Jaguar (Archie Comics)
Red Circle Comics
|First appearance||Adventures of the Jaguar #1, September 1961|
|Created by||Robert Bernstein
|Alter ego||Ralph Hardy|
|Team affiliations||Terrific Three
|Abilities||enhanced strength, animal powers, telepathic control over animals, flight|
The Jaguar is a superhero published by Archie Comics. He was created by writer Robert Bernstein and artist John Rosenberger as part of Archie's "Archie Adventure Series", before that line was camped up as part of their Mighty Comics line. He would actually appear two years after The Fly did.
The Jaguar is actually zoologist Ralph Hardy. While on a dig in Peru (Hardy, like most Silver Age heroes, was a man of many interests and talents including archeology), a giant serpent burst forth from the ground and began terrorizing the area. While the others fled Hardy followed a rare white jaguar into a ruined temple and found a series of cave drawings depicting the ancient Incas battling the same monster as well as a mystical "nucleon energy belt". The round golden buckle of the belt had the engraved image of a winged jaguar on the front and on the back an inscription which read: "He who loves the animal kingdom may wear this belt and be transformed into a human jaguar." Hardy put on the belt and instantly transformed into the Jaguar.
As the Jaguar he possessed, in addition to the expected feline abilities, all the powers of the animal kingdom only a thousand times more powerful (the oft-quoted magnified toughness of a rhinoceros' hide, for example, gave him near Superman level invulnerability), plus he had the Aquaman-style telepathic ability to mentally communicate with and command all animals including those from alien worlds.
The Jaguar wore a simple skintight scarlet bodysuit with a flared black collar and the stylized suggestion of a feline face (just the eyes, whiskers and open mouth) on the chest and jaguar pelt-patterned boots and nucleon belt, the latter with two small rocket packs on either side which gave him the power of supersonic flight. He wore no mask and looked exactly like Ralph Hardy, except that Hardy had a mustache and the Jaguar didn't (although post-Silver Age artists tend to give the latter pointed ears and a more cat ear-like hairstyle which make him vaguely resemble a cross between the Sub-Mariner and the movie version of Wolverine).
In many ways, the Jaguar was a copy of the Fly: magic belt instead of magic ring, powers of the animal kingdom rather than insect kingdom, etc.
Unlike the Fly, however, the handsome Jaguar had many recurring romantic interests, including the immortal feline sorceress Cat Girl who had command over the cat kingdom just as he ruled over the entire animal kingdom (also known as the Sphinx, she originally had fought the Fly, but it was quickly realized that she would make a more fitting foe for the Jaguar), the green-skinned and white-haired undersea siren Kree-Nal, and Hardy's secretary Jill Ross who, like Pete Ross, secretly knew that Hardy was her beloved hero the Jaguar and used that knowledge to help him without him knowing it. Nor were these relationships static, for in later stories Jill left to study to become a nurse so that she could better assist Hardy in the veterinary side of his work, and Cat Girl lost her magic powers due to exposure to Strontium 90 radiation from atomic testing, retaining only her telepathic mastery over cats as she took on the new mortal identity of jet-set socialite Lydia Fellin whose "family fortune" was actually the vast treasure trove that she had gathered over the centuries.
The Jaguar appeared in 15 issues of The Adventures of the Jaguar, as well as backup stories in several other Archie comics (Jughead Jones Comic Digest 7; Laugh Comics 127, 130, 131, 133, 135, 140-142, 144; Laugh Comics Digest 25, 27; Pep Comics 150, 152, 157, 159, 168), and would show up in The Adventures of the Fly #23. When the "Archie Adventure Series" line was canceled and camped up as Archie's Mighty Comics line, The Jaguar only made brief appearances in Mighty Crusaders #4 and 5. In #5, The Jaguar would team up with Mr. Justice and Steel Sterling as the "Terrific Three".
The Jaguar would again appear as part of Archie's Red Circle Comics revamp in the 1980s, as a founding member of the new Mighty Crusaders, and get a backup series in The Fly (issues 4-9). In this incarnation it was revealed that the source of the Jaguar's powers was the cherubim-like pre-human god Varigon, Lord of the Animals, a towering golden-winged being with the three heads of a bird, lion and bull who had created the magic belt as a weapon to be worn by his mortal champion in his eternal battle against the scaly green lizard-headed S'ithh, Lord of the Reptiles who wanted the dinosaurs to rule the Earth once more and that the first person to have worn the belt in ancient times had been an Incan woman. It's also later revealed that Ralph is the brother of Rose Raymond, the wife of fellow superhero, The Web.
A teenage female version of the Jaguar, written by William Messner-Loebs, was used in DC Comics' Impact revamp of the Archie superheroes. She was naive and good-hearted Maria DeGuzman who came to North America from Rio de Janeiro to study at Elm Harbor University when to her surprise she inherited from her late aunt the werewolf-like ability to transform into the large, muscular, barefoot and green-eyed Jaguar. Despite wearing a similar if somewhat skimpier skintight red outfit, however, unlike her male namesake in this ferocious feline form her powers were limited to superhuman strength and agility combined with cat-like claws and senses. She eventually "married" the Impact version of the Fly at the end of the Crucible mini-series.
In the aftermath of the continuity-altering Final Crisis, DC comics once again licensed the Red Circle heroes, this time choosing to bring them directly into the DC Universe. In March 2010, a new Jaguar was set to appear in The Shield #5 and is apparently a Brazilian male who can transform into a red tattoo-covered were-jaguar.
In New Crusaders, the role of the Jaguar in the short-lived Red Circle digital comics universe was passed to Ralph Hardy's young apprentice Ivette "Ivy" Velez when the shy Spanish-speaking orphan was given the cat-like golden helmet of Ai Apaec to become the savage new Jaguar.
- Timmons,Stan (w), Manna, Lou (p), Linsdley,Rex, Stone,Chic (i). "The Killing Hour" Blue Ribbon Comics 14 (December 1984)
- "DC Universe: The Source » Blog Archive » Editor Rachel Gluckstern on the next wave of Red Circle characters". Dcu.blog.dccomics.com. 2009-12-18. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
- Mighty Crusader's entry on The Jaguar
- International Catalog of Superheroes' entry on The Jaguar
- Jaguar at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012.