Avengers Spotlight #38

Issue Date: 
November 1990
Story Title: 
Curse of the Cat, People

Roy & Dann Thomas (writers), June Brigman (penciler), Doug Hazlewood (inker), Rick Parker (letterer), Paul Becton (colorist), Mark Gruenwald (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Tigra, reduced to about the size of a housecat, finds herself on a peninsula where a kindly old woman is feeding several stray cats. The old woman is quite intrigued by Tigra, but suddenly, a large dog attacks the cats, killing one and mauling Tigra – but Tigra is able to fight back and kills the dog. The old woman picks Tigra up and waits for a cab to take her to a vet clinic, unaware that another mysterious black cat is watching. The old woman arrives at the vet clinic, where she and the doctor decide that the best thing to do for the injured Tigra is put her to sleep, although the old woman is slightly hesitant about it. The old woman notices that the sounds Tigra is making seem vaguely human, and the doctor notes that she looks like an odd cat. He is about to administer a lethal injection, when Agatha Harkness enters the operating room, along with her black cat, Ebony. Agatha takes Tigra from the old woman and leaves the vet clinic. Agatha takes Tigra back to the Avengers West Compound, although none of the team are on site. She hesitates to use Dr Pym's technology to reverse the Pym Particles used on Tigra to shrink her, but she does, and is successful in returning Tigra to her true size. Agatha recounts Tigra's origin, including the mysterious Cat People, the scientist who experimented on her, her time with the Avengers, recent dealings with the Cat People, and the torment which led her to being shrunk to the size of a cat. Agatha supposes Tigra's condition needs the assistance of the Cat People, so she casts a spell which opens a rift in space, and Tabur, Emissary of the Cat People, arrives on Earth. He promptly knocks Agatha out, and proceeds to take Tigra to another room where he wakes her. He shows her the amulet that he has from the Cat People, and boasts about how he has slain the Cat People's king and is now their leader – and he wants a mate – Tigra. Ebony attacks Tabur but Tabur knocks the cat away with a powerful swipe of his fist. An unimpressed Agatha returns and Tabur immediately leaps at her. Tigra recovers annd battles Tabur, refusing to become his mate, although Tabur knocks her out. Agatha recovers and uses the amulet against Tabur, reducing him to the size of a cat, he is then chased away by Ebony. Agatha gives Tigra the amulet, and Tigra is now able to use it to transform between her human self and her feline self.

Full Summary: 

Tigra is hungry. So hungry. She is about the size of a cat, and licks her lips as she emerges from some shrubs, where she sees an elderly woman feeding a dozen or so cats. 'Here, kitty. Nice kitty. Yes, you too, Kitty' the old woman smiles as she drops pieces of meat amongst the cats. 'No need to worry. Don't I always have enough scraps for all of you?' she asks, while one cat perches on her back, and two rubs against her legs. '... so very, very hungry...' Tigra thinks to herself. 'Yes, I even bought a tidbit for you, Bagheera. Or was it “Shere Kahn” I called you?' the old woman remarks as a brown and black cat swipes some meat. Tigra continue to watch from nearby and licks her lips some more, as the old woman decides that it doesn't matter what name, so long as she, Abigail Verpoorten, is hale and hearty, no poor ownerless cat on Portugese Bend is ever going to go hungry.

Tigra suddenly rushes down from the bushes and joins the other cats. Abigail sees her, and remarks 'Well, hello. You're a little one, aren't you? I don't recall seeing you on the Peninsula before. Not that these old eyes can see too well, even now, my glasses don't -' Abigail begins, before Tigra begins to growl. 'Now, now... there's no need to cause a snarl. There's plenty for everybody -' Abigail begins, as Tigra snatches the meat from her hand. 'Oh, my! You must really be hungry!' Abigail exclaims. Tigra turns her back from the old woman and  begins to eat. Abigail tells her to go ahead and eat, that she won't bother her, when suddenly, the other cats turn and run. 'Kitties? What's wrong? Why are you running -?' she starts to ask, before she is knocked to the ground by a large white dog that growls as it rushes towards the cats. One of the cats hisses, but the dog grabs the cat in its mouth and starts thrashing about, causing the cat to screech. 'Sic 'em, Creeper!' a voice calls out to the dog.

