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Jimmy Woo (1950s version) (Atlas Comics) with Su Wan

Jimmy Woo

(Profile #1 - the 1950s)


Context

This character appeared in 1950s comic books published by Atlas Comics, the “ancestor” of Marvel Comics. He fought the Yellow Claw (a cheap Fu Manchu  knock-off) and the comic was thus called Yellow Claw.

Jimmy is also a remarkably early example of a comic-book Asian-American hero, who was played straight as a two-fisted, crime-busting, science-minded G-man.

This profile is the first in a series, since Mr. Woo’s adventures are still published to this day. It is followed by , then Jimmy Woo, Agent of Atlas.

Note that this first profile does not uses additional information and retcons  from later appearances, with the exception of some data from Files of Nick Fury – Secret War. Each profile in the series only covers that version of Jimmy.


Background

  • Real Name: James “Jimmy” Woo
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Kim Woo (father, deceased), Margaret Woo (mother)
  • Group Affiliation: Federal Bureau of Investigations
  • Base Of Operations: Washington, D.C.
  • Height: 5’8” Weight: 170 lbs
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

Agent Woo is the traditional two-fisted, heat-packing, hard-detecting G-man of the 1940s and 1950s. He’s sharp, very courageous, persuasive and an excellent fighter.

He has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to take on four or even five trained and experienced men unarmed. He also seems to have some form of military training – perhaps he served in Korea.

Jimmy Woo, the Yellow Claw and Suwan

Jimmy always knows about the latest developments in scientific research. At the very least he’s an attentive reader of popular science magazines. In the 1950s, the hero is always knowledgeable about science.

Hail to the G

Woo supposedly works for the FBI. Yet he is routinely sent on missions that have very little to do with the Bureau’s responsibilities, such as investigating seismic disturbances on uncharted islands deep in the Pacific.

It is thus possible that he was transferred to an inter-agencies task force working on the Yellow Claw case, then transferred back when the Claw vanished. His Connection with US intelligence agencies in our game stats is based on this hypothesis. If it existed it probably only lasted from 1956 to 1958/59.


History

Jimmy Woo’s youth wasn’t depicted. It is possible that he was born in the US of Chinese parents, perhaps traditionalists who fled China during the overthrown of the Qing dynasty  and the warlords years that ensued. But this is just a guess.

As his adventures begin he’s a crack FBI agent. He graduated valedictorian at the Academy and seems to be 25 or so. Neither his youth nor his ethnicity seem to bother anyone – which is remarkable in the 1950s.

In 1956, the Director of the Bureau informs Agent Woo that the Red Chinese made a Fu Manchu-like figure, known as the Yellow Claw, their main agent. The Claw’s goal is to destabilise the US and thus facilitate an invasion of Taiwan. The Claw is thought to already be in the US, presumably in the San Francisco Chinatown.

Su Wan

Woo having contacts in the area, he’s assigned to the case. The ace agent soon locates the Claw and his Nazi ally, former death camp commandant Fritz Voltzmann.

Jimmy Woo and Su Wan

This investigation also leads Jimmy to encounter the Claw’s grand-niece, Su Wan. The lass openly objects to the mastermind’s horrible schemes. The two youths instantly develop a strong but unspoken attraction. During the following years Su Wan would often convey inside information to Jimmy, or even help him escape from death traps set by the Yellow Claw.

Being Su Wan’s guardian, the Yellow Claw never harmed her or even detained her over this. Her welfare was his responsibility. However decades later, Su Wan noted that he did use hypnosis against her when her opposition to his plans was too overt.

The Claw took his familial duties so seriously that he did not want to kill Agent Woo. He realised that his grand-niece was in love with him and did not want to break her heart. He thus preferred deathtraps in which the G-Man would have a fighting chance.

Further complicating the situation, Jimmy Woo’s patriotic duty sometimes forced him to abuse Su Wan’s trust to arrest the Claw. However she understood his obligations and seemingly never resented Jimmy for long over these incidents.

The Devil Doctor

The stories about the Yellow Claw were short and formulaic, as was the style of the day. They included little plot or character development. Woo’s exploits against his fiendish nemesis include:

  • Convincing a hardcase American prisoner, whom the Claw had busted out of prison to become his agent, not to betray his country in service of the mastermind.
  • Helping disperse a group of six powerful psychic mutants, whom the Claw coerced into randomly warping reality all around the US.
  • Narrowly preventing the Claw and his ally from kidnapping two key American ambassadors.
  • Nearly arresting the Claw but getting captured and dropped into a rushing underground stream while trapped in a transparent plastic bubble.
  • Helping wreck a plan, somewhere in Asia, which revolved around a “giant god” called Temujai (actually a robot).
  • Discovering that the Claw employed half a fire team of miniaturised, one-inch-tall soldiers as assassins. Woo got himself shrunk so as to single-handedly capture them.
  • Helping convince the alien Ufo, who had been duped into becoming an ally of the Claw, that he had been lied to.
  • Discovering that the recently-captured Yellow Claw was actually a sophisticated robot with a nuclear bomb in its torso, and disposing of it in time.

Jimmy Woo fights shadow men

  • Stopping the Claw from using a mysterious snow which could be turned into clouds of sleeping gas. That came after the villain’s first attempt was thwarted through sheer luck by the military.
  • Being a stowaway on a flying sphere made of living shadow people fetched from another universe by the Claw to bust his grand-niece free from the Federal prison holding her.
  • Turning intelligent mutant seagulls hired by the Claw against their employer.
  • Convincing master hypnotist “Sleepy Eyes” to double-cross his employer the Claw to foil a scheme that turned an entire town into sleepwalkers via TV-relayed hypnosis.
  • Surviving being ambushed in his own apartment by a mentally-created lion.
  • Rescuing the powerful mentalist whom the Claw had convinced to dream up and create a small army of invincible soldiers.
  • … and presumably other cases.

