SGAG Logo

THE STEEL CLAW

valiant_161 valiant_021 valiant_532 valiant_374 valiant_052 valiant_208 valiant_231 valiant_381 fleetway_stupendous_cb_07 fleetway_stupendous_cb_03 valiant_104 valiant_080 valiant_498 fleetway_stupendous_cb_25 valiant_451 steel_claw_mv_tsc valiant_cb_annual68 fleetway_stupendous_cb_21 fleetway_fantastic_cb_01 valiant_131 valiant_384 valiant_184 valiant_283 valiant_041 fleetway_stupendous_cb_11
 
Full Name: Louis Crandell
Series Name: The Steel Claw
Codename: Shadow 5, Talon
Nationality: British
Organization: Shadow Squad
Occupation Agent

Creator: Ken Mennell , Jack Le Grand , Sid Bicknell
Time Span: 1961 - 2012

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Louis Crandell, aka the Steel Claw, is an agent for British Intelligence.
       He will be. When we first meet him, he definitely is not, but he will be.
       The first we see of him is when he is a bitter, angry lab assistant to the brilliant Professor Barringer. The description said of him in the opening moments has him as a "hard-faced young assistant" to the scientist. Hard-faced is definitely correct as he looks very mean and as another expression goes, "rode hard and put away wet".
       But even more important than his rough countenance is the steel prosthetic he has for a right hand. We are told that he lost his hand in a laboratory accident and that it was replaced by the metal one. How exactly he lost it and how his new appendage had the ability to respond to his brain as a real one would is never explained; all we see is he has it and it looks dangerous, complete with very sharp talons at the tips. Hence the nickname of "Steel Claw".
       In those first pages we see that he is ticked off and ready to strangle his boss. His actions are interrupted when the professor throws a switch to run a test, the device, whatever it is, blow up, and in that moment, the life of Crandell will change forever.
       Again we are left not knowing how it happened but we find, as Crandell and the Professor find in the immediate aftermath, the surge of electricity that shot through Crandell's body through his steel hand had rendered the assistant invisible (clothes and all) except for that claw. The effect is only temporary but to the embittered mind of Crandell when he touches a high voltage cable while trying to stand up, another zap and again he is invisible.
       Crandell's true nature comes out and he sees a chance for great riches literally within his grasp. He stays invisible long enough to rush to a nearby bank and help himself to a nice sack full of money. Then the trouble beings to appear to him though he remains hidden; his hand is visible and when he is carrying the sack, so is it. And before too long, chased by the police in pursuit of a floating steel hand, the invisibility starts to wear off.
       Thus begins Crandell's new life as a bitter, angry crook. He will several hair-raising adventures as he strives to cash in on his ability and his fake hand but life will always find a way to foil his schemes. Even when he decides to go straight, the new scientist he finds to help him turns out to be a greedy so-and-so himself and Crandell is suddenly back in hot water.
       Eventually his bitterness and anger will leave him, possibly through the attention of the Professor's niece, Terry Grey, and he changes sides, becoming an agent for British Intelligence. The organization to which he is assigned in referred to as the Shadow Squad and though it is very hush-hush, has a lot of pull and a lot of resources as well as a lot of different types of missions. As one of its new agents, Crandell will receive the designation Shadow-Five. As a member, he will prove to be a tremendous weapon on their behalf.
       
       That weapon will be enhanced as technology advances. In the mission Versus the Magician (my name), his claw is now able to become detached from his arm and move through the air controlled by a small remote device he can carry in his pocket. Additionally, each finger is converted into "a separate deadly weapon", giving him "the striking power of a dozen agents" (?five fingers, twelve agents?).
       These abilities will become more and more important as he takes on the assignments for the Shadow Squad, many of which will pit him against their arch-enemy, F.E.A.R., or the Federation for Extortion, Assassination, and Rebellion, one of the catchier of bad-guy acronyms I heard. F.E.A.R. is all over the globe and Crandell/Steel Claw will become the most persistent irritant in their side. As bad guys go, the agents of F.E.A.R. are pretty good at it but fighting someone who can turn invisible is pretty tough and having a metal hand float around attacking you can be very intimidating.

