Marvel #1. I know around the mid-late 70's there seemed a lot of plans afoot to create Marvel shows/telemovies. They had Hulk, Spider-Man, Captain America and Doctor Strange and there seemed to be a lot more in the pipeline.

Kirk G said:

Frankly, I could never understand why they did a Ms. Marvel series.... now it makes more sense...

...What Marvel copyright did the Cat protect ?????????

  BTW , IIRC , I read an interview w/Stan regarding either the Cat title in general or the early-70s " femme-leaning line " that she was part of in general and Stan said " If we'd been able to show women's bodies as we are able to now , I think that line might've been sucessfull " !!!!!!!!!!!

  Love !!!!!!!!! That !!!!!!!!! Stan !!!!!!!!!

Dandy Forsdyke said:

I just thought Marvel was above that. I do remember a "Spider-Girl" who applied for membership for the Legion Of Super-Heroes in the 60s. To add to the confusion, she was a bit like Medusa with 'living hair' or something... lol

A shame you can't protect your property without going to such lengths.

George Poague said:

"The Cat, Ms Marvel, Spider-Woman and She-Hulk were only created to court sales or protect copyright. Not because of a creative idea or need - just in order to tap into a gap in the market."

That was standard industry practice, and it wasn't just Marvel that did it. DC copyrighted the name Supergirl in 1944, although the character didn't appear until '59. I'm sure Batwoman (1955) and the first Batgirl (1961) were created for the same reason: let's rip ourselves off before someone else does it!

I think perhaps he's talking about the acceptance of the good girl art that exploded in the 1990s... Not that Marvel would ever go that far...(cough, Spider-woman, cough....Ms. Marvel...cough...Rogue..cough, cough)

...Yes , of course that's what i thought he meant , more or less anyway . Thank you .

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