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Tigra (Marvel Comics) (Early version)

Tigra the were-woman

(Greer Nelson profile #2)


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

Context

This is the second profile for Marvel superheroine Greer Nelson We strongly suggest reading her profiles in the chronological order, namely :

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

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This profile in the series covers only her first two appearances as Tigra. They are different from what came later, and best covered separately.

“Tigra the were-woman” was the usual way to refer to her early on. It continued to be used sporadically during the 1970s and 1980s. It was presumably dropped after somebody opened a dictionary to see what “were” actually meant.


Background

  • Real Name: Greer Grant Nelson.
  • Other Aliases: Formerly known as the Cat ; Tigra the Were-Woman.
  • Marital Status: Widowed.
  • Known Relatives: William (husband, deceased), Gregson (father), Janet Grant (mother – possibly already remarried as Janet Garson during this era).
  • Group Affiliation: Cat People.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 5’7” (human), 5’10” (Tigra) Weight: 125 lbs (human), 180 lbs (Tigra).
  • Eyes: Blue (human), Green and catlike (Tigra) Hair: Black (human), Orange (Tigra)


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Powers and Abilities

This profile corresponds to the brief era when Greer was arguably less powerful as Tigra than she was as the Cat. By her third appearance her power level has visibly increased.

Tigra’s first two appearances in Giant-Size Creatures and Monsters Unleashed are set in the Marvel Comics horror line. Its protagonists did not generally operate on a super-heroic level. Tigra seems patterned after Werewolf by Night in terms of power level. Superhuman, but not massively so.

Thus, while Greer has a superhuman level of strength and high levels of speed and agility, she operates more on a cinematic  scale than a super-heroic scale.

She also has claws and a highly-developed sense of smell. Yet curiously she lacks night vision, despite having cat-like eyes.

Furthermore, Tigra’s instincts tend to cloud her reasoning. She’s not dumb by any mean, but she tends to get single-minded about hunting and fighting and thus not to observe her environment.

Tigra occasionally evidences the old empathic powers she had as the Cat. Sometimes it manifests as a form of weak danger sense. It is also partially based on her animal instincts.

Other assets

Greer knows about the connected dives in Chicago, mostly because she remembers her cop husband mentioning those. This topical knowledge (and her fine hearing) can greatly facilitate info gathering in the Windy City.

Tigra (Greer Nelson) in a low crouch, over a white background

Tigra can revert to her human form by concentrating on her huge ring. But this becomes increasingly difficult. Therefore, she spends all her time in her furry form.

As a human, she seems to be abnormally strong, graceful and swift – perhaps superhumanly so given her modest stature. Logically, these are her Cat powers that are still active when she’s in human form. The game stats assume she retained her knowledge of biology and vehicular skills from her Cat phase.

Until she joins the Avengers, Tigra is financially in dire straits. At this stage Greer is living off what little savings she has and — mostly — the hospitality of various Cat People, primarily Dr. Tumolo. They apparently provide her with the money she needs to travel and operate.

One assumes that Mrs. Nelson’s income is but a meagre pension, as the widow of a police officer killed outside the line of duty.

Sacrificial image

An obscure ability of the Cat People is that, when in deadly danger, they can chose to die in order to project a ghost-like image toward a loved one. If the “ghost” is sent toward a fellow Cat Person, which will usually be the case, the recipient will be guided by their feline instincts toward the image so they meet faster.

The image appears at once lifelike and supernatural. It can talk, listen, interact, etc. with the living for about a minute or two. It will usually deliver a warning and answer a few questions. Then it vanishes and the Cat Person perishes.

This ability was only ever mentioned in a 1978 story, and only used by Dr. Tumolo. It is said that all Cat Persons can do this, and we assume that Tigra would be able to do it too.


History

(This section starts where the History section of the Cat’s writeup ended. Namely, with Greer turned into Tigra by Dr. Tumolo as Hydra attacks anew.)

  • (In one account shortly after being turned into Tigra, Greer states that she died as she was turned into Tigra. Whether she meant that metaphorically or clinically is unrevealed.)

    Her transformation left her weak as a kitten. Thus, Greer had to flee from the Hydra forces and let Dr. Tumolo get captured. As soon as she recovered, she tracked down the green-cowled criminals to rescue her mentor.

    The were-woman found her in a secret Cat People base in Mexico occupied by Hydra troops. However, an accidental clash with the Werewolf By Night led to her capture by Hydra forces.

    Creatures Unleashed

    Having a mating interest in a fellow shapechanger, the Werewolf engaged Hydra forces to help Tigra escape. But even the two of them couldn’t take on the whole unit. Dr. Tumolo and some Cat Persons thus reluctantly used as a weapon the biological formula that Hydra wanted to steal. It was a unique strain of the Black Plague.

