Friday, February 6, 2015


"All right, that's one Chateau Quim and one Vaginaweiser, got it."

Back in 1999, Marvel published a direct market reproduction of Marvel Mystery Comics, as part of the book’s 60th anniversary. As an oddball commemorative issue that wasn’t part of a larger series – even if the reproduction inside was ganked from a Marvel Masterworks Edition – it’s a book that didn’t end up in a lot of permanent collections; I know, personally, that I’ve easily seen ten times as many copies floating around in quarter bins as I ever saw on the racks when it first debuted.

That remaindering of the issue, though, has been a real boon to the current crop of internet listicle authors. If you’re having trouble filling out that “The Ten Lamest Marvel Super-Villains (Don’t expect any of these bad guys to end up in the movies any time soon!)” collection for, never forget to include … The Armless Tiger Man!

At first glance, the very premise of an armless super-villain with a name like that seems patently absurd; of course he’s armless, tigers don’t have arms! They have four legs! Case closed! On closer inspection, however, the character remains pretty absurd – but garish, ghastly and terrifyingly absurd, with a soupcon of tragedy. In other words, he has all the makings of a good movie villain, a la Jason and Freddy. Basically, don’t count out Armless Tiger Man is my point.

"Here's a tip for you --- the tip of my foot!"

Debuting as an enemy of The Angel – this being the original Timely Comics Angel, whose super-power was having the most suave mustache in comics, rather than the Silver Age Angel whose actual super-power is kind of less impressive – the Armless Tiger-Man begins his career as an Axis assassin and saboteur operating in New York City, smashing the machinery of the Allied war effort.

It’s worth mentioning that the guy’s actually called plain old “Tiger Man,” and the “Armless” part refers to … well, his absence of arms, of course, but also the title of the episode in which he debuts : “The Case of the Armless Tiger Man.” Still, the boldness of the title stuck a chord, so the character is consistently referred to as “Armless Tiger Man” everywhere, including his official Marvel database entry and even when being addressed by the Red Skull in a 2010 Captain America/Black Panther story.

Boasting deadly jaws and powerful, clawed legs, the Tiger Man almost makes short work of the Angel in the process of destroying a manufacturing plant. Defeated and bound, though, the Tiger Man suddenly opens up to the Angel about his origin. My guess is not a lot of people stuck around to hear what was bugging the guy. Let’s check in.

Losing his arms to an industrial accident while still a young man in Munich, the Tiger Man dedicates himself to training his body to peak condition so as to overcome the limits of his traumatic amputation. “Years of training and concentrated use of my teeth and legs,” he explains, “made them abnormally strong and dexterous.” This is illustrated by a montage sequence of Tiger Man throwing knives with his feet, swinging on a chain by his teeth, and preparing a turkey dinner using only his abs.

“Over-development of the jaw muscles,” he continues, “twisted my face into a hideous mass of bone and flesh! People avoided me in horror … my brain developed too … developed a terrible obsession against machines.” Sounds legit, I’d let the guy smash an iPod or two just out of sympathy.

"Here, take it. Why aren't you taking it? Come on man."
Tiger Man – now a marvel of physical might, starts smashing machines around his native Germany until he’s picked up for being a suspected saboteur. Convincing the Gestapo that he’s actually a loyal German with no arms, a lasagna for a face and a mad-on for machines, the nasty Nazis pack him up and send him to America where they encourage him to smash machines to his heart’s content. In a just system, now that he’s captured, we should have just sent him back to Germany and let him smash stuff over there.

Picking the best scene in Tiger Man’s debut is a challenge; it’s either the scene where he murders a man by biting him on the neck with his messed-up teeth and then literally jumps up and down on him until he dies, OR it’s the scene recalled in flashback where a helpful doctor tries to hand the newly armless Tiger Man a useful book. “This book will tell you how to use your feet and teeth instead of your hands” he explains, holding the book out towards Tiger Man expectantly, waiting, probably wondering why Tiger Man doesn’t just take it. Maybe just slip it in the guy’s pockets for him, doc? I mean, I’m not sure how he’ll read it, since no one has yet taught him how to use his feet and teeth to do things like open books, but I’m sure it’ll work out in the end. Or he’ll go insane and destroy machines, one of the two.


John said...

Oh, man. I love this guy!

Kevin said...

Wow, this is delightfully bonkers. I'll bet Grant Morrison sighs wistfully thinking of the Armless Tiger-Man when he thinks nobody is looking.

I'm glad I stumbled across this blog again years after I had first read it; it's fantastic that it's still going and funnier than ever.

Yusei said...

I think he's like my second favourite armless villain... which isn't that big of a feat when you consider that as far as armless villains go I only know him and Ming Hua from The Legend of Korra

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