Tiger-Man #2 cover, Atlas Comics, Frank Thorne

Tiger-Man #2, June 1975

“Stalker in a Concrete Jungle!”

Script: Gerry Conway

Art: Steve Ditko (inks possibly by Frank Giacoia)

An alarm pierces the Manhattan night as a group of super-suited criminals break into a bank. As the police rush to intercept them, Tiger-Man leaps into action. He beats two of the goons, and questions the third as he tears the suit from his chest. The criminal folds immediately and tells Tiger-Man that the gang were employed by a Professor Kobart…

Tiger-Man #2, Steve Ditko

As he bounds from building to building determined to track down Kobart, Tiger-Man is pursued by a new character: the Blue Leopard. The Leopard makes himself known to our hero and the two fight. The Leopard reveals that he hails from Africa, Tiger-Man’s place of birth. Indeed, it quickly becomes clear that the Blue Leopard knows of Tiger-Man’s secret identity, Dr Lancaster Hill. Just as Tiger-Man thinks he has his opponent beat, he falls to the floor: the Blue Leopard’s clawed gloves are drugged!

Tiger-Man #2, Steve Ditko, Blue Leopard

Tiger-Man doesn’t recover consciousness until noon the next day. He races for Harlem Hospital where Lancaster Hill works. He’s lambasted for his lateness, but goes about his business as usual. However, he can’t shake his thoughts about the Blue Leopard, or Professor Kobart. When his shift is over, he pulls the costume on and once more takes to the night sky. He finds Kobart’s office and smashes through the window, but discovers the old man dead inside. He has been killed by the Blue Leopard’s claws.

Appearing at the window, the Leopard announces that everything has been a set-up. All the evidence points to Kobart having been killed by Tiger-Man!

Tiger-Man #2, Steve Ditko

In true super-villain fashion, the Blue Leopard reveals his reasons for framing Tiger-Man. It transpires that following Hill’s departure from Africa, starvation resulted in the deaths of many villagers. The witch doctor, Na’Bantu, thrust responsibility for this tragedy on Tiger-Man, and, using spells, empowered a local to go and seek out the supposedly guilty party.

The Leopard leaps, but Tiger-Man, sensing it, jumps out of the way. The pair engage in a brutal fight until a police siren wails. The Leopard makes a quick getaway, leaving Tiger-Man to take the blame: “You can stay and attempt an explanation… or you can run, and make yourself a fugitive.”

Alone, Tiger-Man is left to ponder. He had intended to kill Kobart himself, so what makes him any different from the Blue Leopard?

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Although Levy and Colón had done a serviceable job on the first issue, this issue sees the debut of a pair of industry giants: Gerry Conway and Steve Ditko. The art is instantly fabulous, with slick inks by Giacoia giving a shine to the dynamic pencils of a clearly interested Ditko. Tiger-Man is a no nonsense kind of character, so one can see how Ditko might feel a certain sympathy for him. Ditko’s personally-produced characters, such as Mr A, were always bumping off bad guys—or at least allowing them to come to harm by inaction. Conway seems to have realised this uncompromising nature, and his script sees him attempting to change this by giving Lancaster Hill the first shoots of self-doubt.

It’s not a brilliant comic by any means, but is a step up from #1. Not surprisingly, it feels rather like a mid-70s Marvel comic. And that, surely, is exactly what Martin Goodman would have wanted.

Cover by Frank Thorne.

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