Monday, January 29, 2007
The World's Worst Villain: The Claw
Even for an industry as short on subtlety as comics during the World War II era, The Claw feature in Daredevil, published by Lev Gleason under the Comic House imprint, was way over the top. And when I say way over, I mean it. The Claw could grow to fantastic heights, looking to be about 25' tall. A fairly good overview of The Claw in Daredevil is told here.
The Claw was created by Plastic Man creator, Jack Cole, but worked on by several artists during the time of its run. He also fought various heroes: Daredevil, Silver Streak and The Ghost. This particular episode, from Daredevil #11, June 1942, features The Ghost.
The Ghost shows up in a Colorado town because he has a hunch The Claw is somewhere close. I guess building a giant war machine as big as a building could be done without anyone knowing it, couldn't it? You'd think The Ghost might have seen it while he was flying around the area. The Ghost, in his secret identity as Brad Hendricks, wearing a bright green suit and yellow fedora with bright red hat band, meets a saucy blonde counter gal in the local diner who gives him what-for because he's not in the Army. He says, "…well, someone has to stay home and take care of the girls…"
This was not only the character talking, but most likely the philosophy of Bob Wood, who gets the byline on the story. He was co-editor, with Charles Biro, of many Lev Gleason titles. Together they created Crime Does Not Pay, one of the most successful comics of all time. Reports by artists who knew them describe a couple of guys enjoying themselves on the town in wartime New York City. Biro was reported to be a ladies man who bragged about his conquests. Wood was described as being a mean drunk who beat women. His comeuppance came in 1958 when in an alcoholic rage he killed his girlfriend and went to prison. Wood’s artwork isn’t bad, but fun in that early forties style.