– Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 #25 intro blurb.
El Tigre first appeared in 1966, in the 25th issue of The Uncanny X-Men.
Like the Locust in the previous issue, El Tigre was too mediocre to join the list of foundational X-Men baddies.
But there are a few titbits of lore about him, and he could be reworked to be more interesting. There isn’t much of a character in the first place, so that’s easy.
- Real Name: Juan Meroz.
- Note: His nickname was sometimes spelled “El Tigré”. It is possible that Spanish is spelled differently in Santo Rico, but I’d ignore it as a linguistic fail.
- Other Aliases: Kukulcán.
- Known Relatives: None.
- Group Affiliation: None.
- Base of Operations: Santo Rico (presumably in the capital, Libertad).
- Height: 5’8″ (1.72m). Weight: 150 lbs. (68 Kg.).
- Eyes: Dark brown. Hair: Black.
Santo Rico, land of enchantment
In UXM #25, Meroz and his compadres are stated to be from “San Rico”.
In the Marvel Atlas, this flimsy fictional country was retconnedMaking changes to a character or story after the fact. as being the same place as the similar “Santo Rico”.
The Atlas locates it on Chetumal Bay . In fact, it’s roughly where real-life Chetumal is. Thus, it eats up some land from northern Belize, and some land from the southern Quintana Roo state of Mexico.
The other character from this minuscule state (pop. 2.6M) is El Toro (Antonio Rojo), who briefly was President. I guess Santo Ricans like large ferocious animals.
The vintage depictions of San(to) Rico err somewhere between Northern Argentina, Southern Mexico and Cuba. So it’s a Latin American mishmash. Or rather, a baturrillo.
Powers & Abilities
El Tigre is a veteran treasure hunter. He knows how to handle himself in dangerous jungles and other harsh environments.
He also has general criminal skills, and knows how to fight – with or without weapons. In the Savage Land, he used bolas and a dagger.
Furthermore he’s fluent in English, Spanish and possibly other languages.
His henchmen are hardened criminals. One is an expert with the bola, another with the machete and blowgun. Both are experienced, accurate and good at ambushes.
Meroz was endowed with psychic powers on two separate occasions. This suggests two hypotheses. Howbeit both are No-PrizeA made-up explanation to plug a plot hole. material, as they’re not mentioned in the stories.
These go :
- Mr. Meroz was born with a dim mutation making him psychically receptive. This hypothesis explains why he was twice chosen for weird empowerment. It also explains why Professor Xavier could sort of, kind of detect him.
- El Tigre was left with some potential for psychic abilities after the first incident. This explain his second recruitment. But it ties fewer loose ends than the first hypothesis.
Magic disc of Kukulcán
El Tigre’s Maya pendant gave him seemingly magical powers :
- Danger sense, working even in his sleep. This didn’t seem as powerful as Spider-Man (Peter Parker)’s, though.
- Sensing the location of the other half of the pendant over thousands of miles.
- Telekinetically animating objects at a range. Such as a rope or a suit of medieval plate armour.
- Being fluent in at least one unspecified ancient Mayan language.
- Telepathic persuasion, akin to super-hypnosis.
- Psychic defenses against telepathic intrusion and detection.
Cerebro could sense El Tigre, albeit in an imprecise way. So there’s something about the Kukulcán-empowered Sr. Meroz that resembles the power signature of a mutant.
With both halves of the pendant, El Tigre demonstrated the following :
- Enhanced strength and speed.
- Powerful heat rays, able to raze large swathes of thick jungle.
- Mind control over crowds.
- Creating a spherical “solar chariot” carrying him in the air at supersonic speeds.
- Emitting blinding flashes from the pendant to prevent it being taken away.
- Emitting an aura of heat, preventing others from closing in.
However, he had limited energy reserves. He was fed power by the Solar Stone, an enormous snake-shaped stelaAn ancient upright stone slab with important inscriptions. topped by a two-metres tall golden gemstone.
