Art by Clayton Crain.
|First appearance||The Amazing Spider-Man #256 (Sept. 1984)|
|Created by||Tom DeFalco|
|Alter ego||Thomas Fireheart|
|Team affiliations||Daily Bugle|
|Abilities||Extraordinary hand to hand combatant|
Access to highly advanced technology
Use of personal customized Lear jet
In Puma form:
Superhuman strength, speed, agility, stamina, durability, flexibility, reflexes/reactions, intelligence, coordination, balance and endurance
Superhumanly acute senses
Razor sharp claws and fangs
Puma (Thomas Fireheart) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is depicted as a villain initially, although he gained a great respect for Spider-Man and became his occasional ally.
In the Puma's earliest appearances, he acted as a mercenary, and an antagonist to Spider-Man, but soon came to respect him. Puma was then depicted as an ally of Spider-Man, assisting him from time to time in his appearances in The Spectacular Spider-Man series. He was associated with the superhero team known as the Outlaws for a time, and was later one of the main characters in the MODOK's 11 limited series.
Fictional character biography
Puma's real name is Thomas Fireheart, and he is of Native American descent. The tribe he belongs to (located near Hartsdale, New Mexico; Marvel Westerns: Western Legends suggests that the tribe may be the Kisani, as one of Puma's ancestors belonged to that tribe and lived at Lost Mesa) has had an ancient prophecy of the coming of a powerful being who might destroy the world for generations. Long ago, they began making preparations for this coming doom. They used mystic ceremonies and selective breeding to create a perfect warrior. Thomas Fireheart is the latest in this line of men. Though he never believed in the prophecy, he took his duties as protector of his tribe seriously, and has strived his whole life to be the best he could be, mastering his ability to turn into a powerful humanoid mountain lion werecat. He also trained in Martial Arts in Japan under a man named Master Muramoto.
Very intelligent, and with a good business sense, he became owner and CEO of Fireheart Enterprises. Headquartered near his tribe in Hartsdale, Arizona, it is a multinational corporation involved in many different endeavors, with regional offices around the world. Becoming bored with corporate life, he began to seek greater challenges, and offered his skills as Puma for sale.
He was operating as a mercenary and had been hired by the Rose to kill Spider-Man, but was thwarted by the Black Cat. He again attempted to attack Spider-Man, but changed his mind and departed when he witnessed Spider-Man saving innocent bystanders.
During the "Secret Wars II" storyline, Puma later confronted the Beyonder in New York; however, the Beyonder simply transported him to downtown Tokyo. Puma became enraged at the death of Master Muramoto as the inadvertent result of the Beyonder's actions. Puma reached a state of "harmonious enlightenment with the universe" and was imbued with immeasurable power. However, doubting his own senses, Puma lost the mystical power just as he attacked the Beyonder. Puma was able to learn Spider-Man's secret identity, Peter Parker, thanks to his enhanced senses, and now felt he owed him a debt of honor as a result of the Beyonder affair. He offered Peter Parker a job at his company while Peter was on his honeymoon in France; however, Peter declined the offer. Puma later attempted to clear Spider-Man's name of a crime he didn't commit, and first encountered Silver Sable and The Outlaws.
When the mutant powers of Charles Little Sky, a kinsman of Fireheart's (and the man later known as Portal), first manifested, Fireheart tried to help his fellow tribesman better understand his powers. Rejecting Fireheart's offers of aid, Portal fled to Ellis Island where Fireheart caught up to him. When Portal's powers activated again and returned the U-Foes to Earth, Fireheart was forced to team up with the Avengers as Puma to protect Little Sky, helping to defeat the villains.
Puma then battled Spider-Man in New York. Fireheart actually purchased 51% of the Daily Bugle, made Robbie Robertson publisher, and began a pro-Spider-Man campaign in the publication, in an attempt to pay off his debt of honor. During this time, he was nearly killed in an attack by the Hobgoblin, but was saved by Spider-Man.
Fireheart agreed to join Spider-Man's rag-tag superhero group called the Outlaws, along with several other Spider-Man adversaries-turn-allies (including Sandman, Rocket Racer, and the Prowler). The group clashed with the Avengers, until it was revealed that both groups were actually being manipulated by the shape-changing Space Phantom, whom Thomas exposed and defeated.
Fireheart's Puma persona later consumed him, and he attempted to assassinate a US Senator. Spider-Man stopped him, but not before the NYPD shot Fireheart several times. The Black Crow cast a magical spell removing all knowledge of Spider-Man's secret identity from Fireheart's mind. He was nursed back to mental and physical health by another character named Nocturne (not the Exiles character Nocturne).
Puma was seen in the Bloodsport competition. He made it to the semi-final round, but was defeated by Wolverine.
He was next seen teaming up with Spider-Man and the Black Cat to stop Stegron from "de-evolving" the population of New York. After this Puma began a relationship with the Black Cat (as shown they were both in bed) although he notices Felicia may still have feelings for Peter Parker.
After the events of "Civil War," he was seen helping Spider-Man escort Prowler out of the Bar With No Name. He has also been seen helping Black Cat from the sidelines. She has decided to help Peter Parker, who is on the run after the events of the Civil War. Together, Puma and Black Cat neutralize the drunken rampage of the Rhino, mostly through sheer bluffing. Puma also attended training at Camp Hammond.
