Welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place where I share my memories of the past as well as the present. For this update, I would like to take a look at another comic hero from the world of Atlas Comics! In our past Atlas Comic updates, we have taken a look at The Brute, The Cougar and The Hands Of The Dragon, all great superheroes in their own right. This time around we are taking a look at another one who, when I was younger, was one of my top Atlas Comics heroes. I am talking about the one and only Tiger-Man! Have your ever-wondered why in the world of comic books there are so many heroes who have animal names? I mean just to name a few: Spider-Man, The Fly, Batman, The Tick, Hawkman, Black Panther, Wolverine, Black Canary, and Blue Falcon. The list could go on and on, and on that list would be Tiger-Man showing that fighting crime and animals must go hand and hand! It’s a shame that Atlas Comics went out of business in 1975 as it would have been really cool to have seen what further adventures their characters would have had as well as what new heroes would have been made. I mean who knows, maybe a Tiger-Man vs. The Cougar could have been in our reading future if they would have lasted longer than only one year as a comic publisher. As always, I want to send a big thank you to the gone but not forgotten comic shop Bookie Parlor for introducing me to Atlas Comics all those years back, and I think that at this point we are ready to dive into seeing what this crime fighter offered to the world. Also yes, the picture below is Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin feeding a young tiger!
So when I hear the name Tiger Man, one of the first things that pop into my mind is a figure in the “Galaxy Warriors” toy line that literally is called Tiger Man. Growing up He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe was one of my favorite toy lines for the longest time, and between my brother Bryan and I, we had a pretty massive collection of the figures, vehicles and castle playsets that we would get from not only garage sales and trades with friends but also stores like K-Mart, Hills, Hearts, Gold Circle and Children’s Palace among other toy and department stores. But while Mattel and He-Man took the toy aisles in the 1980’s by storm at major box stores, the smaller retailers who stocked the none-mainstream companies filled their section with toys made by Remco, Sparkle, SunGold and Imperial. Being a fan of Masters Of The Universe, Conan The Barbarian, Beastmaster and other barbarian films, the knock off figures I had to get were ones like Defenders Of The Planets, Galaxy Fighters and Galaxy Warriors with the latter being the one filled with all type of animal people who had the bodies of a man and the heads of a animal, and Tiger Man was one of the figures in the line. While these knock-off figures ended up just being henchmen and guards and took orders from He-Man or Skeletor, they still added lots of great moments of toy adventures. I am sure you’re wondering if I have ever owned Tiger Man, and the answer is sadly no. I would have to buy most of these types of toys from Woolsworth or Odd Lots and with us living in Waynesville, far away from the nearest one of those stores, we always had to get whatever ones were left on the shelf. Most of the time, the more flashy and monster looking ones were always gone. Below are some pictures of Tiger Man, and the logo for the line of figures he was a part of.
Lots of people in the world love tigers and I have had lots of friends and family who have had a love for tigers and had tacky posters, tattoos, statues and even t-shirts, but none of them took it to the extreme like a man named Dennis Avner, also known as Stalking Cat, who had 14 surgeries on his face and teeth in order to make himself look like a tiger! Dennis was born on August 27, 1958 in Flint, Michigan and is from Native American decent. From a young age, he felt like he was a cat, and when the Medicine Man of his family’s tribe gave him the name Stalking Cat, he knew that his true spirit animal and totem was the great tiger. As he grew older, he worked for the Navy as a sonar technician and later on he took a job as a computer programmer. During the 80’s he also started his body modifications, all with the blessing of the tribe’s chief who informed him that his totem was in fact a female tiger and that he should also blur gender lines. As his appearance became more extreme and more tiger-like from surgery and tattoos, Stalking Cat, as he changed his name, to went to Furry Conventions and met Tess Calhoun who is known as Tess The Red Pony and her husband Rick and the three would move together to a small town in Washington were Stalking Cat became somewhat a local celebrity being covered on TV and newspapers. Stalking Cat was also well known in the Furry world and tried to promote the lifestyle alongside Tess, but in 2007 Tess and her husband could no longer afford to pay for Stalking Cat to live with them as he did not have a job and in some ways his extreme appearance kept him from getting a regular 9-5. Stalking Cat ended up moving to Nevada in 2007, and sadly by 2012, he passed away alone in his garage due to suicide at the age of 54. Over his lifetime Stalking Cat enjoyed some fame thanks to Ripley’s Believe It Of Not! who brought him to the world’s attention as well as Larry King Live and Weird, True & Freaky. His extreme makeover was met with mixed reactions as many enjoyed the fact he was doing what he wanted while others thought he was just addicted to plastic surgery. But say what you want about Stalking Cat, the man sure did love tigers!