In this state, Juan Meroz claimed that he was Kukulcán returned.
It could have been a Thor-and-Donald-Blake situation – or outright possession. But it felt more like grandiose hyperbole and a claim to godhood on Meroz’s part.
Raiders of the hidden jungle
El Tigre then apparently lost all his powers. But he was taught new psychic abilities by the Man-God (Maa-Gor). These may have been psionicPsionics are sci-fi style psychic powers. in nature.
The one he demonstrated was mind-controlling felines. This worked even on the mighty sabretooth tiger Zabu, but Ka-Zar could bolster his cat’s resistance.
Sr. Meroz was now armed with a dagger and a bola.
During the 1960s, Juan “el Tigre” Meroz was a wealthy hunter of lost treasures. He specialised in gems – presumably he had specialised contacts to fence those.
Operating out of Santo Rico, he pillaged lost Mayan ruins.
Meroz stated that he had worked on two continents. Given his self-aggrandising nature, this likely meant Latin America.
For years, Meroz attempted to find the semi-mythical temple of the god Kukulcán. And in 1966 he finally found these ruins. He reached the site with his henchmen – Ramon Dantas and Toloc.
Early excavations were promising, and Meroz found a strangely glowing pendant. It was half of a broken, featureless disc.
Interlude – Ahau notes
Kukulcán (more commonly rendered as Kukulkan) is an actual Maya divinity. And beyond – the name simply means “feathered serpent”.
This is apparently a common metaphor in local myths, with many supernaturals and people using this symbolism. *However*, in the MU, Kukulcán and the better-known Quetzalcoatl are two distinct entities.
Kukulcán features in Maya creation myths (creating mankind from maize flour was his idea), as well as a number of Marvel stories. The oldest is none other than the seminal Doc Savage novel The Man of Bronze, established to also have taken place in the Marvel Universe.
There are also references to him in old Namora and Conan stories.
In the Marvel Universe, the Maya gods are known as the Ahau, or Ajaw, pantheon. Several have featured in MU stories – including Chaac, Ahpuch or Wayep.
They are not the same gods as the Apu (Quechua pantheon) or the Tēteoh (Nahua pantheon), despite frequent confusion in older comics.
That’s how we roll in Tikal
Meroz kept in the pendant in his shirt pocket.
The jewel soon warned El Tigre that his ruthless hirelings were about to murder him in his sleep. It then gave him magical powers to subdue them.
The jewel also made Meroz able to read sacred inscriptions in the temple. These explained that the pendant belonged to Kukulcán. He also learned that obtaining the second half would grant even greater power, albeit at great cost.
Fascinated by his new powers, El Tigre ignored this whole “cost” thing. He could sense that the other half of the pendant was in New York City.
The Far North
Days later, Meroz was there with his cowed henchmen.
Professor Xavier and the X-Men detected that a powerful threat was coming. But since El Tigre wasn’t really a mutant, they couldn’t pinpoint him. They only found him when he was stealing the other half of the pendant in a museum.
However, ambushes from Mr. Meroz and his wingmen felled each X-Man (Beast, Iceman, Angel, Cyclops) in turn.
Alight is the man-god
With the full pendant, Meroz turned into a powerful golden-skinned figure clad in Maya-ish armour. He easily swatted aside his rebellious henchmen and the X-Men.
El Tigre then generated a bubble of solar heat around himself. Riding this chariot, he returned to the temple of Kukulcán.
Within minutes, the man now claiming to be Kukulcán had cleared the jungle among the ruins. He then mentally enslaved the entire area. When a police unit came to investigate, they immediately fell under his sway.
From there, “Kukulcán” and his slaves worked to consolidate the temple and its surroundings.
Rally against the man-god
The X-Men came in before he would start to expand.
“Kukulcán” was too strong for them, but they realised that he was drawing power from the snake-like giant stela. They covered the monument’s top in ice to cut off the energy, and engaged Meroz so he’d deplete his reserves.
