This is one of life’s little ironies, pure coincidence, where reality blows a fuse, kind of stupid, a little bit fun. And absolutely true. Rebellion, perhaps better known as a Games developer and publisher of 2000AD are resurrecting an assortment of classic British comic characters for their Smash! Special. None of the characters assembled ever appeared in Smash!, but that’s another story.
Notably, the new anthology features a new adventure for The Steel Claw, written by Charlie Higson, of Fast Show and Young James Bond fame and drawn by former Comics Laureate and Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard.
There’s a nostalgia factor here. The Steel Claw first saw light of day in October 1962 in Fleetway’s weekly comic Valiant. Conceived by editors Ken Mennell, Jack Le Grand and Sid Bicknell, it was developed by writer Ken Bulmer and artist Jesus Blasco. To begin with, Louis Crandell is a lowly assistant to Professor Barringer. Crandell has lost a hand in an accident and has a steel prosthetic. He is injured further in a lab accident and discovers that zapping himself with high voltage electricity renders him invisible, apart from the prosthetic hand. Thus empowered, he reigns terror on the world at large and becomes a bit of a menace before his final defeat.
Crandell settled down after that so to speak, finding redemption, becoming an adventurer, investigator, secret agent and super-hero (in a costume). Occasionally the legacy of his villainous past would come back to haunt him. His adventures, sometimes under the title The Return of The Claw continued in Valiant until 1973 and also in a series of digest publications. (And reprints in Vulcan). We thrilled to those electric charged yarns though they eventually lost their spark.
There is a Quality Comics mini series with framed reprints that renames the Claw, Randell, which was part of a gambit to move on to an ongoing series. The Claw also pops up in Grant Morrison’s Zenith. and the Wildstorm series Albion. You might notice his Iron Tallon cypher in the Moore-Davis Captain Britain. He even got is own Royal Mail postage stamp in a comic-themed range a few years back.
Always felt it was weird that while the Caped Crusader gave us advice on crossing the road and the telly advised that Captain Scarlet was indestructible while we were not, The Claw regularly stuck his finger in a plug socket or grabbed live cables to activate his power. Mind you, it looked more painful than sticking your tongue on an Ever Ready battery.
This is the silly coincidence. In the Valiant days, Fleetway operated out of an office in Farringdon Road, London but had moved out and on when the company changed ownership. Barclays Bank became the new tenant and in the Nineties it was that office that managed the share offer when the UK government decided to privatize the electricity companies. No Steel Claw ads, but they did use some other Valiant characters for the campaign with this rather lush Star Trek turn.
No idea if Louis Crandell became a share holder.