       Time will pass and the legend of the Steel Claw will grow but with this increasing notoriety will come trouble because if you are easily recognized, as Crandell was becoming, it is impossible to slip into countries to carry out highly secret missions. Especially when your right appendage is a steel hand with claw-like fingers.
       For that reason, he would be given a costume to wear while performing his clandestine work. This change takes place in the adventure I dub Versus the Claymen. Why a costume which would, in my opinion, make a person even more noticeable, I cannot say but he got one and would wear it for quite a few missions. It was a "skin-tight suit of copper mesh, which is so light that [he could] hardly feel it" so he would always wear it under his street clothes. The suit was linked to a "conductor-cap" which he would wear only when he was working as the Steel Claw. On the side of the (goofy-looking) headdress which hid his face, were two control-discs. The right side one allowed him to control the electro-magnetic power of his claw, an ability which gave him magnetic abilities which he used to draw metal objects to him or draw him to metal objects (don't know how he controlled which). The left side one helped him regulate his invisibility. One top of this cap were two electrodes which turned him into a "human powerhouse", letting him, as he concentrates the electrical energy of his body, harness that power and feed it into the suit. All rather complicated, and odd.

       Another major change in his life would be the addition of a sidekick. 'Blackie' Morris makes his appearance in the same issue that Crandell is given the power suit. Morris is a former paperboy who is virtually kidnapped by Crandell to take him to where some nasty guys are cooking up nasty plans and Morris likes the excitement that he would hang around the Steel Claw for a number of adventures.

       One last interesting detail about Crandell, the Steel Claw, is that in many of the adventures, especially the serialized ones, the transition from visible to invisible and back again takes a tremendous toll on his body and he is frequently seen at the end of a mission in desperate need of a vacation. Either that or he just liked to take time off from getting shot at and beaten up.

MOVIES

Number of Movies:1
First Appearance:1961
Last Appearance:1961

Please NOTE: The movie listed here is NOT, repeat NOT, about Louis Crandell, aka the Steel Claw. It is something totally different. I add it here only because the movie came out in 1961 and the next year the comicbook series started. Same name. The urge to confuse them is there. So to help alleviate the possible confusion, I mention it. And thus probably cause confusion on my own.

The similarity, though, is that the main character loses his hand in an accident and then gets a prosthetic one made of steel which he uses to help get the job done. The Marine in the movies does not also get the ability to turn invisible, though I am sure he would have appreciated it a time or two.


1 The Steel Claw The Steel Claw
Director: George Montgomery
Writers: Malvin Wald, Ferde Grofé Jr., George Montgomery
Actors: George Montgomery as John Larsen, Charito Luna as Lolita Smith
Released: 1961

Losing a hand in an accident, Captain John Larsen of the US Marines, is discharged. He is then reactivated to help a detachment of soldiers head to the Philippines where Filipino rebels are holding a general and where Japanese forces are advancing. He attaches a metal prosthetic and leads the action.

COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Stories:47
First Appearance:1963
Last Appearance:1973

       When the weekly British anthology magazine, Valiant, came out in 1962, it had a wide range of stories from war adventures to zany comedies. Leading the pack and holding the cover spot was Captain Hurricane who fought both Germans and Japanese during WWII with some outrageous exploits. Some of the items were complete stories in each issue and some, like the Steel Claw, were presented in serial format, a couple of pages per issue with a complete story take many weeks to complete.
       The three men who are credited with creating the Steel Claw (who actually did it if any is unknown) passed the work to Kenneth Bulmer, an incredibly prolific author (check out Wikipedia's entry on him to be stunned). He wrote the first three sets of stories before the writing was passed to Tom Tully who would write all the remaining ones published in Valiant.
       Five years after the introduction of the character, the publisher launched another line of comics, called the Fleetway Super Library. It consisted of several sub-lines of adventures, one of which was the Stupendous Series (the first issue was the Fanstastic Series but then the name changed). This title printed in digest form would come out with two issues per month for a year before going away. Each issue dealt with one of two now very popular characters from the publisher's other magazines. The Spider was one, the Steel Claw was the other, resulting in 12 stories for each. These adventures were fully contained in one issue and ran 100+ pages long. The black and white artwork was extremely impressive and the stories were very full and developed.
       Interestingly, since the demand for the Stupendous stories was so intense, schedule-wise, the work on these were given to other writers and artists resulting in quite different styles and storylines completely apart from the serialized run but quality was maintained and the general feel of spy-fi meets sci-fi mixed with horror remained. In both the Valiant and the Stupendous stories, the Steel Claw would go up against all sorts of exotic and varied opponents.

