Steel Claw

Steel Claw


caption=Louis Crandell, The Steel Claw. Art by Jesús Blasco.
character_name=The Steel Claw
real_name=Louis Crandell
publisher= IPC Magazines/ Quality Comics/Wildstorm (DC Comics)
debut="Valiant", 6 October 1962
creators=Tom Tully
Jesús Blasco
alliances=The Shadow Squad
aliases=Lewis Randell
powers=Invisibility. Steel Claw containing a different weapon in each finger, the Claw was also remote controlled.|

The Steel Claw was one of the most popular comic book heroes of British weekly adventure comics of the 1960s and 1970s. The character was revived in 2005 for "Albion", a six issue mini-series published by the Wildstorm imprint of DC Comics.

Publishing history

"The Steel Claw" first appeared in the debut edition of "Valiant" dated 6 October 1962. The strip was one of several put together for the comic by Fleetway editors Ken Mennell, Jack Le Grand and Sid Bicknell, and was then refined by writer Ken Bulmer and artist Jesús Blasco. After the first three serials, Bulmer left the title, and was replaced by Tom Tully. "The Steel Claw" appeared in "Valiant" throughout much of the 1960s and was one of the most popular strips in the comic. Tully wrote the series for the remainder of its run. The story ended briefly in May 1970, but a year later was back, retitled "Return of the Claw", which would run until 1973.

In 1967, Fleetway featured the character in a number of digest-size original stories in their "Stupendous Series" of Super Library comics. "The Steel Claw" would alternate with "The Spider" from "Lion" in these books, with the Claw featuring in the odd-numbered editions. Because of the pressures of deadlines, these monthly titles saw a variety of different writers and artists employed, usually various Italian artists, most notably future "2000 AD" artist Massimo Belardinelli. These ran until January 1968.

However when "Valiant" merged with "Battle Picture Weekly", the strip transferred to "Vulcan", from 1975, in a series of reprints. The strip had by now found popularity worldwide, including in Germany, India and Sweden, and it remained in print in these countries long after the character's final appearance in the UK.

"The Steel Claw" remained fondly remembered by its fans and future comic creators, and during the Alan Moore and Alan Davis run of "Captain Britain" comic, "The Steel Claw" was renamed "The Iron Tallon" for a brief cameo appearance. This was followed by a four issue series published by Quality Comics in 1986, which reprinted material from "Valiant" (in this, the character's name was edited to 'Louis Randell', and the stories were coloured), with new framing material drawn by Garry Leach.

The character remained in limbo for a number of years until Grant Morrison used "The Steel Claw"'s superhero incarnation (as well as a number of British heroes from the 1960s) in his "Zenith" strip in "2000AD". This was followed by a one-off special featuring "The Steel Claw", amongst other 1960s characters, which was created by various "2000AD" creators of the time.

However this failed to spawn any continuing series and the character again entered limbo, until it was announced in 2005 that DC Comics would be using the character along with a number of other IPC characters, in a six issue mini-series called "Albion". This would be plotted by Alan Moore, and written by Leah Moore and John Reppion, with art by Shane Oakley and George Freeman. The series was complimented by a graphic novel, published by Titan Books, reprinting the Ken Bulmer/Jesus Blasco serials from "Valiant".

Character Biography

Louis Crandell was the assistant to the scientist Professor Barringer, until a laboratory accident in which he lost his right hand. He then used a prosthetic metal hand to substitute for it. In another laboratory accident, with a new ray, if he received an electric shock he would become invisible for a limited period of time, with the exception of his artificial hand.

Crandell initially used his new found gift to steal, and became a psychotic criminal. In early strips he was clearly a villain, but he later decided to use his new powers in crime fighting (it was explained that the accident which made it possible for him to become invisible had temporarily made him insane). He joined a British secret service and espionage agency, known as the Shadow Squad. Armed with his steel claw, which by now was equipped with a variety of weapons and tools in each finger, as well as with his power of invisibility, Louis Crandell battled various criminal geniuses, aliens, and the organisation known as F.E.A.R. (the Federation for Extortion, Assassination and Rebellion).

