Tiger-Man #3, Atlas

Tiger-Man #3, September 1975

“Hell is Spelled… Hypnos!”

Script: Gerry Conway

Pencils: Steve Ditko

Inks: Al Milgrom

Tiger-Man rushes into Harlem Hospital carrying a badly burned man. As the medical staff go to work, Tiger-Man recalls the evening’s events. In the midst of Harlem River Park, a man down on his luck pours a jerry can of petrol over his head and lights a match… whoosh!

In his civilian identity as Dr Lannie Hill, our hero attends the operating theatre and offers his help to the surgeon. It’s too late, however, the man is dead. His dying word, “Hypnos…” hangs in the air. Hill finds himself  plagued by self-doubt.

A couple of nights later, while on patrol, Tiger-Man witnesses a woman standing on train tracks. Before he can reach her, the train runs her over. When he sees another woman at the controls of a run-away car, he is determined to save her—eventually plunging into the river to do so. As he pulls her out she whispers, “Hypnos…”

It transpires that all three victims were under the care of psychiatrist Doctor Kaufmann, so Tiger-Man pays him a call. He is attacked by the monocled—and clearly deranged—Kaufmann, who suddenly prefers to be called Hypnos. Hypnos focusses his amazing “psychic power” through the monocle and fells Tiger-Man, the super-hero falling to the floor in imagined agony. Later, still under the influence, Tiger-Man pours petrol over himself, but is mugged before he can light a match.

Coming to his senses, Tiger-Man crashes through Hypnos’s window. A chase over the rooftops ensues, and Hypnos once more shines his monocle beam on Tiger-Man. Our hero lashes out and grabs the monocle, accidentally turning it on Kaufmann in the process. Driven completely insane by the beam, Hypnos falls to the pavement below.

Tiger-Man crushes the monocle. He realizes that Kaufmann had craved perfection in his patients, but the fact that no one can be perfect had driven him mad. Tiger-Man leaves the scene deciding that from now on he is “going to accept myself — just the way I am!”

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Tiger-Man may have made peace with his savage tendencies and accepted himself, but the comics buying public begged to differ. This was the final issue.

It reads like a bit of a rush job—but then a lot of Atlas comics read like that. The whole thing is rather silly, and Kaufmann/Hypnos a wildly ineffectual villain. His appearance on the cover (from the pen of Larry Lieber)  is nothing like his look inside, which just goes to show how shoddy these comics could be.

Ditko can tell a story as well as anyone, but he clearly had little interest in this job and the actual drawing is perfunctory at best. Conway—overworked with editing and scripting work at Marvel and DC—gives it the minimum of attention. It was a book clearly going nowhere.

So, that was Tiger-Man. He also appeared in the two issues of Thrilling Adventure Stories, the best of Atlas’s black and white magazine line. But I’ll get to those in the fullness of time. Overall, Tiger-Man is not overly distinguished, but was perhaps a little ahead of his time. two decades later and bloodthirsty anti-heroes were all the rage.

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