This gambit narrowly worked. The decisive point was “Kukulcán” blasting the ground to force the X-Men down, which somehow triggered an earthquake. The stela was buried under the collapsing temple.
The dazed El Tigre found himself depowered, and was arrested.
Ally to the man-god
In 1974, El Tigre was free again. He was in Mexico, working to “exploit the energy crisis”.
His activities were threatening enough to draw the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Colonel Fury sent Agent 19 (Bobbi Morse) for surveillance and investigation.
But in the Savage Land, the newly exalted Man-God (Maa-Gor) was looking for a ruthless mercenary. Global telepathic scanning revealed that Juan Meroz fit the bill. Maa-Gor psychically offered him an alliance to conquer the Savage Land, and El Tigre agreed.
Mr. Meroz rushed to Antarctica. But Ms. Morse had placed a tracer on him, and the woman in black followed.
Welcome to the jungle
After reaching the Savage Land, El Tigre was taught psychic powers by Man-God.
During the inevitable clash with Ka-Zar, they fared well. Meroz distracted Ka-Zar during the fight, allowing for victory. He then psychically cowed Zabu, Ka-zar’s sabretoothed brother.
Man-God did honour his end the deal, building for El Tigre an alien machine that could easily tap into the Savage Land’s vast oil reserves.
During further clashes with Ka-Zar and Agent 19, El Tigre held his own. Mostly he :
- Attacked by surprise and/or from behind.
- Mind-controlled Zabu whenever Ka-Zar couldn’t bolster his ally’s psychic mettle.
- Took hostages.
However, things went sour.
- El Tigre was mauled by Zabu.
- As he tried to flee the Savage Land, he was beaten by the villagers whom he had been terrorising.
- Then Man-God abandoned Meroz, deciding that he no longer needed a servant.
As he left, Man-God mentioned that he had been empowered by the Savage Land’s mysterious Mystic Mists. The battered El Tigre seized that clue, making his way to the Mists to learn of their power.
However, the success rate of the Mists is dismal – the process is too random. Man-God was a freak occurrence, a perfect roll of the dice.
When El Tigre entered the fog, he was instead mutated into a dull-minded monster with heat powers.
As he confusedly melted a boulder, Meroz saw his newly deformed face in the vitrified rock. Panicking, he ran blindly among the Mists, and fell off a cliff to his death.
The Man-God later found the mutated corpse.
El Tigre was always dressed in what I assume is a gentleman’s outdoors outfit in Santo Rico.
Well, except when he was a purported Mayan god.
Originally, Sr. Meroz is a ruthless and predatory man. But he’s also pragmatic. For instance, he pays his hirelings well since he’s aware most people in his business are underhanded bastiches.
Still, he acts greedy and forceful.
After he gets the first half of the pendant, El Tigre acts like an egotistical megalomaniac. He would psychically mess with people’s mind for casual convenience, or just for amusement.
With the second half, El Tigre was running on full-on delusions of godhood. He would rebuild a Maya empire worshipping him, talked like a sun god, was convinced that his power was unmatched, and sought worldwide dominance.
In 1974, El Tigre was underhanded – and all about exploiting oil. Kinda like J.R. Ewing, I guess.
He also had a slight paranoid and predatory streak. Or rather, it was more noticeable than before.
“Silence ! It is not for hirelings to question El Tigre ! You are merely to obey !”
“Sabertooth ! You are El Tigre’s to command, now ! Attack Ka-Zar — and kill him !”
DC Heroes RPG
Tell me more about the game stats
|Dex: 03||Str: 02||Bod: 03|
|Int: 04||Wil: 04||Min: 04|
|Inf: 04||Aur: 04||Spi: 04|
|Init: 011||HP: 015|
Military science (Survival): 03, Weaponry: 04
Area Knowledge (Latin American jungles), Language (Spanish).
