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White Tiger #5

Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2007
By: Ray Tate



"New Powers"

Writer: Tamora Pierce & Timothy Liebe
Artists: Phil Briones(p), Don Hillsman(i), Chris Sotomayor(c)
Publisher: Marvel

Previously in White Tiger, Angela Del Toro, the eponymous star, of the book took drastic measures when bitten by the new Cobra. She laid her amulets on the bite wound and seemed to unleash the lightning, so to speak.

This issue opens with the consequences of her actions. Once again, I am just tickled by Tamora Pierce’s and Timothy Liebe’s writing skills and knowledge of how comic book universes function. The “lightning” turns out to unleash either one or two powers. We definitely learn that Angela can now blend her body and her costume to her surroundings.

Remember how I complained about the non-seamy elements in “Sins of the Past?” One protest I issued was that the children of the Green Goblin and Gwen Stacy had overly convenient powers that did match any of those of the father. Angela’s new power derives from the tiger.

Tigers evolved their striped markings because they aided in their survival. The markings create an optical illusion that helps conceal them in high grasses as they hunt. The magical tiger amulets have given Angela a much broader ability, but it makes sense given the tiger as the familiar.

Pierce and Liebe employ Angela’s power in numerous ways in the story. First and foremost, the power can act under conscious or subconscious desires. Angela has been missing three days-ironically metafictional given the books lag-time in reaching the stands. The reason for this is that she blended with a rooftop making it impossible for “Daredevil,” as well as Cobra, to find her. She next discovers the limitations of her power. She can only blend her body and her costume into the surroundings. The scene where she tries to camouflage a jogging suit as well nicely keeps her mortal, identifies her as a novice hero and shows off her quick ability to adapt to bad situations.

The second possible power involves her visiting the dead. In the opener, she seems to have a confab with the original White Tiger, her uncle Hector. This could all be in her head, but it’s just possible the authors are commenting about the traditional connections between cats and the supernatural as well as the dead. In any case, the scene accomplishes numerous things simultaneously. It establishes the connection between the two heroes for those who picked up White Tiger late in the game. It examines the differences between the two. It plausibly shows Angela’s vulnerabilities and displays her love for her Uncle.

“Daredevil” finds Angela, as she slowly comes out of camouflage, on the rooftop. Here she confronts Danny Rand a.k.a. Iron Fist. His reasons for donning the Daredevil costume make sense, and once again strengthen the bonds of family, a just thread in the book given the legacy of the star character.

Pierce and Liebe remember Danny Rand as being something of a misfit, and it pleased me to no end that he screws up royally in White Tiger. The characterization of Danny Rand however has always been that he tries his best and does what he thinks is right. These character traits almost always create his problems. In trying to cover for Angela’s disappearance he leaves enough breadcrumbs for her co-workers to deduce her identity.

This particular mistake opens up several doors. First, Pierce and Liebe explore the super-hero element of secret identity. What Danny did was a betrayal of the highest order. Angela in turn unleashes her anger. The mistake gives Pierce and Liebe the opportunity to evolve a terrific little moment in the locker room that allows Briones to show Angela’s power; her push at Danny sends him flying across the room. It also gives authors the opportunity to draw upon the cohesiveness of the Marvel Universe. Luke Cage refers to an off-panel scene where the street-level heroes connected to the Tiger tried to explain to Danny why he was headed for Ooopsville, U.S.A. We saw in a previous issue the tail end of one of these conversations between Spidey and Iron Fist as Daredevil. These are moments unlikely ever to play again in a now shattered Marvel Universe.

Liebe and Pierce use the unification of Marvel to as well affect the plot. Another surprise guest star appears in White Tiger, but this time the hero interferes with Angela’s quest to thwart Chaeyi’s counterfeit passport scheme. This scenario gives Briones the leave to capture the cat in action. In all honesty, I don’t know much about the guest character, but the authors’ give me a short hand in the dialogue to provide the basics.

At first when I was reading White Tiger, I was under the impression it was just good, solid writing that I’ve come to expect from Pierce and Liebe. It becomes great at the point when Sano-the killer of the Tiger’s former FBI partner enters the picture. He accosts Angela in the park and does something supremely arrogant and stupid that fits his character, but Angela’s very subtly using the Tiger’s speed and agility to counter Sano’s stupidity. Also, the authors upend a cliché about a woman’s handbag.

Angela takes the wet route to escape Sano’s continuing stupid actions, and Liebe and Pierce have a perfect plot twist based on what I thought was a throw way gag ready for the cliffhanger. The presence of this plot twist nicely summarizes all the strengths of Liebe’s and Pierce’s comprehension of the shared universe, the mechanics of writing and what’s simply cool.



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