Sunday, July 6, 2014


Among crossovers from the Golden Age of Comics, the meetings of the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner take pride of place. The closest runner-ups are the five issues in which publisher Lev Gleason pit their diabolical super-villain The Claw against the company's newly minted superhero, the original Daredevil. 

The Claw was a nightmarish take on the Yellow Peril menaces common in the pop culture of the time. Not only did the villain sport fangs, taloned hands and pointed ears as some Oriental fiends did, he could also will himself to grow to King Kong-like proportions, in addition to being a master of many mystical and scientific powers.  He was created by the famed Jack Cole for SILVER STREAK COMICS #1, where he at first engaged only ordinary mortals as his opponents,

Slightly later, the same anthology-title introduced a costumed hero named the Daredevil, who wielded an incredible boomerang-weapon and initially could not speak. Though the hero was created by Jack Binder, he's best remembered for the five stories in which Jack Cole pitted the athletic adventurer against the monstrous Claw.

The first story in SILVER STREAK COMICS #7 is a small masterpiece of Cole's busy, eccentric design,  The next three, also credited to Cole, were not quite so inventive, and the final part in the rambling tale was credited to Don Rico. Around this time Cole departed Lev Gleason for Quality Comics, where the artist would give birth to his most famous creation, Plastic Man. It may be that Cole simply expended most of his imagination on the opening bout between the titanic foes and was simply operating on autopilot thereafter.

Still, all five episodes have some inspired moments of superheroic lunacy in them, and Rico's final installment ends the ongoing battle imaginatively enough. The Claw, stymied at every turn, appeals for help to "Lucifer the Genii" against Daredevil. The Satanic-sounding being gives the villain an army of monsters, but Daredevil still defeats them. In a conclusion designed to allow the Claw to continue his weird series, his defeat forces him to remain in Asia for all time, so that he would never cross swords with the boomerang-tossing Daredevil again.

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