Undervalued Spotlight #343

Giant-Size Creatures #1, Marvel Comics, July 1974

Recently I did a small con and didn’t have a lot of room on my table. I had to lose some bins so out went the Sgt. Fury section, the Harvey Comics section, the Dell photo cover and Westerns section as well as the Giant-Size section. I didn’t want to pull out the Giant-Size section but something had to go to make room and it certainly wasn’t going to be the runs of Amazing Spider-Man and Batman. I removed these Bronze Age gems under protest.

You can’t get more Bronze Age that the Marvel Giant-Size series. The series was nestled thick in the middle of this era and from May 1974 to December 1975 Marvel put out 69 issues (my count) in over 27 Giant-Size titles (again my count).

There was a great “Bronze Age” aesthetic to all the Giant Size covers, all the titles are either single issues or bite sized runs. The whole Giant-Size series is easy and fun to collect. I’m not sure why the series isn’t collected more. Perhaps it’s the all reprint issues that pop up here and there? Over the years I’ve always made a Giant-Size divider in my bins, I’ve always respected this series

Some important books came out of the Giant-Size series, none more important that Giant-Size X-Men #1 with its introduction of the New X-Men team. Giant-Size Spider-Man #4 features the 3rd appearance of the Punisher and every issue of Giant-Size Man-Thing allowed jokes a plenty.

This week I’d like to shine the Undervalued Spotlight on one of my favorites from this series, Giant-Size Creatures #1.

Giant-Size Creatures #1 features the 1st appearance of Greer Nelson as Tigra, Nelson was formerly known as the Cat. In this issue Tigra teams up with Werewolf by Night, a character that just reeks of the Bronze Age, to defeat Hydra.

The book also features a great cover drawn by Ron Wilson (best known for drawing the Thing – a lot) prominently featuring Tigra and Werewolf by Night. The book also features a 35 cent cover price and I believe of the 69 Giant-Size issues produced, in my head right now I’m counting four – Chillers, Super Stars, Super-Heroes and our Creatures, the rest being 50 cent covers.

The Marvel monsters of the Bronze Age namely, Werewolf, Dracula and Frankenstein have been enjoying a resurgence in value over the past couple of year. I like any character associated with this corner of the Marvel Universe especially a strong female character like Tigra.

Over the past couple of years this book has been flat, even losing value in the very high grades. Don’t let that scare you away, the combination of this book being anchored into such a collectible series of books, it having a first appearance, it having a strong cover and it being one of the 1st few and published with a different price all add positively to the prospects of this book.

The 46th Overstreet price break for this book is $28/$47/$65 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment.

  • 1st appearance of Tigra
  • Strong cover with 2 great principles

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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Steve V.
Steve V.
7 years ago

I think Wally is correct on this one!

The four issues of The Cat in 1972 are legendary. Issue #1 with Wally Wood and Jim Mooney art is undervalued for sure at $65 in last years guide. Its after all, the first Cat appearance. Issues# 2 and# 3 with Marie Severin and Jim Mooney and Bill Everett are likewise awsome art. But the l972 Cat series ends with a bang in issue# 4 with Jim Starlin art. What an artist roster!

In 1974 the Cat becomes Tigra in Giant-Size Creatures #1 (1974). I understand Wally’s point that this is a sub-key. I like the Don Perlin art in Giant Size Creatures #1 inked by Vinnie Colletta.

Greer Grant Nelson used the alias Werecat or werewoman. She was a pioneer woman superhero.

Greer Grant was married to Willie Nelson, not the country western singer Boxcar Willie, but a police officer in New York City. Unfortunately, her husband ran afoul of a rogue organization of cops calling themselves the Brethren of the Blue Fist. William Nelson was killed, but the Brethren were never uncovered.

Greer Nelson was the lab assistant of Dr. Joanne Tumolo, who was developing a process to enable a human being to attain his or her full physical and mental potential. Out of financial desperation, Dr. Tumolo had accepted private funding for the project from Malcom Donalbain, an eccentric former executive of the Brand Corporation, who planned to create an army of women warriors to serve him. Not trusting the test subject that Donalbain had coerced her to use, Tumolo had Nelson secretly undertake the experiment alongside the other woman. Donalbain’s test subject, Shirlee Bryant, and Greer Nelson emerged from the battery of treatments with superhuman physical capabilities.

