It’s nigh impossible to overstate the impact the 1966 Batman TV show had upon the public’s perception of superheroes and, doctor by extension, viagra order funnybooks in general and it continues to inform those perceptions over four decades later. No matter how many college classes use Watchmen or Fun Home as required texts, no matter how many millions The Avengers pulls down at the box office, there’s still a sizable segment of the population who stills equate the medium with colorful camp antics and “BIFF! BANG! POW!”
Marvel may have upped the genre ante during the Silver Age of Comics but Batman preached the period’s pop-art insanity to the masses, including folks who’d hadn’t so much as looked at a funnybook since they were in short pants. It’s a reputation more serious-minded — and I use that term in the loosest possible sense — creators and fans have strived to overcome, as it somehow diminishes the dignified maturity of a genre predicated on buff lads and lassies in skintight costumes punching the shit out of histrionic evildoers. A millionaire who dresses up as a bat and fights evil clowns is profound subject matter, after all.
The discomforting anxieties of insecure man-children aside, the Batman TV show’s fleeting success had an impact upon the realm of comics itself. It — along with Marvel’s burgeoning empire of costumed angst and melodrama — cemented superheroic fare as the preeminent genre and de facto face of the medium. Seeking to break off a piece of that prevailing popularity for their own profit, a score of publishers released or retooled capes-and-spandex properties in the Stan Lee/Roy Thomas/Lorenzo Semple Jr. camp melodrama vein. (Marvel success was the initial trigger as the wave kicked off shortly before Batman‘s January 1966 TV premiere, but it peaked — and crashed — during the height of Batmania.)
As fate — and the cruddy ethics of the comics industry — would have it, the go-to guy for off-brand, subpar superheroic sillness was none other than Jerry Siegel, co-creator of the character which effectively launched the entire hanking genre. Stiffed out of the rich revenue stream generated by The Last Son of Krypton, Siegel turned his talents toward a series of short-lived projects which played camp crimefighting craziness to the mindboggling hilt…and then some.
The results were funnybook iterations of Poe’s Law which portrayed bizarre realms where the boundaries between deliberate spoofing and outright ineptitude broke down into unbridled insanity. (And note the writer credit on these journeys into nightmare.) I’ve already discussed The Mighty Crusaders and The Owl (where I’ve already stated most of of the above spiel), so this week we’re going to turn our critter-cam on the “Terrific Pussycat” herself…
…the one-issue wonder known as Tiger Girl!
The crime-busting alias of Dingaling Circus aerialist (no, really) Lily Taylor, the Feline Fury employed her acrobatic aptitude, cat-themed accoutrements, and telepathic relationship with “Kitten” the tiger to hook her claws of great justice into such baddies as the bare-chested Growler and the assassin-for-hire Wolfhound.
Though nominally an independent agent, Tiger Girl found herself working alongside the forces of W.A.A.V. (War Against Arch-Villainy) and its top agent Ed Savage. Savage, a square-jawed avatar of the old school of two-fisted crimebusting, had a bit of a thing for his erstwhile ally…which he demonstrated though sexist and patronizing putdowns each time she saved his inept ass from the forces of I.N.F.A.M.Y. (I Need Five Amazing Montenegrin Yodelers).
This blandly generic (by 1960s Siegel standards) Gold Key one-off has been featured on other venues dedicated to the lower rungs of comicbook content, most of which have played up the Batman’ 66 and then-contemporary spy craze angles. While those are a prominent part of the overall mix…
…in truth, there was an even larger influence looming over the short-lived project.
An independent and competent blonde crimefighter with a jungle cat sidekick and a sexist shitheel as a romantic interest? Where have I seen that before?
Yep, that would be it. (Speaking of which, did anyone else check out Moonstone’s recent Honey West/Anne Francis tribute one-shot? It was pretty darn good, all things considered.)
Despite that indrect shout-out to my unabashed fandom cortex, there’s really nothing compelling about Tiger Girl’s convoluted adventures to distinguish her from the pack of other transitory trendhoppers of the era. The comic reads like a rejected T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents pitch minus Wally Wood’s arresting artwork, which is why I’ve consigned this Misbegotten Moggy to the (no-kill) shelter of Nobody’s Favorites.