Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Let The West Beware


Name This Marvel Villain??

This is old school villainy you're looking at here, folks--and that's more than just a catchphrase for him, since he made his first appearance in the mid-1950s. He's managed to extend his evil life by ingesting chemical elixirs--which means that when he swears to live to plot another day, he darn well means it. We're talking, of course, about none other than the Yellow Claw, who's vexed the superhero community not only because of his insatiable ambition, but because this ruthless villain has proven himself to be as extremely dangerous as well as elusive to capture.

Not only can the Claw mount an aggressive organization of minions, scientists, and technology, but he also has this knack for reanimating the dead. (Though Marvel itself is no slouch at that, either.) He possesses a formidable intellect, with specialized knowledge in biochemistry, genetics, and robotics--and, as if he needed an edge, he's also up to speed on black magic. Along with his body armor and his ability to manipulate the mind, he's a more than formidable adversary whose goal is nothing less than world domination.

In those early days, the Claw had two central characters in his orbit: FBI agent Jimmy Woo, who doggedly pursued him, and his grand-niece, Suwan, who loved her grand-uncle but nevertheless found herself compelled to undermine his evil schemes from within. (It didn't hurt that Woo and Suwan were in love with each other.)

When Jim Steranko began writing and drawing the "Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD" series in Strange Tales, the Claw was introduced to Marvel readers and, under Steranko's master hand, served as one of Fury's most vile and calculating foes:

And Jimmy Woo was there as well, brought in to assist and advise Fury. It also appears that the Claw has yet to discover the mole in his midst--Suwan, once again caught between a rock and a hard place:

SHIELD goes all-out to foil the Claw's schemes, which finally reaches a climax in an assault on the Claw's hideout, beautifully portrayed in this four-page (yes, four-page) spread:

After the Claw in this engagement proves to be a robot in a bizarre game of chess involving Dr. Doom, he later appears in the flesh in the pages of Captain America. First, taking an interest in the experiments of Nightshade; and then to battle SHIELD for real, this time with an ambitious objective--to take over the SHIELD helicarrier. But first things first: the Claw, now wise to Suwan's treachery, hatches an incredible plan to merge the personality of his dormant grand-niece with that of an evil (and dead) Egyptian princess, in order to ensure her full loyalty:

To make a long story short, the Claw succeeds in boarding the Helicarrier and gassing its entire complement. But he finds that with treachery, what goes around comes around:

Though Suwan doesn't have long to gloat before she discovers the horror of underestimating the vengeance of the Claw:

The Claw uses Suwan's death to revitalize himself, but realizes that Captain America and the forces of SHIELD have defeated his plan--and in typical villain fashion, vows to return again one day. And that day comes when the Black Lama invites him to take part in a contest between super-villains, in the pages of Iron Man:

For all the fanfare it received, this "war of the super-villains" probably didn't set sales of Iron Man on fire. But it did provide a pretty cool battle between the Claw and the Mandarin, when the former took over the Mandarin's fortress. Things get really heated when one of the Claw's incredible machines manages to destroy the Mandarin's rings--and when the Mandarin destroys the machine with his bare hands, his next target is the Claw himself. Or so he thinks:

When it looks like the Claw is in the clear to claim the Black Lama's prize, Iron Man appears to battle it out with him. And the Claw, finding even his specialized armored suit is no match for the Avenger, reminds us he's no stranger to realizing when it's wise to retreat:

But the Yellow Claw would continue to pop up here and there, as he's one of those rare villains built to last. He's an imposing presence, a meticulous planner, and a resourceful foe--and, it goes without saying, as evil as they come.


Hube said...

Yellow Claw!

Anonymous said...

You're right, Yellow Claw was an evil dude. He attacked his enemies with giant man-eating spiders!! I don't know where you come from, but where I'm from, that crosses the line. I mean...robots, giant robots, murderous cyborgs, extra-dimensional beings, insane gods, clones, treacherous alien allies, mind control, even deals made with demons from hell...well. okay. But giant man-eating spiders?? Hey, c,mon man. Let's maybe take it down a notch.

Anonymous said...

This bears some thinking about. Any spider bigger than a quarter makes me wanna scream like a little girl. I don't even wanna know how I'd react to a spider the size of a Ford Prius barreling down on me. I think the Claw got way outta line sometimes. You wouldn't see Doc Doom pulling something like that.

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