Thursday, March 26, 2015


Flipping upwards into a triple somersault with a knife in one hand to kick a vampire in the face so as to save a ballerina? Ah yes, the ol' Number 22!

Spin the big interlocking wheels of the Atlas-Seaboard Character Generator and feed the results into a Venn Diagram, and if you take “Kolchak – the Nightstalker” on one hand and Burt Reynolds’ stuntman magnum opus “Hooper” on the other, you’ll find the intersection reads THE COUGAR!

Nope, not a sexually aggressive middle aged superheroine, but rather a lightly broken-spirited stuntman turned ghostbuster is what lurks between the pages of the abbreviated two-issue run of Atlas’ Cougar (darn it). While the series never made it to its third issue, the story packed in a lot on those newsprint pages.

Tree-swinging will really get you far in this world.
Bayou-born stuntman Jeff Rand has a knack for running across supernatural trouble and, additionally, a lot of free closet space, I assume. Forever decked out in the spandex superhero suit he wore in his sole starring silver screen endeavor – an action film which tanked at the box office, leaving Rand with little more than the character’s trademark bodysuit and sobriquet to call his own – Rand continues to work stuntman gigs on major motion pictures. Naturally, this unerringly puts him in the path of rampaging monsters.

His first issue pits the Cougar against a thirsty rando vampire named Krolok, which sounds like a cross between a security system and some sort of kale. While the Cougar doesn’t have any powers of his own, he still manages to come out ahead of the fang-toothed freak.

Why is that? Well, it turns out that Jeff has monsters in his immediate family. While only a pair of wee tykes, Jeff’s brother Rick is rude to a local witch named Black Hattie. In return for his insolence, Hattie transforms the boy into a werewolf, and he subsequently kills his own parents right before his young brother’s eyes. You know what? Sounds fair.

Jeff never accepts his brother’s lycanthropy, which is frankly just intolerant of him. He does get a chance to reunite with his snarling sibling, as his second issue pits him against the very werewolf with whom he once gamboled amidst the fields of youth. For his trouble, the Cougar receives possibly the most decisive finale in the history of superhero comics – his spine is shattered and he’ll never walk again! Sort of doubling down on that issue’s “the end,” weren’t we?

The Cougar managed to avoid receiving the third-issue rejiggering which saw so many of his fellow Atlas-Seaboard characters completely reinvented on a seeming editorial whim. That being said, it’s pretty obvious where the book was going to go from there. It’s almost a shame we never got to see cougar-lycanthrope-by-night, wheelchair-guy-by-day Jeff pick up the pieces in issue three, assuming they weren’t gonna throw us a curve and put the whole thing in a medieval castle in space or something instead.

The Decisive End.

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