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JAMES WOO

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Full Name: James Woo
Series Name: Yellow Claw
Nationality: American
Organization: FBI
Occupation Agent

Creator: Al Feldstein, Joe Maneely
Time Span: 1956 - 1968

ABOUT THE SERIES

James 'Jimmy' Woo is an agent with the FBI.

His membership in this compendium comes because as part of his duties with the Bureau, he will be asked to look into the matter of one extremely bad threat to his country, the diabolical Chinese evil scientist and would-be world conqueror, the Yellow Claw. In fact it will be that individual, with his uncanny ability to keep surviving failures and to keep coming back for more, who will become the main emphasis of his career, even after he apparently leave the FBI and goes to work for S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Yellow Claw was for a while the 'owner' of the entry with John Woo listed as his nemesis but I switched it eventually. Yellow Claw lost the 'starring' role because it is Woo that is the spy, or in this case spy-hunter, not Yellow Claw. That denizen of western China will be Woo's quarry for quite a long time as that many will be within the grasp of law enforcement several times but always find a way to disappear to try to conquer the world another day.

We first learn about the Yellow Claw when the head of the Chinese military during the late 50's decides China's plans to take over all of southeast Asia would be met with resistance from the States so it would be necessary first to knock America down a few rungs of the power ladder. Doing so openly was too dangerous to contemplate but possible if using a proxy to do the heavy lifting. Hence the call to the century-old mystic called the Yellow Claw. Of course, like all good megalomaniacs, the Yellow Claw accepts the mission because he plans on using it as just the first step in his eventual world domination.

Our introduction to Woo comes when he is summoned to his superior's office at the Bureau headquarters in DC and told that "the communists have sent a special agent to wreck the U.S. defense effort!" and he is the man chosen to handle the case. This despite that he is still quite green as a G-Man. Naturally, the Yellow Claw, being a mystic with arcane abilities and methods, knows about Woo's assignment immediately.

Woo will have over the next few months many go-rounds with the oriental nemesis and even when the Yellow Claw apparently retreats to his home base to lay low for a few years, Woo knows it is just a matter of time before that fellow comes back with yet another vicious scheme to take over the planet.

COMIC BOOKS, GRAPHIC NOVELS, AND MANGA

Number of Stories:6
First Appearance:1956
Last Appearance:1968

       The immediate forerunner to today's mega-comic-power Marvel Comics was Atlas Comics, itself a rebranding of Timely Comics from the 30s and 40s. In addition to a horde of horror titles like Journey Into Mystery and Strange Tales, both of which would survive the transition into Marvel, it had a fairly wide assortment of genres. One of those was this excursion into the espionage realm by creating a version of the yellow peril in the Yellow Claw but at least being decent enough to give make the hero also of oriental descent, albeit an All-American FBI agent as well.

1 The Coming of the Yellow Claw The Coming of the Yellow Claw
Published by Atlas Comics
Contributors: Al Feldstein (writer), Joe Maneely (artist)
Copyright: 1956

1st of 3 stories published in Yellow Claw #1, 10/1956.
Red China is on a major roll bringing all of their lands under its control, with the major exception of Formosa which is under the protection of the United States. Before China can reclaim that island it must stymie the US. For that the leadership decides to call on the mysterious Yellow Claw. The Yellow Claw agrees but does not reveal he is planning on bringing down the US as just the first step in world domination. Meanwhile, the FBI learns of the recent arrival of the Yellow Claw and assigns agent Johnny Woo to track him down.

2 The Yellow Claw Strikes The Yellow Claw Strikes
Published by Atlas Comics
Contributors: Al Feldstein (writer), Joe Maneely (artist)
Copyright: 1956

2nd of 3 stories published in Yellow Claw #1, 10/1956.
Now using an old curio shop in the Chinatown of San Francisco as a front, the Yellow Claw uses his strange abilities and crystal ball to choose a convict "rotting" in a prison cell to do his dirty work, after faking the criminal's death to get him out of incarceration.