Before we take a look at the three issues that Atlas Comics released based on Tiger-Man, I think we should spend some time getting to know him and why he is what he is. Tiger-Man made his first appearance in the first issue of the magazine “Thrilling Adventure Stories” back in February 1975 with the story being written by John Albano and the art was done by Ernie Colon who also handled the art on the first comic book issue that was released in 1975 and later in the series artist Steve Ditko would handle the duties. The series would only last three issues before being cancelled as Atlas Comics, the publisher, was not able to compete for retail space against Marvel, DC, Gold Key and Archie who all dominated shelf space on the racks. The character’s origin is this: Dr. Lancaster Hill, a scientist who is working on tiger blood to find the chromosomes that give the big cats their agility and strength who injects himself with a serum and gets the ability of a tiger complete with strength, reflexes and super sight. When his work is done in Africa, he returns to his home in New York and gets a job at a hospital. After the murder of a loved on he puts on a costume made out of the fur of the tiger he gained his powers from as well as a tiger mask and roams the streets as a hero vigilante. His costume is this: a face mask that looks like a tiger, blue spandex bodysuit with his vest and boots made out of the tiger skin as is his gloves that sport razor sharp claws. His costume might not be super flashy, but it gets the job done and puts fear into the heart of those who are on the wrong side of the law. Tiger-Man does what he has to do to stop crime with most killers meeting their deaths by his hands and this is why he would make a great addition to the Marvel Comics Universe if only he could have joined them as he could have been a great foe for Spider-Man as they both have different ways of fighting crime. So that’s a quick crash course about Tiger-Man as I felt I needed to share this so if you didn’t know who he was, you might have more of a connection with him and might even trigger your interest in reading his comic adventures yourself. Check out the pictures below to see the outfit of Tiger-Man and notice the first picture has him with flesh colored tights!
So now we are at the heart of this update jungle and we have talked a little about Tiger-Man’s publication history as well as Tiger Man, the action figure from SunGold as well as Stalking Cat the man who transformed himself into a tiger, but now we are at the point where we need to take a look at the three issues Atlas Comic released back in 1975! I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having these issues in stock as they are the closest thing to the Bookie Parlor we have around the Dayton, Ohio area and my favorite comic shop in the area! I want to also remind you my readers and friends that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s dive into the Atlas Universe and see just why this small company is one of my favorites from the past, I should also note that my pal Jason Young has been into reading old Atlas Comics and he is hooked on their classic stories and heroes, but with that let’s get to the comic reviews, shall we?
Tiger-Man # 1 ***
Released in 1975 Cover Price .25 Atlas Comics # 1 of 3
A young nurse leaving work is attacked by two bikers who want to steal her car and kidnap her, but she is saved when Tiger-Man comes out of the shadows and shows the bikers that crime doesn’t pay with his super strength and razor sharp claws. After saving her life, he flashes back to how his crime fighting days started when he as his alter ego Dr. Lancaster Hill spent two years in Zambia, Africa and with the help of a captured tiger he found a way to make a serum that when he injected himself with made him faster, stronger and filled with the will to survive! He even saves the village from the rogue tiger set free by the old medicine man of the village who was jealous of his people trusting the young doctor’s cures over his. Once his internship is over, he returns to New York to find he has a job at the Harlem Hospital and to his sister Anna Hill who is a Broadway actress has a huge show the next night he is invited to! That night Anna is attacked and killed by two scumbags who think she is rich and this sets Lancaster off and with the tiger skin outfit the Tribal Chief made him, he becomes the vigilante avenger Tiger-Man and sets out to find his sister’s killers and does as they are a pair of rodeo riders and stalking them to a dive bar he makes his move and kills the pair getting revenge for his sister. Now back to present time, he wonders if he should have also killed the pair of bikers who attacked the nurse but while he thinks that over he knows his calling to be a superhero of the city.
