Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tigra, Tigra Spending Spree/Demon Reds Strike to be Free: A Look at Avengers #214!

I know it's hard to believe in this day
of static group portrait covers where the
characters pose with "attitude," but
this scene actually occurs on the pages
inside the comic! Radical idea. Now look
more closely...

YAY! It's Tigra during her tailless early
days! The guys all look angry or
concerned but Tigra looks... befuddled
and/or frightened. She's so tiny it's hard to
tell which. Either way, it fits her characterization
in this and subsequent issues.

Jim Shooter's visionary political epic Avengers #214 begins with Capt. America working out over 30 years of sexual needs repressed by a stint inside an iceberg. Cap KA-WHAMS! the hell out of some helpless training dummies while rookie Avenger Tigra tries to distract him enough to cause injury.

A cat-girl in a bikini with
a tiger-tooth belt talks to a bald
guy in a butler suit about a man
who calls himself Yellowjacket,
creates evil robots and slaps his wife.
And this is the normal part of the story...

Eventually, she gets bored with the lack of attention and decides to recap the previous issues for Avengers butler Jarvis. Jarvis is too polite to tell Tigra he was also there and already knew all this and really could give a shit because there's all that Iron Man armor to polish, Thor's afternoon tea to brew... and also because he suddenly realizes it's imperative he take a cold shower at once. Because Tigra is an amazing combination of several fringe fetishes. Paul Simon once wrote a song about her: "50 Ways to Get Your Perv On."

She's 1) a cat-girl; 2) a furry; 3) wearing a bikini; 4) the bikini has a skull decoration (between her... oh, you were looking there already), so it must be mall punk-wear from Hot Topic; 5) she's a superhero; 6) she's a 2-dimensional fictional character so you can imagine her doing any filthy, disgusting thing you wish; and 7) she's hyper-sexualized as one of her personality quirks. She's the Suicide Girls line-up condensed into a single stripey-furred comic book character.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the Great American West, leather-butch Johnny Blaze, harboring Ghost Rider (the Spirit of Vengeance), has been hanging out on a mesa, pondering some deeply existential crisis. Suddenly, Warren Worthington III comes roaring by in his Ferrari, a beautiful woman (possibly a model who regularly snorts coke off mirrors in relatively secluded corners of Studio 54 with Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol) riding shotgun, totally pissing Blaze off…

We here at When Comic Books Ruled
the Earth can no longer stand idly by
and allow the indoctrination of our comics
reading youth by the atheistic Bolshevik hordes.
I have in my possession a list of 57 known
communist comic book characters...

In a Marxist sort of way. I guess this proves Ghost Rider is completely evil, because only a demon from hell would decide a rich guy and his hot girlfriend on a date are oppressing the proletariat, said proletariat consisting solely of motorcycle jock Spirits of Vengeance.

Why should some jackass have a Ferrari and a gorgeous blond cokehead when Blaze doesn’t even have enough to eat? He briefly waxes politically over the social injustice of Worthington’s flaunting of his status as one of the haves. It’s like Ghost Rider is a demon-possessed Eugene V. Debs all of a sudden. Filled with pro-labor activist rage, he takes off after Warren and friend on his flaming People’s Revolutionary Motorcycle.

What Ghost Rider fails to take into account is his own possession of a motorcycle, when there are Latin American camposinos who are lucky to have bicycles or any mode of transportation. Are you not also part of the regime of unchecked two-wheeled capitalism, Ghost Rider? Give a man a flaming skull for a head and you feed him for a day; teach a man with a flaming skull for a head how to ride a flaming motorcycle and you feed his lust for vengeance for a lifetime.

No time for political debate! AVENGERS ASSEMBLE! Capt. America, Thor, Iron Man and Tigra fly out west to confront Ghost Commie.

But before the fight, Tigra must fulfill the urge all cat-girls feel, deep in their milk-and-fish-fed bones: the compulsion to shop. While the men run off to accomplish the mission that's their entire raison d'etre for coming to Arizona, Tigra decides to go a spree using the Avengers’ expense account.

"We'll scan the area, Tigra. You
go pick yourself up something trashy
yet tasteful for the after-fight orgy."

It’s not just any shopping trip. It’s a shopping trip full of regional snobbery as Tigra displays her reliance on stereotypes over empirical observation. She's so intent on confirming her shallow expectations, she totally ignores one woman’s exasperated “Oy vey!" Because in Tigra's limited worldview, there are no Jews in Arizona.

"I'm Tigra. Any of you backwards-ass
rubes know how to read? Any of you
married to your cousins?"

Not content merely to be the embodiment of one set of fringe fetishes, Tigra decides to appeal to yet another offbeat sexual demographic- now she’s a furry cowgirl straight out of an early 90s Madonna video when the Material Girl was ruining sex for everyone by running it into the ground and making it boring and commonplace.

Strangely, as soon as Tigra appeared
in her cowgirl outfit, Mr. Greenjeans'
hands went into his pockets and his
breathing got all funny. Cap didn't
even notice.

Now appropriately dressed to face the pissed off Socialist Worker of Vengeance, Tigra jumps on the back of Capt. America’s pro-capitalism motorcycle. At last, we have our two diametrically opposed political and economic systems in direct conflict- and they’re finally equally mounted, American Chopper style. In this way, they shall settle once and for all the central conflict of the 20th century!

East versus West! Which will prove supreme?

Communism and satanism in
a startling twin triumph over good!

YIKES! Ghost Commie proceeds to burn the living shit out of everyone… by burning them! With fire! He burns Iron Man’s face, he burns Capt. America and the nearly naked Tigra while they speed around on the motorcycle, he burns the petit bourgeoisie and their running dog lackeys…

You win this round, Socialism… But if Ronald Reagan’s deficit-spending reliance on trillion-dollar defense budgets has taught us anything, it's that your kind can never triumph against the power of the free market and our all-powerful military-industrial complex. We’ll be back, to wear you down in a long-term war of economic attrition! And failing that, it’s Nuke City! YEEHAAWWWW!

All the while, Tigra continues to earn her hero cred. Now she indulges in the cat-girl’s other vice… cringing, fur-covered cowardice. Notice how Capt. America can admit to fear, while for Tigra there’s nothing but shame and self-recrimination. Although come on, Cap… we know you’re bullshitting her.

Spending the Avengers' money,
backing out of a fight. You've
come a long way, baby!

You were in WWII, for god’s sake! I’m sure the carnage you saw there was much worse than some chump in black leather tossing fire at you. No one here lost a leg, no bodies were blown into pink mist, the ground’s not littered with thousands of broken lads crying for their mothers, blood on the snow or in the mud. There aren’t any cities blasted into rubble where shell-shocked refugees pick their way through the devastation and wounded dogs howl forlornly.

For that matter, neither you nor Tigra seem particularly worse for wear.

But Tigra sums it up best when she thinks, “What a man!” Yes, Cap is quite a man. And being a man is much more than any bikini-and-cowboy hat wearing cat-girl can ever hope to be. At this point Tigra doesn’t know whether she wants to sleep with Cap or be him.

Or maybe it's Iron Man who's most
impressed with Cap's Hemingwayesque
"grace under pressure."

And that’s ultimately one of the many lessons Jim Shooter teaches us in this story of politics, superheroic action and frivolous shopping sprees- Men never think twice about mastering their fears and always actively seek to solve problems, socialism can defeat capitalism unless we counter it with force… and cat-girls are cowardly, bigoted, self-absorbed, penis-envying spendthrifts.

Wow... all this random, nonsensical crap was only 50 cents! Nowadays, random, nonsensical crap costs 3 bucks. Make Mine 1980s Marvel!

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