Friday, December 31, 2010

"The End" Week: Claw the Unconquered #12!

We were just talking about him the other day, but now we'll check out his last issue: Claw the Unconquered #12, "The Slayer" Written by David Michelinie, pencils by Keith Giffen, inks by Bob Layton.

Riding along, minding his own business, Claw stumbles into a border war between Boske and Kyfirth, getting attacked by a horde of Boskians. Claw slaughters the hell out of them, until getting his sword stuck in a corpse. A rider with a lance has Claw at his mercy, but finds it "unjust to skewer you like a snared rabbit!" and spares him.

Mercenaries for the Kyfirthians are cleaning up the battlefield, at least the ears: they get fifty gold pieces for every left ear they bring in. One tries to backstab Claw, but his demon hand saves him without Claw even looking.

Later, the remaining mercenaries drug Claw in an attempt to steal his metal gauntlet; not realizing it didn't protect him, the demon hand within did. Terrified, they flee with the gauntlet; and Claw decides not to go after them, as he's tired of the gauntlet's hold over him...

Claw rides to the Kyfirthians, and offers to teach swordsmanship. As a test, he faces the three best students, and smears them, unintentionally maiming one. Later, at dinner, the cook calls him on that, and Claw nearly twists his face off. Warned to cool it, Claw realizes the gauntlet was restricting the influence of his demon hand. (Interestingly, most seeing his hand assume him to be maimed himself, that he couldn't have two good hands.)

Claw is ordered to take his trainees on a patrol, which leads to battle. He then goes berserker, killing anyone in his path; and most of his trainees perhaps wisely run away. The last warrior, the same that spared Claw earlier, surrenders; but Claw guts him just the same. His dying words accuse Claw of having no honor, but Claw doesn't hear, doesn't even realize whom he killed, he just knows the hand has him.
'Next issue on sale during the second week of July'? No.
Reaching his breaking point, Claw finds a handy (as it were...) axe, and amputates the demon hand. The issue ends with Claw cauterizing his wound...and weeping.

Of course, like we said before, this may have been Claw's last issue, but his storyline wasn't quite through: he would get a little resolution in the pages of Warlord. Sadly, it would be with a different creative crew, but the effort to wrap things up has to be appreciated; and Claw's last story (for the time being) had the coolass title "Hands Across the Hells." In fact, I read it long before I ever realized Claw had his own book; I had thought it was the beginning of his story, not the end.

This comic had to be just before Giffen became the artist for Legion of Super-Heroes, and his art style has changed over the years, but it's still nice work. Michelinie would also go on to a ton of other books, in particular Iron Man with the inker here, Bob Layton. And I've been a fan of Layton's since his first Hercules mini-series.

We'll have at least one more "The End" post later today, maybe more if I get cracking! But I kinda need to finish tomorrow's post...

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