Real Name: Unrevealed
Identity/Class: Human mutate
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Agent of the Brand Corporation (a former
division of Roxxon Oil Company);
Killer Shrike, Mandroids, Plunderer, Saboteur
Enemies: Devil Dinosaur, Fall People, Ghost Rider (John Blaze), Hawkeye, Ka-Zar, Moonboy, Shanna, Two-Gun Kid, Zabu
Known Relatives: None
Base of Operations: Los Angeles, California
First Appearance: Ghost Rider II#27 (December, 1977)
Powers/Abilities: The Manticore wore an exoskeleton which not only replaced him amputated legs, but also granted him superhuman strength (somewhere between enhanced human and Class 10), durability (including a resistance to hellfire), speed, and catlike agility. He had razor sharp claws able to rend wood, stone, and flesh. He had a long tail which could be used to strike or grasp objects (it could easily contain and carry the weight of an adult man), as well as fire a powerful laser. The Manticore's costume was designed to give it the form of a quadruped, meaning he walked on four legs.
Without the costume, he was otherwise human, and he had no lower limbs.
Height: (normal) 4' 1"; (Manticore) 7' 5"
Weight: (normal) 89 lbs.; (Manticore) 750 lbs.
Eyes: (Manticore) Red
(Ghost Rider II#27 (fb) - BTS) - The man who would become the Manticore lost (or was born without) his legs, although the details are unrevealed. At some point he was commissioned by the Brand Corporation to become an agent for them, in return for their construction of prosthetic or cybernetic legs for him.
They designed the exo-skeleton for the Manticore costume and sent him to retrieve the (Hell)Cat costume, which they had lost to a series of adventurers. The costume was now in the hands of Patsy Walker/Hellcat, a part-time adventurer Avenger. In order to recover the costume, they conceived of a plot, one which required a dead Avenger to prove the seriousness of their intent. The Manticore chose Hawkeye, as he saw him as the easiest mark.
(Ghost Rider II#27) - The Manticore ambushed Hawkeye at the Cheery-O's Dude Ranch, where he was working at the time. He knocked out Hawkeye, but was observed by Hawkeye's friend, the Two-Gun Kid--who had traveled through time into the modern era--long story. The Two-Gun Kid's bullets bounced harmlessly off the Manticore's exo-skeleton, and he collapsed a building on the Kid, hoping to kill him to eliminate any witnesses. This drew the attention of the Ghost Rider, who rescued the Kid, and then went after Hawkeye. As the Ghost Rider struggled against the Manticore, the Two-Gun Kid arrived, intending to help out, but he just ended as hostage to the Manticore (who had been making little headway against the Ghost Rider). However, Hawkeye saved the day with an electronic disruptor arrow, which hit and destroyed the Manticore's power induction grid, shorting out his cotume and knocking him out. The heroes removed his costume, and presumably turned him over to the authorities.
(New Avengers Most Wanted Files - BTS) - Manticore was reported as having remained in prison since his initial capture.
(Marvel Comics Presents II#5/2) - As part of a Roxxon operation in the Savage Land, Manticore participated in an attack on Ka-Zar and his allies along with Saboteur, Killer Shrike and some Mandroids. Manticore was rendered uselees when his metallic parts were melted by Vibranium arrows shot by the Fall People.
Comments: Created by Jim Shooter and Don Perlin.
The designer of the Manticore's exoskeleton is "the same scientist who created the Hellcat costume for Brand Industries." The costume was, IIRC, designed by Mal Donalbain (or possibly Joanne Tumolo), initially for the Cat (Shirlee Bryant and then Greer Nelson (now Tigra)), before being taken by Patsy Walker to become Hellcat. I'm not positive whether Donalbain actually built it, and/or whether he is thus also the designer of the Manticore costume.
I'd like to point out that the Cat uniforms and the Hellcat
costume are not the same. There are two easily seen differences:
1. The Cat uniforms possess yellow cowls (the same color as the rest of the bodysuit). The Hellcat costume's cowl is blue.
