The Cougar #2, July 1975

“A Walk With a Werewolf”

Script: Gary Friedrich

Art: Frank Springer

Jeff Rand “the best stuntman in the business” is shooting another picture. He finds a corpse with its throat ripped out (well, we’re told that, though the picture shows the throat as perfectly intact). The police can’t figure out what could’ve caused the mutilation, but Rand becomes thoughtful…

His mind wanders back to the time when, as a young man, his brother was cursed by “Black Hattie”, the Bayou witch. This curse means that Rick Rand (!) has become a werewolf, and later Jeff returned home only to find his brother had got there first — and ripped out the throats of his parents!

Back in the present, Rick shows up again and kills cousin Roger, just as he was about to spill the family beans to Jeff.

Jeff goes off to meet his girlfriend Janie, a singer. Unfortunately, Rick has become interested in her too — but for entirely different reasons. As she’s crooning away, feral Rick — bizarrely dressed in raincoat and trilby — attacks her right there on stage. “I’m splittin’!” cries her guitarist, helpfully.

Jeff climbs into the stage gantry, pulls out a knife, and swings down on a rope. His swing brings him into contact with the werewolf, and the blade is driven powerfully into Rick’s chest. As Rick dies he turns back into human form, much to the consternation of Janie and the police. Jeff, on the other hand, has been seriously hurt by his spectacular stunt.

Later that night, after long and difficult surgery, Jeff survives. Unfortunately, his spinal cord has been “shattered” — he will be permanently paralysed.

“Noooo!” cries Janie.

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The next issue blurb promises us “a crippled Cougar — helpless in a jungle of evil”, and also “the most devastatingly different superhero of all time!!” Which, y’know, given that the Cougar had just had his spine shattered by his fall from the gantry, might just have been true. Would we have seen wheelchair bound acrobatics next time? I suspect it’s more like that the next issue would’ve seen the debut of a replacement Cougar, with Jeff Rand as an advisor. However, we’ll never know, as this was the last issue.

It’s not as good as the previous issue. Creator Steve Mitchell, and original editor Jeff Rovin, had moved on from Atlas, and new editor Larry Lieber brought in new creative teams with instructions to ramp up the action and characters Marvel-style. Gary Friedrich was the new scripter, and he attempts to provide a kind of origin for the Cougar, but it’s none too successful. The werewolf angle is just silly.

Frank Springer takes over the full art chores from Dan Adkins, and does an okay job. He’s not the most consistent penciller, but it’s solid story-telling and the action is sound.

The all action, Marvel-style cover is by Rich Buckler.

Alas poor Cougar, it started off fairly promisingly, but quickly died a death.

©2009 Atlas/Seaboard Periodicals/the respective copyright holder