5712 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

The Cat (Greer Nelson) (Marvel Comics) promotional art

Cat

(Greer Nelson profile #1)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

“SHE STALKS BY NIGHT ! Introducing : Marvel’s newest action bombshell ! How did a beautiful girl gain the uncanny powers of a KILLER BEAST ?”
— Cover blurbs of The Cat #1.


Context

Because WORG without the Cat is like a fish without a bicycle . 🙂

Greer Nelson is a Marvel comics super-heroine. Her career started in 1972, with quite a few vicissitudes. We strongly suggest reading her profiles in the chronological order, namely :

  1. The Cat – this here profile
  2. Cat People (Marvel Universe) – optional but recommended
  3. Tigra the were-woman
  4. Tigra (1976-1980)
  5. Tigra (1980-1986)

Background

  • Real Name: Greer Grant Nelson
  • Marital Status: Widowed
  • Known Relatives: Gregson Grant (father), William Nelson (husband, deceased), Janet Grant (mother)
  • Group Affiliation: None
  • Base Of Operations: Chicago
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 125 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

Nelson has been the recipient of a special treatment that turns women into superhumans. Though she’ll only learn that later, it confers to humans the best traits found among the Cat People. She thus has a motley collection of abilities :

  • Superhuman agility and great acrobatic skill
  • Enhanced strength and durability – the Cat can throw large men around like rag dolls
  • Superhuman ability to process information – the Cat can read and fully understand a thick book in about thirty minutes
  • Enhanced ability to analyse systems of complex movement by touch – the Cat can open old-fashioned locks and safes quickly by observing how they work.
  • She can do Mister Spock-style nerve pinches, perhaps as a further application of the previous ability. In game terms this is no different from just hitting people, though quieter.
  • Superhuman sense of hearing
  • Enhanced empathic perception, which Greer considered a “heightened woman’s intuition” or simply a 6th sense

The Cat (Greer Nelson) in mid-leap

The Cat costume includes retractile claws on both the hands and feet. She doesn’t normally use those as weapons, but they’re great climbing tools. With her agility, the Cat can even use her claws to crawl upside-down on ceilings.

The hand claws include a hidden mechanism that can shoot them as a grappling hook trailing three lightweight cables. The Cat uses this mechanism both as a swingline, and as a mean of engaging opponents out of melee range. She will usually swing her grappling hook to snatch weapons out of enemy hands, or to hit people with the flat of her claws.

Both hands seem thus equipped, though she only ever uses one grappling hook at a time.


History

Greer Grant was presumably born circa 1952 – a pretty American girl raised in a rich, conservative environment. Common wisdom among her peers was that women were fragile dolls meant to have a sheltered domestic life, but she nevertheless became a college student in Chicago.

This uncharacteristic flare of independence did not last long – as soon as she met her future husband, a manly policeman named Bill Nelson, she quit college.

Although he loved Greer dearly, Nelson was a 1960s macho man – thinking that it was unfit for a woman to study, do home repairs or even drive a car. He wanted a full-time housewife, and Greer obeyed despite some vague doubts. They presumably married in 1971.

About a year after their marriage, the Nelsons stumbled upon a heist in a small store. Though off-duty, Bill arrested the perpetrator. However, he had not seen the man’s accomplice – who came in running, panicked and opened fire. Mr. Nelson died in his wife’s arms.

Greer’s life had been shattered in seconds. As she worked through her grief, she realised that she had no income and no diploma. She tried to find a job for months, but as a woman there were few opportunities open to her and she felt increasingly angry and powerless.

The doctor is in

One day she bumped into a woman whom she knew from college – Dr. Tumolo, a professor of physics. The scientist remembered Greer as a bright lab assistant ; her current project being well-funded she hired her.

A militant feminist, Dr. Tumolo was designing strange technologies to literally empower women, turning them into superhumans. Her groundbreaking research was funded by a rich man, Mal Donalbain.

Donalbain wasn’t interested in Tumolo’s politics – he was secretly a deranged criminal, and envisioned himself as the lord of an army of statuesque super-amazons in skintight costumes. Donalbain had provided Tumolo with a volunteer to test her work, a vapid blonde named Shirlee Bryant.

