“There’s no such thing as bad characters, just bad writers.” – Unknown
It’s the truth. Especially in a medium where characters rarely have one set writer, sometimes not even one at a time, the quality of a character is largely decided by how they’re written. But sometimes a character needs a little more effort to work; characters with no set goal or motivation, a lack of personality or simply an outdated concept. Tigra is one of those characters. She never struck me as interesting in anything I’ve read featuring her; She was either just kind of a generic urban vigilante with a cat theme or caught up in the plights of some society of cat people with a convoluted history that I couldn’t care less about. But recently Marvel seems to have been making people more aware of the character, by making her the one who betrayed Captain America in Civil War, the person the Hood beat the crap out of to set an example in New Avengers and as one of the characters in the House of M: Avengers miniseries. So if you’re going to bring her to the readers’ attention, the least you can do is make her compelling. That scene in New Avengers was the first time I’d felt any sort of emotion towards the character, but it hasn’t been followed up on so far and it’s unclear if it will be (although I’m still holding out since Bendis tends to write stories with a slow burn). So here are some things I would like to see happening with the character to make me interested in reading about her:
- Politely ignore the cat people stuff. It’s unnecessary baggage and too goofy to take seriously in this day and age. There was a Tigra mini a couple of years back by Christina Z and Mike Deodato Jr. that did exactly this. It wasn’t very good because the writing was too cheesy, but at least it tried to do something new with the character and give her a place in the universe. Oh yeah, she became a cop at the end of that mini. That was sorta interesting. Whatever happened to that?
- Change the name while you’re at it. “Tigra” makes it sound like she should a member of the Thundercats. Either go for the Luke Cage angle and get rid of the name altogether (“Greer Grant” has a nice enough ring to it), or change it back to the more generic yet elegantly simple “The Cat”.
- Change the outfit. It makes her look silly. Yeah, I know, she’s confident about her sexuality, blablabla. Lots of people (real and fictional) are confident about their sexuality, yet they generally don’t walk around in a bikini all the time. Besides, we all know the real reason she’s dressed like that. It’s not even a practical outfit, since very rarely is it drawn as giving any sort of support. The only thing it’s good for is removing the impact from dramatic scenes. She doesn’t need a superhero outfit anyway, much in the same way Wolverine doesn’t need one. She has no secret identity anymore and her look is distinctive enough to not warrant a flashy costume. Like I mentioned, she’s supposed to be a police officer now, so put her in a police uniform.
- Yeah, she’s a police officer! That’s one of the things that always appealed to me about Savage Dragon, that he was a cop who got super powers but chose to stay a cop in favor of becoming a generic superhero. Focus on that idea and it’d both give her a unique role in the universe and be the perfect opportunity to show the Initiative in action; Superheroes actively working together with the police force. And, hey, holy crap, guess who’s the new top dog in Marvel’s criminal underworld? The Hood. The guy she’d have a very personal reason for going after. This stuff practically writes itself.
In fact, this can all be brought back to simply remembering that she’s a cop. That one story element from a five year old miniseries suddenly makes the character relevant again. This really isn’t that hard.