The Man Who Would Be Kahn

The Man Who Would Be Kahn
or: Peril of Inappropriate Hue

Given today's climate, this is one that Marvel would probably prefer to forget but, the grab bag has rules: Grab a book, draw a character. I suppose I could've gone with Strange Tales 166 other feature, Dr Strange, but, fan of George Tuska that I am, his Strange just doesn't speak to me. One the other hand, Jaunty Jim Steranko is just getting into high gear with the SHIELD half of the book and the Yellow Claw (try me by Twitter and send me to hell) is one heck of a cool villain.

The Yellow Claw!

Happy Trails
Smitty

6 Comments so far

Nick Lenz's picture

A cool villain, mostly for Steranko's design I think, but yes, one who is no longer usable. I love this drawing, and how the art style is your own but you always seem to invoke the artist known for the character.

Jeffrey Bell's picture

This is a particularly stunning interpretation of one of Marvel's most controversial bad guys.

(Worth noting that when John Byrne used the character circa 2000, he referred to him merely as "The Claw." )

Smitty's picture

Looking back, even with being 14-15 at the time, it’s hard to believe the whole “everyone not white is vermin” trick went over my head. It was only a year or two earlier that we were chased out of Virginia for showing the house to a black family when it went up for sale.

While I can see that a generation that allied with China to fight Japan and then allied with Vietnam to fight the Chinese might hold asians suspect, where was the corresponding “kill all the whiteys” because of the Nazis or the Soviets? Oh, that’s right, Hitler and Stalin were lone wolves.

But, I have to admit, the non-human ears, the non-human skin, “yellow” as a non-human pejorative all went right past me at the time.

Nick Lenz's picture

While the character is/was offensive I'm not sure I agree with the idea that the writers felt “everyone not white is vermin” . After all Jimmy Woo was the Claws arch foe. The Claws own daughter often fought against her father and shared none of his demonic traits. Nor were they the only heroic Chinese characters Marvel/Timely produced.

Smitty's picture

... they didn't even notice at the time

I’m not trying to equate early Marvel with the KKK or Stars and Bars, just acknowledging that the gap between American law/the American dream (that all men are created equal) and the American reality is pretty wide. We may all be created equal but we’re certainly not all treated that way.

Note how Jimmy isn’t yellow, he’s “flesh” (because flesh and white are the same thing.) Jimmy dresses white, acts white, speaks white, so he gets colored white as a signifier of his goodness (well, wasn’t that mighty white of them.). Much the same as Suwan, who rejects her uncle along with her cultural upbringing and honor, gets white washed too.

As one born on the benefitted side of nearly every cultural fence in western life I’ve seen white privilege in action and experienced what happens to race traitors. We’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go.

Nick Lenz's picture

I understand your points. I never thought of Jimmy Woo acting white but rather Chinese American. Really it seemed like every hero back then came over on the Mayflower. And I suppose I didn't notice his white skin because I never thought of Chinese people as actually being yellow. In fact the bright yellow skin always seemed rather racist to me, but I must admit if you research Chinese complexion they do mention yellow tan, so maybe bright yellow was the best they could do in those days and Jimmy is actually being depicted as white as you say. At any rate, again, great drawing of the Claw and fond memories of Steranko.

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