Velvet Tiger (Lani Gilbert) is a minor DC Comics villainess.
Here we’re going to discuss the version wot appeared in 2015/2017. So that’s after the Flashpoint thingie, and it goes up to the Rebirth thingie. Chronologically.
It’s therefore *not* the Velvet Tiger (Lani Gilbert) who appeared in 1991 in Hawk & Dove (and later on in Batgirl back-of-the-book features in Det). Who you may also remember from her loose-leaf Who’s Who character profile. Different continuity.
Based on her first appearance (the other two were incidental), she seems to have potential as a villain.
One of the illustration is a character study by series artist Babs Tarr .
- Real Name: Lani Gilbert.
- Known Relatives: None.
- Group Affiliation: None.
- Base of Operations: Mobile.
- Height: 5’7″ (1.70m). Weight: 130 lbs. (59 Kg.).
- Eyes: Amber. Hair: Red.
Powers & Abilities
She also had enough mental fortitude to partially resist The Fugue’s memory manipulations.
Also, she has tonnes of money. Most of which seems inherited.
She may have some big cat taming skills, as she knows how to behave in the presence of tigers. She likes having large dangerous animals, especially big cats, backing her up.
On the prowl
Carrying equipment may seem difficult given how short and tight her minidress is. But she has a small backpack and/or dorsal holsters hidden under her mane of hair. And her puffy shoulder pieces seem to have pockets.
Said gear includes :
- Sharp retractile claws on her fingers. These *might* be a metahuman ability rather than tech. These excel at cutting through small objects (Batgirl’s robust de-celSpecific rope tech allowing for super-hero urban acrobatics. lines just flew apart) but the cut remains a small one.
- A sort of remote that injects hostile code into gadgets. It modifies the software clock in impossible manners, as if the object had been time travelling. Which triggers a kernel panic, and the gadgets will cinematically explode as a result.
This is an allusion to the time manipulation powers of the 1990s version of the character.
- Small bladed, perhaps kunai-like, projectiles. It’s hard to tell from the panel.
- A pair of sharp, butcher-ish cleavers. These cannot damage high-tensile-strength materials like her claws can, but they inflict much larger wounds.
During her second appearance, Velvet Tiger also had at least five braces of throwing knives.
Pick of the litter
During her third appearance, Gilbert was seconded by four hand-to-hand combat experts. These women seemed exceptionally capable – they *might* have eventually prevailed against Batgirl and Catwoman.
These henchwomen also were oddly reminiscent of the helpers of the Golden AgeSuper-hero comics from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Cheetah.
I wasn’t going to include one. But as I linked to Babs Tarr’s Tumbler for illo credits I noticed an interesting playlist for the Motor Crush comic book, so I get to put on a soundtrack too. Unassailable logic here.
One fitting tune on my mind – Cat Claw from The Kills, an indie/garage rock band. It was on their 2003 album Keep on your mean side. It’s a simple, high-energy, grungy tune with a punk character to it.
Lani Gilbert comes from a wealthy family. She is known as a young entrepreneur and as the CEO of tech company Gilcom.
However, a good chunk of her activities are unethical and/or criminal.
As a student she dated one Jeremy Degroot. She thus knew that his Master’s thesis was plagiarised, and kept back up files as blackmail material. She also badly emotionally abused him.
As we all know, tigers go after jackpots
In 2015, Gilbert decided to become the Velvet Tiger. For that she needed special weapons. And tigers.
Her plot went :
- Hire freelance coders and engineers, paid in cash, to build her weapons.
- Illegally buy a trio of adult tigers abroad, and have them shipped as “computer parts”.
- Pay animals right activists in the US to steal the tigers. The activists were tricked into thinking that they were rescuing the animals from being held in a private zoo. They thus held the liberated felines until they could arrange something with conservationists or public zoos.
- Have the theft of “computer parts” declared for insurance money. Profit is profit.
- Use the tigers to spectacularly murder the freelance developers, so they’d never talk. Having been smuggled in then stolen, the tigers were untraceable.
- Trap the activists and have the tigers kill them, eliminating another loose end.
- Force Jeremy Degroot to use computerised glasses to steal biometric data from some of his students. This data was then used to frame the students for the tiger murders.
(The part with the glasses alluded to the then-recent-ish launch and failure of the Google Glass tech, which posed a host of privacy concerns, safety concerns, all sorts of concerns).
Cat vs. Bat
However, doctoral student Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) knew Degroot.
Furthermore one of the animal rights activists, Jo, was the soon-to-be-wife of Bab’s close friend Alysia Yeoh.
With her allies Frankie Charles and Luke Fox, Batgirl :
- Saved the last developer targeted by a tiger.
- Convinced Jeremy to surrender to the police.
- Found Jo before Velvet Tiger could execute her.
Even though Batgirl dominated the fight, Gilbert overcame her. She stabbed Batgirl with a tranq dart Gordon had used on a tiger.
However, Operator (Frankie Charles) intervened. She knocked Gilbert out from behind, called the police and evacuated Batgirl.
Velvet Tiger was then freed and “recruited” by The Fugue (Vinton Burwell). He altered her memories so she would cooperate.
