Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Coming Of Yellow Claw!

Joe Maneely
One of the most vivid examples of the "Yellow Peril", Marvel's Asian evil mastermind Yellow Claw started his ominous career in his own rather too on-the-nose self-titled 1956 comic. His debut adventures were written by Al Feldstein and drawn by Atlas-era mainstay Joe Maneely.


The earliest stories introduce Yellow Claw himself, a supremely confident and thoroughly reprehensible genius who sells is talents to the Communist Chinese, or at least they suppose he has. He is opposed by noble FBI agent Jimmy Woo and torn between these two powerful men is Suwan, Yellow Claw's niece and Woo's true love. We also meet former Nazi  and regular henchman Fritz Von Voltzmann. The formula developed by Sax Rohmer in his Fu Manchu novels is in place here with the Yellow Claw perpetrating some villainy and Suwan working both sides while Jimmy Woo seeks to find a way to end the menace.

John Severin
That formula gets a shot of adrenaline when with the second issue Jack Kirby fresh from his long partnership with Joe Simon, steps in to handle both the art and writing chores. Suddenly Yellow Claw is working less for the Reds than for himself and the Communist angle is little mentioned. Also his schemes become wilder and crazier and the art by Kirby with assists from his wife Roz, reflects that change.


Yellow Claw uses mutants to alter reality, and later tries to escape Woo aboard a ship with wild disguises, and uses a gigantic robot to fool some local natives into rampaging against the civilized world. It's all very rockem' sockem' with a frenetic pace.

Bill Everett
If anything the second Kirby issue is stranger.


The Claw makes use of a squadron of "microscopic" soldiers to infiltrate U.S. secrets, he works in league with an actual alien who is dubbed "U.F.O. the Lightning Man", and makes use of a noxious sleeping potion to subdue whole cities. 

John Severin
The fourth and final issue of the series sees Kirby inked by John Severin and while that tones down the artwork a might, it doesn't limit the stories.


Yellow Claw enlists the aid of shadow people from another dimension, mutant birds who are creepily human, and a powerful psychic who puts people to sleep by means of television.

The stories are short little exotic masterpieces full of vigor and a bristling pace. Sometimes Jimmy Woo is effective, but often he is just lucky. The series ends with Suwan and Jimmy wondering where Yellow Claw will strike next.

It will be a while indeed. More next time.

Rip Off

9 comments:

  1. Al Feldstein!!?? Had no idea and he would have been my very last guess!

    ReplyDelete
  2. If Marvel ever wanted to reprint Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, all they'd have to do is change Fu Manchu's name to Yellow Claw. Bingo! Copyright problems solved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would work for me. I actually like Yellow Claw better than Marvel's version of Fu.

      Rip Off

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. If Marvel revived Shang-Chi with the Yellow Claw as his father, they'd have to alter the original stories anyway, because there'd no doubt be a demand for them. So - revival or reprints, same difference - his history has been revised.

      Delete
  4. Isn't this the guy who sicced genetically-altered giant spiders on his enemies in the pages of Captain America?
    Hey, I like a good supervillian as much as the next guy, but that, sir, crosses the line.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What super-villain doesn't have a genetically-altered spider at his disposal. I bet Doc Doom has a bunch.

      Rip Off

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...