3 'Captured By The Claw' 'Captured By The Claw'
Published by Atlas Comics
Contributors: Al Feldstein (writer), Joe Maneely (artist)
Copyright: 1956

3rd of 3 stories published in Yellow Claw #1, 10/1956.
Irked by his first scheme's failure due to Jimmy Woo, the Yellow Claw flees his temporary headquarters in San Francisco but in so doing sets a trap to capture Woo by leaving behind his beautiful niece, Suwan, as "attractive bait"..

4 Concentrate On Chaos Concentrate On Chaos
Published by Atlas Comics
Contributors: Jack Kirby (writer and artist), Rosalind Kirby (inks)
Copyright: 1956

1st of 4 stories published in Yellow Claw #2, 12/1956.
The Yellow Claw has chosen six of the most dangerous people on Earth to create an atmosphere of chaos in which the archfiend can operate, using their mental mutant powers It will fall to Jimmy Woo to stop them.
Note: this may be the first major introduction of mutants and their powers by Jack Kirby, seven years before he would come out with his mutant X-Men.

5 The Mystery Of Cabin 361! The Mystery Of Cabin 361!
Published by Atlas Comics
Contributors: Jack Kirby (writer and artist), Rosalind Kirby (inks)
Copyright: 1956

2nd of 4 stories published in Yellow Claw #2, 12/1956.
The manhunt for the Yellow Claw continues and Jimmy Woo is at the docks watching a passenger ship being loaded. An old man and old woman, staying in Cabin 361, is of particular interest since the latter has "well-turned ankles for a woman of her age".

6 'The Trap' 'The Trap'
Published by Atlas Comics
Contributors: Jack Kirby (writer and artist), Rosalind Kirby (inks)
Copyright: 1956

3rd of 4 stories published in Yellow Claw #2, 12/1956.
"Suwan, niece of the Yellow Claw, is torn by a terrible conflict between her loyalty to her uncle and her love for Jimmy Woo." Despite his misgivings, Jimmy Woo follows an order to use that young woman as bait to capture the arch-criminal.

7 Temujai ... The Golden Goliath! Temujai ... The Golden Goliath!
Published by Atlas Comics
Contributors: Jack Kirby (writer and artist), Rosalind Kirby (inks)
Copyright: 1956

4th of 4 stories published in Yellow Claw #2, 12/1956.
Temujai is a "legend comes to life, rising from the depths of the mysterious Malay jungles to menace the peace of the world and serve the plans of the Yellow Claw". A pilot reports seeing the 1,000 foot tall man walking that country's hills.

8 The Microscopic Army! The Microscopic Army!
Published by Atlas Comics
Contributors: Jack Kirby (writer and artist), Rosalind Kirby (inks)
Copyright: 1957

1st of 4 stories published in Yellow Claw #3, 02/1957.
A band of paid assassins working for the Yellow Claw walk through a "great wire cage which glows with a strange light" and comes out the other side greatly reduced in size to about 1" tall. They are then able to get into place normal sized people could not. After capturing the device, Jimmy Woo gets shrunk himself to stop them.

9 UFO The Lightning Man! UFO The Lightning Man!
Published by Atlas Comics
Contributors: Jack Kirby (writer and artist), Rosalind Kirby (inks)
Copyright: 1957

2nd of 4 stories published in Yellow Claw #3, 02/1957.
Jimmy Woo is called to a guided missile launch site to observe a mysterious event. As the missile is launched and reaches 10k feet, "a mysterious circular light appears in a nearby cloud" and from the center of the light comes strange bolts of lightning blowing up the missile.

10 The Yellow Claw Captured The Yellow Claw Captured
Published by Atlas Comics
Contributors: Jack Kirby (writer and artist), Rosalind Kirby (inks)
Copyright: 1957

3rd of 4 stories published in Yellow Claw #3, 02/1957.
The headlines in the paper announce the capture of the Yellow Claw. Apparently one of his key lieutenants, von Voltzmann, turned on him. Jimmy Woo has a strange feeling it is just another scheme by the oriental mastermind.

