Yellow Claw (comics)

The Yellow Claw is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Al Feldstein and artist Joe Maneely, the character first appeared in Yellow Claw #1 (cover-dated Oct. 1956), published by Atlas Comics, the 1950s predecessor of Marvel.

Yellow Claw
Yellow Claw #1. Cover art by Joe Maneely.
Publication information
PublisherAtlas Comics / Marvel Comics
First appearanceYellow Claw #1 (Oct. 1956)
Created byAl Feldstein (writer)
Joe Maneely (artist)
In-story information
Alter egoPlan Chu
Notable aliasesThe Golden Claw (his preferred transliteration from the Chinese characters to English), Bhagwan Sri Ananda
Genius-level intellect
Long lifespan

Publication history

While the short-lived espionage series named for him ran only four issues (Oct. 1956 – April 1957), it featured work by such notables as writer Al Feldstein and artist Joe Maneely, who created the character, Jack Kirby, and John Severin, and introduced characters later integrated into Marvel Comics continuity.[1] Kirby took over as writer-artist with issue #2 – his own pencil art there and in the following issue, representing two of the very rare occasions on which he did so. Unusually for a Kirby series, other artists drew the covers: Severin on #2 & 4, Bill Everett on #3.[1] The series' influence was felt during the 1960s Silver Age of Comic Books, as writer-artist Jim Steranko brought the Yellow Claw into Marvel Comics continuity, beginning with the "Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." feature in Strange Tales #160 (Sept. 1967), which introduced a robot version of the character. Woo was reintroduced that same issue, eventually joining the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. in Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 (July 1968). The actual Yellow Claw resurfaced later, in Captain America #164 (Aug. 1973).

Fictional character biography

The series chronicled the adventures of a Chinese-American FBI agent, Jimmy Woo, and his battles against a "yellow peril" Communist mandarin, known only as the Yellow Claw. The title character was a Fu Manchu manqué (indeed, Fu Manchu author Sax Rohmer had a novel titled The Yellow Claw) whose grandniece, Suwan, was in love with Woo.

The Yellow Claw was born over 150 years ago in mainland China. He is both a genius in biochemistry and a brilliant scientist and inventor in many fields, in addition to being an expert in mysticism, alchemy, and the martial arts. The Yellow Claw has formulated elixirs that have prolonged his life span, enabling him to retain his physical vitality. Following his Nick Fury appearances, artists have depicted him with an unusual, jaundiced-looking, yellowish skin tone, possibly as a result of his life-extension chemical.

The Yellow Claw has dedicated himself to achieving world domination and supplanting Western civilization. He controls a worldwide criminal organization, along with a staff of research scientists and engineers. In 1942, the Yellow Claw encountered Lady Lotus in New York's Chinatown.[2] In the 1950s, aided by his second-in-command, the Nazi war criminal Karl von Horstbaden, alias Fritz Voltzmann, the Claw forged a pact with Communist Chinese leaders including General Sung, whereby the Claw would seek to conquer the West for China. In fact, this was a ruse and he intended to conquer the world for himself. However, the Claw was continually foiled by FBI agent Jimmy Woo and betrayed by his sole living relative, his grandniece Suwan, whom he could not bring himself to kill.[3]

Eventually, the Yellow Claw left the United States, placing the meddlesome Suwan in suspended animation. After severing all of his ties with the People's Republic of China, the Claw fused Suwan's spirit with that of the conquest-minded ancient Egyptian Princess Fan-le-tamen. After the Claw was later betrayed by the vengeful Suwan, he transferred the spirit of Fan-le-tamen to himself, which caused Suwan to crumble into dust, and he escaped.[4] The Yellow Claw later took part in the Black Lama's War of the Super-Villains, battling the superhero Iron Man.[5] He then attempted to destroy New York City using a tidal wave.[6] A later plan to father sons by various genetically superior women, then sterilize mankind and rule the world, was foiled by the superhero team the Avengers.[7] The Yellow Claw again attempted unsuccessfully to destroy New York City.[8] He later recruited the second Madame Hydra as his new heir.[9]

Robot Yellow Claw

Sometime after the 1950s events, an entity believed to be the Yellow Claw sent troops to invade Liberty Island and activate a powerful device there, but Nick Fury and Captain America foiled his plans. However, this was a robot impostor created by Doctor Doom as part of an elaborate, potentially world-destroying game between Doom and another of his robotic creations, the Prime Mover. The "Suwan" and "Fritz Voltzmann" accompanying this Yellow Claw were also robot impostors.[10]

In a later Strange Tales story, it is unclear if this Yellow Claw is a robot.[11][12]