'Oh, my goodness – he's killed that poor kitty!' Abigail utters, before watching as the dog chases after Tigra, and grabs her in his mouth. A man arrives and looks on at the horrifying scene, while Abigail tells him that if that is his dog, to call it off. 'You gotta be kiddin,' lady!' the man retorts. 'What's the use of having a pit bull – if you don't get to watch it kill a cat once in a -' he begins, while Tigra screams, and the man notes that the strange cat sounds almost human from a distance. The dog continues to hold its grip down on Tigra, while the dog's owner tells him to hurry it up. 'You think I got all day -' the man begins, before Tigra manages to climb out of the dog's mouth and onto his face, where she starts clawing at his head. The dog yelps, then howls as Tigra draws blood. The dog continues to howl and thrash about, trying to throw Tigra off of his face, but Tigra doesn't relent. 'Creeper – you okay, boy?' the man calls out, before he turns and runs as Abigail throws her hat at him and shouts 'It wasn't the pit bull's fault, you stupid redneck! It was you who turned him into a killer! YOU!' while Creeper drops to the ground in a pool of blood.

'That other poor cat's dead... the dog, too... but this one... still alive, are you? Just barely?' Abigail remarks as she picks up the wounded Tigra, blood dripping from the bite marks in her side. 'Poor kitty. You really do sound like some hurt little child. You're probably too hurt to live... but at least I can see to it that she needn't suffer much longer' Abigail decides as she walks towards a large house nearby, unaware that she is being watched by a black cat.

Soon, a cab arrives. 'Mrs. Ver – uh -' the cab driver begins. 'Miss Verpoorten, young man' Abigail tells him as she holds Tigra in a small blanket. 'You're the one called for a cab, right?' the driver asks. 'Certainly. I haven't driven a car in 23 years' Abigail reveals, before instructing the driver to take her to the San Pedro Dog and Cat Clinic. And as the cab drives off, the black cat bounds through the long grass.

Inside the cab, Tigra is being held like a baby in Abigail's arms, and makes a strange noise, while the driver asks Miss Verpoorten if she has a cat wrapped up in there. 'Yes, of course! What else would it be?' Abigail responds. 'Search me!' the cab driver mutters, before pointing out that it doesn't sound much like a cat. 'But then, there's all kinds of cats, right?' the cab driver supposes. 'Just like there's all kinds of people' he adds. 'What was that, young man?' Abigail asks. 'Er, nothing, lady' the driver tells her, before announcing that they have arrived at the clinic. Abigail climbs out of the cab and tells the driver that she won't be long, she just has to see to this poor kitty. 'Look, lady, I've gotta -' the driver begins. 'You what?' Abigail asks. 'I'll wait' the driver tells her.

Abigail approaches the receptionist inside the clinic and reports that she is here to see Dr Larson. 'I'm Miss Verpoorten. I phoned a little while ago...' she tells the receptionist. 'Oh, yes. About the badly wounded cat. You want us to put to sleep?' the receptionist asks, which causes Tigra to cry 'NNOOOEEWWRRR!' before the receptionist asks her to take a seat. Other people in the waiting room move away from Abigail with their pets, as Tigra continues to cry. Before long, the receptionist announces 'Dr Larson will see you now, Ms Verpoorteen'. 'Miss Verpoorteen' Abigail corrects her as she walks past her and enters Dr Larson's room.

'Another of your cats mauled by a pit bull, is it, Mrs Verpoorten?' Dr Larson asks. As Abigail places Tigra on the examination table, she tells the doctor that they aren't her cats, not really, and that that particular pit bull won't be harming them anymore. 'This cat disposed of it... but not before those awful jaws got hold of her' Abigail explains. 'Well, in that case, the very least we can do is put the poor thing out of her misery, eh?' Dr Larsons remarks. Abigail asks him if he wants to examine the cat first, pointing out that he hasn't really looked at her. 'No need. Once a pit bull gets hold of a cat, I'm afraid it's all over' Dr Larsons replies. 'Why prolong the animal's agony?' he asks, before telling Abigail that if she wants him to give the cat a whole battery of tests it will be quite painful and expensive. 'No – I'm certain you're right' Abigail replies while looking down at Tigra, holding her to the examination table, as she begins to struggle, although she notes that her struggles are pitifully weak.