During The Fugue’s big plan, Gilbert was sent under the city hall to install and defend one of his brainwashing pylons.
Black Canary (Dinah Drake Lance) unexpectedly came in and engaged Velvet Tiger.
However, Gilbert had been resisting the brainwashing. During the fight, she regained her correct memories and surrendered.
She also told Batgirl’s allies where The Fugue was, to help establish that she wasn’t a willing accomplice. This was instrumental in stopping Burwell in time.
In 2017, Gilbert stole a bunch of Internet-famous pets. This seemed to be a mix of :
- Liking furry animals.
- Wanting the most attractive and admired pets for herself while hearing the lamentations of their owners.
- Assuming that it would draw little response.
The last point didn’t work :
- One of the Instagram star cats (170K followers – and that was back in 2015) belonged to Catwoman (Selina Kyle). @Isis_the_hiss, a beautiful black-panther-like cat, may have been an Egyptian Mau – like Miss Kitty in the 1992 Batman movie.
- A dogs-loving little girl named Esme went looking for @rookiethefiredog, the mascot of the Burnside Fire Department. And Esme had been attending a coding class taught by Barbara Gordon. Batgirl thus caught up with the brash kid before she would get into trouble.
Velvet Tiger’s elite henchwomen engaged Batgirl and Catwoman. However, they disengaged when Esme threw a “grenade” into the melee. It was actually a dog’s chew toy, but in the dark nobody could tell.
Velvet Tiger was thus defeated and arrested.
Velvet Tiger’s costume includes strokes of black makeup over her cheeks (to evoke whiskers).
She also seems to be wearing cat’s eyes cosmetic contact lenses.
Her teeth are also oddly… predatorial, though it could be manga-style artistic exaggeration. Or cosmetic prostheses.
Gilbert is a malignant narcissist, a user, a bully and a sociopath. Only she matters, and everybody else is either cannon fodder or an annoyance.
She’ll cruelly kill anybody who stops being useful for her, and find ways to control and abuse the rest. If anybody fails to obey her to the letter, she’ll fly into a rage and consider murder.
She seems to really like tigers, and furry predators in general. Gilbert will become enraged if any pet big cat of hers gets harmed or taken down.
However, one bets that having ferocious big cats is to make herself look cool and dangerous. Not because she cares about animals.
Gilbert seems intended as a metaphor about rising inequality, and “move fast and break things” tech strategies harming those on the wrong side of this divide.
“I know a thing or two about what makes tech tick, Batgirl. Slip between the picoseconds of those little internal chronometers, and all hell can break loose.” (PAFF – Bab’s foam grenades in her utility belt explode).
“Do you know what I expect from all my employees ? *Loyalty*. Such a small, simple thing, yet apparently so hard to obtain. I put people to work, I give them opportunity, and the minute my back is turned they sink a knife deep into my spine.”
DC Heroes RPG
Velvet Tiger (2010s)
|Dex: 06||Str: 04||Bod: 05|
|Int: 05||Wil: 05||Min: 05|
|Inf: 05||Aur: 05||Spi: 04|
|Init: 018||HP: 035|
Acrobatics*: 06, Animals handling (Big cats): 03, Martial Artist*: 06, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry*: 06
Familiarity (High tech).
Street (Low), Underworld (Low), Business (Low).
Serious Rage, SIA toward Cruelty.
- CLAWS [BODY 07, Claws: 03, Sharpness (Claws): 03].
- Clock jammer [BODY 01, Energy blast (Area of Effect 0 APs): 06, Limitations: Energy blast only affects equipment with an OS, though these days a lot does (frex Batgirl’s foam bombs have one), Energy blast has a Range of but 02, and Security Systems will increase the RV of the Gadgets]. Gadgets containing explosives will often detonate when destroyed.
- THROWING BLADES [BODY 04, EV 04. Normally Gilbert has Ammo: 01 on these, but if she carries extra, visible braces of throwing knives her Ammo will go up.]
- Cleavers (x2) [BODY 04, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 05), Descriptor: Slashing].
For big cats stats, see our animals file.
The “kittens” (her martial arts mercs) had costumes resembling Catgirl (Carrie Kelley)’s, but white with black leopard print patterns. The puffy fur parts were also colour-coded (turquoise, yellow, purple and green for the four henchwomen).
DEX 06 STR 03 BODY 04, with 5 APs of both Acrobatics and Martial Artist seem about correct from their brief appearance. Their gloves seemed to have Claws: 04.
Another approach is to consider that in this story, everybody’s fighting prowess was lowered to more realistic levels. So it’s not the kittens who were unusually competent – those were weaker versions of all characters, and being outnumbered was a genuine problem.
During her 2017 appearance, Gilbert was physically weaker – essentially a non-combatant.
It’s not factored in since :
- So far there’s only one instance of this.
- Said instance was going for “cute tale” rather than “brutal thriller”.
- Super-villain decayWhen villains gradually become less credible threats. is wrongbad.
Or maybe the Rebirth version is different from the Nu52 version. Assuming that Batgirl of Burnside was still considered Nu52. Who knows. “Not I”, said the cat.
Source of Character: DC Comics.
Writeup completed on the 3rd of December, 2018.