HALF A MAYA PENDANT [BODY 07, Animate objects: 05, Broadcast Empath: 05, Danger sense: 07, Detect (Other half of the pendant): 24, Hypnotism: 05, Mind shield: 07, Obscure: 07, Advantage: Language (Ancient Maya), Bonus: Danger Sense works even if the wearer is asleep, Limitation: Obscure only vs. magical and psionic senses.]
The material is sparse, so those stats are tentative. The story *heavily* insists that his power is colossal, but as usual we’ll stick to what was demonstrated.
|Dex: 07||Str: 07||Bod: 08|
|Int: 06||Wil: 05||Min: 07|
|Inf: 06||Aur: 06||Spi: 09|
|Init: 019||HP: 025|
Animate object: 06, Broadcast empath: 05, Danger Sense: 08, Flame project: 13, Flash: 12, Flight: 10, Hypnotism: 05, Mind shield: 09, Obscure: 09, Temperature control: 05
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Danger Sense works even in his sleep.
- Both Broadcast Empath and Hypnotism have a 15 APs Area of Effect.
- Flame project can have an Area of Effect, the beam being 3 APs wide.
- Flash is its own AV, but has a Range of but 0 APs and can only be used against a person attempting to Take Away his talisman.
- Temperature control is Heat Only and has No Range.
Accuracy (Flame project): 08, Military science (Survival): 03, Weaponry: 03
Area Knowledge (Latin American jungles), Language (Spanish, Ancient Mayan), Military Rank (Lieutenant, but would quickly have grown as he enthralled more fighters).
Power Loss (being unable to drawn energy from the solar stone, which seems to require line of sight), Power Loss (being deprived of his talisman), Creepy Appearance (golden skin and pseudo-Maya armour).
This is just written here as a Power Loss, but his solar energy reserve evoked early Sunspot (Roberto da Costa)’s. So similar mechanics may be involved.
He could use his powers for a time without being fed by the Solar Stone stela, but the more APs he employed for Dice Actions the faster he depleted his reserves. Dwindling reserves seemed to mean a rising R# – and lower AV and Range even at constant APs.
I also suspect that in this form, El Tigre had APs of Solar Sustenance, Shade and Flame Immunity.
The Encyclopedia Mythologica lists a “Class 25” strength for the average god of the Ahau pantheon/tribe/species. So if there’s indeed an avatar thing going, he might have STR 10.
That amounted to Control (Felines only): 04. Hey, making cats cooperate is no mean feat !
He also had the following weapons :
- Bola [BODY 03, EV 04, Snare: 04, Ammo: 01, Limitation: Snare cannot be higher than the governing Weaponry skill].
- Knife [BODY 03, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 05), Descriptor: Piercing].
|Dex: 03||Str: 02||Bod: 03|
|Int: 03||Wil: 02||Min: 03|
|Inf: 03||Aur: 02||Spi: 03|
|Init: 009||HP: 010|
Military science (Survival), Thief (Stealth): 03, Weaponry (Amazon tribal weapons): 05
Familiarity (Booby traps), Language (Spanish and possibly a Native language).
MIA toward greed.
- Machete [BODY 04, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 05), Descriptor: Slashing].
- Blowgun [BODY 01, Range: 03] w/poison darts [BODY 01, Poison touch: 06, Ammo (Slow Reload): 04].
|Dex: 03||Str: 02||Bod: 03|
|Int: 03||Wil: 02||Min: 03|
|Inf: 03||Aur: 02||Spi: 03|
|Init: 009||HP: 010|
Military science (Survival), Thief (Stealth): 03, Weaponry: 03, Weaponry (Bola): 06
Familiarity (Booby traps), Language (Spanish)
MIA toward greed.
- Bola [BODY 03, EV 04, Snare: 06, Ammo: 01, Limitation: Snare cannot be higher than the governing Weaponry skill].
- Knife [BODY 03, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 05), Descriptor: Piercing]. The knife is an assumption, since he presumably doesn’t run around with just his bola.
Source of Character: Marvel Comics.
Writeup completed on the 18th of September, 2018.