Rob Liefeld began his run on New Mutants with issue #86 in early 1990. As a preview of his run o n the book, Marvel Age #82 showed some sketches and concept designs that Liefeld had done to prepare for his run.
A couple of them you may be familiar with - folks by the name of Cable and Stryfe.
However, there was one fellow who never popped up in the New Mutants. His name was Cougar.
Here's what he looked like:
Here's what they had to say about him: :
This mean dude's name is Cougar. He's half man and half cat and according to Rob's notes, he's all trouble! Note that his pants have the same outside stripe design as the design on the New Mutants' costumes shown last issue.
The implication is that he was to be a member of the New Mutants, but it was not clear.
What IS clear is that he never actually appeared in the pages of New Mutants (despite being shown in the same issue of Marvel Age in a mock-up for an upcoming New Mutants cover).
A couple of years later, Liefeld helped co-found Image Comics, and in his new title, Youngblood (which, as mentioned in the second Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, was mostly a reworking of a pitch Liefeld made to DC for a new Titans book), he featured a character named, interestingly enough, Cougar.
Cougar was essentially the same character as the proposed New Mutants character.
Liefeld did a good deal of redesigning on the character, though. He did not just completely re-use the character or anything like that. And even if he had, it would be reasonable enough. He DID create the guy, after all.
Reader comixkid2099 shared with me the following quote from Team Youngblood #1, where Liefeld explains why Cougar never made it into New Mutants:
Cougar was set to appear in those pages [New Mutants] as well - in fact, a cover featuring him was done up by myself and inked by pal and Spawn superstar Todd MacFarlane - but i pulled the cover and the storyline at the last minute, feeling uneasy about loosing control of yet another creation. Needless to say, it's a move I've never regretted.
Thanks for the quote, comixkid2099!
Anyhow, in an amusing turn of events, Cougar actually DID end up in a Marvel comic book!!
Later in 1990, Terry Kavanagh and Chris Wozniak did a fill-in issue of Avengers West Coast. At one point in the story, Captain America is facing off against duplicates of a number of Marvel characters. Wozniak must have been given a reference sheet with all the current Marvel characters, and Cougar must have been on that sheet, because here he is - right next to Cable.
Click on the image to increase the size.