Louis Crandell briefly donned a superhero outfit for a time during his adventures. This was not to last though, and Crandell quickly returned to his secret agent roots. By now his Claw was also remote controlled and stacked full of gadgets. After retiring from the Shadow Squad, Louis Crandell became a detective, and then a bounty hunter, before distrust of his past eventually led him to go to South America, where he continued to fight crime.

When "The Steel Claw" was reprinted by Quality Comics, a framing sequence featured Crandell (called Randell in this version) as an aging secret agent reflecting on his early criminal career. His appearance in "Zenith" saw him disabled during battle, eventually dying from blood loss. This was followed by his appearance in "2000AD Action", where Crandell was portrayed as a burnt out government assassin.

In Paul Grist's comic, Jack Staff, a character called Ben Kulmer appears as "The Claw". This character is a thief who tries to steal the Claw from a museum, only to have it attach itself to his left hand, and then receives the same invisibility powers, as well as added strength and shock powers in the Claw. He is now working as part of a group called "Q".

Steel Claw around the world

"The Steel Claw" enjoyed wide popularity in Europe and Asia, the adventures featuring the Shadow Squad being the most popular of the series.

teel Claw in France

The Steel Claw is known as "Main d’Acier" in France, which literally means “Hand of Steel”. In France, several series of "The Steel Claw" appeared, published by Gémini editions and MCL. The early Steel Claw series appeared in the Gémini editions which were published between 1962 and 1980.

teel Claw in Germany

In Germany in the 1970s the magazine "Vulcan" was published under the title "Kobra", which used most of IPC's adventure strips, including "The Steel Claw", Mytek the Mighty, Kelly's Eye, The Spider, and Robot Archie. However, the stories which were published in "Kobra" were partly incomplete, switching between stories unpredictably. Finally the magazine was discontinued, leaving German fans in dismay.

teel Claw in Finland

Steel Claw was published in Finland in the early 1970s, firstly in a series of digest sized pocket books, and then as part of the "Sarjakuvalehti", which had three or four different stories each month. The series were mostly about The Steel Claw's adventures as a Shadow Squad agent. The Steel Claw stories also appeared occasionally in "Mustanaamio" during the early 1980s.

teel Claw in Netherlands

Steel Claw was published in the Netherlands in the pocket (digest sized) comic serie "Superstrip" as "De Stalen Vuist" ("Steel Fist") since the late 60's. #1 in this series was actually a Steel Claw story.

teel Claw in Sweden

Steel Claw was published in Sweden under the name "Stålhanden" ("Steel Hand") from 1969 onwards, in the magazines "Swisch" (1969-70 - 19 nrs published, then absorbed in Serie-Nytt), "Serie-Nytt" (1970-74), reprints appeared in "Seriemagasinet" (1977-80), various very early stories thus far unreleased in Sweden are found in its spin-off "SM Special" (1979-85). Steel Claw episodes appeared sporadically in "Seriemagasinet" until the late 1990s. Reprints further appeared in "Barracuda" (1990-91 - 9 nrs published).

teel Claw in South India

Steel Claw achieved cult status in India becoming one of India's most popular action heroes. In Tamil Nadu "Irumbukkai Maayavi" and in Kerala, "Urukkukai Maayavi" became a popular hero for many millions of fans. In Tamil Nadu, "The Steel Claw" was published by "Muthu Comics" in 1971, under the license of Fleetway Publications. Later "Lion Comics", published the adventures of Steel Claw in South India.

This series was published in the hindi monthly magazine parag under the name "fauladi panja". The series was brought to Kerala by Regal Comics and published from Kottayam in the 1970s and 1980s. In Kerala the tremendous popularity of the series triggered many rip-offs of Steel Claw. CID Michael, CID Moosa and CID Mahesh were the Kerala equivalents of Steel Claw, though their abilities differed. In some comics these characters would make themselves invisible with a wrist watch switch, supposedly an ultra-modern device. In some comics Mahesh is invisible except for his iron helmet, a direct influence from the Steel Claw series.

teel Claw Names

External links

* [ The Steel Claw Page]
* [ Details of the "Albion" series]

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