Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Return Of Yellow Claw!

It would be more than a decade before the Yellow Claw would return to menace the world, and it happened in the pages of Strange Tales. Fresh from defeating HYDRA, the agents of SHIELD are seeking some well-deserved downtime but it doesn't really develop as a new menace rises to threaten NYC.

As it turns out the menace had already made itself known over a year before during the notorious NYC blackout of 1965 which caused havoc up and down the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. It turns out the culprit was Yellow Claw and his henchmen and thanks to the combined efforts of Nick Fury, Captain America and the Fantastic Four the menace was put down, though it caused a lot of hair-raising rumors of aliens and whatnot.

Now over a year later Nick Fury finds evidence that the Yellow Claw might be back, especially when FBI agent Jimmy Woo shows up at SHIELD to tell him so. What begins is a ferocious back and forth between Nick and the Claw as each seeks to outwit the other with an ever-increasing escalation of high-tech gimmicks. During this yarn we meet such SHIELD mainstays as Sidney "The Gaffer" Levine, Contessa Valentina Allegra De Fontaine and Clay Quartermain. While we know them now as loyal agents, in this story each would've been suspect with a new menace lurking. Also back on the Claw's side are the pernicious Fritz Von Voltzmann and the lovely and alluring Suwan.

Jim Steranko was at the top of his game during this meless which sprawled across over many issues and ended with a spectacular and unprecedented four-page spread in the final chapter. For the benefit of those who haven't enjoyed these great stories, I'll say little of the secrets and the tragedies which befall, but I highly recommend this one to all.

The Yellow Claw in these stories is recognizably the 50's Atlas menace, but properly modernized for the time. With these issues Steranko seems to have accomplished most of what he wanted to do with the series and while he'd go on to write and draw some magnificent issues of the SHIELD comic after its debut, those while full of imagination lack the frenetic energy of the Strange Tales epics.

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  1. What a mind-blowing double bill Strange Tales presented: Nick Fury AND Doc Strange…plus: Steranko, Dan Adkins (Ditko before him…)…All for 12 cents. Sheesh – we didn’t know how good we had it. I’d go back to those days in heartbeat.

    1. According to an inflation calculator I checked, that twelve cents would be a mere eighty-five cents today. More, but not the frickin' four or five bucks they want to charge these days for a comic.

      Take me back too.

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