When Bryant died in a test of her abilities, Donalbain had his henchmen set off dynamite charges in the laboratory to make it appear that Bryant had died accidentally in an explosion.

Tumolo was injured in the explosion. Believing her mentor to be dead, Nelson determined to stop Donalbain’s plans. She donned one of Donalbain’s specially designed cat costumes, and calling herself the Cat, thwarted Donalbain’s plans and sent him to jail. Nelson soon learned that Tumolo had not been killed but had been hospitalized for apparent brain damage. During this time, Greer, donning the costumed identity of the Cat, became a hero in the Chicago area, battling villains such as the Owl, Man-Killer, Commander Kraken, and Man-Bull.
Unknown to Nelson, Tumolo was a member of the Cat People, a race of humanoids magically evolved from cats in Europe during the Middle Ages. Prior to the explosion Donalbain had engineered, Tumolo had become aware of a plot by the subversive organization Hydra to steal a bacterial culture that had been developed by Tumolo’s ancestors. Hydra had discovered the secret of Tumolo’s ancestry and suspected her of possessing the formula for “The Final Secret,” or the Black Plague. Tumolo had chosen to feign brain damage in order to evade Hydra, but Hydra abducted her from the private home where she had apparently been convalescing. Nelson put on her Cat costume and pursued them. Hydra agents fled from the Cat’s attack, but during the confrontation managed to shoot her with “alpha radiation,” an unknown form of radioactivity. Dr. Tumolo revealed the truth about the Cat People, who performed rites upon Greer to save her life, resulting in her possession by a cat-soul. Greer was transformed into Tigra, a new incarnation of the Cat People’s greatest champion. In this new identity, Greer defeated Hydra and continued her career as as an adventurer and also became a private investigator.

Although she was able to use the cat’s-head amulet to change back to her human form, Nelson became so accustomed to and enamored of her feline form that she seldom made the transformation. Moving from Chicago, she became a full-time adventurer, encountering and defeating such menaces as the Rat Pack, Kraven the Hunter, Tabur, and the Super-Skrull. She also briefly worked with Red Wolf, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four. Tigra was among the handful of costumed crime-fighters that the telepath Moondragon coerced into vying for Avengers membership. She was elected to membership and served for several months, all that time doubting she was worthy of membership in the group. Although she proved herself while in battle with the Molecule Man, she decided to resign her active membership. Moving to San Francisco, she became friends with Jessica Drew, the original Spider-Woman.

Then Hawkeye moved to Los Angeles to form a West Coast branch of the Avengers, she was invited to join. She made a staunch addition to the team, despite the fact that the human and feline sides of her personality had become at odds with one another, causing her behavior to become somewhat erratic. Because of her catlike need for attention, she became involved with teammates Hank Pym and Wonder Man at the same time.

The ultimate solution to her discordant nature presented itself when she and the Avengers journeyed to the “Land Within,” the magical dimension where the parent tribe of the Cat People dwelled. The ruler of the Cat People offered to magically cure her of her split personality if she would kill Master Pandemonium, a demonic human being whom the Cat People feared and hated. Although Tigra agreed, she could not bring herself to violate the Avengers’ code against killing when she had the opportunity to do so.

After almost killing Hawkeye in a training exercise, Greer decided to abandon her Tigra form permanently. Almost immediately, demons Allatou kidnapped Hank Pym and Greer on behalf of the demon Allatou, who wrongly believed them to be agents of her enemy, Master Pandemonium. The Avengers sought aid from Hellstorm and Hellcat, who were retired heroes at the time, having set up an occult investigations business. Together, the heroes invade Allatou’s realm with Pandemonium on their heels. A three-way fight breaks out until Allatou manages to strand everyone with Pandemonium aboard a boat running through the various realms of hell.