       Wikipedia has a terrific write-up on this series and goes far deeper into the foreign aspects of this character. I highly recommend reading it.

       https://britishcomics.wordpress.com is the incredible site where I found all the great magazines published back in the day. I would highly recommend visiting it for a fantastic selection from the past.


1 'The Origin of The Steel Claw' 'The Origin of The Steel Claw'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 10/06/1962 - 02/16/1963

From Valiant #1 - #20 - 2 pages each for 40 pages - The introduction of Louis Crandell, aka the Steel Claw, showing how, as a lab tech, he was involved in an accident and would then turn invisible when getting a large enough shock of electricity. This turned already bitter man into a very dangerous man.

2 'Versus the Ape Man' 'Versus the Ape Man'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 02/23/1963 - 07/06/1963

From Valiant and Knockout #21 - #34 - 2 pages each for 28 pages - With Louis Crandell, aka the Steel Claw, regaining his senses and again knowing right from wrong and wanting to go straight, his former employer, Barringer, sends him to a Dr. Deutz for further help. This will not turn out so well as that doctor has other plans.

3 'The Ultrason Device' 'The Ultrason Device'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 07/13/1963 - 09/21/1963

From Valiant and Knockout #41 - #51 - 2 pages each for 22 pages - As Louis Crandell relaxes on a wealthy friend's yacht in a "deserted" part of the ocean, modern day pirates attack to steal from the friend the "ultrason device" which is a ultra-sound weapon able to stun underwater.

4 'Versus the Brain' 'Versus the Brain'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 09/28/1963 - 04/04/1964

From Valiant and Knockout #52 - #79 - 2 pages each for 54 pages -

5 'Visitors From Another World' 'Visitors From Another World'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 04/11/1964 - 09/19/1964

From Valiant and Knockout #80 - #103 - 2 pages each for 48 pages - People from numerous walks of life in an area of England have gone missing. Louis Crandell, the Steel Claw, is sent to investigate and he finds the people have been possessed by visitors from another world.

6 'Versus Doctor Magno' 'Versus Doctor Magno'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 09/26/1964 - 03/27/1965

From Valiant and Knockout #104 - #130 - 2 pages each for 54 pages - In New York, the incredible Doctor Magno calls together leaders from the major crime syndicates with word that he is putting together a new organization of criminals and they would need to follow him. He shows his prowess by using his eerie control of magnetism to enforce his demands. It is not long before he and the Steel Claw go at it.

7 Hostage London Power Hostage London Power
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 10/17/1964

From Valiant Annual 1965 - 8 pages - All electricity in London is out and the Government has received a ransom request for three million pounds. Crandell is asked to take on the mission of finding out who is behind it. He finds men trying to rob a bank and stops them. What else will be in store with the power out and will it ever come back on?

8 'Finding Professor Landon' 'Finding Professor Landon'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 04/03/1965 - 05/29/1965

From Valiant and Knockout #131 - #139 - 2 pages each for 18 pages - Highly respected British scientist Landon has been kidnapped and the Shadow Squad is worried he would be smuggled to an enemy nation to be forced to work for them. The Steel Claw is sent to find and retrieve him before he can be smuggled out.

9 'Versus The Giant Eyes' 'Versus The Giant Eyes'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 06/05/1965 - 10/23/1965

From Valiant and Knockout #140 - #160 - 2 pages each for 42 pages -

10 The Phantom Raiders The Phantom Raiders
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 10/30/1965

From Valiant Annual 1966 - 8 pages - A gang of thieves have eluded the police in London but finally one member is caught. Louis Crandell, the Steel Claw, offers to help them catch the remaining members of the gang.

11 The Island of Tears The Island of Tears
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 10/30/1965 - 04/02/1966

From Valiant and Knockout #161 - #183 - 2 pages each for 46 pages -

12 'Versus the Magician' 'Versus the Magician'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 04/09/1966 - 09/17/1966

From Valiant and Knockout #184 - #207 - 2 pages each for 46 pages -

13 'Versus the Showman' 'Versus the Showman'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 09/24/1966 - 02/25/1967

From Valiant and Knockout #208 - #230 - 2 pages each for 46 pages - Trying to learn how the Steel Claw can turn invisible, the scientists of Shadow Squad try an experiment that goes very wrong and leaves one man partially invisible. He runs away carrying the secret which could, with the right leader, create an gang of invisible crooks.

