Saturday, 19 May 2018

The White Tiger



The White Tiger was another one of those great new superheroes introduced in the Bronze Age that never really got a fair shake. Introduced in Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu, the world's first hispanic superhero basically stole his strip from the similarly themed Sons Of The Tiger, a series that I liked, but one that kind of went south really quickly. So it was probably time for a change, and what better way to do that, than sneak a new character into a failing strip?


Introduced by Bill Mantlo, and with early, early art from George Perez, The White Tiger came along at just the right time for me. Sure, we loved Spidey, DD, Cap etc etc. but they'd all already been around for ages. The chance to get in the ground floor of a new hero was always cool, and The White Tiger was mega-cool.
With a great, impractical costume ( What if it gets dirty? Oh right, it's magic, it doesn't get dirty ) and the wish-fulfillment of just finding an amulet in the street that makes you a Kung-Fu master, it couldn't fail.
Plus Hector Ayala / The Tiger was a poor kid from the ghetto, so he could team up with Power Man AND Iron Fist. That's why he fights another 3rd division hero, The Prowler, in his second outing, and that kind of mean streets of the city, Warriors type of character has always been one of the defining differences between Marvel & DC for me.
Somebody once said that the blaxploitation and Kung Fu B-flicks of the '70's were actually the first superhero movies. Imagine a White Tiger movie at the time, with these covers as the poster.


Then, as so often happens, the writer introduced another character, and fell in love with them to the detriment of the original star, in this case Mantlo's playing-card inspired Jack Of Hearts, who promptly stole the strip out from under The Tiger, just as he'd done to The Sons. I guess it was only fair, as he was only kind of renting space in the story.
And that was more or less it, other than a brief guest slot in the pages of Spec Spidey. I know there's a female White Tiger around these days, but I don't care about that.
Because like most b/w mags, I was only ever able to pick up Deadly Hands when on holiday, so The White Tiger belongs to that summertime pantheon of characters, like E-Man, Peter Cannon & the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, whose adventures I was only ever able to read occasionally, making them somehow more special than they perhaps were.
By the way, I liked it when non-american characters spoke in their own language then translated for us. Nightcrawler used to do that too. Who says comics aren't educational?





























2 comments:

  1. I always wondered if being Puerto Rican was part of the reason Perez got the assignment, or maybe if he requested it for that reason rather than having it assigned.

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  2. Be nice to think that, Joe, tho' I suspect it was more that newcomers got allocated either the mystery books ( if you wanted to work for DC ) or the B/W's ( if you wanted to work for Marvel.

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