The castaways find that they have drifted into the Cat People’s Land Within. It was revealed that the Cat People were demons, having become such through their longtime residence in the demonic realms. The Cat People were at the time guarding a shard of Pandemonium’s soul on behalf of Mephisto, and they had ordered Tigra to kill Pandemonium to protect it. Tigra continued to refuse to slay Pandemonium, and the Cat People punished her by stripping away her cat-soul altogether and leaving her human. Hellcat, however, owning a version of Greer’s original Cat costume, gave it to Greer, who led the Avengers in battling the Cat-People and single-handedly defeated their champion, the Balkatar. The cat-soul was released from confinement in the struggle, and stronger than ever, re-inhabited Greer again, producing a Tigra that is more physically formidable than ever but controlled by Greer’s human intellect. The Cat People surrendered, unwilling to battle a “whole” Tigra who now exactly resembled the revered Tigra of their legends. Returning with the Avengers, Tigra continued as an active member and forsook her previous romantic involvement with others of her team.

The Avengers were rocked by controversy when their member Mockingbird revealed that she let the Phantom Rider die in a previous encounter. Sympathetic to Mockingbird’s cause, Tigra joined Moon Knight in briefly splitting from the team to accompany Mockingbird, who quit the team and separated from her husband and leader, Hawkeye. Together, the threesome joined Bill Foster to stop the High Evolutionary, and later fought the Night Shift. Afterwards, the heroes sought help from Hellstorm and Hellcat to rid Mockingbird of the ghost of the Phantom Rider. The three parted ways after this, and Tigra returned adventure alongside the Avengers.
Tigra’s cat-soul continued to reassert itself. As it gained more and more prominence, Tigra once again became moody and aggressive, but also began to change physically to resemble that of a predatory cat, and was even discovered to be chasing mice. On a subsequent adventure, Pym was forced to used his size-altering powers to shrink Tigra to the size of a house cat, which she resembled. He imprisoned her until he could discover a cure.

Immortus freed Tigra to further distract the Avengers from his plans against them, and Tigra roamed the city for some time. The sorceress Agatha Harkness, who at the time was living at the Avengers’ compound, discovered and re-captured her. Seeking a cure for Tigra’s condition, Harkness called upon the Cat People.

The Cat People’s new ruler-Tigra’s old foe Tabur, a cat artificially evolved into humanoid feline form-appeared and restored Tigra to humanoid form. Tabur tried to coerce her into mating with him to legitimize his usurpation of the Cat People’s throne, but Tigra resisted and Harkness mystically transplants Tigra’s cat-soul into Tabur, causing him to revert to the form of a mere cat while allowing Tigra to keep her superhuman form but retain her human personality. Using Tabur’s discarded amulet, Greer was even able to switch from Tigra form to ordinary human form and back again whenever she wished. Thus empowered again, Tigra rejoined the Avengers’ West Coast branch.

On a mission against their enemies, the Pacific Overlords, Tigra was forced to crash-land an Avengers Quinjet in an Australian wilderness, but was rescued by an indigenous tribe. She elected to stay with her rescuers, taking a leave of absence from the team. She did, however, assist a team of reserve Avengers when the main team was off-planet, fighting amid the Kree-Shi’ar War. Afterwards, she apparently remained in the United States and was on hand to attend the funeral of Mockingbird.

Tigra again joined the Avengers when they re-assembled all former members after a year-long hiatus during which many of their number were believed dead. Electing not to stay with the newly re-formed team, Tigra left with the Avenger Starfox for outer space, searching for hedonistic off-planet adventures. Ultimately, Tigra grew quickly disenfranchised with such a lifestyle and was relieved when former teammate Moondragon assembled Tigra, Starfox, and other Avengers to battle the alien Infinites. When the crisis was averted, Tigra returned to Earth.

When Tigra learned of a resurgence of activity by the Brethren of the Blue Fist, the organization responsible for the death of her husband, she helped the NYPD by going undercover to expose them. Tigra brought the Brethren to justice and stayed to complete her police officer training, beginning a new career as a cop.

I agree with Wally on this one.** Classic bronze.** I am a Perlin and Colletta fan of the interior art too!

7 years ago

I’m 100% on board with this pick and have been for a while. This is a big-screen Avenger waiting to happen.

David Mackay
David Mackay
7 years ago

Dumped the Dells, Harveys and Sgt Furys eh Walt
I see revenge is a Serbian dish best served cold 🙂