Friday, January 30, 2015

Number 1690: The Claw’s family ties untied

Even the supervillain Claw has some family. In this case it is an uncle in Tibet, who has a formula the Claw needs. But the uncle believes the Claw is the disgrace of the family. I would also be ashamed of a grotesquely ugly criminal nephew who can grow to 25 feet tall and tosses henchmen to their deaths for any old reason.

I am amused by the flights to Tibet (quoting the Claw: “I will be back shortly”), which are treated as if that faraway land is no further than a drive to the corner drugstore.

For a time in the forties the Claw, created by Jack Cole, was a supervillain in the Lev Gleason comics. He was on the side of America’s enemies (which accounts for his henchmen hailing him with “Heil, Claw!”) and pursued by a costumed hero called the Ghost. For some reason the mixture of a cartoon style and hideous villain seems to work. Well enough, anyway, that the caption in the splash panel, “This is NOT a true story!” doesn’t strike me as any kind of revelation.

This is from Daredevil #18 (1943), with writing and art attributed by the Grand Comics Database to Charles Biro’s co-editor, Bob Wood.

For another tale of the Ghost and the Claw go back eight years (yow!) to 2007, and this early Pappy's posting, and then to 2011 when the Claw shows up as a WWII training unit emblem!


J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

I've checked Jack Cole's Claw and it is indeed an impressive sight.
Maybe that's why the Devil Cat chose its insignia, even if he was actually an "enemy".
It's not so strange, by the way, to have an "enemy" painted on your fighter plane. in the Luftwaffe, General Adolf Galland started to have Mickey Mouse painted on his plane in 1938 during the Spanish civil war, when he was captain in the Condor Legion. "It's just that I like him", he said.
All in all, I am inclined to think The Claw is an example of a character's decline due to the mediocrity of artists.

Brian Barnes said...

Even though the Claw's uncle is a genius, and a good guy, he's still drawn like a sub-human. Ah, the war years.

One interesting story note: Notice how our hero doesn't get defeated by the bad guy; only delayed by a lucky shot -- and it was something unexpectedly caused by the shot.

Nothing in the story would have changed if the ghost was actually hit by the bad guy thrown at him; the Claw and his minions must always be shown as completely and utterly inferior to our hero. Only random chance defeats the ghost!

It was 1943 and at this point I think we learned to stop underestimating the Japanese, which got us into all sorts of trouble at the beginning of WWII. This is the bad side of propaganda for propagandist.

Russ said...

I love these insane old comics, where there is no rational pacing or plot, just sheer momentum. Does the Ghost have an origin?

Lots of big teeth in this story, by the way. The Ghost's mask makes me hear piano music.

Pappy said...

J D, I am in agreement that following Jack Cole's version was a letdown. But that includes just about every character Jack Cole ever drew. He was one of a kind.

Pappy said...

Russ, I share that love of old irrationally plotted and paced old comics.

Not only are the stories crazy, but I wonder how much insight they give us for their creators.

Pappy said...

Brian, thanks for bringing up the subject. Yes, I believe most Americans underestimated the Japanese. The Japanese were a tenacious and determined enemy, who were prepared to fight to the last man. They were also prepared to live and fight under extreme conditions with no thought to surrender.