Real Name: Thomas Fireheart First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man 256 What's His Problem? Financier by training, hit man by inclination, Puma is the protector of his Native American nation and was the chosen champion of Death when she faced the Beyonder (which is probably gonna annoy the heck out of Thanos if he ever finds out). He keeps his senses well-honed by fighting with wild animals, accepting unusually tricky assassination contracts, and efficiently running "Fireheart Enterprises," the multi-billion dollar corporation he founded. Hired to kill Spider-Man (although he originally thought the Black Cat was the more dangerous of the pair), Puma came to respect, loathe, and eventually obsess over, Spidey. He even bought the Daily Bugle to force J. Jonah Jameson to stop his editorial war against the Web-Slinger. Puma discovered that it was his destiny to confront the Beyonder -- that he, in fact, was the only entity in the cosmos with the power to do so -- but when he actually struck a killing blow, Fireheart briefly doubted himself and fell out of harmony with the universe, thus allowing the Beyonder to escape the only true threat to his physical safety. As oft happens with half-beast types, the Puma part of Fireheart's personality eventually began to struggle for dominance (apparently with an assist from the incomprehensible...er, excuse me, the mysterious Black Crow), leaving the human part of Fireheart all but banished. Powers: Through generations of genetic engineering and a touch of cosmic destiny here and there, Fireheart has been endowed with fantastic powers. After undergoing the painful transformation that makes him Puma, he possesses senses beyond that of normal humans, including the ability to ferret out Spider-Man by smell alone and actually "see" the bad-luck aura that once surrounded the Black Cat. When faced with the Beyonder, Puma transmogrified into a cosmic being endowed with the ability to save the universe...as long as he believed in himself. Favorite Quote: "You mock me! No one can do that and live!" (Amazing Spider-Man 257--Puma demonstrates his characteristic lack of humor at the very start of his career.) Heroes He Keeps Running Into: Mostly Spidey, although another early adversary was the Black Cat. He confronted the Avengers over the Indian mutant who would become Portal, and reluctantly joined the counter-Avengers group "The Outlaws" to try and make a dent in his debt of honor to Spidey -- although as he once noted, there was nothing in Fireheart's personal code of ethics that meant said debt of honor had to be discharged whilst Spider-Man was still amongst the living... People Who Think He's Not So Bad: Jenna Taylor, his personal assistant, kept Fireheart Enterprises running when her boss was off transforming into a were-cat. The Rose routinely sent him assassination assignments; even the Kingpin hired Fireheart when he needed super-powered types off'd. Puma was trained in his early days by the Japanese ninja master Muramoto; Muramoto's death, for which Puma blamed the Beyonder, triggered Fireheart's cosmic transformation. And, while Puma deeply respected his uncle, he often resented the Shaman's insistence on tradition, which Puma himself was inclined to question. After Puma became a mass of animal instincts, he was kept as a sort of pet by the emotion-channeler Nocturne, who eventually managed to reach through the instincts of the animal and restore the man. Most Despicable Act: Puma is a well known international assassin, although his various professional murders were mentioned in whispers and not shown. He was seen attacking various street punks in Amazing Spider-Man 395 and Spectacular Spider-Man 218. And Just Because This Is An Educational Site... The scientific name of the American big cat Puma is named after is Felis concolor. It is closely related to the domesticated house cat, Felis cattus, and is one of the few big cats that can purr. Other common names for Felis concolor include "mountain lion," "panther" and "cougar." The endangered Florida panther, Felis concolor coryii, is a sub-species of puma. There are believed to be fewer than 70 Florida panthers left in the wild. You can click here to see what a real puma looks like.