Thursday, May 29, 2014


No relation to Tiger-Boy.

Atlas/Seaboard comics (actually only ever published as “Atlas”, but comics historians have chosen to append “Seaboard” to the title in order to differentiate it from the monster-oriented comics company of the same name which preceded Marvel, and to acknowledge the parent company) is an interesting case, historically. According to the eyewitness account of some – but not all – of the individuals involved in the company, it was founded under a grudge by Martin Goodman, former owner of Marvel Comics, when the new owners ousted his son from an oversight position.

How Red Bull was invented.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that Atlas-Seaboard’s short-lived cast of characters – created and produced by an astonishing crowd of top-notch contemporary professionals – were meant to evoke the idea of prominent Marvel heroes, if only mixed liberally with other pop culture heroes of the day from the media of television and film.

Surely, for instance, Atlas’ equivalent to Spider-Man was meant to be Tiger-Man, a young doctor whose experiments with tiger hormones end up giving him the proportional strength and abilities of the wild animal from which he derives his name. Written by Gerry Conway and illustrated by Steve Ditko (with the first issue art chores undertaken by Ernie Colon and the lettering borrowed from Charlton’s veteran “A.Machine”), the book seems an amalgam of hospital drama and the wall-crawler’s personal brand of self-recrimination and myopic, indulgent pity.

Tiger-Man is Dr.Lancaster Hill, a crusading young doctor whose youth is spent in Africa,dutifully extracting tiger hormone from African tigers in the hopes of finding the source of their ferocity – for medicine! Apparently tiger’s “instincts” are the key to some natural curative in their genetic structure, although we’ll have to take his word on that. Never mind that tigers are actually Asian and you’d have to be pretty lucky to find one on anywhere on the continent of Africa outside of a zoo, it’s still a helluva medical accomplishment!

Dr.Hill ends up injecting himself with the hormones and thereby granting himself the powers and abilities of a tiger, one of which is being native to India, but I guess we have to let that one slide. Hopped up on tiger juice, Doc Hill discovers that panacaeatic cure-all gives him tremendous super-powers – as he admits in a refreshing moment of seemingly meta candor - “for some reason” and so he’s quick to take to the streets of his urban hometown in New York decked out in ceremonial tiger skin so as to deliver street justice, comic book style.

Well, the whole book weren't no pile
of roses, I'll tell you that much
Like Spider-Man, T-Man was forever torn between his super-hero career and personal life, often blaming himself for the shortcomings he often confronted in the worst of mankind, and using his powers to “work out the cobwebs” as he indulged in a little tiger-like equivalent to web-slinging and wall-crawling.

Tiger-man ran three issues and took the time to face a pair of bona fide super-villains in the similarly powered Blue Leopard and the hypnotic Hypnos, whose big scheme was encouraging men to set themselves on fire. A Fourth issue was promised from the run but never materialized, another victim of Atlas-Seaboard’s aborted run at success.

1 comment:

Wooly Rupert said...

Tiger Man had the worst covers. His #1 Issue has him bent over and almost crying while two criminal types tell him they just killed his sister. No, "Make way for TIGERMAN" or anything, y'know, eye-catching.

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