Agents of Atlas

The Yellow Claw appears as a character in the 2006–2007 Marvel series Agents of Atlas. He claims that the phrase "the Yellow Claw" is actually a mistransliteration of the Chinese characters and that his title is actually "the Golden Claw".[13] He revealed his true name to be Plan Chu, Khan of a secret Mongol dynasty, who had chosen Jimmy Woo to be his heir. All his schemes to "conquer the world" had the secondary purpose of giving Woo an Asian menace to fight against and establish his credentials as an American hero. However, the plan did not succeed, as Woo was simply promoted to a bureaucratic desk job. Dispirited, the Claw established the Atlas Foundation.[14]

After revealing the truth to Woo – who accepted the role of Khan in order to turn the Atlas Foundation and secret Mongol dynasty into a force for good – Plan Chu, like all the previous Khans, allowed himself to be eaten by Mr. Lao, a powerful immortal dragon, ensuring that there could not be two Khans.

Powers and abilities

Through manipulation of the forces of magic, the Yellow Claw is able to create certain effects, including reanimating the dead. He also has the ability to psychically influence the sensory perceptions of others, enabling him to cast extremely realistic illusions. As a result of ingesting chemical elixirs, he has extended his life span; the Yellow Claw's extended life-span is dependent on the continued efficacy of his life-prolonging elixirs.

The Yellow Claw is an extraordinary genius with extensive knowledge in various sciences, particularly biochemistry and genetics. He is also proficient in robotics and has considerable knowledge of black magical lore. He is a master of Chinese martial arts and is an expert hand-to-hand combatant.

The Yellow Claw wears body armor and has access to various weapons as needed. He has access to specialized technology, including an id paralyzer that creates slaves subject to his telepathic control and a mind-amplification helmet that harnesses the psychic energies of his mind-slaves as a destructive force. He also has access to gigantic and hideously mutated creatures of his own design, created by biologists in his employ.

Other versions

In an alternate universe, in the late 1950s, the Yellow Claw recruited a team of superhuman minions and abducted President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He battled and was defeated by the 1950s "Avengers" team.[15]

Yellow Claw reprints

Some of the stories from the Yellow Claw series have been reprinted in other publications.

  • Yellow Claw #1
    • "The Coming of the Yellow Claw" – Reprinted in Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu #1 (Sept. 1974)
    • "The Yellow Claw Strikes", "Trap for Jimmy Woo" – Reprinted in Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu #2 (Dec. 1974)
  • Yellow Claw #2
    • "The Trap" – Reprinted in Marvel Premiere #1 (May 1972; character of Phil Kane revised as Nick Fury) and Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu #3 (March 1975)
    • "Concentrate on Chaos" – Reprinted in Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu #3 (March 1975)
    • "The Mystery of Cabin 361", "Temujai the Golden Goliath" – Reprinted in Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu #4 (June 1975)
  • Yellow Claw #3
    • "The Microscopic Army" – Reprinted in The Golden Age of Marvel Comics (1997, ISBN 0-7851-0564-6)
    • "UFO, the Lighting Man" – Reprinted in Marvel Visionaries: Jack Kirby Vol. 1 (2004, hardcover, ISBN 0-7851-1574-9)
  • Yellow Claw #4
    • "The Living Shadows" – Reprinted in Marvel Visionaries: Jack Kirby Vol. 2 (2006, hardcover, ISBN 0-7851-2094-7)
  • Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era - Black Knight/Yellow Claw reprints Black Knight (1955 Atlas) #1 – 5 (May 1955 – April 1956) and Yellow Claw (1956 Atlas) #1 – 4 (Oct. 1956 – April 1957) (September 2, 2009, hardcover, ISBN 0-7851-3515-4)


  1. Yellow Claw at the Grand Comics Database.
  2. The Invaders #41 (Sept. 1979)
  3. Yellow Claw #1–4 (Oct. 1956 – April 1957)
  4. Captain America #164–167 (Aug.–Nov. 1973)
  5. Iron Man #68–71, #75 and #77 (July–Nov. 1974; June 1975; Aug. 1975)
  6. Nova #12–18 (Aug. 1977 – March 1978)
  7. The Avengers #204–205 (Feb.–March 1981)
  8. Marvel Fanfare #31–32 (March–May 1987)
  9. Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (vol. 3) #12–14 (June–Aug. 1990)
  10. Strange Tales #160–167 (Sept. 1967 – April 1968)
  11. Strange Tales #1 (Nov. 1994; one-shot)
  12. Sanderson, Peter (2007). The Marvel Comics Guide to New York City. New York City: Pocket Books. pp. 62–63. ISBN 1-4165-3141-6.
  13. Agents of Atlas #4 (Jan. 2007)
  14. Agents of Atlas #6 (March 2007)
  15. What If? #9 (June 1978)
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