Joanne Tumulo is a fictional character, created for The Cat comic book and Marvel Comics. Dr. Tumulo first appeared in The Cat # 1 in November 1972.
Joanne Tumulo was a professor at the University of Chicago. According to one of the Owl's henchmen, posing as her nephew, Arthur Tumulo, Dr. Tumulo dropped out of the family years before. She had wanted no part of their munitions factory, or the traditional female role they expected her to play. According to the Balkatar of the Cat People, Dr. Tumulo combined a driving scientific curiosity with dreams of past glories. She labored for years on her private project, which was designed to give humans the powers of the Cat People through artificial means. Note: both of these sources are suspect.
The doctor hired her former physics pupil, Greer Nelson, as her assistant. Greer, recently widowed by her policeman husband Bill, had been unable to find employment. The doctor gave her new confidence, and she returned to college as well. After several months, Dr. Tumulo described a private experiment she planned. The doctor's work sought to "help any woman achieve her full mental and physical potential, despite the handicaps society placed on her."
Dr. Tumulo had done some work on the "nervous system and motor responses." This brought her to the attention of Malcolm Donalbain, a wealthy eccentric with a severe case of haphephobia. There was nothing she could do for him, but he became fascinated with her human potential experiment. Out of financial desperation, Dr. Tumulo accepted his funding. Greer was to be the first subject, until Donalbain interfered. The doctor didn't trust Donalbain's test subject, Shirlee Bryant, and had Greer secretly undertake the experiment as well.
All Greer's faculties were improved. Her physical strength and agility, her mental prowess, and intuition were boosted. Conversely, Shirlee's results worried Dr. Tumulo. Worried about side effects, she went to Donalbain's headquarters to put an end to his involvement. There, she clandestinely observed Shirlee trying out a yellow-and-blue "cat" uniform. The blonde was to be the prototype for a secret army of superwomen who would work in Donalbain's health clubs and carry out his plans. Donalbain talked Shirlee into wearing a special studded blue collar. His will-nullifier would be issued to all his trainees, reducing them to mindless minions. "Yes, Mr. Donalbain...I am quite ready to do as you wish," she agreed. Without regard for her own safety, Shirlee followed Donalbain's orders, climbing six stories above the floor using clawlike devices built into the costume's gloves and boots. She fell to her death. Fleeing, Dr. Tumulo stumbled across a closetful of "cat" outfits and took one as evidence of Donalbain's scheme.
Dr. Tumulo returned to her lab and related the events she had witnessed. Greer left her to retrieve a some belongings to stay with the distraught scientist. She was gone long enough for Donalbain's henchmen to set of an explosion which destroyed the lab and critically injure Dr. Tumulo. The only thing not destroyed was a safe, containing the "cat" costume. Greer took it.
Greer couldn't help but appreciate the strange garb. Drawing on the cat-eared mask, she found that the folded hyperbolic horns molded into the cowl enhanced her hearing. The eye-coverings produced superior night vision. Recalling Shirlee's cat-like climb, she flexed the proper muscles to extend the retractable steel claws built into the gloves and boots. When the muscles relaxed, the claws retracted. She donned the costume the doctor had appropriated and set out to bring him to justice. Adapting quickly, Greer became "The Cat" in the time it took her to climb and leap from building to building across the city.
Donalbain was surprised to see another woman in Shirlee's uniform, but used a soporific gas to subdue the brunette. After boasting about his plan, he had one of his henchmen attempt to place a will-nullifier around Greer's neck. She broke free and escaped, hiding in the air ducts. Later, she emerged in the lab and wrecked Donalbain's copy of Dr. Tumulo's equipment, accidentally setting fire to his headquarters.
With Donalbain out of the way, Greer (still dressed as the Cat), made her way to Dr. Tumulo's hospital. When she reached its rooftop, she had to fight off more henchmen. They belonged to the Owl, an old Daredevil foe who had relocated from New York. The villain slaughtered his own men, rather than let them be captured, and escaped in his helicopter. Inside, and out of costume, Greer met Dr. Tumulo's attorney, Ben Richards, and her nephew, Arthur.
The next day, Greer arrived to see an ambulance taking Dr. Tumulo away. She followed in her convertible, eventually losing the ambulance in the warehouse district. The Owl's gunmen captured Greer and brought her inside. The Owl revealed that Arthur was actually one of his henchmen, Broussard, and that he was going to drain the doctor's memories to tapes, just as he had other scientists, artists, and businessmen. With his accumulated knowledge, the Owl could dominate the economy and become a king-maker. They locked Greer in a closet until they could deal with her later, which gave Greer a chance to change back into her catsuit. While she was battling the Owl, Broussard decided he'd had enough of the Owl and would download the knowledge tapes for his own use. The pistol shot he fired at the Owl went wild, striking the machinery and overloading his brain. The Owl fled, leaving Greer with the helpless Dr. Tumulo.
About this time, a female assasin killed one of the candidates for mayor of Chicago, and Greer trailed her to New York. There, she teamed with Spider-Man to defeat the Man-Killer.
Back in Chicago, Greer moved Dr. Tumulo to a house in the country. Since they had a day nurse, Greer took Ben Richards up on his offer to take her scuba diving in Lake Michigan. There, her hypersensitive hearing detected a pinging sound. She lifted Ben's key from his pocket and returned in his boat that night to investigate. She was run over by a cabin cruiser, and the crew of that boat were puzzled to pull a woman dressed in a cat outfit from the lake. They took the unconscious Greer back to their headquarters, an underwater dome. Greer awakened just in time to help them fight off an attack by Commander Kraken, an old Submariner foe. Assuming her captors were U.S. Navy personnel, she aided them in driving him off. After she resurfaced, the dome rose from the water and flew off. Greer realized she had been among aliens.
In "Giant-Size Ceatures" issue #1, agents of Hydra attempted to kidnap Dr. Tumulo. Greer, back in her Cat costume, drove them off, but not before receiving a fatal dose of alpha radiation. Dr. Tumulo offered to save her by making her one of the Cat People. Greer accepted, and they flew cross-country in a private plane to the Pacific coast of Mexico. There, in a gathering of Cat People, Greer was injected with a serum that caused her to become a were-cat, with feline features, clawed hands and feet, and a tiger-striped pelt. Her already highly developed senses became more refined than ever, and she developed even more strength and agility. The Cat People used a mystic ritual to bind one of their souls to hers (sound familiar?). They recognized the result immediately. She had become a reincarnation of one of their legendary heroes, Tigra.
Dr. Tumulo's last appearance was in "Marvel Premeire" #42 (June 1978). There, she used a projection of her astral self to warn Greer about the threat posed by Tabur, a cat artificially evolved into a humanoid by the High Evolutionary. The effort succeeded, but cost the doctor her life.