    Tigra (Greer Nelson) vs. Hydra agents

    The Cat People researchers herded the two shapechangers out of the base. They fled along with the pair, sealing the diseased Hydra troops inside the base to die.

    Dr. Tumolo then realised that the werewolf was hanging around to have sex with Tigra. She told Greer to revert to her human form, and the lycanthrope lost interest and wandered off.

    Puzzled by her new nature, heritage and instincts, Greer stuck with Dr. Tumolo as her mentor. Resuming her adventurous ways, she occasionally encountered odd menaces. Such as Surisha the serenity vampire and her rat-thing servant.

    As reverting to her human form became increasingly difficult, she also consulted with other Cat People researchers in the US to understand her unique condition.


    Backstage story

    Tigra was developed by Tony Isabella . It was a reaction to the failed 1972 launch of three Marvel books with female leads (The Cat, Night Nurse and Shanna the She-Devil).

    Since in 1974 the supernatural was big, he decided to follow the formula working for Werewolf by Night. Only it would be a were-cat since he wanted a female character. I’m puzzled about the cat → female logic, but that’s how he put it. And it seems common.

    He first came up with the name Hellcat. It, and the Cat’s costume, would later become another character. But Mr. Isabella then decided to have this character be the returning Greer Nelson, the Cat.

    Roy Thomas brainstormed with him and they came up with Tigra the Were-Woman as she would be published. Her looks were brainstormed by no less than artists John Romita, Gil Kane and Don Perlin.


    Description

    Tigra does not have a tail at this point.

    Some panels vaguely hint at Tigra morphing her hands into something more talon-like when she fights. Though back then it presumably was just artistic license, she will much later demonstrate a more pronounced version of this.


    Personality

    Tigra is a complex and imperfect collage . Unclear parts of Greer Nelson died from the radiation when she was created, and some form of Cat Person essence was “grafted” onto her. Most Cat People being transmogrified  cats, this means many of the instincts of a wild cat.

    This is difficult for Greer. She remembers all of her previous life and personality. Yet she finds some bits of the latter missing, altered or overwritten by feline and occasionally stranger urges and instincts.

    At this point she’s mostly trying to figure out how to handle her life, and to understand what she has become. She feels neither human nor Cat Person.


    Quotes

    “I’m Tig—I’m Greer Nelson ; I’m Tigra ; I’m human ; I’m Cat People – I’m so many things, I don’t know what the hell I am.”

    (After being addressed as Miss Nelson) “It’s *Ms.* Nelson, or to keep it simpler either Greer or Tigra. I’ve gotten used to both.”


    DC Universe History

    She’s reminiscent of the post-Crisis Cheetah, a demi-goddess of sorts serving the “plant god” Urzkartaga… who might just be a plant, but we’ve never been quite clear on that. Maybe a DCU History for Tigra and Tumolo would involve Urzkartaga and the Cheetah.

    Given that Tumolo’s never been seen in cat-person form, maybe in DC her connections are with Barbara Minerva or the cult Chuma heads (they’re supposedly all wiped out, but…). If so the Cat project was an attempt to artificially, and without the plant, recreate the powers of the Cheetah.



    Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

    Tell me more about the game stats

    Tigra (horror version)

    Dex: 06 Str: 06 Bod: 05 Motivation: Justice
    Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 05 Occupation: Adventurer
    Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 002
    Init: 016 HP: 025

    Powers:
    Analytical Smell/Tracking Scent: 08, Claws: 07, Cold immunity: 01, Empathy: 02, Extended hearing: 01, Jumping: 01, Running: 05

    Bonuses and Limitations:
    Jumping has the Catfall Bonus, suitably enough.

    Skills:
    Accuracy (Claws): 08, Acrobatics: 09, Evasion (Ranged only): 07, Medicine (First aid): 03, Military science (Danger recognition, Tracking): 04, Thief (Stealth): 06

    Bonuses and Limitations:
    Accuracy is Regretful when used against living beings.

    Advantages:
    Attractive (see below), Local Hero (Cat People), Buddy (Dr. Tumolo), Rich Friend (Cat People), Misc.: Tigra reduces the OV/RV of Acrobatics by one CS if the feat she attempts relies on balancing on unstable surfaces, Misc.: Sacrificial image, see below.

    Bonuses and Limitations:
    Attractive only works on male man-beasts hybrids.

    Connections:
    Street (Low, Chicago only).

    Drawbacks:
    Attack vulnerability (-1 CS OV/RV vs. Blindside attacks), Attack Vulnerability (-1 CS OV/RV vs. attacks made by a third party whilst she is being Grappled/Wrestled), Distinct Appearance, MIA toward following her animal instincts.