Tigra looks up at the old woman and makes noise, which Dr Larson remarks is an odd sound from a cat, deciding to ask his colleague, Dr Mitchell, abot it when they leave to play golf in a few minutes. 'C-could you do it quickly?' Abigail asks, explaining that she can't see the cat well with her failing eyesight, but she thinks from the way her heart is beating, it is almost as if she half knows what is about to happen. 'PLEEOWWRRR' Tigra utters, while Dr Larson raises a large needle to her and tells her to relax, that it won't hurt a bit. 'A squirmy one, isn't she?' Dr Larson comments, before telling Abigail that she needn't remove the blanket, as he can see an opening.

Suddenly, before he can insert the needle, a voice shouts 'STOP!' and Dr Larson looks up from the examination table. 'Eh?' he asks, 'Who?' Abigail calls out, as an elderly woman wearing purple and holding a black cat enters the room. 'My name is Harkness. Agatha Harkness. What, may I ask, were you about to do to my cat?' she exclaims. 'Your cat? But I thought -' Dr Larsons begins.. 'Oh, dear, we were only trying to -' Abigail begins. Agatha asks them to forgive her, that she didn't mean to sound so harsh, but that she has been quite conerned about Tigra. 'Well, of course, if she's yours. The decision whether to pur her to sleep or not is yours. But she didn't have a collar' Abigail remarks. 'Yes, she's always losing it' Agatha claims, before announcing that she will take Tigra home now. 'Look, Ebony, we've found your little friend Tigra' Agatha points out as she lets her black cat drop down onto the examination table.

Dr Larson asks Agatha if she is sure she doesn't want him to inject the cat, before he looks shocked, and exclaims 'Now that I get a closer look at her – she certainly is an odd-looking cat!' Agatha takes Tigra in her arms and confirms that Tigra is quite unique. 'Now, if you'll excuse me...' Agatha begins as she turns to leave the room. 'Wait!' Dr Larson calls out, and follows Agatha out of the room. 'I really think you should let me -' Dr Larson begins, but as he and Abigail arrive in the reception area, he asks the receptionist, Consuelo, where Agatha went. 'Who, Dr Larson? Nobody's come through that door since Miss Verpoorten went in' Consuelo reports. Dr Larson decides to figure this out after his golf date, while Abigail remarks that he hopes that strange woman knew what she was doing. 'I really don't believe that poor kitty can last much longer!' she exclaims.

'You see, Ebony? I knew it was a good idea for me to remain here at the Compound for a few days. Dear Wanda can still use a bit of cheering up...especially with her colleagues off pursuing those repulsive Termini' Agatha remarks once she arrives back at the Palos Verdes Compound, home to the Avengers West Coast. While Ebony skulks around the shadows, Agatha places Tigra on a table in one of Hank Pym's labs, and wishes that Hank were here, after all, this is his Pym Particle device. But, Agatha thinks she remembers which buttons to push from when Hank demonstrated it to her recently. She worries that if she is wrong, then poor Tigra won't survive another hour. Agatha presses a button on the Pym Particle device and shields her eyes as energy pours down onto the table – and transforms Tigra back into her true size. 'It's working, Ebony! She's grown back to normal size – right into the clothes in which I draped her!' Agatha calls out.

