Welcome back to Rotten Ink. Today’s topic is The Cougar! Now I know what you’re thinking, we are covering that apex predator also know as The Mountain Lion, the vicious man killer meat eater of North America..but you’re wrong We are not talking about the Mercury car called the Cougar that’s first run was in 1967 and last was in 2002. And no, we are not even covering that terrible 2009 reality TV show on TV Land about older women who love younger men. We are not even covering Barry “The Cougar” Dawson, the black belt of man skills who was the mascot for Fosters dark rum & bourbon in Australia. We will be covering Jeff “The Cougar” Rand, stuntman and hero from Atlas comics 1975 comic series called The Cougar!
The last time I covered an Atlas Comic was on my birthday, September 8th 2013 when I covered The Brute as well as closed and missed local comic shop The Bookie Parlor, and I felt it was long past time that I cover another series from this amazing comic company. But before we dive into this, I would like to briefly talk about another local business that is no longer around, and that’s Crazy Cats Arcade! I know, I know, I spelled it wrong the last time I talked about it on this blog and was spelling it like Krazy Kats, which is the way the local Tattoo Parlor spells their name. Crazy Cats was located in Van Buren Shopping Center. The windows were tinted black and had decals of a cartoon orange cat dressed in a pirate outfit that graced their windows. The parking lot was always filled, and many kids hung out outside the building drinking pops and some smoking cigarettes. Once you opened the door, the sounds of arcade machines and pinball would fill the air and the place was lit with very low dimed lights…this was THE place to play video games…sure The Dayton Mall had a large arcade and Magic Castle was around and sure Captain Boogies Golf and Games showed up later, but Crazy Cats was the king. Some of my memories of going and playing games at Crazy Cats were with my brother Bryan, cousin Stephen and his dad and my uncle Bubba. You see, when Stephen would get good grades on his report card, his dad would take him to the arcade and give him $10.00 in tokens and let him loose! Bubba would always ask our parents if we could come too, and this was really a fun time. Family time in an arcade playing games with loved ones is stuff of the 80’s and early 90’s that’s lacking nowadays. The tokens at Crazy Cats were great and had the cartoon cat on the front doing his famous pose, while on the back it had him playing an arcade machine. To this day, I have a few Crazy Cat tokens and even late last year gave one to Stephen as a reminder of those fun times. Some of my favorite games to play at Crazy Cats were WWF Wreslefest a wrestling game that had the Royal Rumble, Creature From The Black Lagoon Pinball (I can’t tell you how many quarters I wasted on that one) and Primal Rage, the fighting game that pitted giant monsters against each other. Sadly sometime in the late 1990’s Crazy Cats closed its doors for good, and rumors went around that it was because too many teens were fist fighting over rivalries on games and also they said drug deals were going down and disrupting the other business in the shopping center. Now I had been to Crazy Cats many, many times and I will go on record and say I never saw a fight nor drugs being sold when I was there. While I am sure that it was possible I don’t think it was as out of control as Kettering would like to have had you think. I think the real reason it closed was because Krogers didn’t like having teens around and Kettering likes to take the fun out of everything! While gone, it’s not forgotten by those who entered. You are missed Crazy Cats, and this update is for you and all your workers that made it such a special and fun place.
He ain’t Superman, and he ain’t Captain America. So before we move onto the comics, let’s introduce you readers to Jeff “The Cougar” Rand so you can have a feel for the character. Jeff grew up in the swamplands of Louisiana and learned his fast and daredevil stunt skills from swinging from trees and acting as if he was Tarzan. His only friend growing up was an old witch named Hattie who told him the secrets of the swamps, and she was run off by the rudeness of his brother Rick. After his mom and dad were murdered and his brother went missing, Jeff moved to Hollywood and became a stunt man for the movies though at first he wanted to be an actor but his first major role in a film called The Cougar bombed at the box office. Jeff is called The Cougar by his friends because of his cat like speed and agility and is the best in the stunt man business. Jeff wears a red skintight body suit complete with a cougar head belt buckle and is a man of action! His powers and skills include great hand to hand combat, quick minded and quick on the defense. He also don’t break under pressure and is used to seeing things of a super natural level. He can be compared to Marvel’s The Human Fly and even early Wonder Man. So there you go, you now have a little more knowledge of who The Cougar is and what he is about.
So now it’s time to go to the Hollywood back lot with our safety helmet on and see what crazy adventure and stunt our good friend The Cougar is going to do next. I want to remind everyone that I grade comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So as Darkwing Duck use to say “Let’s Get Dangerous”!