The Cat fights pirates

Greer Nelson found Donalbain creepy and suspected that he was up to no good. She convinced her boss to have her as a second, secret test subject receiving the same treatments as Bryant so she could be their ace in the hole if things went ugly with their financial backer.

Nelson was far more rigorous than Bryant about the physical and intellectual training that was part of Tumolo’s program. Thus, she quickly became more powerful than the official test subject, clearly demonstrating that Tumolo’s bizarre technology was a success.

Donalbain ran his own tests with Bryant, equipping her with a yellow cat-themed costume and a claw/grappling hook contraption. One night, Dr. Tumolo sneaked into Donalbain’s headquarters and witnessed such a test – but the unfocused Bryant died in an accident. Tumolo was spotted and tried to flee, but Donalbain’s men made the lab explode to get rid of the elderly researcher.

Greer Nelson came running, but Dr. Tumolo was too badly wounded. In her last minutes she told her assistant what she had witnessed and where to find one of the yellow catlike costumes as a proof of Donalbain’s scheme.

The year of the Cat

Nelson decided to address the situation by herself, donning one of the costumes and sneaking into Donalbain’s HQ to wreck his copy of the Tumolo machinery. Despite the opposition, she was successful and the unstable Donalbain committed suicide. Meanwhile, Dr. Tumolo was hospitalised, and stabilised in a comatose state.

A recap of Greer Nelson's career as the Cat

Greer soon discovered that the researcher had established some sort telepathic bond with her, and could — haltingly — speak in her mind. She wasn’t the only one with an interest in Dr. Tumolo, though – the Owl kidnapped the doctor to drain her knowledge using special machines.

Calling her costumed identity “The Cat”, Nelson defeated the Owl and his men. Albeit Dr. Tumolo cheated death again she was left brain-damaged by her ordeal. Greer had Dr. Tumolo moved to a country house where she and physicians could take care of her.

Greer Nelson otherwise focused on being a costumed adventurer, fighting 1970s Marvel villains such as Commander Kraken and Man-Bull.

She started establishing a good relationship with the Chicago Police Department, but failed to prevent the terrorist Man-Killer from killing Mayor Samuels for his reactionary, anti-women’s-lib reelection platform. The Cat tracked Man-Killer down to New York City, where she teamed up with Spider-Man to stop her.

Shot in the back

Dr. Tumolo made another miraculous recovery, regaining her mental faculties. However, she was as unlucky as she was indomitable, and Hydra agents came to capture her. The Cat intervened and scattered the goons, but Tumolo’s nurse was secretly a Hydra agent and shot the Cat in the back with an alpha radiation pistol.

The Cat (Greer Nelson)'s claws

Determined to save Nelson, Dr. Tumolo revealed that she had never been a human person – but a member of the Cat People. Not only did she have strange technology, but she also had access to magic that could save Greer from the otherwise incurable radiation poisoning.

A ritual of the Cat People was to turn a human into a super-powerful Cat Person, a heroine called Tigra. This transmogrification had only been performed once before, but Dr. Tumolo thought it could transform Greer Nelson deeply enough to get rid of the alpha radiation.

She convinced her people that her protector was heroic enough to be the subject of the ritual, and the ceremony was scheduled.


Chronological notes

Here are Darci’s notes for the likely sequencing – using publication dates as per Writeups.Org usage.

In The Cat #1, page 6 panel 5, the authorial narrative lists Greer’s flashback is to a Spring day 2 years ago (it’s the conversation between Greer and Jennie, who are about to meet Bill by accident). The University of Chicago uses academic quarters, not semesters (IIRC they’re the pioneers of that arrangement).

Later, the text lists that Greer dropped out of college as a sophomore and married Bill. Even later, Greer went back to school while working as Dr. Tumolo’s assistant, but before she learned the purpose of the doctor’s private experiment (which happened the same day they met Donalbain and Bryant).