14 Fireflash Fireflash
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 11/05/1966

From Valiant Annual 1967 - 8 pages - A General Conway who is Commander of an American missile base needs the help of Louis Crandell (The Steel Claw). Crandell's mission is as a fake Air Force Officer to find out who is sabotaging all the missiles.

15 A Red Emergency! A Red Emergency!
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 12/03/1966

From Valiant Space Special 1967 - 8 pages - A strange object has come from outer space and The Steel Claw (Louis Crandell) is sent to help the military. But can he stop the Eye of Ka?

16 The Raiders of F.E.A.R. The Raiders of F.E.A.R.
Published by Fleetway Publishing
Contributors: Carlos Cruz (artist)
Copyright: 01/16/1967

From Fantastic Series #1 (Fleetway Super Library) - [Plot Unknown]

17 The Waves of Peril The Waves of Peril
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 02/25/1967

From Stupendous Series #3 (Fleetway Super Library) - [Plot Unknown]

18 'Versus the Claymen' 'Versus the Claymen'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 03/04/1967 - 07/29/1967

From Valiant and Knockout #231 - #252 - 2 pages each (except first issue) for 45 pages - The Warlock has the ability to turn his minions from humans to claymen, making them very strong and very hard to kill. Louis Crandell, the Steel Claw, is sent to stop him. This adventure has him getting his new crime-fighter suit. It also introduces him to paperboy 'Blackie' Morris.

19 The Cold Trail The Cold Trail
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 03/25/1967

From Stupendous Series #5 (Fleetway Super Library) - [Plot Unknown]

20 Snake Island Snake Island
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 04/22/1967

From Stupendous Series #7 (Fleetway Super Library) - [Plot Unknown]

21 Forbidden Territory Forbidden Territory
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 05/20/1967

From Stupendous Series #9 (Fleetway Super Library) - [Plot Unknown]

22 The Blinding Light The Blinding Light
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 06/1967

From Stupendous Series #11 (Fleetway Super Library) - [Plot Unknown]

23 City Beneath The Sand City Beneath The Sand
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 07/1967

From Stupendous Series #13 (Fleetway Super Library) - [Plot Unknown]

24 Formula Of Fear Formula Of Fear
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 08/1967

From Stupendous Series #15 (Fleetway Super Library) - [Plot Unknown]

25 'Versus the Crystoids' 'Versus the Crystoids'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 08/05/1967 - 02/24/1968

From Valiant and Knockout #253 - #282 - 2 pages each for 60 pages -

26 Treason By Request Treason By Request
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 09/1967

From Stupendous Series #17 (Fleetway Super Library) - [Plot Unknown]

27 March of the Gorillas March of the Gorillas
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 10/1967

From Stupendous Series #19 (Fleetway Super Library) - [Plot Unknown]

28 Operation Floodtide Operation Floodtide
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 11/1967

From Stupendous Series #21 (Fleetway Super Library) - [Plot Unknown]

29 The Torum Experiment The Torum Experiment
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 12/1967

From Stupendous Series #23 (Fleetway Super Library) - [Plot Unknown]

30 Mystery Explosions Mystery Explosions
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 12/1967

From Valiant Annual 1968 - 10 pages - Louis Crandell (The Steel Claw) is given the assignment to investigate a number of mysterious explosion on vital military targets all over England. Can he find those responsible?

31 The Phantom Pirate The Phantom Pirate
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 01/1968

From Stupendous Series #25 (Fleetway Super Library) - [Plot Unknown]

32 'Versus the Builder' 'Versus the Builder'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 03/02/1968 - 01/11/1969

From Valiant and Knockout #283 - #328 - 2 pages each for 92 pages -

33 'Trouble at the Lab' 'Trouble at the Lab'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 10/30/1968

From Valiant Annual 1969 - 10 pages - Arriving at a secret laboratory to test enhancements to his powerful claw, Louis Crandell becomes a victim of a gang of F.E.A.R. agents who have infiltrated the location to steal all top secret inventions.