The Cougar # 1 **1/2
Released in 1975 Cover Price .25 Atlas Comics #1 of 2
“The Gore Of Dracula” is a new horror flick being filmed on location at a small village complete with a old spooky castle and it’s own vampire legend! Stuntman Jeff “The Cougar” Rand along with his friend Harve are working on the picture with a complete jerk of a director. After the day’s shoot the stuntman goes into town along with make up girl whose boyfriend has to stay behind to set up the castle for the next morning’s shoot. While Jeff and friends are in town drinking it up, the young lady’s boyfriend finds on old coffin with a stake driven through an old dusty cape and thinks it’s a movie prop and removes it setting free a real vampire named Count Krolok who kills him and enters town and falls for the make-up girl who looks like his dead lover! Krolok tries to take the girl as Jeff and Harve swing into action. The fight leaves the vampire girl-less, Harve with broken ribs and Jeff with lots of questions. When the body of the boyfriend is found the next morning, Jeff has had enough and is going to stop the vampire once and for all. When Krolok gets the young woman, Jeff must travel to the castle and save her from his bite! Jeff does so with the help of a wood table he shatters and rams a stake into the chest of the vampire during combat ending his blood sucking ways.
I have to point this out first the fact that Jeff The Cougar walks around town in a red tight spandex suit with a cougar head belt buckle is classic 70’s cheese, and this guy should have had his own live action show and been played by Lee Majors! Jeff is a cocky stuntman who laughs in the face of danger and even seems not to be afraid of a vampire who up to this point no one thought existed. His fast movements and hand to hand combat skills seem to be what allows him to be so fearless and ready for adventure. But while he is daring and a butt kicker in this first issue, he lacks a personality and charm making me not attached to him just yet. The fact he seems not to be bothered by the fact his friends ribs had been shattered and a fellow film worker is dead, those are just second thoughts as he is now worried more about the young hot make-up girl who he almost seems to be putting the moves on by the end of the issue even though she just lost her boyfriend to murder. The vampire Krolok is just as cocky and walks right into his death in the end of the issue that the likes of Count Dracula and Morbius would have seen a mile away. I will say that his power and strength did make him a very powerful villain for a stuntman to fight. One thing that also lacking a little is that all the other characters are full fledged background players and none of them shine or make you care about them. While it sounds like I didn’t like this comic, it’s the opposite. It was a lot of fun, and I loved the 70’s action film/show feel to it. The art was done by two artists, Dan Adkins & Frank Springer, and it looks pretty good, not on par with major Marvel and DC books at the time but it looks well for this comic. The cover is cool, but not a very good one for a first issue and would not have drawn too many Super Hero readers in as much as it would draw the monster kids of the 70’s. Just as cheesy as I remember it back in the day, so I am hyped to see how issue 2 holds up after all these years!
The Cougar # 2 **1/2
Released in 1975 Cover Price .25 Atlas Comics #2 of 2
Jeff “The Cougar” Rand is working on a new flick and during his big stunt, he finds the dead body of a man whose neck has been ripped out! This murder triggers a memory in Jeff’s mind about his youth, growing up in the swamps of Louisiana and how his friend, an old witch placed a curse on his mean brother Rick that years later turned him into a werewolf that killed their parents and disappeared into the night. And when Jeff’s cousin is killed, he knows his brother is in town, but the police just aren’t fully sold on his werewolf theory. But while his new girlfriend, Janie, a lead singer for a band, plays at her sold out concert the werewolf attacks and Jeff goes on the offense and uses a silver knife to kill the werewolf who is of course Rick, but the fight leaves Jeff injured and paralyzed for life due to a spinal cord injury.
Well this was the final issue of The Cougar that Atlas released, and just imagine if DC ended Batman like this when Bane broke his back…just yep he is paralyzed and that’s the end you don’t need to know anymore. It’s a shame that the series ended as fast as it started thanks to the closing of Atlas. This second issue also tries to add a little more to the life of cocky Jeff “The Cougar” Rand and even tries to explain that silly suit he wears around town, explains his humble beginnings and even gives him a girlfriend who is a popular singer. The telling of why he wears the costume as a joke for a film he stared in that was a bomb is really silly as is the fact that his brother is a werewolf who killed his parents and after their deaths he just goes on with his life…he doesn’t even try to look for his brother? His girlfriend Janie seems to be just flung into the story because in issue one there is no mention of her, but in this issue they act as if they have been a couple for awhile. His brother Rick is given very little to do, and the show down while he is a werewolf is a little weak. The art in issue two is done by Frank Springer and seems a little more sloppy in spots. The cover is pretty good and shows action with another super natural being. Once more this series tries to mix superhero and horror comics and is a pretty average read. It’s truly a shame this series did not get time to blossom into something really good because the route this was going, I could Frankenstein’s Monster and The Mummy on the plate for The Cougar to fight.
While Jeff Rand in the world of comic book stuntmen is not as well known as Johnny Blaze or Wonder Man, nor is he as well known as real life stuntmen like Evil Kanivel, he was Atlas comics only stuntman and he had to do. But our next update we will walk off the Hollywood set and into hot jungles of South America as we go on the hunt for The Predator! That’s right, we will be looking at Dark Horse Comics first 4 issue mini series based on the cult sci-fi action thriller. So be ready to be watched from the shadows and look into the skies because The Predator is waiting for us! Until next time, make sure to support your local comic shop and read a comic or two.