Fireheart was then accused of federal bribery (which so far appears to be a frame job) and his assets frozen; forbidden by his tribe from taking any contract kills, he has joined MODOK's 11 to get the cash he needs to defend himself in court. However, this meant disobeying the tribal council's order to remain on the reservation and so he's had his puma powers stripped from him, leaving him a regular human right in the middle of the mission. When deciding to rescue the Living Laser, who had earlier saved his life, he had an epiphany that defending one's own people is what the Puma Totem is meant to do, and he regained his powers in the process. Or so he thinks — actually Deadly Nightshade had secretly injected him with "werewolf serum". Puma has gained his cash from MODOK and has taken up an offer from Nightshade to help his legal defense; any long-term effects from the serum are unknown.
In a prelude to the "Hunted" storyline, Puma is among the animal-themed characters captured by Taskmaster and Black Ant for Kraven the Hunter's upcoming Great Hunt. Puma was seen watching the fight between Spider-Man and Scorpion until the Hunter-Bots arrive. Puma was seen fleeing the Hunter-Bots. When Vulture gathers the other animal-themed villains together, Puma was present when Spider-Man mentions the loss of Gibbon and Mandrill while Toad mentions the loss of Man-Bull. Puma later joined Vulture and the other animal-themed characters in fighting the Hunter-Bots. When Kraven the Hunter tells Arcade to lower the forcefield, Puma and the other animal-themed characters are freed.
Powers and abilities
Puma possesses a number of superhuman attributes that are a result of a combination of genetic engineering and mysticism. Thomas Fireheart is the latest in a line of Native Americans that were specially matched and bred to produce a perfect human being. That genetic manipulation was enhanced by an unknown supernatural process through which his tribe endowed him with magical abilities.
Fireheart undergoes a physical transformation through intense concentration that includes an increase in his height and weight, his body becoming covered with a fine tan fur, and razor sharp fangs and claws.
Transformation into this form also grants Fireheart superhuman physical attributes of catlike strength, speed, intelligence, agility, durability, flexibility, reflexes/reactions, coordination, balance and endurance, like his namesake.
Puma also possesses superhumanly acute senses. His sense of touch is enhanced to the extent that he is able to feel the impressions of ink on a piece of paper. His vision and hearing are enhanced in a similar manner, enabling him to both see and hear sights and sounds that ordinary humans can't and to see and hear at much greater distances. Puma also possesses a superhumanly acute sense of smell that he uses to track a target by scent.
He is also an extraordinary hand-to-hand combatant, having received training in numerous martial arts disciplines, especially in the martial arts used by Master Muramoto. As head of Fireheart Enterprises, Puma has access to highly advanced technology as well as a personal staff of trained investigators that often provide him information on enemies and potential enemies. In his identity as Thomas Fireheart, Puma is a very wealthy, skilled and respected businessman, with a master's degree in Business Administration. He has a personal customized Lear jet for long-distance travel.
While some of Puma's activities are morally dubious, he is not truly evil and is not a criminal. His primary concerns are his own personal advancement and the welfare of his people, and he has come to Spider-Man's aid as often as he has tried to harm him.
On Earth-001 during the "Spider-Verse" storyline, Fireheart (a character that resembles Puma) is a member of the Hounds who are servants of Verna of the Inheritors. He accompanies Verna and the other Hounds when they head to Earth-1610 to hunt Miles Morales. He is killed by the Superior Spider-Man, and his allies Spider-Punk and Assassin Spider-Man.
During the "Secret Wars" storyline, a version of Puma lives in the Battleworld version of the Deadlands. He is among the zombies that attack a strike force that was assembled by Crossbones of Earth-15513 to hunt Red Skull of Earth-18191.
In other media
Puma makes an unspeaking appearance in the Spider-Man episode "Take Two." This version is a member of the Wild Pack and wears a special gauntlet on his left hand that extends its claws. He accompanies the Wild Pack into stealing the Neuro Cortex from Horizon High for the anonymous client, which leads to a fight between the Wild Pack and Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus. Spider-Man defeats Puma using his web attack, who is then arrested by police alongside the rest of the Wild Pack.
Puma appears as a boss in the Game Boy Advance and PC versions of the Spider-Man 2 game, voiced by Dee Bradley Baker. He and his goons are hired by Doctor Octopus to lure Spider-Man away from Mary Jane Watson, so that he could kidnap her. Puma has one of his goons steal Mary Jane's car and Spider-Man follows him to a warehouse, where he is confronted by the villain and the rest of his cronies. After fighting through Puma's goons, Spider-Man confronts the villain in a small room, where the two have a brief fight, before Puma escapes by jumpin out of a window, but Spider-Man gives chase. After some more brief battles across rooftops and at a fountain, Spider-Man finally corners Puma at a construction site, where the villain reveals Doc Ock's plan and how he was a mere distraction for Spider-Man. After being defeated for the final time, Puma tries to escapes, but Spider-Man webs him up to a crane and leaves him for the police, stopping the villain for good.
- Brian Cronin (May 13, 2011). Comic Book Resources (ed.). "Comic Book Legends Revealed #313". Retrieved May 18, 2011.
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