2. The Cat uniforms possess blue "cat's paw" emblems on the chest. The Hellcat costume does not.
I think it is evident that writer Linda Fite intended Malcolm Donalbain to be the creator of the Cat uniforms from the text in "The Cat" issue #1 (Nov 1972). It could even be argued that Donalbain came up with the idea of the uniforms before he met Dr. Tumulo. When Dr. Tumulo first observed Shirlee Bryant wearing one of the uniforms, she wondered about it ("Shirlee -- dressed like a cat? What's this all about?"). Later, when she stumbled across a closet-full of the uniforms, she thought "More of those peculiar costumes - dozens of them! I'll take one - for evidence of this scheme." These do not seem to be the reactions one would expect from the creator of the Cat uniforms.
Later, in "Giant-Size Creatures" issue #1 (July 1974), Tony Isabella retconned Dr. Tumulo to be a member of the Cat People. Later authors, such as Steve Englehart, have interpreted that to mean that Dr. Tumulo intended to create artificial Cat People all along. This has confused the origin of the Cat uniforms. Steve, especially, seems to write as if Dr. Tumulo created the Cat uniforms (for her experiment) in "West Coast Avengers" issues #6 (March 1986) and #15 (Dec 1986). Tony got it right, Dr. Tumulo experimented with giving women enhanced abilities, but didn't mention the uniforms. I prefer to stay with Linda Fite's original premise. One could argue that
the text I quoted was second-hand (Greer's retelling of what Dr. Tumulo told her), but I think the uniforms themselves give us a reason to conclude Donalbain created them: the blue "cat's paw" emblem. The dictionary's definition for "cat's paw," "one used as a tool by another: dupe" certainly fits Donalbain's intentions for his army of enhanced women. It does not fit with the women's liberation theme proclaimed by Dr. Tumulo. Steve might argue that the doctor was using women's liberation as a cover for her activities (the words he wrote for Greer in WCA #6 hint that he does not consider Dr. Tumulo was at all honest with Greer about the doctor's intentions), but I don't think that is as obvious as Donalbain's plan.
To explain why the Cat and the Hellcat costumes are different, I propose two possibilities:
1. Donalbain subcontracted the manufacture of the Cat uniforms to Brand. The version Patsy Walker found, in "Avengers" issue #144 (Feb 1976), could be a prototype or a "factory second" that was not sent to Donalbain.
2. Brand learned about Donalbain's uniforms through the same channels as Tony Stark. When Captain America, Iron Man, and Patsy Walker spotted the costume, Cap wondered how it got there? Iron Man (rather bitterly, IMHO) responded "Brand and Roxxon probably bought it, like they buy everything else!" He continued "The rumor in financial circles was a crackpot named Donalbain developed the costume, and its powers, for his own purposes...but the woman who wore it turned against him when his purposes turned out to be illegal!" Instead of buying it, could not Brand have heard the same rumors and decided to make their own? They built it based on rumors and witnesses' accounts, which would easily explain the differences. An analogy would be that Shirlee Bryant and Greer Nelson drove Ford Thunderbirds, while Patsy Walker drives a Mercury Cougar. (You could probably come up with a better metaphor. I'm not a car nut.).
Patsy, however, believed (and may STILL believe) that the costume she took as Hellcat was the exact same costume originally worn by the Cat. Further, the costume fooled Cap and Iron Man too. It would have been interesting to see a scene in "West Coast Avengers" #15, when Patsy and Greer were arguing about who was entitled to what creds, if Greer would have said "By the way, that costume you're wearing is just a cheap copy. Just like you." Greer, Spider-Man, the Owl, and Man-Bull are the only non-civilians who have ever seen the original uniform. That reminds me, Spidey didn't notice the difference in "Defenders" #61 (July 1978) either. In it (his first encounter with Hellcat), he thinks she's the Cat (whom he'd met in "Marvel Team-Up" #8 (April 1973)) until she straightens him out.
As a corollary to this, the Hellcat does not have the same powers as the Cat. Shirlee and Greer both underwent Dr. Tumulo's experimental treatments and gained enhanced physical and mental abilities. Patsy did not. At first, she attributed her success as a superheroine to the costume. It would have granted her some enhancements, such as aiding her hearing and night vision and providing razor-sharp claws.
