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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 writeups.org without the Cat is like a fish without a bicycle . 😺

Greer Nelson is a Marvel comics super-heroine, known as The Cat and as Tigra. Her career started in 1972, but soon ran into 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. .
  4. Tigra (1976-1980).
  5. Tigra (1980-1986).

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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

Ms. Nelson received a special treatment that turns women into superhumans. As she later learns, it gives humans the best traits found among the Cat People. These include :

  • 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 30 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 using her enhanced sense of touch. In game terms this is no different from just hitting people, though quieter.
  • Superhuman sense of hearing.
  • Enhanced empathic perception. Greer considered this sixth sense a “heightened woman’s intuition”, because 1972.

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Cat toys

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 along ceilings.

The hand claws can also be shot as a grappling hook trailing three lightweight cables. The Cat uses this hidden mechanism both as a swing line, and to engage 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.

She only ever uses one grappling hook at a time.


History

Greer Grant was presumably born circa 1952. She was a pretty American girl raised in a wealthy, conservative environment.

The Cat (Greer Nelson) in mid-leap (Marvel Comics)

(We assume that events take place as per date of publication, since “sliding time”  is unworkable. Thus, Greer is born in 1952 so she can be 20 or so when The Cat #1 is published. See our ageing in comic books article for more.)

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. As soon as she met her future husband, manly police officer Bill Nelson, she quit college.

A young widow

Although he loved Greer dearly, Nelson was a 1960s macho man. He thought that it was unfit for a woman to study, do home repairs or even drive a car. He wanted a full-time housewife. Greer obeyed despite her 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, an unseen accomplice 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 qualifications. She tried to find a job for months, without results. She felt increasingly angry and powerless.

The doctor is in

She then bumped into somebody she knew from college – the far-sighted Dr. Tumolo, a professor of physics. The scientist remembered Greer as a bright lab assistant. Her current project being well-funded she hired the lass.

The Cat fights pirates (Marvel Comics)

A militant feminist, Dr. Tumolo designed strange technologies to literally empower women, turning them into superhumans. Her research was funded by millionaire Mal Donalbain.

Donalbain wasn’t interested in Tumolo’s politics. Rather, he envisioned himself as the outlaw lord of an army of statuesque super-amazons in skintight costumes. Donalbain also provided Tumolo with a volunteer to test her work, a vapid blonde named Shirlee Bryant.

A vindication of the rights of lab assistants

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

Ms. Nelson was far more rigorous than Bryant about Tumolo’s physical and intellectual training program. Her covert achievements proved that the doc’s bizarre enhancement tech was a success.

Meanwhile, Donalbain ran less conclusive tests with Bryant. He equipped her with a cat-themed yellow costume and a claw/grappling hook contraption.

One night, Dr. Tumolo sneaked into Donalbain’s headquarters. She 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 seemingly dying. She told her assistant what she had witnessed. She also told her where to find one of the yellow catlike costumes as a proof of Donalbain’s scheme.

When the morning cries and you don’t know why

Nelson donned one of the costumes to take direct action. She then sneaked into Donalbain’s HQ and wrecked his copy of the Tumolo machinery. In the commotion, the unstable Donalbain committed suicide.

A recap of Greer Nelson's career as the Cat (Marvel Comics)

Meanwhile, ER doctors stabilised Dr. Tumolo in a comatose state. Somehow, the unconscious researcher established some sort telepathic bond with Greer. Tumolo could — haltingly — speak in her mind.

But things continued to go wrong. The Owl kidnapped Dr. Tumolo. He used special machines to drain her knowledge.

The year of the Cat

As “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 (Greer Nelson)'s claws (Marvel Comics)

The Cat intervened and scattered the goons. But Tumolo’s nurse was secretly a Hydra agent. She shot the Cat in the back with an alpha radiation pistol.

Determined to save Nelson, Dr. Tumolo revealed that she was one of the Cat People. Beyond her strange technology, she also had access to magic. Tumolo thus could save Greer from the otherwise incurable radiation poisoning.

The whole (cat) woman

One ritual of the Cat People could turn a Human into a Cat Person super-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. An emergency ceremony soon took place.


Soundtrack

Something to evoke 1972… the main issue being that there’s an awful lot of suitable material. But let’s go with one of the G.O.A.T.S., who released a classic that year.

Available for download on Amazon .


Chronological notes

(These are our contributor Darci’s notes for the likely sequencing.)

In The Cat #1, page 6 panel 5, Greer’s flashback is to a Spring day two 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 she only learned the purpose of the experiment on 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 three 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.

(Look, if red and blue can symbolise spiders, then yellow and blue can symbolise felines and mustelidæ.)


Personality

Greer is proud, and determined to live her own life.

A recap of the Cat's early career (Marvel Comics)

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 were still alive so she could turn to him for support. But she dislikes feeling that way.

Like many heroes of the 1970s, the Cat spouts hip, bad, and now dated repartee. This… peppy style sometimes bordered on the nonsensical for those, mmm, too square to dig that rap.

Greer is kind and empathic, even before her empathic sense was enhanced. Thus, she could sometimes be played for a sucker. She’s loyal to a fault, and taking care of the wounded Dr. Tumolo consumes 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



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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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 Upon 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).
    • Any EV exerted through Stretching 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

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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.

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