In 1972, the ERA and Women’s Lib were taking over the country, and editor Roy Thomas decided Marvel needed some female lead characters, and to their credit they wanted them to be written by women. And, as Marvel did with so many writers, they just threw a paperclip and saw who it hit. Linda Fite was an editorial assistant (and Herb Trimpe’s fiancee) who had been given several backup features before she got to write The Claws of the Cat.
I wish the book had sold a little better, but to her credit, Fite didn’t really like the character. “We’ll have a woman and we’ll call her Cat and she can be in catfights,” she said.
Fortunately, in her hands, the book turned out to be a lot better than that.
The story went like this: Greer Nelson’s husband is a cop who gets killed in the line of duty. Distraught, she goes back to her old college professor Dr. Joanne Trumulo, who gives her a special suit that enhances her strength and agility.
But we quickly learn that she has powers without the costume on as well.
In the first issue, which is really, really creepy, she stalks a thug who is terrified of being touched in the dark. She stalks around him and terrifies him to the point that he shoots himself in the head. It happens off panel, but you see the body and the gun…
It’s meant to parallel the stalking men do of women–The Cat is a feminist avenger, arising from the ashes of a marriage to an abusive husband. (Interesting that her police officer husband is an asshole, but also killed on duty. This comic is remarkably rich.)
And of course, there’s some salacious poses for the young boys.
In issue #2 she takes on The Owl.
Of course it was titled, “The Owl and the Pussycat.” It’s a good match up and a perfectly entertaining story
The Owl previously had exclusively been a Daredevil villain.
In #3, oddly, she takes on a Sub-Mariner villain–the pirate Kraken.
The series ends abruptly with issue #4 (the fifth issue was already written, but low sales ended it prematurely), in which we see early Jim Starlin art–drawing Man-Bull!
I’m pretty sure he never has this ability again, but in this issue he has the power to do to cattle what Sub-Mariner does to fish.
Very disappointing that this book got cancelled so quickly.
Roy Thomas (plot), Linda Fite (scripts), Marie Severin (art #1-2), Paty Greer (art #3), Jim Starlin (art #4). Interestingly, Wally Wood does some inking here as well. Nice!