Monday, July 09, 2018

Number 2204: The Claw; the missing Dick!

Dick Hopkins is one of 2000 soldiers — a whole troop-train full — falling prey to the “World’s Worst Villian” [sic]. Said villian, errrr, I mean villain,* is the Claw, another in a long line of sinister, murderous “Orientals” falling into the genre called the Yellow Peril, a whole bunch of racist pulp literature, movies, et al, popular for far too long. The most (in)famous example would be Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu.

At 25 feet tall the Claw stands out, yet is allowed to roam the American landscape with what looks like hundreds of henchmen, without being caught by the American military. In these stories it is usually a lone white man, in this case Dick Hopkin’s brother, Bill, who defeats the Claw and his army, if only until the next issue.

Signed by artist/co-editor Bob Wood, and originally published in Daredevil Comics #2 (1941).

*Weird also misspelled “wierd.”


Daniel [] said...

Jeepers, Pappy! Did the Claw's diabolical scheme work? Did all those attacking American soldiers get killed or captured and hypnotized?

The engineers here were quite something. First, there was the engineer in the splash, who appears to be leaning-out and looking ahead, as if still expecting to check track before him. Then there is Bill Hopkins, the engineer from America's upper-crust.

I wish that social scientists of that era and beyond had conducted proper studies on the effect of racial mythologizing at various extremes. I don't think that the relationship is monotonic; that is to say that I think that the most socially damaging misrepresentations lie somewhere between the mild and the flat-out craziness of the Claw. But perhaps I am wrong; perhaps people who could not in later life sustain a belief in persons such as the Claw none-the-less had an even deeper and more abiding aversion to Asians instilled in them by reading stories such as this one than by tales of Fu Manchu.

Brian Barnes said...

Wow, Wood went all out on depicting Claw's men as about subhuman as possible. I can give him a very, very slight break on Claw (who's a giant/vampire/monster kind of character) but ... yeesh.

I wonder when the entire comic field transitioned to a less constrained layout? Had to be somewhere in the 40s, these had to be the last dying gasps of that panel format. I'm sure there were comics before that had more open layouts, but most that you've shown have been like this. If you need arrows, you need to rethink your layout!

Are we getting part 2? I'm hyped for it!

Pappy said...

Daniel, if my father (born 1920, raised in an all-white rural community) is any indication, those prejudices existed alongside being promoted in popular literature. I'm not sure my dad read any books beyond school assignments in his youth, and had no money to spend on pulp magazines, but he espoused all of the common prejudices of his era.

Pappy said...

Brian, it is not on the schedule, but I can give you a teaser from the next episode of The Claw: The splash page asks, "WILL THE CLAW RULE AMERICA?" and the final panel has the Claw proclaiming: "AMERICAN SWINE! THEY STAND AND SCOFF AT ME NOW -- BUT MY MEN WILL NOT FAIL ME! MY TRUMP CARD IS YET TO BE PLAYED!"

I knew Trump would somehow figure into the Claw's plans!

Charles Edward Rogers said...

Yes, please, post part 2 if there's any way you can!

Mr. Cavin said...

This is an excellent demonstration of the truism that something can be completely racist and still have a black president. Zing!

Pappy said...

Charles, who says I don't do an occasional request? I did a little rescheduling, and The Claw story from Daredevil #3 is set for August 20. Thanks for the note.

Pappy said...

Cavin, and perhaps if we stop regressing we will someday have another.

Mr. Cavin said...

Man I sure hope we can still get better, Pappy. Every day we seem to be going further the other way. But I certainly hope it's obvious that I was being glib about about the weirdly inked-in president character in this yellow peril story? I'm afraid my comment may have been too arch.

Pappy said...

Cavin, I hope you don't think I was offended. I had forgotten the artist had included FDR in silhouette. I thought you were referring to the current political climate. Like a lot of people, I am caught up in the day-to-day of that.

Here is why I am at a disadvantage when reading comments on a current posting: I have read the story, but usually only once, and with an eye to finding a hook I can hang some comment(s) on. Also, my reading was six weeks to two months before the posting appears. By that time I have mostly forgotten the particulars the reader is referring to. I go to the old age card short-term memory is pretty well shot, which is why we all hate to get old.

As I often say to friends and family, and you are one of my friends, "Ah! To be a young man of 60 again!"