Thursday, December 13, 2007
It's not easy being green
Pity the Green Claw. He's green, he's really, really tall, and his breath is so bad he shoots flames out of his mouth. No wonder he's in such a bad mood all the time. If ever a guy needed a woman…
"The Green Claw" is scanned from Lev Gleason's Captain Battle Jr. #2, where it was reprinted from Silver Streak Comics #6. The cover of that 1940 issue of Silver Streak is scanned from my Flashback reprint, published by Alan Light in the mid-1970s.
As far as I know, this is the only time the arch villain from Silver Streak, created by Plastic Man's Jack Cole, ever appeared as the Green Claw. There's no explanation as to why the name and color change, and by the next appearance he was back to being yellow. The Claw was a hideous caricature of an Asian stereotype, the insidious "yellow peril" Fu Manchu-styled villain. Coloring him green was an interesting choice, if not consistent with the rest of the series. It must've confused the readers of the day.
In this breathless tale, Major Tarrant, the (Green) Claw's nemesis, chases him down. The Claw has television, he has a version of GPS, some radar with which to find the major. He also has a power I've never seen before in comics, the power to hypnotize and make someone physically smaller. In this case The Claw sticks Major Tarrant into a tiny box, and gloating, tells him because of the confines of the box, when he begins to grow he'll die. Bahahaha! In Lee Falk's classic comic strip, Mandrake the Magician, Mandrake was able to shrink people with hypnosis, but they only thought they were shrunk. "The Green Claw" is such an absurd and silly story that this bit of hokum-pocus is just one more screwball element to a story you don't want to have to think about too much.