Publisher: Marvel Comics
First Appearance: Claws of the Cat #1 (1974)
Created By: Linda Fite, Roy Thomas, & Marie Severin
Chicago native Greer Nelson had recently been widowed when she went on a job search and somehow ended up a test subject for a scientist working on advancing human potential. As a result, Greer ended up with superhuman powers and quickly set about working as a D-list hero known as the Cat.
Things took a turn for the WTF when it was revealed that Greer’s scientist pal was actually a member of the Cat People, a mystical, hidden race of…cat people. It’s pretty much exactly like you’re picturing it. When Greer was dying from radiation poisoning after a battle, the Cat People offered to transform her into the Tigra, a hybrid warrior and defender of their people. She was all, ‘Hell yes, I’d rather not die,’ and it was done.
It turned out that Greer made for a much more effective hero as Tigra. Now wearing a sporty bikini to show off her new stripes, she was a member of several Avengers line-ups over the years. She also tried to get busy with several of her male teammates, thanks to her cat-like need for affection, but eventually her human and cat sides were able to merge more effectively. An off-on relationship did emerge between her and Hank Pym, though, because Hank gets all the awesome ladies.
This actually led to trouble when they rekindled the romance. This time around, Greer didn’t know that Hank had been replaced by a bad-guy Skrull. The Skrulls were defeated, but when she realized she was pregnant, she was unsure who the father actually was. After initially deciding on an abortion, she changed her mind and went through with the normal two-month cat gestation, giving birth to a perfectly normal…cat-person hybrid. He was named William, after her deceased husband.
These days, Greer’s mostly focusing on being a mom, rekindling her relationship with the real Hank (she hopes), and teaching at Avengers Academy.
So What’s So Great About Her?
Every comic book company seems to have at least one sexy cat-themed lady on their character roster. I’m pretty sure this was one of the requirements mandated by the original Comics Code Authority. [Citation needed.] Marvel’s definitely not an exception, with women like Black Cat, Shadowcat, and Hellcat populating one comic or another. But Tigra, nee the Cat, has them all beat, seeing how she is actually part cat.
I sort of get where the association between women and felines comes from (graceful, dainty, restrained, clean, stereotype stereotype, etc.), but as a cat owner, the idea that cat = sexy kind of baffles me. When I catch my own cat staring at me vacantly, my thought isn’t, ‘She looks hot,’ so much as, ‘KITTY FACE,’ but different strokes for different folks and all. In any case, Tigra especially epitomizes the SexCat idea, what with her skimpy bikini outfit and numerous (canon) sexual partners.
And you know what? I am totally okay with that. At one point, she says something like, ‘The bikini isn’t the costume, the stripes are,’ which I found really clever and refreshing. For a character who spent a lot of her early history in monster-themed comics, she’s never really wrung her hands or spent time dropping to her knees and screaming WHY up at the rain over her transformation. Instead, she totally accepts herself and, in fact, revels in it. Why not show off those stripes if she thinks they’re awesome? And hell, I can’t really blame a gal for hooking up with some hot dudes, especially when one of them is one of my major nerd-crushes, Hank Pym.
And while I don’t think Greer has ever been a character we were intended to take very seriously (for God’s sake, her flagship title was West Coast Avengers, which I can barely even type without laughing), I do like that we’ve seen her mature over recent years. Rather than just be depended upon to strike a pose and claw some eyes out, Tony Stark recently gave her a major vote of confidence by making her his spy during Civil War, albeit a totally unsuccessful one. She’s also become a teacher for younger heroes, both in the Initiative and Avengers Academy titles, which is pretty damn cool, and moreover there’s her long-standing devoted service to the Cat People, and oh, there’s the laughing again as I type.
Greer’s also become a mother recently. Abortion is a always a touchy issue, to say the least, and I’m glad to at least see a comic book character strongly consider the option, especially since for a while she wasn’t even certain who the father was. (It turned out to be the Skrull, by the way. But with Hank’s DNA. It’s Facebook complicated.) But I also like that the birth of William has only renewed her drive to make the world a better place.
Because hey, a slightly ridiculous T&A character can still be noble.
At the moment, Tigra is appearing as a regular character in Avengers Academy, appearing monthly from Marvel Comics.
The Cat #1-4
Marvel Team-Up #8
Giant-Size Creatures #1
Monsters Unleashed #10
Marvel Chillers #3-7
Marvel Two-In-One #19
Fantastic Four #177-184
Marvel Team-Up #67
Marvel Premiere #42
Uncanny X-Men #155-156
Marvel Team-Up #125
West Coast Avengers (vol.1) #1-4
Iron Man Annual #7
Iron Man #191; 193
Marvel Graphic Novel #16
Vision and the Scarlet Witch #1-2
West Coast Avengers (vol.2) #1-46
Fantastic Four #293
Avengers Annual #15
West Coast Avengers Annual #1-3
Marvel Graphic Novel #27
Avengers: West Coast (continuation of West Coast Avengers) #47-50
Avengers Annual #18
Marvel Super-Heroes #2
Avengers Spotlight #38
Avengers: West Coast #66-74; 83
Avengers: West Coast Annual #8
Marvel Comics Presents #162-165
Avengers: Infinity #1-4
Maximum Security #2-3
She-Hulk (vol.2) #7
Civil War #2-6
Fantastic Four #539
Mighty Avengers #3
Avengers: The Initiative #6; 14; 19-35
Ms. Marvel #19-20
New Avengers #35
New Avengers Annual #2
Mighty Avengers #17
Hulk (vol.2) #8-9
Avengers: The Initiative Featuring Reptil #1
New Avengers: The Reunion #2
War Machine (vol.2) #8-10
Avengers (vol.4) #1
Enter the Heroic Age #1
Avengers Academy #1-15
I Am An Avenger #2
Fear Itself: The Home Front #1
Amazing Spider-Man #661