As we have seen, Archie/MLJ Comics started out in the 1940s, and has been active in nearly every decade between then and now.  Of course, for their first new hero of the ’60s, things might have gotten just a teeny bit…  unusual.  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Adventures Of The Jaguar #1 awaits!

ADVENTURES OF THE JAGUAR #1

Writer: Robert Bernstein
Penciler: John Rosenberger
Inker: John Rosenberger
Colorist: Uncredited
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Publisher: Archie Comics
Cover Price: 10 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $400.00

Previously in Adventures Of The Jaguar: The Golden Age of Comics is almost universally pegged as beginning in 1938 with Action Comics #1, but sources vary as to when it actually ends.  I usually peg it for around 1949, when the superheroes of the previous ten years started to fall away to be replaced by romance, cowboys and science fiction, as well as the horror books that emblemize the early 1950s.  By 1961, though, there was a blooming superhero renaissance, as DC had successfully relaunched The Flash and Green Lantern with new takes, the Justice League had barely come into existence, while upstart Marvel Comics was cooking up a new feature called The Fantastic Four, which would hit the stands in late 1961.  This led Archie Comics, home of The Fly, The Comet and other Golden Age greats, to debut their newest superstar in this issue.  We open up in the jungles of Peru, with a big cat in distress…

Enter Ralph Hardy, two-fisted all-american zoologist and hipster icon (it’s the pencil-thin mustache and plaids), who refuses to let even a savage jaguar likely to kill him die on his watch.  Ralph saves the creature and, miraculously, doesn’t get a single scratch.  His assistant marvels that the fauna of the world love him as much as he loves them.  After the creature has escaped safely, Ralph returns to base, glimpsing a rare white jaguar (which isn’t really a thing, as far as I can tell; jaguars are the sole member of their genus, Panthera, and my cursory research indicates that all of them are spotted) right before a mysterious tremor begins to rock the Casbah jungle…

Seeking shelter inside the ancient Incan temple, where his intellectual curiosity gets the best of him, and he begins tracking the jaguar’s footprints within the structure, leading him to a strange altar, containing an even stranger artifact…

Translating the inscription, Ralph discovers a stunning instruction: “To be transformed into a human jaguar, with supreme power over animals everywhere in this universe, the wearer of this magic belt need only say…  The Jaguar!”  The bearer of the power item, identified as a nucleon (presumably a neologism combining “nuclear” and “nonsense”) energy belt will even be able to fly.  But why would the Incans have needed such a device?

I’ll be honest: This story doesn’t put a lot of effort into making the details seem highly plausible, but it does reference the legends of Pegasus and the Sphinx to make a flying jaguar make sense.  Following the directions, our Mister Hardy transforms into Archie Comics’ new super-hero sensation, rocking the crimson and jaguar-print, accented with gold and…  tiny rockets.

Because theming…

To his credit, Jag is utterly, ridiculously powerful, commanding an army of armadillos to dig a massive pit, throwing the creature into it and channeling “the power of a million elephants” to drop a mountain on the serpent, sealing it forever and also calling into question the whole ‘friend to all animals, wouldn’t harm one ever’ part of his curriculum vitae…

He’s not wrong, either, as this issue contains three full Jaguar tales, each one showcasing his excellent design, utter lack of internal logic and cute, whiskery chest symbol.  In his second story, Ralph is once again caught unawares, taking refuge in a cave against a roaring storm, only to find himself in the middle of a ring of hungry leopards…

Once again, Ralph shows that his persona of never harming the slightest hair on an animal’s head may be more of a loose guidelines than a hard-and-fast rule, slapping down the errant leopards before telepathically calming them into a pride (or whatever one calls a group of leopards) of purring kitties.  Suddenly, ALIENS ATTACK!

No, seriously…

The aliens have been collaborating with one Professor Van Lesk, a collaborator who wants to help subjugate humanity in return for a piece of the leadership action and is willing to kill The Jaguar to do it.  Of course, Jaguar is more concerned about the lives of the innocent animals of Terra Firma, even though he has telepathically commanded a pack of gorillas into the line of alien fire…

Professor Van Lesk rushes out to meet the aliens, only to have his secret revealed by way of a classic Silver Age comic device: The ultra-realistic, perfectly featured rubber mask, hiding his true nature…

…as an alien spy!

Suddenly revealed to be a Korduan himself, Van Lesk is killed by his own people, and once again, The Jaguar flies away, leaving a trail of chaos and murder in his wake, proving that sufficient might can triumph over any evil and also the forces of coherent plotting.  Having defeated a dragon from underground and aliens, The Jaguar’s next foe is even more terrifying…

Sorta…  Actually, this issue features a trio of ’50s monster-movie menaces in an alien, a lizard-monster and a radioactive beastie brought up to giant-size, which makes me wonder if future episodes will feature invisible men, blobs, things and perhaps the occasional Communist.  I honestly can’t tell you, though, as even though I own a big swatch of 1950s/1960s Archie hero comics, I can’t really recall any of them with clarity.  Adventures Of The Jaguar #1 is, like many of the Archie hero comics, not particularly memorable, but it is very well-drawn, Jaguar himself looks amazing, and the villains, no matter how goofy, look mighty villainous, leaving the book with a sorta okay 2.5 out of 5 stars overall.  Jag is over-powered, the plotting is nonexistent, and the dialogue tends to repeat itself, but if nothing else, it’s a window into the doldrums of the early Silver Age…

As we have seen, Archie/MLJ Comics started out in the 1940s, and has been active in nearly every decade between then and now.  Of course, for their first new hero of the '60s, things might have gotten just a teeny bit...  unusual.  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Adventures Of The Jaguar #1 awaits! ADVENTURES OF THE JAGUAR #1 Writer: Robert Bernstein Penciler: John Rosenberger Inker: John Rosenberger Colorist: Uncredited Editor: Victor Gorelick Publisher: Archie Comics Cover Price: 10 Cents Current Near-Mint Pricing: $400.00 Previously in Adventures Of The Jaguar: The Golden Age of Comics is almost universally pegged as…
Featuring Archie's best-looking, best-designed hero in nonsensical, drab and forgettable adventures, making for a book that's best appreciated for its place in history.

ADVENTURES OF THE JAGUAR #1

Writing
Art
Coloring

Featuring Archie's best-looking, best-designed hero in nonsensical, drab and forgettable adventures, making for a book that's best appreciated for its place in history.

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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1 Comment

  1. OverMaster
    June 12, 2017 at 2:04 pm — Reply

    I wonder if this superhero inspired the creation of the infamous and similarly big cat-and-Precolombine civilization-themed flying Pumaman?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pumaman

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