Preview: ‘The Steel Claw: The Cold Trail’ – More From One Of The Strangest British Heroes
by Richard Bruton
Coming soon, more from the hero who needs to electrocute himself to use his powers… ah, the brilliant weirdness of classic Brit comics…
Yes, Louis Crandell is The Steel Claw, the perfect embodiment of all that was so magnificently strange about Brit comics of old.
First of all, the man’s the most unlucky anti-hero of them all – first he loses his hand in a lab accident and then, after getting a steel hand replacement, a second lab accident gives him the power to become invisible… but only when he absorbs enough electricity. And the kicker? When he does become invisible, the steel claw doesn’t… oh, it’s so ridiculously great.
Anyway, Crandall began as a villain, using the powers to commit crimes and get power, but ended up as a particularly unlikely secret agent – as you do.
We’ve had two volumes of The Steel Claw so far, ‘Invisible Man’ and ‘Reign Of The Brain’, and it shouldn’t come as any surprise to discover that ‘The Cold Trail’ just keeps the madness coming.
Crandell gets assigned by the chief of the Shadow Squad to protect four important nuclear scientists meeting for a secret conference. And surprise surprise, it all goes disastrously wrong…
Yep, the scientists are frozen solid and the assassin escapes arrest by committing suicide – so much for The Steel Claw, super spy eh? With his reputation in tatters, he sets out to find out just who’s behind it all.
It’s another cracking volume, a ridiculous tale made so good by the incredible artwork of Jesus Blasco. Except this time it’s even better, as this another one of the Treasury of British Comics reprints of those Picture Library books. These were digest comics with just two panels a page. So here we have those two panels per page all blown up to full reprint oversized editions.
So that means it’s all full of those perfect Blasco panels blown in all their wonderful detail, all those noir elements that run through his art, all that incredible linework, the stunning use of blacks – but just bigger and better.
The Steel Claw: The Cold Trail
Written by Tom Tully, art by Jesus Blasco, published by Rebellion, Treasury of British Comics on 19th January.
Originally published in Fleetway Super Picture Library issue 5 in 1967.
Now, a little preview of the delights inside…
Oh Steel Claw… you’re so so wrong.