    Sacrificial image

    This ability is explained in the Powers & Abilities section. One gets the impression that the Cat Person must overcome their survival instincts to perform this fatal feat. Perhaps a WIL/MIN roll against 04/04, and/or a 5 HPs fee.


    Strange kind of woman

    Greer is very briefly seen in human form, and this appearance hints that she still has a part of her Cat abilities even after the Tigra spell. Possible stats :

    Dex: 05 Str: 04 Bod: 04 Motivation : Responsibility
    Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 04 Occupation : Adventurer
    Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
    Init: 014 HP: 025

    Powers:
    Empathy: 02

    Skills:
    Acrobatics: 05, Martial Artist (w/Techniques): 04, Vehicles (Land, Sea): 04

    Advantages:
    Familiarity (Biology).


    Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

    Tell me more about the game stats

    Tigra (horror version) — Averaged PL 7.8

    STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
    02 (05) 00 (01) 04 (06) 01 04 (06) 01 01 01

    Powers

    Cat Power ● 37 points ● Descriptor: Cat People science and magic
    – Increased strength and agility — Enhanced Strength 3, Enhanced Stamina 1, Enhanced Agility 2, Enhanced Fighting 2, Enhanced Skills (5 Ranks of Acrobatics, 5 Ranks of Athletics, 2 Ranks of Stealth), Enhanced Dodge 1.
    – Enhanced senses — Senses 4 (Extended hearing, Extended Tracking Olfactory), Enhanced Skill (4 Ranks of Insight (Quirk – no Resist Influence and, most devastatingly, no Innuendo)).
    – Fur — Immunity 1 (Cold environments, Limited to half-effect).
    – Run Tigra run — Leaping 2, Speed 4, Evasion.
    – Catfall — Movement 1 (Safe fall (Limited 1 – needs ways to break her fall), Sure-footed (Limited 1 – works on unstable surfaces but not slippery ones).

    Claws ● 3 points
    – Strength-based Slashing Damage 1
    – Lashing out — Strength-based Damage 2, Accurate, Improved Threat, Limited 1 – only vs. targets with no STA ability (usually robots) ● Descriptor: Skill

    Enticing ● 1 point ● Descriptor: Hybrid appearance
    Attractive, 2 Ranks of Persuasion, both Limited 2 to man-beast hybrids.

    Sacrificial image ● 1 point ● Descriptor: Cat People magic ?
    Feature 1 (might be able to project a sacrificial image, see the Powers & Abilities section).

    Combat Advantages

    Close attack 2, Defensive Roll 4, Evasion.

    Other Advantages

    Benefit 1 (Champion of the Cat People), Benefit 1 (Friend of Dr. Tumolo).

    Skills

    Acrobatics 2 (+13), Athletics 2 (+12), Close combat (Unarmed/claws) 1 (+9), Deception 2 (+3), Expertise (Streetwise) 2 (+3) (Limited 1 to Chicago), Insight 2 (+3) (+7 for most applications), Perception 3 (+4), Persuasion 1 (+2), Stealth 1 (+9), Treatment 2 (+3) (Limited 2 to Stabilise and Revive).

    Offense

    Initiative +6
    Unarmed +9, Close, Damage 5
    Claws +9, Close, Damage 6
    Claws vs. non-living target +11, Close, Damage 6, Crit. 19-20

    Defense

    Dodge 10 (11) Fortitude 7
    Parry 10 Toughness 5/1*
    Will 7

    * Without Defensive Roll

    Complications

    • Exotic looks Tigra isn’t frightening, but she’s certainly unusual-looking.
    • Blindsided Tigra’s Fortitude is lowered by 4 against effects she cannot dodge or otherwise react to.
    • Temper Greer find it difficult to rein in her new animal instincts.
    • Working poor Ms. Nelson has next to no income and mostly operates using money from Dr. Tumolo and other Cat Persons.

    Power levels

    • Trade-off areas Attack/Effect PL 8, Dodge/Toughness PL 8, Parry/Toughness PL 8, Fort/Will PL 7.
    • Point total 106. Abilities 28, Defences 20, Skills 8, Powers 42, Devices 0, Advantages 8. Equiv. PL 8.

    Notes

    The Claws are treated as having a +10 Offence bonus for PL computations. The surprisingly low Stamina is compensated for by a high Defensive Roll to model her tendency to be knocked out by surprise attacks.

    By Sébastien Andrivet.

    Source of Character: Giant-Size Creatures #1 (July, 1974) and Monsters Unleashed #10 (February, 1975).

    Helper(s): Roy Cowan, Darci, Azrael, Chris Cottingham, Capita_Senyera.

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