34 'Versus the Quiz-Master' 'Versus the Quiz-Master'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 01/18/1969 - 04/26/1969

From Valiant and Knockout #329 - #343- 2 pages each for 30 pages -

35 'Versus the Scarecrow' 'Versus the Scarecrow'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 05/03/1969 - 10/11/1969

From Valiant and Knockout #344 - #367- 2 pages each for 48 pages -

36 'Versus the Anthroids' 'Versus the Anthroids'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 10/18/1969 - 11/22/1969

From Valiant and Knockout #368 - #373- 2 pages each for 12 pages -

37 'Versus the Boulderman' 'Versus the Boulderman'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 11/29/1969 - 01/10/1970

From Valiant and Knockout #374 - #380- 2 pages each for 14 pages -

38 'Versus Mr. No-Face' 'Versus Mr. No-Face'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 01/17/1970 - 01/31/1970

From Valiant and Knockout #381 - #383 - 2 pages each for 6 pages -

39 'Versus the Wraith' 'Versus the Wraith'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 02/07/1970 - 04/25/1970

From Valiant and Knockout #384 - #395 - 2 pages each for 14 pages -

40 'The Claw Goes Solo' 'The Claw Goes Solo'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 05/02/1970 - 05/16/1970

From Valiant and Knockout #396 - #398 - 2 pages each for 6 pages -

41 'Versus the High Lectron' 'Versus the High Lectron'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 06/05/1971 - 04/22/1972

From Valiant and Smash #451 - #497 - 2 pages each for 94 pages -

42 'Carnaval of Doom' 'Carnaval of Doom'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 10/30/1970

From Valiant Annual 1971 - 18 pages - Craemar Castle is said to be haunted and Louis Crandell, the Steel Claw, will have to brave the ghosts if he is to recover a kidnapped nuclear scientist who has been taken there. But what do ghosts need with atomic power?

43 'Versus the Stealer' 'Versus the Stealer'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 04/29/1972 - 12/16/1972

From Valiant #498 - #531 - 2 pages each for 68 pages -

44 'Versus the Apparition' 'Versus the Apparition'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 12/23/1972 - 04/14/1973

From Valiant #532 - #548 - 2 pages each for 34 pages -

45 'Versus the Fixer' 'Versus the Fixer'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 04/21/1973 - 08/04/1973

From Valiant #549 - #564 - 2 pages each for 32 pages -

46 'Versus Doctor Sirius' 'Versus Doctor Sirius'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 08/11/1973 - 10/13/1973

From Valiant #565 - #574 - 2 pages each for 20 pages -

47 'Versus the Parador Minister of Defense' 'Versus the Parador Minister of Defense'
Published by Fleetway Publishing

Copyright: 10/20/1973 - 10/27/1973

From Valiant #575 - #576 - 2 pages each for 4 pages -

COLLECTIBLES

Number of Collectibles:1
First Appearance:2012
Last Appearance:2012

1 Valiant & The Steel Claw Valiant & The Steel Claw
Postage Stamp
Royal Mail
Copyright: 2012

The 8th in the Comics Series of 10 Commemorative Stamps to celebrate 75 years of British Comics. It show a cover of the comic book Valiant and an image of Louis Crandell (aka The Steel Claw).

MY COMMENTS

       I got one heckuva kick out this series for a couple of reasons.
       First, the author(s) were not sure what to do with him. They started him off as a thoroughly bad guy out to extort or steal anything to make some big bucks. When he got the power of invisibility, wham! Super-villain. But after quite a few weeks of his trying and failing to cash in on his power, the Steel Claw switches gears (well, the writers did). Then he became a patsy, framed as a bad guy and still hunted but not really guilty and desparate to prove it. Then he was exonerated and suddenly he is a good guy, using his powers for Queen and Country. That last one stuck and he would stay a hero for the remainder of his long career.
       Second, the writers did not just throw enemy agents and would-be dictators and nasty crime lords at Steel Claw. Where would be the fun in that since he can turn invisible, albeit only for a time, and they cannot. No, for a proper adversary, lets pull in crazed scientists, exotic monsters, and more than one set of alien invaders. The sky (and above) was the limit.
       Third, when the, the writers, grew tired of just having guts and invisibility to get the job done, they decided to enhance his steel claw and give it gadgets.
       What more can a sci-fi/spy-fi loving, gadget-geek fan like me ask for?

GRADE

My Grade: B

YOUR OPINIONS

Be the first to leave your own comments about this series.

Tell us what you think of the series. Give your grade and comments.

Your Grade:
Your Comments:

To give your opinion, you must be logged in.

Sign In

Register