Jaguar (Archie Comics)
Red Circle Comics
|First appearance||Adventures of the Jaguar #1, September 1961|
|Alter ego||Ralph Hardy|
|Abilities||enhanced strength, animal powers, telepathic control over animals, flight|
The Jaguar is a superhero first published in 1961 by Archie Comics. He was created by writer Robert Bernstein and artist John Rosenberger as part of Archie's "Archie Adventure Series". This happened prior to that comics line being camped up as part of their Mighty Comics imprint.
The Jaguar is zoologist Ralph Hardy. While on a dig in Peru, (Hardy, like most Silver Age heroes, is 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 was instantly transformed.
As The Jaguar, he possesses, 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, gives him near Superman-level invulnerability. He also has the Aquaman-style telepathic ability to mentally communicate with and command all animals, including those from alien worlds.
The Jaguar wears 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 has two small rocket packs on either side which gives him the power of supersonic flight. He wears no mask and looks exactly like Ralph Hardy, except that Hardy hadsa mustache, while The Jaguar does not. (Post-Silver Age comics artists tend to give the latter pointed ears and a more cat-like hairstyle, making him vaguely resemble a cross between the Sub-Mariner and the movie version of Wolverine.)
In many ways The Jaguar is a copy of earlier Archie Comics hero The Fly: magic belt instead of magic ring, powers of the animal kingdom rather than the insect kingdom, etc. The Jaguar first appeared two years after The Fly was introduced.
Unlike The Fly, however, The Jaguar is handsome and has many recurring romantic entanglements. These include the immortal feline sorceress Cat Girl, who had command over the cat kingdom, just as he ruled over the whole animal kingdom. (She was also known as The Sphinx and had originally battled The Fly, but it was quickly decided that she would be a more appropriate foe for The Jaguar.) There is also the green-skinned and white-haired undersea siren Kree-Nal, and Hardy's secretary Jill Ross. Like Pete Ross, she secretly knows that Hardy is her beloved hero The Jaguar and uses that knowledge to help him without him knowing it. Nor were these relationships static; in later stories, Jill left to study nursing so that she could better assist in Hardy's veterinary work.
Cat Girl lost her magic powers due to exposure to highly toxic strontium-90 from atomic testing, retaining only her telepathic mastery over cats. She took on the new mortal identity of jet-set socialite Lydia Fellin, whose "family fortune" was actually a vast treasure trove that she had accumulated over the centuries.
The Jaguar appeared in 15 issues of The Adventures of the Jaguar, as well as a backup feature in other Archie titles: 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, and 168. The Jaguar also appears in The Adventures of the Fly #23. When the "Archie Adventure Series" line was canceled and reborn as Archie's "camped up" 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. He was also 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 three heads: a bird, a lion, and a bull. Varigon had created the magic belt as a weapon to be worn by his mortal champion in the eternal battle against the scaly green lizard-headed S'ithh, Lord of the Reptiles, who wanted the dinosaurs to rule the Earth once again. The first person to have worn the belt in ancient times was an Incan woman.
A teenage female version of The Jaguar, written by William Messner-Loebs, was used in DC Comics' Impact revamp of the Archie superheroes. She is naive and good-hearted Maria DeGuzman, who came to North America from Rio de Janeiro to study at Elm Harbor University. To her surprise, she inherited from her late aunt the werewolf-like ability to transform into a large, muscular, barefoot and green-eyed Jaguar. Despite wearing a similar, somewhat skimpier skintight red outfit, unlike her male namesake, this ferocious feline's powers are limited to superhuman strength and agility combined with cat-like claws and senses. She eventually marries Impact's version of The Fly at the end of the Crucible miniseries.
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, a Brazilian man who could transform into a red tattoo-covered "werejaguar".
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.