Agatha takes a closer look and realizes that reverting Tigra to her true size doesn't appear to have helped her grow stronger, as she had hoped, or regain her more human form. Agatha calls out to Tigra, calling her by her true name, Greer Nelson, and asks her to remember who she is – what she is. 'You're not one of the Cat People – not truly! They were spawned centuries ago by medieval sorcerers – who later exiled them to another dimension!' Agatha explains.

flashback images, narrated by Agatha:

Agatha reveals that for centuries, only an occasional emissary from their world, who is always called the Balkatar, can be summoned to Earth by mystical means. However, one pair of cat beings avoided banishment from Earth, and in time, sought to increase their number by turning humans into Cat People, thereby creating the first Tigra. In time, such experiments culminated in Dr Joanne Marie Tumulo, who wished to use her scientific genius to give feline powers to humans by artificial means. Greer Nelson is the result of Dr Tumulo's labors, and was sent forth to fight evil as The Cat – but sometime afterward, she was mutated by Cat People wizards into becoming the new Tigra, only, like the original, she gradually became more and more savage, until it took several of her fellow Avengers to keep her from killing Hawkeye, and at the point, she vowed to turn back to Greer Nelson, and never to become Tigra the werewoman ever again.

Agatha asks Greer to remember the dichotomoy between those two sides of her being, before reminding her that later, in the dimension of the Cat People, the scheming monarch vowed to take one of Tigra's souls away, either cat or human, if she would kill their enemy, Master Panemonium, and that Tigra secretly agreed to do so, in a moment of weakness – only, she found that when she had the villain at her mercy, she could not commit wilful murder, not even to end the torturous division within herself. Agatha thinks that that, more than anything, was the true Greer Nelson. So, the furious Cat-King removed her feline soul, and reverted her to her human form – but even that was temporary, for very soon, through accident, her cat-soul returned to her, and she became Tigra once more, and it was at this time that she thought herself fully in control of the feline side of her nature, a whole being at last.

Until recently, she reverted anew to her more bestial nature, became less human, more catlike, even in appearannce. She asks Tigra if she remembers this, deep within her atavistic mind, if she remembers Dr Pym shrinking her with his Pym Particles, for her own good, remembers escaping, her human memory fading as she roamed the Southern California Peninsula.


Agatha looks down at Tigra and supposes that she doesn't hear her, at least not on a conscious level. However, Agatha thinks she knows, at last, what caused Tigra's animal nature to assert itself – the Cat People did cure her that time, at least by their lights – for the idea of a cure for a double soul would be to make her cat side predominant, not the human. Agatha wonders if only the Cat People can help Tigra now, for her wounds have grown larger, even as her body did, so perhaps only they, off in their distant dimension, can cure Tigra's body, mind and even her soul. Agatha tells herself to make the preparations before it is too late.

Shortly, Tigra has been laid on a mystical symbol that Agatha has drawn into the ground. Candles are placed around Tigra, and Ebony lies near her, while Agatha stands over her and shouts 'Hecate, Demeter Rhiannon – once more I pray unto you three – open the gate to the World of the Cat – where the feline mystique flies free! Heed my call, that from afar – may come the bright-eyed Balkatar!' As Agatha speaks those words, a portal opens, and Balkatar appears. 'My incantation has succeeded!' Agatha exclaims, inviting the emissary of the Cat World to enter. Agatha kneels before noble Balkatar and informs him that the werewoman, Tigra, who was cast in her feline form by his proud race, stands in need of aid which she can find, perhaps, only in his realm. 'I beseech you, do what you can for -' Agatha starts to say, before Ebony looks up at Balkatar and begins hissing. 'What is wrong?' Agatha asks, before the large cat-man shouts 'Human vermin! I am no mere interchangeable Balkatar – I am TABUR!'

Tabur slashes his claws across Agatha's face, and the elderly sorceress drops to the ground. 'What, little one?' Tabur asks, as Ebony continues to hiss at him. 'You seek to protect the fallen human female? Do not fear. I care neither one way or another about her' Tabur explains, looking over to Tigra, he announces that it is she has come for, and she alone that he wants.

