Thursday, July 21, 2011

Byrne-ing to Read: "Soul Catcher" by Isabella and Byrne

Cover Art by Rich Buckler and Mike Esposito
What it is, Groove-ophiles! Two of Groove's fave things about the Groovy Age are Tigra and John Byrne art, and as luck would have it, the twain met twice during that halcyon era! The second time was in Marvel Team-Up #67 (December 1977--demand it and it might show up here sometime!). The first, though, was way back in Marvel Chillers #6 (May 1976), and that's the one we gonna rap about today!

Written by Tony Isabella (with the exception of a couple of issues), Tigra was another of Marvel's attempts to cash in both on the Feminist and supernatural crazes that had the 70s in such a headlock. Young Groove thought Isabella was doing a great job (along with artists Will Meugnoit and John Byrne), pitting Tigra against a group of old Captain Mar-Vell villains, the Rat Pack, and adding in some cool sci-fi and supernatural twists. Tony was taking a whole bunch of very disparate bits of Marvel mythology and combining them into something that could have been absolutely mind-blowing. To further spice things up, he'd just added (in time for this story!) Red Wolf to the mix (I still need to do a Red Wolf post!)--and when you get to the climax to learn who the big bad villain is--well, yeah, it's wild, baby! Shame of it is, this would be Tony's last ish, and the following ish would be the final ish of Marvel Chillers/Tigra--so things were hastily wrapped up by fill-in creators Jim Shooter and George Tuska. Did their ending bear any resemblance to what Tony had in mind? Guess we'll never know (unless Tony is kind enough to drop by and let us know--hint, hint!)

Byrne's art in this ish is pretty far-out. The awesome double-page splash, the multiple-action-sequence on page five, the action scenes. He really made Tigra look awesome, too--alternately sexy and savage. Great, great stuff. I've read that John liked the inks of Frank Springer over his pencils, and I'm sure he knows better than I, but I'd have preferred someone with a cleaner, slicker line to have inked this story. Sam Grainger would'a been cool!

Still, it's a magnificent mag, both storywise and artwise. It's got that wild, unfettered, "anything goes" feel that you either loved or hated from Marvel at that time. Me, I dug it the most!


  1. It would be cool if Tony Isabella dropped by. It would be even cooler if he remembered what he had in mind for the next issue. But it probably was better than anything Shooter came up with. [And now I'll be trying to remember what I had planned all day.]

  2. C'mon, Tony--you can do it!

    Even if you can't, thanks for stopping by. It was cool!

  3. I can't remember how Tigra beat the Super-Skrull, but I sort of recall that Red Wolf would have been a recurring character/love interest.
    He wouldn't have been the only love interest, though.

  4. Your Tigra was a sexy beast! I'm glad you tried to do something with Red Wolf, he was a good character. I don't think anyone touched him again until Bill Mantlo used him in the Hulk in the early 80s. Made him a part of some sort of Western Avengers-style team...



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