Publisher: Quality periodicals
Publication Dates: December 1986 – March 1987
Number of Issues Published: 4 (#1 – #4)
Dimensions: standard Modern Age US
Publishing Format: limited series
Information thanks to the Grand Comics Database
The Steel Claw was one of the most popular comic book heroes of British weekly adventure comics of the 1960s and 1970s.
The Steel Claw first appeared in the debut edition of Valiant dated 6 October 1962. The strip was one of several put together for the comic by Fleetway editors Ken Mennell, Jack Le Grand and Sid Bicknell, and was then refined by writer Ken Bulmer and artist Jesús Blasco. After the first three serials, Bulmer left the title, and was replaced by Tom Tully. The Steel Claw appeared in Valiant throughout much of the 1960s and was one of the most popular strips in the comic. Tully wrote the series for the remainder of its run. The story ended briefly in May 1970, but a year later was back, retitled Return of the Claw, which would run until 1973.
In 1967, Fleetway featured the character in a number of digest-size original stories in their Stupendous Series of Super Library comics. The Steel Claw would alternate with The Spider from Lion in these books, with the Claw featuring in the odd-numbered editions. Because of the pressures of deadlines, these monthly titles saw a variety of different writers and artists employed, usually various Italian artists, most notably future 2000 AD artist Massimo Belardinelli. These ran until January 1968.
However, when Valiant merged with Battle Picture Weekly, the strip transferred to Vulcan, from 1975, in a series of reprints. The strip had by now found popularity worldwide, including in Germany, India and Sweden, and it remained in print in these countries long after the character’s final appearance in the UK.
The Steel Claw remained fondly remembered by its fans and future comic creators, and during the Alan Moore and Alan Davis run of Captain Britain comic, The Steel Claw was renamed The Iron Tallon for a brief cameo appearance. This was followed by a four issue series published by Quality Comics in 1986, which reprinted material from Valiant (in this, the character’s name was edited to ‘Louis Randell’, and the stories were coloured), with new framing material drawn by Garry Leach.
The character remained in limbo for a number of years until Grant Morrison used The Steel Claw’s superhero incarnation (as well as a number of British heroes from the 1960s) in his Zenith strip in 2000AD. This was followed by a one-off special featuring The Steel Claw, amongst other 1960s characters, which was created by various 2000AD creators of the time.
However this failed to spawn any continuing series and the character again entered limbo, until it was announced in 2005 that DC Comics would be using the character along with a number of other IPC characters, in a six issue mini-series called Albion. This would be plotted by Alan Moore, and written by Leah Moore and John Reppion, with art by Shane Oakley and George Freeman. The series was complimented by an album collection, published by Titan Books, reprinting the Ken Bulmer/Jesus Blasco serials from Valiant.