This is my reconstructed timeline:

  • Spring 1970: (Their 2014-2015 calendar lists Spring quarter is March 30 to June 13. That’s probably pretty close to 1970, since Easter was on March 29th that year). Greer meets Bill.
  • June 1970: Greer drops out.
  • Summer 1970: Greer gets a convertible as a present from her father (presumably not for dropping out…) Bill and Greer marry. The Nelsons move into their new little house (apparently in the suburbs. As a widow, she moved back into the city. However, note that Chicago has a residency requirement . See also this  which points to West Beverly…
  • Mid-Summer 1971: Bill gets shot.
  • Fall 1971: Greer goes back to school (UoC’s 2014-2015 calendar list Autumn quarter is Sept 29 to Dec 13. IIRC in the 1970s quarters were about 2 weeks later than that?). On page 11 panel 3 another note lists the months that followed were tough…
  • Winter 1971-1972: (UoC’s 2014-2015 calendar list Winter quarter is Jan 5 to March 21). Dr. Tumolo’s experiment’s human trials begin.
  • Spring 1972: Bryant dies, Tumolo is wounded, Donalbain dies, etc.

Description

The eyes of the Cat cowl reflect the light much as a cat’s would. The yellow costume has been likened to Wolverine’s 1974 costume, though there’s no known link.


Personality

Greer is quite proud, and determined to live her own life. Although she’s not a full-fledged feminist like Tumolo, Nelson is sympathetic to the women’s lib movement. She wants to stand on her own two feet as a liberated woman. She sometimes wishes her husband was still alive so she could turn to him for support, but dislikes feeling that way.

A recap of the Cat's early career

Like many heroes of the 1970s, the Cat spouted hip, bad, and now very dated repartee. The quotes in this profile include examples of this… peppy style that sometimes bordered on the nonsensical for those too square to dig that rap. Or words to that effect.

Greer is kind and empathic, even before her empathic sense was enhanced, and could be played for a sucker in some situations due to this. She was also very loyal, and taking care of the wounded Dr. Tumolo consumed a lot of her time.

She did date a bit with Tumolo’s handsome lawyer, Ben Richards, but her true love was being the Cat. Greer felt a craving for adventure and danger and, like her namesake, developed an intense curiosity.


Quotes

“Strong ? Daddy, I don’t know how to be strong ! All my life there’s been someone more than willing to take care of me !”

“Violence begets violence ! Didn’t you learn anything from history ? Or maybe John and Yoko  ?”

“So ! The hand is quicker than the foot ! Thanks for the pugilistic tip ! Here’s a hint from Heloise of my own !” (THWAP !)

(Grabbing a fleeing thug with her grappling hook) “What’s your hurry, boyo ? I think I snagged a big one…” (The fleeing thug drags her behind him) “Hey ! A Nantucket sleigh ride !”

Man-Bull : “Nothing will save you now !”
Cat : “Maybe — maybe not. But what makes you so smug that you think… that I’m the one who needs saving ?” (FONK !)

Spider-Man (surprised) : “You’re a GIRL !”
Cat : “Correction, Spider-Man — I’m a woman ! And I’m not just any woman — I’m the Cat !”


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

The Cat

Dex: 08 Str: 06 Bod: 06 Motivation: Upholding Good
Int: 08 Wil: 07 Min: 06 Occupation: Adventuress
Inf: 06 Aur: 04 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 022 HP: 040

Powers:
Empathy: 06, Extended hearing: 02, Jumping: 02, Hypersensitive touch: 06, Super-hearing: 04, Superspeed: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:
Superspeed is limited to Mental tasks

Skills:
Acrobatics: 08, Martial artist (w/Techniques): 05, Thief (Pickpocket, stealth, locks and safes): 06, Vehicles (Land, sea): 04

Bonuses and Limitations:
Thief (Pickpocket, locks and safes) is Contingent on Hypersensitive touch

Advantages:
Familiarity (Biology), Iron Nerves, Sharp eye

Connections:
None

Drawbacks:
Secret Identity, MIA toward Curiosity

Equipment:

  • CAT COWL [BODY 03, Ultra-vision: 04]
  • CLAWS OF THE CAT [BODY 12, EV 02 (07 w/STR), Clinging: 02, Stretching: 02, Limitations: Stretching has No Fine Manipulation (-2) and any EV exerted through it is lowered by one CS (-1) ; Clinging only works on surfaces with a BODY equal to or lower to the Cat’s STR (-1) and usually makes noise ; EV is Killing Combat in some Genres]


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

The Cat — Averaged PL 9.4

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
-1 (05) 00 (04) 00 (05) 01 (04) 00 (05) 02 (04) 01 (04) 00 (02)

Powers

Tumolo’s new female power ● 59 points ● Descriptor: Cat People science
– Augmented abilities — Enhanced Strength 6, Enhanced Stamina 4, Enhanced Agility 5, Enhanced Dexterity 3, Enhanced Fighting 5, Enhanced Intellect 2, Enhanced Awareness 3, Enhanced Presence 2, Enhanced Fortitude 3, Enhanced Dodge 4, Enhanced Parry 4
– Superhuman hearing — Senses 2 (Extended Hearing, Ultra-Hearing)
– Superhuman jumps — Leaping 4
– Superhuman mental speed — Quickness 4 (Limited 2 to processing information – say, reading)
– Intuitive movement analysis — Senses 2 (Acute Analytical Tactile), Technology 6 (+11) (Limited 2 to Operating and Security) and apparently Sleight of Hand 6 (+10)
– Superhuman intuition — Senses 2 (Extended Acute empathic sense), Insight 4

Devices

Night vision cowl lenses ● 1 point (Removable) ● Descriptor: Technology
Senses 1 (Low-Light vision)

Cat’s claw Array ● 5 points (Removable) ● Descriptor: Technology

  • Claws on her gloves and boots — Strength-Based Close Slashing Damage 1
  • The same claws used as climbing aids — Movement 1 (Wall-Crawling)
  • Cat’s claw shot as a grappling hook — Movement 1 (Swinging)
  • Cat’s claw used to grab, trip, strike, etc. at a distance — Elongation 2 (Quirk 2 – Strength is considered 1 Rank lower when used through Elongation, and no fine manipulation ability), Variable Descriptor (Blunt or Slashing), Improved Disarm

Combat Advantages

Accurate Attack, Close Attack 4, Defensive Roll 3, Evasion 1, Improved Defense, Improved Trip, Move-by Action, Ranged Attack 5

Other Advantages

Beginner’s Luck, Second chance (Fear/intimidation)

Skills

Acrobatics 6 (+11), Athletics 6 (+11), Close combat (Unarmed/Claws) 3 (+12), Deception 3 (+5), Expertise (Biology) 2 (+6), Insight 3 (7 (+11)), Perception 7 (+11), Persuasion 4 (+6), Ranged combat (Cat’s claw) 3 (+12), Sleight of Hand 6 (+10), Technology 6 (+11) (Limited 2 to Security), Vehicles 2 (+6)

Offense

Initiative +5
Unarmed +12, Close, Damage 5 (or 6 with the Claws, which are never used against living beings)
Cat’s Claw +12, Elongation 2, Damage 4

Defense

Dodge 12 Fortitude 9
Parry 12 Toughness 7/4*
Will 8

* Without Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Identity Typical secret ID
  • Obsession The Cat is very curious and likes to investigate
  • Prejudice As Greer, she often runs into sexism issues
  • Relationship Caretaker for the disabled Dr. Tumolo

Power levels

  • Trade-off areas Attack & Effect PL 9, Dodge/Toughness PL 10, Parry/Toughness PL 10, Fort & Will PL 9
  • Point total 123 Abilities 6, Defences 12, Skills 20, Powers 59, Devices 6, Advantages 19. Equiv. PL 9.


By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: The Cat (or, as the covers said, Beware ! The claws of the Cat) in 1972, and a handful of contemporary Marvel books.

Helper(s): Darci, Chris Cottingham, Ethan Roe

Subscribe to our MINI-NEWSLETTER !

One bare-bones e-mail per month. Plain text. Short. To the point. Learn more.