The first thing I want to say is that this issue of Tiger-Man has the feel of a 70’s Marvel comic like Spider-Man or even Daredevil, and that’s the charm and appeal this character holds with this aging comic reader. I mean I could have seen Tiger-Man being in the Marvel Universe and running around New York fighting Kingpin and The Vulture! The plot of this issue is the origin story of Tiger-Man and follows his start of getting his powers in Africa all the way to avenging his sister’s death in the streets of New York and shows the rise of the Big Apples newest superhero. Dr. Lancaster Hill seems like a good Doctor who cares about helping sick people and wants to find new ways to heal and make the ill better, but it’s also clear he has a killer instinct side and will do what he feels right to protect himself and others. As Tiger-Man, he becomes almost animal like as he is able to stalk his prey just like a real tiger by using cunning stealth as well as amped up sense of smell, sight and reflexes. It also doesn’t hurt that he has superhuman strength much like Captain America or even Spider-Man just slightly toned down. The issue’s bad guys are a pair of rodeo cowboys who don’t mind robbing and killing women in order to get money as they let money rule them all the way to their deaths. While they are no threat to Tiger-Man, they where still terrible people who deserved being killed by his hands. Over all this is a solid and fun comic that has a cool superhero who has the vigilante attitude of Paul Kersey of the Death Wish film series, and that’s why he was dark before Batman became all moody. The cover is eye catching and captured my attention all those many moons back when I found the first issue in Bookie Parlors $1.00 box. The interior art is done by Ernie Colon and is fantastic 70’s style art. I should also note that Ernie is also known for his work on such comics as Casper The Friendly Ghost, Creepy Magazine, Doom 2099 and Arak Son Of Thunder to name a few. If you like classic superheroes of the past and are looking for a fun origin comic, make sure to check out this issue as its really a fun read.
Tiger-Man # 2 ***
Released in 1975 Cover Price .25 Atlas Comics # 2 of 3
Three crooks in electric modified suits just robbed a bank and instead of just running away from the crime scene, they waste time and end up killing two security guards with the help of their amped up suits. Tiger-Man shows up and knocks the crooks around and finds that their suits were made by a Professor Anderson Kobart who teaches at Manhattan University and as Tiger-Man makes his way to the Professor to get answers to why he is supplying crooks with bio suits, he is attacked by a costumed character calling himself The Blue Leopard who has all the ability of Tiger-Man and even scarier knows his real identity! The pair of costumed figures fight it out above the Manhattan landscape and as they punch, scratch and flip each other around it becomes clear that Blue Leopard is from Africa and knew the Dr. when he was there for 2 years helping the ill in the village of Zambia. But just when Tiger-Man gets the upper hand, he gets light headed and passes out thanks to a sleeping drug on the claws of Blue Leopard who leaves our hero asleep on top of a roof. Waking up many hours later, he changes back to Dr. Hill and does his shift at the hospital with both Blue Leopard and Professor Kobart on his mind, and once his shift is over Tiger-Man goes back on the prowl to get answers about both. As Tiger-Man gets to the office of Professor Kobart, he finds him dead already thanks to the claws of Blue Leopard who informs our hero that he was sent to kill him by the village’s Witch Doctor as he blames him for not just stealing his peoples trust in his medicine but also cause a food drought left many of his people dead and its because of his white man witchcraft! As Blue Leopard leaves the scene Tiger-Man is left at the crime scene questioning if killing the criminals is really the way to help New York.
This second issue is all about action and drama as we follow Tiger-Man as he tries to tangle with two set of bad guys, one being a mastermind college professor and his enhanced armor henchmen and the other is the African avenging Blue Leopard who wants to make our hero pay for his crimes against the village’s Medicine Man. Dr. Hill and his hero side Tiger-Man are having a hard time gripping the difference between the two sides as Hill saves lives daily as Tiger-Man takes lives of those who commit crimes, and the war in his heart and mind is causing him to be distracted doing both jobs. I like that about Tiger-Man, he has two sides and while a vigilante, he himself questions if he should act as their judge, jury and executioner. Professor Anderson Kobart is an older college teacher who for some reason has teamed up with criminals to make them powerful suits in order to steal money, but sadly the Professor dies before we can get answers to why he choose crime, and to be honest neither he nor his henchmen really put up a good fight against Tiger-Man. The issue’s main villain is Blue Leopard, a magically enhanced costumed baddy who is on a mission of revenge himself with orders to torment and kill Tiger-Man, all still over the jealousy of the African Medicine Man. The worse thing for Tiger-Man is that Blue Leopard is as skilled and quick as he is! But while we get the answer to why Blue Leopard is around, we don’t get an end to his madness as he gets away at the end. This issue is well written, and the script was done by Gerry Conway and is solid and classic superhero stuff as is the cover that once more reminds me so much of 70’s Marvel. The interior art is done by artist legend Steve Ditko who is known for co-creating Spider-Man for Marvel as well as his work on so many other amazing titles. Over all this is a great follow up issue and shows that the folks at Atlas Comics knew how to make quality comics for readers. Well let’s see what the final issue in this series has to offer. I can’t wait to re-read it as its been a very long time since I have read any of these issues.