Soon: 'Who?' Tigra calls out as she opens her eyes, 'Who are you?' she shrieks as she looks up from the sofa where was moved to, and sees Tabur standing over her. 'Has it truly been that long? Well, if you have forgotten me, fair one, perhaps you will at least remember – yourself!' Tabur exclaims as he holds a mirror up to Tigra's face. Tigra looks shocked, 'Yes – I – it's coming back to me! I was changed – so small – there was this monstrous dog!' Tigra utters as her memories come flooding back. She looks at Tabur and announces that she remembers him, before asking him if he is the one who changed her back. 'Yes. With this amulet, which I bought from the dimension of the Cat People' Tabur explains, holding the amulet shaped like a cat's face. 'But – you weren't one of them! We found you – the Cat People and I!' Tigra recalls. 'Only because you did not realize we should all have been on the same side – against our human enemy!' Tabur declares.

Tabur then tells Tigra that he was devolved back into a mere cat then, by the very genetic ray he had stolen from the Cat People, but tells Tigra that it should not have surprised her, of all creatures, that in time, the ray's effects wore off – after all, is he not one of the “New Men” those evolved by the High Evolutionary from the so-called lower orders? He reveals that, in time, he found his way into the dimension of the Cat People, slew their king, and by their own laws, became their monarch himself. Tigra thinks everything is starting to sink in, but remembers so little since Dr Pym shrunk her, before asking Tabur why he is here with her and Abony, and if he brought her here. Tabur claims that he was searching for Tigra from his far realm, when he felt the call. 'Call?' Tigra asks, but Tabur tells her that is not important.

'What matters is that I restored you to your most natueal self...your most lovely self...that you might become my mate!' Tabur smiles as he leans in closer to Tigra. 'You...want to legitimize your rule...by mating with the heir of the Cat People's first Tigra?' Tigra asks. 'That, too, I suppose' Tabur adds, before remarking 'But mostly... I just want to!' He leans in even closer, his mouth only a couple of inches from Tigra's mouth as he asks 'Well?' 'I -' Tigra starts to say, when suddenly, Ebony roars and leaps at Tabur, 'What in the name of -?' Tabur begins, before he swats Ebony, 'Get away from me!' he snarls, as Ebony smacks into the wall. 'NOOOO!' Tigra cries out. 'How dare you... you black-hearted fiend!' Agatha Harkness utters as she enters the room and sees her beloved cat lying motionless nearby.

'WHAT? You are hard to kill, female!' Tabur remarks, while Tigra notices the scratches on Agatha's face. 'The mark of Tabur, little one!' Tabur boasts. 'And you wanted me to mate with you? Not evenn if that amulet of yours could change me back into an alleycat till Helsinki freezes over! Get out of here, Tabur, NOW!' Tigra exclaims. Tabur leaps at Agatha, 'This is your doing, woman!' he declares, warning her that he will make her pay – with her life's blood. Agatha falls to the ground, but before Tabur can deliver another blow, Tigra grabs his wrist and tells him that Agatha is already too weak from loss of blood to cast a spell to stop him, so she is happy to take a crack at it. Tigra then uses her enhanced strength to hurl Tabur across the room. 'Maybe you'd like to pick on somebody of your own species...for a change' Tigra suggests as she turns to face Tabur, as he starts to get to his feet. Tabur tells Tigra that her false bravado is more typical of her human nature than her feline self, and wonders if perhaps she is right – their mating is not destined to be.

'Of course – that being the case – you might as well die, too!' Tabur exclaims as he leaps across the room and lands on Tigra, pushing her to the ground, they knock over a small table in their struggles, and Tigra screams as Tabur bites down into her shoulder. Tigra responds bt slicing her claws across Tabur's face. 'You wanted a cat fight, mister – you got it!' Tigra tells Tabur, as she then kicks him backwards, towards a large cactus plant in the room, pointing out that just because they're cat-fighting, doesn't mean she can't try a few human tricks as well. Tabur roars as he lands on the cactus. 'Not exactly a happy landing, was it?' Tigra grins, as she moves closer to Tabur and starts to warn him that if she finds out that Agatha's wounds are anything more than superficial, that might turn out to be the high point of his day – but suddenly, Tigra grows weak, and Tabur is able to kick her to the ground. 'Pitiful, human-loving fool!' he exclaims.

