Writer – Tony Isabella, Bill Mantlo
Artist – Sal Buscema
Inker – Don Heck
Colours – Petra Goldberg
Letters – Gaspar Saladino, Karen Mantlo
In a tale called Claws of the Cougar, Bill Mantlo and Tony Isabella craft a story that finds Ben Grimm teaming up with the one and only Greer Garson, better known as Tigra. It sees her breaking into the Baxter Building to wake the Thing up from a good night’s rest, something few would ever be able to accomplish – the breaking in, not the waking. Thankfully Ben had turned off the security earlier which made the midnight rendezvous possible. It seems that Tigra needs the Thing’s help in obtaining an item called the Null-Bands from a villain named the Cougar who has stolen them. It is here that Isabella and Mantlo go into Tigra’s origin story which is quite interesting, as short and succinct as it is. While it would have been nice to see it in a little more detail, there is a tale to be told and the authors get right back to it as the Thing seemingly does not mind being woken up in the middle of the night by a beautiful cat-lady. On a normal day it would be a problem, but underneath that rocky exterior, the Thing is but a man. So information is exchanged and as the two are wrapping up, they are attacked by the Cougar’s minions of whom short work is made, leading to that final confrontation with the big bad of the piece. What makes this issue far more interesting than most and it is not because of the involvement of Tigra or the comedy relief usually brought about by the Thing and his patterns of speech or cluelessness of the situation, is that in the end, it all comes down to one person, one woman and it is not Tigra, but the fiancé of the Cougar. She has had enough of his planning, scheming and evil machinations, enough so much that she takes matters into her own hands and put a stop to him. It is not often that a supporting character, much less one so minor and who’s only appearance is in the very story being told, gets the win over the heroes. What it does do though, is lend some weight and emotional resonance to it all, packing a bit of a punch more than it usually does simply for the fact that it is a little bit easier to empathise with a regular person than it is a hero. Still, the Thing and his latest guest star are no slouches and they carry the book to its fateful end, making for a very strong read and one of the better issues to be found of late.
4 out of 5