Tiger-Man # 3 ***
Released in 1975 Cover Price .25 Atlas Comics # 3 of 3
Tiger-Man rushes into Manhattan Hospital with a man who set himself on fire for no reason. While the man is getting help at the burn unit of the building, Tiger-Man turns into Dr. Hill and tries to save the life of the man who sadly passes away but does manage to say the word “Hypnos” before expiring. The death of this man shakes Dr. Hill, and a couple of nights later while on patrol in the city as Tiger-Man, he witnesses another suicide this time a old woman embraced death on train tracks as it hit her. The only connection he can think to check into is the free clinic run by Dr. Otto Kaufman, a man who helps people with their deep mental issues. As Dr. Hill, he pays him a visit and is not impressed with Kaufman’s attitude. That night Tiger-Man saves a woman who attempted suicide by driving her car off a bridge and she as well says “Hypnos,” and this time as Tiger-Man he goes to Kaufman’s clinic and finds files that proves he is hypnotizing these people into committing suicide and now is using his Hypno-Power to try and stop Tiger-Man from turning the files over to the police. But Kaufman is able during the fight to hypnotize Tiger-Man with the want to kill himself by setting himself on fire, but when a pair of robbers knock out Tiger-Man as he is pouring gas on himself in order to steal his wallet, they really saved his life as it broke the power Kaufman had over him. Tiger-Man goes back to the clinic just as Dr. Kaufman has polluted the mind of a young man to kill himself, and once Tiger-Man knocks out the young man he turns his fury onto Kaufman who ends up running to the roof of the clinic. After a brief fight, Tiger-Man is able to rip off the monocle that is the source of Kaufman’s power and turns it onto him causing the crazed Dr. to leap from the building killing himself.
The third and final issue in this Atlas Comic series is a nice send off for this great character as the plot of a crazed doctor killing off his patients because he thinks they are all weak willed people is stuff classic 60’s and 70’s comic were made of. Tiger-Man/Dr. Hill in this issue is really upset that strangers around him are killing themselves and it really bothers him when he is not able to save them from death. But while he was too late to save two of them, he did save two others who were near death’s door. Plus once he cracks the case and finds who was responsible for placing the urge to off themselves into the victims’ minds, he himself doesn’t pull the punches and wants the killer to embrace the cold grasp of death. Dr. Otto Kaufman is an older man who wears a monocle that holds a hypnosis power and runs a free mental health clinic in New York and uses his power of persuasion for evil as he wants to kill off most of the population of the world so he can fill it with super beings who are free of emotions. Kaufman is such a jerk that he wants his victims to die in horrible ways like setting themselves on fire, drowning and death by speeding train and has zero remorse for sending them to the grave. But when his power is turned on him, he himself knows that he is insane and leaps to his death from the top of a building! Dr. Otto Kaufman is a great bad guy and while not physically threatening, he is mentally threatening to Tiger-Man. The downside of this being the last issue is that we as the readers never got the answers and an ending to Blue Leopard who was still on the prowl in New York waiting to strike Tiger-Man and bring him down, not to mention the next issue was planned for Tiger-Man to fight a villain called The Slasher…imagine that, a serial killer taking on Tiger-Man…that would have been amazing! The character of Tiger-Man, I think, is my favorite Atlas Comics hero as I found him very much to be what I enjoy in a hero, let alone he is set in New York and if he was a Marvel Comics created character or even would have been bought by them in 1975, we could have seen him interact with such heroes as Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Daredevil and Dr. Strange, to name a few. The cover this time around is pretty solid and has that 70’s look that flooded newsstands, and Steve Ditko did the artwork and of course it looks amazing. Over all Tiger-Man issue 3 is great and fits very well into the series and really if you are looking into getting into Atlas Comics, these three issues of Tiger-Man should be your starting point. With rumors that Dynamite Comics now has the licenses for many of these characters, maybe sometime soon we could get a follow up series based on Dr. Hill and his Tiger-Man alter ego. Check out the art below to see Tiger-Man in action!
Tiger-Man might not be a well known hero like Superman, Captain America or even Spawn, and that’s a shame as I find this costumed hero to be one that delivered good adventures and who could have had many more if he was allowed to stay around longer. It’s been a blast re-reading these old Atlas Comics and chatting about them here on Rotten Ink as this blog was meant for comics like this that I remember reading in my youth and sharing them with my readers who might not have even known about Tiger-Man or any of the other Atlas Comic heroes. But for our next update, we are leaving Tiger-Man and New York behind and we are traveling to the world of Nintendo for another NES Challenge. This time I will be tackling the star of one of this summer’s biggest films, the one and only King Kong. The game is based on the 1986 film “King Kong Lives” with a comic series from Markosia! So until next time, read a comic of three, do a good deed or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for an ape of a good time!