Tigra appears to be unconscious, so Tabur goes over to her and tells her that she expended her last ounce of energy to protect the old witch, until she had no more to give. 'And if I allow you to awaken – you will doubtless attack me anew. Thus, my claws must rake the soft fur of your throat -' he begins, when a voice calls out 'O my triple goddess, add your power of law to this amulet from a world of claw!' It's Agatha, and she holds up the cat-face amulet, aiming it at Tabur, who snarls 'Put thjat down! Did you hear me, human?' he asks, but Agatha offers no response, as she continues her spell: 'May the cat-soul that in Tigradid rest – now come  to swell in Tabur's  breast!' Agatha concludes, as Tabur finds himself unable to speak properly, 'I said, purrr – spit – put that dowwrrrr – NO! Currrse you, wommrrooww – what it happening to meeeeeeowwwrr?' Tabur utters as he clutches his throat, and energy rises from Tigra's unmoving body and envlops Tabur, who begins to revert to a cat, while still wearing a now miniature version of his briefs, boots and cloak.

'Let him go, Ebony!' Agatha calls out as Ebony begins to chase Tabur, who scampers out of the room. 'Tabur's new, perhaps permanent form will be punishment enough!' Agatha remarks. Tigra, now in her human form, wakes and Agatha helps her stand up. 'You beat him, Mrs Harkness!' she utters. 'We beat him, child – together' Agatha replies, before handing the cat amulet to Tigra, telling her it is best left in her capable hands. Tigra realizes she is human again, that she is Greer Nelson once more. Agatha tells her that she shall be whichever she wishes to be as long as she holds fast to the amulet. 'But – even half-conscious – I felt my cat-soul being pulled from my body – flowing into Tabur's!' Greer remarks. Agatha explains that is only what made Greer's feline side dominant.

Agatha continues, telling Greer that her human side will remain paramount now, as it always should be, and that the Cat People erred in making her cat-nature predominate – after all, unlike Tabur and the Cat People themselves, Greer was originally a human being, not a cat. 'And yet – I dimly recall being a cat – or something very much like one for a while' Greer remarks, while gazing at the amulet, she supposes that she has Agatha to thank for curing that condition. 'I...and Tabur, I blush to admit' Agatha responds, before telling Greer, by the bye, that she was a very pretty cat, one of the prettiest she has seen in a long, long time. 'Yourself always excepted of course, Ebony' Agatha adds as she and Greer walk out of the room, leaving Ebony to lick her paws and purr, as Agatha suggests to Greer that they go get some cookies and milk. 'Well actually... just the cookies!' Greer replies.


Characters Involved: 



Agatha Harkness



Abigail Verpoorten

Bagheera and other stray cats




Creeper the dog

Creeper's owner

Cab driver

Dr Larson


Civilians and pets


in flashback images:

The Cat/Tigra

Hawkeye, Iron Man, Mockingbird, Wonder Man (all West Coast Avengers)


Dr Hank Pym


Cat People


Dr Joanne Marie Tumulo


Story Notes: 

Tigra was shrunk to cat-size in Avengers West Coast #49, and has appeared sporadically in her cat-size between that issue and this.

First and only appearance of Abigail Verpoorten.

The Scarlet Witch is recovering from several ordeals that took place across West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #42 – Avengers West Coast #62.

The Avengers West Coast are preoccupied in Avengers West Coast Annual #5.

Much of the history of the Cat People, Joanne Tumulo and Tigra's early appearances took place in The Cat #1-3, Giant-Sized Creatures #1, Monsters Unleashed (1st series) #10, Marvel Chillers #3-6 and Marvel Premiere #42.

Tigra had trouble controlling her feline persona in West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #6-9 and journeyed to the realm of the Cat People in West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #14-15.

Tabur previously appeared in Marvel Premiere #42 and West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #15. He has not appeared since this issue.

Tabur was found by Tigra and the Cat People in Marvel Premiere #42.

Tigra returns to the Avengers West in Avengers West Coast #66.

The Cat People have not appeared since this issue, other than in reference guides.

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