In the Hellcat entry of the OHOTMU, it adds to the tale the supposition that Donalbain was a former employee of Brand's, and they repossessed the costume. There is no other mention anywhere of this possibility. I discount it, primarily because Donalbain was a "world-famous sportsman, eccentric, and entrepreneur," not a corporate executive. The OHOTMU cannot be implicitly trusted, because in this story we can easily see an outright error in the related entry for Tigra. There, it says Greer, dressed as the Cat, "thwarted Donalbain's plans and sent him to jail." In "The Cat" issues 1 and 2 and in "Giant-Sized Creatures" #1, Donalbain committed suicide, shooting himself in the head with his own pistol rather than let the Cat rake him with her claws. Nowhere, other than the OHOTMU, does any text state that Donalbain went to jail. Nor is there any reason to think that he did. Even the OHOTMU doesn't do anything with this misinformation. If the writer had intended for Brand to pursue Donalbain (as noted in the Hellcat entry), he'd forgotten it by the time he wrote the Tigra entry.
So, to sum it up, this is how I think of the costumes:
1. Malcolm Donalbain created dozens of the Cat uniforms for his proposed army.
2. Dr. Joanne Tumulo created the experimental equipment to enhance women. Donalbain realized he could take advantage of this and agreed to fund the experiment.
3. Shirlee Bryant and Greer Nelson underwent the experiment and each gained the powers to become the Cat.
4. Shirlee's uniform, as well as dozens of copies, was lost in the fire Greer accidentally set at Donalbain's headquarters while thwarting his plans. Donalbain killed himself.
5. Greer continued using the Cat uniform until she was fatally shot with a radiation pistol while fending off Hydra's kidnapping attempt on Dr. Tumulo.
6. Dr. Tumulo, with the aid of other Cat People, transformed Greer into Tigra to save her life. She abandoned both of her previous identities (Greer and the Cat) and the uniform as well. (It may have become contaminated with radioactivity.)
7. Captain America, Iron Man, and Patsy Walker found a copy of the Cat costume at Brand's warehouse. Patsy adopted it and named herself Hellcat.
8. The costume Patsy adopted was contaminated with radioactivity when she, with the Defenders, pursued the Red Guardian (Tania Belinsky) and was exposed to a nuclear explosion engineered by the Presence (Sergei Krylov) in "Defenders" issue #63 (Sept 1978). Since then, she has worn a replacement. The major difference is she neglected (or purposely decided not) to recreate the taloned boots. The replacements are ordinary boots with a low heel.
9. Since her sojourn in Hell, Patsy has been able to psychically manifest her costume. Occasionally, she manifests a photographic inverse, i.e., the body suit is blue instead of yellow and the gloves and boots are yellow instead of blue.
That's all great information, but I
think both the OHotMUs and perhaps some West Coast Avengers information confirms
them to be one and the same. I don't have time to check for any in-story
confirmation right now, but if you can provide it, please do.
The Hellcat costume would either be a prototype of the Cat costume, OR a modification of the Cat costume.
I'm not so sure why Brand wanted the Hellcat costume back so badly. The Manticore costume was many times more powerful.
Carycomix theorizes: "Brand might have wanted the Hellcat costume back, because they probably still had hopes of mass-producing female counterparts of the Manticore! If such is the case, the project would probably have been code-named "Sphynx" (what with Greek mythology describing these creatures as lionesses with human female heads)."
Manticore has a profile in the All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update#1.
MCP update by Markus Raymond.
The Manticore's design was obviously based on, but there are otherwise no direct connections to:
MANTICORE – Greek/Persian
Mythology. Body of a lion, head of a man (sometimes a lion’s head) and the
tail of a scorpion or dragon. In some cases it had a triple row of sharp
teeth. MANTIKORIAS. Not seen in the MU
and is also unconnected to:
MANTICORE MIRROR of the Hyborian era - formerly owned by Tuzun Thune, used by Olgerd Vladislav to heal his hand @ Savage Sword of Conan#58/3
Ghost Rider II#27 (December, 1977) - Jim Shooter (writer), Don Perlin (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Archie Goodwin (editor)
New Avengers Most Wanted Files (December, 2005)
Marvel Comics Presents II#5 (March, 2008) - Christos N. Gage (writer), Joyce Chin (artist), Andy Schmidt & John Barber (editors)
First Posted: 03/27/2003
Last updated: 07/18/2013
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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