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Monday, 10 July 2017

Claw, the Unconquered 1 - Claw debuts

Looking more like Conan the Barbarian than any of the other DC attempts to re-create that series, Claw, the Unconquered debuts with the May/June 1975 issue, by David Michelinie and Ernie Chan.

The story is set in the realm of Pytharia, and as we meet Claw, he is immediately described as a barbarian. Not even trying to hide their inspiration. He fights off a cut purse as he enters a tavern, and the woman who serves him winds up pulling off his strange gauntlet. This reveals a demon-like hand, the Claw that gives him his nickname. His true name is Vulcan. Another man at the tavern sees his hand, and sends out some men to try to capture Claw, but he kills them and flees.

The man from the tavern goes to see the king, reporting on Claw and his weird hand. It turns out the king has a bounty out for Claw, although he has never met him. He wants Claw's existence kept a secret, though, and has the man killed before he can tell anyone else.

What is going on? Well, we find out pretty quick. It turns out that the king, while still a prince, had his future foretold by a wizard who informed him that the only threat he will ever have will come from a man with a demon hand.

The prince sent out soldiers to find this man. They wound up finding Vulcan's father, who also had the same kind of hand. They killed him and his wife, unaware that they had an infant son. We see some strange white creature tend to the baby after the deaths of his parents. So now the prince is the king, and still fearing the threat of Claw, who knows nothing about this.

The tavern girl then re-enters the story. Soldiers are searching the town for Claw, and she leads him down into a secret passage to get away from them. It's a trap of course. Even Claw suspected that. She brings him to a temple where one of the king's men brings to life a nether god to kill Claw. Claw defeats the monster, and the king's man winds up dying as well.

The woman claims she was forced to betray him, and begs to accompany him. At their first watering hole, he spies her carving something into a tree, and sees that she is still working against him, marking a trail. He abandons her to the desert creature, and rides off.

Nice art, and the mystery of his hand makes this more readable than it would have been otherwise.

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