Though Agent Woo kept thwarting the Claw in the nick of time, he apparently never stopped him for long.

Swingin’ sixties here he comes

Circa 1960 the Claw vanished from the scene. The FBI reassigned star agent Jimmy Woo to other cases. It would seem that he met with Captain America during one such unchronicled investigation.

In 1967, Captain America consulted Woo about a case he and Nick Fury had handled two years prior. After Cap and Fury finished explaining the encounter, Woo drew the correct conclusion. Only the Yellow Claw could be behind such a weird and formidable plan.

This is how Mr. Woo became acquainted with Mr. Fury, who would soon play an important role in his life.


Description

During the 1950s Woo is a chain smoker, as was common back then. He is rarely seen without a cigarette.

His skin tone has been through many odd changes over the decades. It went from that weird pale yellow often used for Asian characters in 1940s comic books and anti-Japanese propaganda, to the same skin tone used for Caucasian characters.


Personality

Not really. The only thing distinguishing Jimmy Woo from the archetypal 1950s two-fisted, sharp-eyed G-Man is the colour of his skin. And that is simply *never* mentioned or even alluded to during the course of Yellow Claw.

He’s thus a very serious, sharp, utterly dedicated and professional agent, always ready to serve and protect the United States of America.


Quotes

“I’m sorry, Su Wan ! I had my duty to perform !”

“That’s professor Knute Lindstrom, the world-famous chemist ! He’s been missing for months !”

“This is all I’ll need, sir ! I’m ready !”

“I’ve got a theory of my own about this whole business ! But you give me the facts, Su Wan !”

“I’m on my way, chief !”

(Struggling underwater with a crocodile) “If only I can subdue the beast with my tie…”


DC Universe History

The likeliest niche is to have him accompany King Faraday during the gap between the original Danger Trail comics and the Showcase features.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Special Agent Jimmy Woo

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Justice
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 04 Occupation: G-man
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 014 HP: 025

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics)*: 04, Charisma (Interrogation, Persuasion): 06, Detective (Legwork, Police procedure): 05, Martial Artist: 05, Vehicles (Land): 05, Weaponry (Firearms): 04

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Major Chinatowns in the US), Familiarity (Chinese cultures, General scientific knowledge and news), Language (Cantonese Chinese), Sharp Eye

Connections:
FBI (Low), Street (Low), Su Wan (High), American Intelligence Agencies (Low, see below)

Drawbacks:
None demonstrated

Equipment:

  • His usual weapon is .38 snub-nosed revolver. Probably a Colt Detective Special Second Series loaded with .38 special cartridges [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 03, Ammo: 06, Miniaturisation: 01, R#04, Drawback: Long reload]. It is apparently held in a shoulder holster beneath his suit.
  • He was also seen using a full-sized .38 revolver — .38 Special Revolver [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 06, R#02, Drawback: Long Reload] or, when in the rough, a M1911 Colt pistol [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 07, R#03]. At one point he’s even armed with what seems to be a M1 Garand Rifle in .30-06 [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 06, Ammo: 15, R#03]
  • In the 1960s, this being Stan Lee stories, he starts using spy gadgets, though nothing as sophisticated as S.H.I.E.L.D. gear. This included a then-futuristic Pistol [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 15, R#02] and 360 Degrees Vision Sunglasses [BODY 01, Full vision: 03]


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Agent Woo (1950s) — Averaged PL 6

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
01 02 03 02 04 03 02 01

Combat Advantages

Close attack 1, Defensive Roll 2, Evasion, Precise Attack (Close, Concealment), Ranged attack 2

Other Advantages

Benefit 1 (Beloved of Su Wan), Benefit (FBI special agent), Equipment 2, Language (Cantonese Chinese), Well-Informed

Skills

Athletics 4 (+5), Acrobatics 2 (+4), Close combat (Unarmed) 2 (+7), Deception 5 (+6), Expertise (FBI agent) 9 (+12), Expertise (All things Chinese) 8 (+11), Expertise (Science) 4 (+7), Expertise (Streetwise) 5 (+8), Expertise (Military) 5 (+8), Insight 4 (+6), Perception 4 (+6), Persuasion 3 (+4), Ranged combat (Firearms) 2 (+6), Stealth 2 (+4), Vehicles 6 (+8) (Limited 2 to common land vehicles)

Equipment

Light Pistol

Offense

Initiative +3
Unarmed +7, Close, Damage 1
Light pistol +6, Ranged, Damage 3

Defense

Dodge 7 Fortitude 6
Parry 7 Toughness 4/2*
Will 5

* Without Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Relationship Jimmy is in love with the daughter of the monstrous Yellow Claw
  • Duty Agent Woo is a duty-bound patriot

Power levels

  • Trade-off areas Attack & Effect PL 5, Dodge/Toughness PL 5, Parry/Toughness PL 5, Fort & Will PL 6
  • Point total 93 Abilities 36, Defences 14, Skills 30, Powers 0, Devices 0, Advantages 13. Equiv. PL 7.

Notes

In the 1960s he had more Equipment Ranks for spy-type gadgetry.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Yellow Claw (1956-1957) and his Marvel Universe appearances

Helper(s): Gareth Lewis

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