Saturday, February 27, 2010

Enter the Jaguar – A Superhero Who Liked The Ladies!

And the ladies liked him back!

Maybe it was the skin tight scarlet outfit with the jaguar head detail and jaguar fur-trimmed boots with matching Nucleon Belt, but Ralph Hardy, zoologist and superhero, was a babe magnet in his 15 issue series which began publication through Archie Comics in September 1961.

This means The Jaguar premiered 2 months before Marvel’s superhero flagship book, the Fantastic Four, which came out in November of the same year. Meanwhile over at DC, the Atom, the last major superhero in the Schwartz stable, premiered in the September-October 1961 issue of Showcase. The fall of ’61 was a great time to be a superhero fan, a fact to which The Mayhem and most other over 55 year old comic book fans will attest.

At first glance, The Jaguar seems to be nothing but an imitation of his Archie Comics stable mate, The Fly, down to having the same artist and writer. The Fly had all the powers of the insect kingdom and transformed by rubbing a magic ring and saying, “The Fly”, whereas the Jaguar had all the powers of the remainder of the animal kingdom, which he acquired by putting on his Nucleon Belt and saying, “The Jaguar”.

But the Jaguar had something going on which was most unique for a superhero of the early silver age – a rogues’ gallery of sexy women and an equally attractive regular girlfriend, all of whom openly expressed their desire to ‘tame’ the heart of the animal kingdom’s super human master. The series’ main artist was John Francis Rosenberger, a romance comic artist who really knew his way around a pretty face and trim figure, even if his monsters were a little on the goofy side.

Here are a few samples of this unique hero’s animal attraction:

Above: Kree-Nal, the Circe from space.

Above: The eternal Cat Girl.

Above: Then things got really complicated when Jill Ross entered the scene!

With a trio of gorgeous women wanting him, The Jaguar came up with a suprising solution:

Menage a Jag, anyone?

Below, maybe this is why romance never was as big an issue in The Fly's comic --

Let's face it -- when a man who's got a fly's taste says, "You look good enough to eat!" -- is it really a compliment?

While the Jaguar has yet to be filmed here's another super hero with a feline twist:

As always, the images and film clips with this story are copyright by their owners and are used here for historical purpose. The article as well as the Masked Mayhem character and likeness are copyright 2010 Will Meugniot.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Will, nice blog!

    I collected the early Archie FLY and JAGUAR comics only 3-4 years after they were cancelled. Ah, the days when they sold them for 2cents less because they were secondhand!

    Anyway, here's my thought on why FLY and JAGUAR had a different feel, even though the latter was, as you say, certainly based loosely on the former:

    I think that for Bernstein, Rosenberg and the editors, THE FLY was just a routine job. At best the post-Simon/Kirby is mildly wacky, but stories and art seem like sticking too close to Superman's model. Also, the mere fact that the "Bernstein bunch" were inheriting the series from Simon and Kirby may've meant that they didn't care that much about it.

    JAGUAR isn't much more exciting, but I do get a little sense that the creators were more involved because they came up with the character. JAGUAR pops up a year or so after Superman starts having other women besides Lois and Lana in his orbit. The JAGUAR guys probably recognized this as a way to sell the book to anxious pre-teens and so upped the femininity quotient. Also, it was probably a move tailored to Rosenberg's strength for drawing goils.

    Thanks in part to your reminder of the series I did my own essay on Kree-Nal's first story on my blog. As I'm scanner-illiterate I borrowed as illustration one of the images you scanned in to your post-- I wasn't quite sure it would work as I did it-- but if this seems an infringement on your effort, let me know and I'll delete the image.