11 Sleeping City! Sleeping City!
Published by Atlas Comics
Contributors: Jack Kirby (writer and artist), Rosalind Kirby (inks)
Copyright: 1957

4th of 4 stories published in Yellow Claw #3, 02/1957.
"In the frigid wastes above the Arctic Circle, a Russian exploration teams makes an interesting find", snow with a strange order which makes those near it very drowsy. One of those in the team is an agent of the Yellow Claw who kills the others and steals the snow. The Yellow Claw plans on using it to be the perfect weapon for an upcoming invasion.

12 The Living Shadows! The Living Shadows!
Published by Atlas Comics
Contributors: Jack Kirby (writer and artist), John Severin (inks)
Copyright: 1957

1st of 4 stories published in Yellow Claw #4, 04/1957.
In his latest technological marvel, the Yellow Claw has created a machine which uses previously unknown elements to manufacture "an attractor beam into ... another universe" and what it pulls out are living shadows crying be sent back. He will harness those creatures to break into the US facility hold Suwan.

13 The Screemies! The Screemies!
Published by Atlas Comics
Contributors: Jack Kirby (writer and artist), John Severin (inks)
Copyright: 1957

2nd of 4 stories published in Yellow Claw #4, 04/1957.
Screemies is the name given by an associate of the Yellow Claw for a new subspecies of sea gulls which he reckons came too close to the atomic tests at Bikini Atoll. These creatures have arms with hands and with a voracious appetite. The Yellow Claw sees a great use for them as a weapon.

14 Five Million Sleep-Walkers! Five Million Sleep-Walkers!
Published by Atlas Comics
Contributors: Jack Kirby (writer and artist), John Severin (inks)
Copyright: 1957

3rd of 4 stories published in Yellow Claw #4, 04/1957.
Sleepy Eyes is the stage name of a popular television mentalist which the Yellow Claw is planning on using to help mesmerize the viewing public of a modest sized American city to go on massive looting and destruction.

15 The Yellow Claw and the Thought Master! The Yellow Claw and the Thought Master!
Published by Atlas Comics
Contributors: Jack Kirby (writer and artist), John Severin (inks)
Copyright: 1957

4th of 4 stories published in Yellow Claw #4, 04/1957.
The Yellow Claw has learned of a man named Barnaby Wade who has brain waves so powerful they can reach around the world. With them he can create "objects of pure thought ... developed by scientific experimentation to the ultimate degree! [He] can turn thought into reality". One of the first uses the Yellow Claws has is to materialize a ferocious lion in Jimmy Woo's apartment.

16 Project Blackout Project Blackout
Published by Marvel Comics
Contributors: Jim Steranko (writer and artist), Sam Rosen (letters)
Copyright: 1967

Published in Strange Tales #160-168, 09/1967 - 05/1968.
Captain America brings to SHIELD headquarters FBI man Jimmy Woo to meet with Nick Fury to discuss the threat to the West from the resurgence of the Yellow Claw.

17 So Shall Ye Reap ... Death! So Shall Ye Reap ... Death!
Published by Marvel Comics
Contributors: Jim Steranko (writer and artist), Sam Rosen (letters), Frank Giacoia (inks)
Copyright: 1968

Published in Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #2, 07/1968.
"Off the Pacific Coast, en route to the Heli-Carrier Fury and Jimmy Woo are knocked out of the sky and wind up on a volcanic island transformed into a Garden of Eden and biological laboratory by Centurius, a scientist who disappeared in the 1930s when his theories were scoffed at. After creating both new and extinct forms of life and sending them into space Centurius plans to rain down fire on the Earth for forty days and forty nights, cleansing it and starting the world anew. With the help of a visiting movie company and their robot gorilla prop, Fury and Woo put the kibosh on his plans."

MY COMMENTS

I applaud Atlas Comics, soon to be Marvel, for its use of an Asian-American hero to go up against a Yellow Peril villain instead of having the dashing savior of the West being a white guy. I also applaud them for giving Jimmy Woo a personality; young, earnest, eager, and still learning.

It is a shame that once the publisher got tired of the main bad guy, Yellow Claw, they pretty much retired the hero instead of giving him more enemies to go up against. They then brought him back but only because they were bringing back the nemesis.

Jimmy Woo deserves more "air-time".

GRADE

My Grade: B

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