Yellow Claw

Yellow Claw

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Yellow Claw
200px Yellowclaw1 Yellow Claw
The Yellow Claw #1, cover art by Joe Maneely.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Historical: Yellow Claw #1. (Oct. 1956)
Modern-day: Strange Tales #160 (as telepathic “voice”); Strange Tales #161 (as robot double); Captain America #164 (as genuine character)
Created by Al Feldstein & Joe Maneely
In-story information
Alter ego Plan Chu
Notable aliases The Golden Claw (his preferred transliteration from the Chinese characters to English)
Abilities Telepathy
Genius-level intellect
long lifespan

The Yellow Claw is a fictional comic book supervillain in the Marvel Comics universe, created by EC Comics great Al Feldstein and artist Joe Maneely in Yellow Claw #1 (Oct. 1956) from Atlas Comics, the 1950s predecessor of Marvel.


[edit] Publication history

While the short-lived espionage series named for him ran only four issues (Oct. 1956 – April 1957), it featured work by such notable artists as Joe Maneely, Jack Kirby, and John Severin, and introduced characters later integrated into Marvel Comics continuity. The series chronicled the adventures of a Chinese-American FBI agent, Jimmy Woo, and his battles against a “yellow perilCommunist mandarin, known only as the Yellow Claw. The title character was a Fu Manchu manqué (indeed, Fu Manchu author Sax Rohmer had a novel titled The Yellow Claw) whose grandniece, Suwan, was in love with Woo.

Kirby took over as writer-artist with issue #2 — inking his own pencil art there and in the following issue, representing two of the very rare occasions on which he did so. Well-regarded for its relatively mature storyline and in particular for Maneely’s atmospheric art, the series nevertheless failed to find an audience. Its influence was felt during the 1960s Silver Age of Comic Books, however, as writerartist Jim Steranko brought the Yellow Claw into Marvel Comics continuity, beginning with the “Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” feature in Strange Tales #160 (Sept. 1967), which introduced a robot version of the character; the actual Yellow Claw resurfaced later. Woo was reintroduced that same issue, eventually joining the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. in Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 (July 1968).

[edit] Fictional character biography

The Yellow Claw was born over 150 years ago in China. Like Fu Manchu, he is both a genius in biochemistry and a brilliant scientist and inventor in many fields, in addition to being an expert in mysticism, alchemy, and the martial arts. The Yellow Claw has formulated elixirs that have prolonged his life span, enabling him to retain his physical vitality. Following his Nick Fury appearances, artists have depicted him with an unusual, jaundiced-looking, yellowish skin tone, possibly as a result of his life-extension chemical.

The Yellow Claw has dedicated himself to achieving world domination and supplanting Western civilization. He controls a worldwide criminal organization, along with a staff of research scientists and engineers. In the 1950s, he forged a pact with Communist Chinese leaders including General Sung whereby the Claw would seek to conquer the West for China. In fact, this was simply a ruse, and he intended to conquer the world for himself.

The Yellow Claw was aided by his second-in-command, the Nazi war criminal Karl von Horstbaden, alias Fritz von Voltzmann. However, the Claw was continually betrayed by his sole living relative, his grandniece Suwan, whom he could not bring himself to kill. Eventually the Yellow Claw left the United States, placing the meddlesome Suwan in suspended animation. After severing ties with the People’s Republic of China, the Claw fused Suwan’s spirit with that of the conquest-minded ancient Egyptian princess Fanle-tamen. During a subsequent battle with Nick Fury, Captain America and the Falcon, however, the Claw caused the now-vengeful Suwan to crumble into dust. Others who would battle the Yellow Claw included rival Chinese supervillain the Mandarin, the superheroes Iron Man and Nova, and the superhero team the Avengers.

[edit] Robot Yellow Claw

In the Yellow Claw stories in Strange Tales, Marvel super-spy Nick Fury fought a being whom he believed to be the Yellow Claw. However, this was actually just a robot – created by Doctor Doom as part of an elaborate, potentially world-destroying game between Doom and another of his robotic creations, the Prime Mover.

The “Suwan” and “Voltzmann” accompanying this Yellow Claw were also robot impostors.

In the later Strange Tales, it is unclear if this Yellow Claw is a robot (e.g. when he attempts to destroy the United Nations.[1][2]

[edit] Agents of Atlas

The Yellow Claw appears as a character in the 2006-07 Marvel series Agents of Atlas. In issue #4 (Jan. 2007), he claims that the phrase “Yellow Claw” is actually a mis-transliteration of the Chinese characters, and that his title is actually “Golden Claw.”

In issue #6, he revealed his true name to be Plan Chu, khan of a secret Mongol dynasty, who had chosen Jimmy Woo to be his heir. All his schemes to “conquer the world” had the secondary purpose of giving Woo an Asian menace to fight against and establish his credentials as a true American hero. However, the plan did not succeed, as Jimmy was simply promoted to a bureaucratic desk job. Dispirited, the Claw established the Atlas Foundation.

After revealing the truth to Woo — who accepted the role of khan in order to turn the Atlas Foundation and secret Mongol dynasty into a force for good — Plan Chu, like all the previous khans, allowed himself to be eaten by Mr. Lao, a powerful immortal dragon, ensuring there could not be two khans.

[edit] Yellow Claw reprints

240px The screemies Yellow Claw

magnify clip Yellow Claw

Splash panel from a story in Yellow Claw #4. Art by Jack Kirby and John Severin.

  • Yellow Claw #1
“The Coming of the Yellow Claw”

Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu #1 (Sept. 1974)
“The Yellow Claw Strikes” and
“Trap For Jimmy Woo”

Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu #2 (Dec. 1974)
  • Yellow Claw #2
“The Trap”

Marvel Premiere #1 (May 1972) (character of Phil Kane revised as Nick Fury)
Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu #3 (March 1975)
“Concentrate On Chaos”

Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu #3 (March 1975)
“The Mystery of Cabin 361” and
“Temujai the Golden Goliath”

Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu #4 (June 1975)
  • Yellow Claw #3
“The Microscopic Army”

The Golden Age of Marvel Comics (1997) ISBN 0-7851-0564-6
“UFO, The Lighting Man”

Marvel Visionaries: Jack Kirby (2004) hardcover ISBN 0-7851-1574-9
  • Yellow Claw #4
One or more stories

[edit] Bibliography

  • The Avengers Vol. 1, #204-205
  • Captain America Vol. 1, #164-167
  • Iron Man Vol. 1, #69-71, 75,77
  • Marvel Fanfare Vol. 1, #31-32
  • Marvel: The Lost Generation #3, 7
  • Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD Vol. 2, #10, 12-14
  • Nova Vol. 1, #13-18
  • Strange Tales Vol. 1, #160-167
  • Strange Tales Vol. 3, #1
  • What If Vol. 1, #9
  • Yellow Claw #1-4

[edit] References

  1. ^ Strange Tales vol. 3 #1 (Nov 1994)
  2. ^ Sanderson, Peter (2007). The Marvel Comics Guide to New York City. New York City: Pocket Books. pp. 62–63. ISBN 1-14653-141-6.

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