Friday, November 20, 2009

Warriors and Wizards Week! Famous First Fridays: Claw the Unconquered

Claw the Unconquered. What a far-out name for a sword and sorcery hero. In 1975, after a few attempts at sword and sorcery (Nightmaster and Sword of Sorcery, most notably), DC tossed out a handful of fantasy mags to see which ones fandom would dig. Most bit the big one quite quickly (in spite of their quality): Beowulf, Atlas, and Stalker. One, Warlord, would go on to greatness (at least for a decade or so). The other, Claw, fell somewhere in the middle. Claw was DC's most direct--er--answer to Conan (and don't cast stones at DC for "ripping-off" Conan--Marvel did it themselves, and quite often. Remember Thongor, Brak, and the rest?). Thanks to the art of Ernie Chan (then calling himself Ernie Chua), Claw looked almost exactly like Conan--except for that clawed hand of his (hence the name, natch).

Writer/co-creator David Michelinie gave Claw a personality very much like Conan's, put him in a world much like Conan's, and even gave him Conan's propensity for calling women "wenches". His origins and motivations, though, were quite different from those of Robert E. Howard's greatest creation. None of that seemingly aimless wandering Conan engaged in for Claw. He had a quest: to end the curse of the claw his family had been placed under and to overthrow the evil rulers so that he could gain his rightful throne. Sounds cool, huh? Then let Ol' Groove sock it to ya, baby! Here's Claw in all his REH-esque glory from ish #1 (February 1975), Groove-ophiles! Ya gotta read Michelinie and Chan's "The Sword and the Silent Scream!"

Michelinie and Chan did their thing for the first seven issues, then with ish #8 (April 1976) Keith Giffen replaced Chan on the penciling chores. With Giffen onboard, Claw started moving farther away from Conan and taking on more of a Michael Moorcock-Eternal Champion vibe (even tying into Michelinie's sci-fi swordswoman, Starfire). That was kinda cool, but the powers-that-were pulled the plug on the whole shebang with ish #9 (June 1976). A year-and-a-half later, Claw was brought back, with the Michelinie/Giffen team intact, for three more issues (January-May 1978), but the DC Implosion took Claw down, leaving two issues unpublished except for their appearance in the legendary Cancelled Comics Cavalcade #1 (Summer 1978). Those two issues were drawn by Romeo Tanghal (who would become the regular inker on Marv Wolfman and George Perez's awesome New Teen Titans in the 80s); the final story was written by future Marvel editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco.

Claw returned as a back-up feature for two issues of Warlord (#s 48-49, May-June 1981) then disappeared again to the Stygian darkness of forgotten comicbook barbarians until enjoying a short-lived revival in 2006.


  1. Claw was a good one.

    I particularly liked DC's 'Stalker The Soulless'

  2. Stalker will be represented in the next Warriors and Wizards week. Just didn't have room this time around, plus the mag has had some coverage on BookSteve's Hooray for Wally Wood and other places recently.



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