Sunday, November 27, 2016

SHIELD - The Peril Of The Yellow Claw!

Following the epic war with Hydra, the SHIELD series was left with a problem -- how to top what had been a bravura performance. We had seen the series under the guidance of Steranko become a lithe and compelling visual spectacle. What could follow? Well it turns out he reached into the dim recesses of Marvel's own past to pull out a baddie worthy of Nick Fury's agents -- The Yellow Claw!

The story begins when Dum Dum Dugan, Gabe Jones, Jasper Sitwell and Laura Brown step away from the spotlight of the series for various reasons leaving Nick to find new allies. His first step is to go to the training center for SHIELD called UNIT and there he meets Sidney "The Gaff" Levine and Contessa Valentina Allegro De Fontaine.

Later he will meet the loquacious Clay Quartermain. He later battle trains with the inimitable Captain America.

This leads to the arrival of Jimmy Woo and then Nick tells the story of an event a few years earlier when New York City had famously gone dark. We learn that some mysterious armored soldiers had taken over Bedloe Island (home of the Statue of Liberty) and that Nick and Cap had fought them.

That battle ended up with the help of the Fantastic Four and an awesome battle which did indeed black out the city for a time. They never find out who was behind this scheme, but Jimmy Wood announces it was The Yellow Claw.

This leads Nick to confront the Yellow Claw directly and the mysterious Asian menace is able a few times to get Nick to fall into booby traps. He even manipulates SHIELD into gathering up the parts of a deadly death ray developed by Advanced Idea Mechanics.

Armed with this deadly device Yellow Claw and his forces take to the skies over NYC and prepare to destroy it when SHIELD is able to use the Helicarrier to attack and board the Claw's ship. Stalled but not defeated Yellow Claw withdraws to his hidden lair beneath the Hudson River.

But he is followed by Nick Fury and soon enough all of SHIELD as they wage a final and all-out war to stop the malignant forces of the Yellow Claw. The battle rages and seemingly the Claw's niece Suwan is killed but then a deadly secret is revealed that calls everything into question. I will not spoil one of the great hidden twists in Marvel lore.

Later after the battle, a weary Nick Fury dreams about what might happen if an alien descended and brought death and destruction to NYC. Fortunately it's a dream, but it's also the end of Strange Tales.

The series will become Doctor Strange and Nick Fury and his agents of SHIELD will get their own beautiful spanking brand new number one issue.

More on that next time.

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  1. One of my favorite runs of all time and testament to my theory that some characters work better in an anthology. To me, Strange Tales was like a great Saturday afternoon at the movies, and the whole was greater than the sum.

    My first exposure to Steranko was in Strange Tales 160 and I was a bit leery at the use of the Big Blackout as the premise for an "Untold Story" because it had been done a year earlier in THUNDER Agents #8 ("Thunder In the Dark"), but I was fairly quickly transfixed by the exciting art. It was really energetic when Steranko was still inking himself and, even when he didn't, I kept coming back for more.

    1. Given how quickly Steranko sputtered out on the full-size comic, it's clear that this was the ideal format for him. Reading it this time, I've been even more impressed with his innovation and page-twisting techniques. Those captions have to work overtime to keep the story humming, but the overall experience is just intoxicating.

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