EL GATO

Real Name: Luis Anaya

Identity/Class: Human, magic user

Occupation: Brujo (see comments)

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Religious and spiritual authority to a neighborhood in New Yok City's Spanish Harlem; "the hags," a group of enthralled people of the neighborhood

Enemies: Omega the Unknown; Teresa Mendez; "Gramps"

Known Relatives: none

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: A neighborhood in New York City's Spanish Harlem

First Appearance: Omega the Unknown#4 (September, 1976)

Powers: El Gato practices an exotic form of Santeria, which appears to be a form of sympathetic magic akin to voodoo. He is able to resist ordinary physical force directed against him, though he proved vulnerable to personal energies like Omega'sbiospheric energy blasts and to being stuck by inanimate objects. El Gato can also cloud perceptions, even empathic senses like Omega's, apparently through force of will. In similar fashion, he can mentally enthrall others, though the enthrallment is dependent on his remaining conscious. By branding his thralls with his symbol, he gains greater control and more lasting control over them. The brand apparently seals off a person's mental and spiritual energies, which El Gato can then tap for his own use at will. El Gato can also levy curses and affect people through their dreams.

He derives his name from his particular rapport with cats, and can control the animals over great distances, and once appeared to transform into a large panther. He can create ectoplasmic thought-forms using objects or his thralls, as he has done using the skull of a cat and the energies of his thralls. These thought-forms can affect others mentally or physically, but they are quite vulnerable to force directed against them. El Gato is also allegedly skilled in traditional and herbal medicines, though he has proven incapable of curing "modern" illnesses like heart disease.

History: (Omega the Unknown#4 (fb))- El Gato was the brujo of a neighborhood in New York City's Spanish Harlem, and among other things was attempting to treat Teresa Mendez's mother for her heart disease. Despite El Gato's efforts, Mrs. Mendez died. At the funeral, El Gato attempted to collect the large amount of money he claimed Teresa's family owed him, but Teresa angrily rebuked the brujo for discouraging her mother from seeking modern medical aid. In response, El Gato attacked the young woman in her dreams and apparently cursed her. In the days that followed, Mendez's fiancee and downstairs neighbor both died in accidents, and her pet fish mysteriously died as well.

(Omega the Unknown#4-5)- Through the eyes of Gramps' cat Mark Antony, El Gato learned that Teresa was staying with the elderly man and his friend Omega the Unknown. In short order, El Gato appeared on the scene to abduct Teresa. Omega attempted to stop the brujo, only to discover that El Gato was seemingly impervious to his punches and could cloud his empathic senses. Inexperienced in dealing with magic, Omega was knocked to the ground by El Gato, and could only retaliate by hurling a garbage can at El Gato. Omega noted that the can hurt El Gato but was beset by dozens of alley cats under the mystic's control before he could act further. Fortunately, Gramps maganed to use the torrent from a fire hydrant to repel the felines. El Gato then allowed Omega to approach Teresa, who mechanically claimed that she was leaving of her own free will.

Undaunted, Omega followed El Gato to his tenement-turned-church, where he observed the shaman proclaim that he would wed Teresa. Omega attempted to learn more about the sorcerer by studying his artifacts, only to fall victim to a psychic booby-trap in a cat's skull. He returned to Gramps, who gave him a small voodoo charm Omega's senses had detected. As El Gato prepared to brand Teresa into thralldom, Omega burst into his makeshift chapel. After he defeated El Gato's thought forms, Omega was confronted by the brujo himself, who transformed into a large panther and threw himself and Omega onto the street below. Omega managed to hurl El Gato away, and blasted the transformed shaman with his biospheric energy blasts, which were fueled by his revulsion and anger. The onslaught reverted El Gato to human form, but before he could strike at Omega again, the enraged and now free Teresa Mendez branded him with his own inverted symbol, permanently (and painfully) locking his mystical powers within him.

Comments: Created by Steve Gerber, Mary Skrenes, and Jim Mooney.

Go read Omega the Unknown now! A great series from the mind of Steve Gerber.

El Gato was quite clearly intended as a practitioner of the religion Santeria, more properly called Regla de Ocho or Lukumi. Like voodoo, it is a synthesis of Caribbean and African beliefs with Catholicism, and is practiced in the Latin community around the world, especially in Cuba. Real Santeria, of course, doesn't much resemble El Gato's magic any more than real-life voodoo resembles the stuff in Tales of the Zombie. In aprticular, the animal totem doesn't seem too much a part of real Santeria, though Santerists do sacrifice animals.

Brujo is Spanish for "warlock," by the way, and appears to be a mildly derogatory term for a practitioner of Santeria.

In all likelihood, Gerber and Skrenes created El Gato in response to the popularity of Carlos Castaneda, who popularized a version of Santeria in the late 60s and 70s, and even recieved a doctorate in anthropology for his books about becoming an apprentice shaman and learning ancient mystical powers from a man he met at a bus stop. Yes, really.

Obscure trivia: Did you know that the Cheetah from Captain Marvel I#48-9 was supposed to be named el Gato, but was renamed because Gerber's character appeared shortly before ol' Esteban Carracus could?

Actually, Canstaneda claimed to have come into contact with a Yaqui Indian sorceror known as "Don Juan." His work has more in common with Timothy Leary than with Santeria, given the heavy hallucinogenic element present. Generally, it has been agreed that Canstaneda’s work is fictitious. Some of his works included "Teachings," "A Separate Reality," and "Journey to Ixtlan." After being renamed, the latter work aided Canstaneda in acquiring his Ph. D. More about Canstaneda can be found at http://www.straightdope.com/columns/020621.html. Furthermore, Leary and Canstaneda came close to crossing paths in the ‘60’s as detailed in Leary’s autobiography "Flashbacks."--Kyle

Gato's real name was revealed in Omega the Unknown's profile in OHOTMU A-Z HC#8.

Profile by Omar Karindu

Clarifications: El Gato is not to be confused with:


Teresa Mendez lost her mother to El Gato's method of medicine, and was cursed when she defied him. After seeing her loved ones and neighbors die from the curse, she was driven to attempt suicide by leaping from the 59th Street Bridge. Fortunately, Omega saved her. After being enthralled, abducted, and nearly forcibly married to El Gato, she managed to avenge herself and her mother by destroying El Gato's power one and for all.

 

 

 

 

"The hags" were a number of older neighborhood women enthralled by El Gato. He could draw forth ectoplasmic forms from them, which resembled demonic humanoids, and possessed great strength and ferocity. However, they were very vulnerable to physical force, and dissipated if struck or wounded, leaving the respective hag unconscious from the feedback. They were loyal followers of El Gato, and aided him in preparing to wed Teresa.

 

 

 

 

 


Appearances:
Omega the Unknown#4-5 (September-November, 1976) - Mary Skrenes & Steve Gerber (writers), Jim Mooney (pencils), Pablo Marcos (#4) & Jim Mooney (#5) (inks), Archie Goodwin (editor)


Last updated: 10/12/02

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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