This character appeared in 1950s comic books published by Atlas Comics, the predecessor of Marvel Comics.
He fought the Yellow Claw (a Fu Manchu knock-off) and the comic was therefore called Yellow Claw.
Jimmy is also a remarkably early example of a comic book Asian-American hero. He was played straight as a two-fisted, crime-busting, science-minded G-man1930s+ slang for an armed Federal agent., without stereotyping.
- Real Name: Special Agent James “Jimmy” Woo.
- Known Relatives: Kim Woo (father, deceased), Margaret Woo (mother).
- Group Affiliation: Federal Bureau of Investigations.
- Base Of Operations: Washington, D.C..
- Height: 5’8” (1.72m). Weight: 170 lbs. (77 Kg.).
- Eyes: Brown. Hair: Black.
Powers and Abilities
Jimmy can take on four or even five trained men in a brawl.
He also seems to have received military training. Perhaps he served in Korea.
At one point he seems to pilot an early-ish jet fighter – perhaps a F-86 Sabre .
Being a 1950s comic book hero, Jimmy knows about the latest developments in scientific research. At the very least he’s an attentive reader of popular science magazines.
Hail to the G
Woo supposedly works for the FBI. Yet he is routinely sent on missions that have zilch to do with the Bureau. Such as investigating seismic disturbances on uncharted islands deep in the Pacific, by piloting the aforementioned Sabre.
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 this Connection indeed existed, it probably only lasted from 1956 to 1958/59.
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 was improbable in the 1950s.
In 1956, the Director of the Bureau informed Agent Woo that the Red ChineseCold War American slang for the Communist gov’t in Beijing. made one Yellow Claw their main agent. The Claw’s goal was to destabilise the US, to facilitate an invasion of Taiwan.
The FBI also thought that the Claw was already active in the US, presumably in the San Francisco Chinatown.
(For a digestible history of the “Yellow Peril” in genre stories, see this Jess Nevins article ).
Woo having contacts in this area, he’s assigned to the case. The ace agent soon locates the Claw and his Nazi ally, former death camp commandant Fritz Voltzmann.
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.
Su Wan (cont.)
Being Su Wan’s guardian, the Yellow Claw never harmed her or even detained her over this. Her welfare was his responsibility.
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 Jimmy and did not want to break her heart.
Therefore, he preferred deathtraps that left the G-man a fighting chance.
Further complicating the situation, Jimmy Woo’s patriotic duty sometimes meant abusing Su Wan’s trust to arrest the Claw. However she understood both men’s obligations.
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 documented 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.
- Helping to disperse a group of six powerful psychic mutants, whom the Claw had 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. However, Agent Woo was then 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 (2.5cm) 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.
- 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 a Federal prison.
- Turning intelligent mutant seagulls hired by the Claw against their employer.
- Convincing master hypnotist “Sleepy Eyes” to double-cross the Claw. This foiled 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 a powerful mentalist whom the Claw had convinced to dream up invincible soldiers.
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 James Woo to other cases.
He seemingly met Captain America (Steve Rogers) during one such unchronicled investigation.
In 1967, Captain America consulted Agent 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.
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 ranged from that weird pale yellow often used for East Asian characters in 1940s comic books and anti-Japanese propaganda, to the same skin tone used for White characters.
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 never even alluded to in Yellow Claw.
He’s thus a serious, sharp, utterly dedicated and professional agent. He’s always ready to serve and protect the United States of America.
“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, as you do) “If only I can subdue the beast with my tie…”
DC Universe Adaptation
(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).
The likeliest niche is to have him accompany King Faraday during the gap between the original Danger Trail comics and the Showcase features.
DC Heroes RPG
Special Agent Jimmy Woo
|Dex: 04||Str: 03||Bod: 04|
|Int: 05||Wil: 05||Min: 04|
|Inf: 05||Aur: 04||Spi: 04|
|Init: 014||HP: 025|
Acrobatics (Athletics)*: 04, Charisma (Interrogation, Persuasion): 06, Detective (Legwork, Police procedure): 05, Martial Artist: 05, Vehicles (Air, Land): 05, Weaponry (Firearms): 04
Area Knowledge (Major Chinatowns in the US), Familiarity (Chinese cultures, General scientific knowledge and news), Language (Cantonese Chinese), Sharp Eye.
FBI (Low), Street (Low), Su Wan (High), American Intelligence Agencies (Low, see below).
- 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 carried 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].
That Mr. Woo speaks Cantonese is a guess, based on my crude understanding of the history of Chinese immigration in the US. It’s never stated.
There’s one panel where he’s unable to read a plant’s name in Chinese. But that could be for a number of reasons.
DC Adventures RPG
Agent Woo (1950s) — Averaged PL 6
Close attack 1, Defensive Roll 2, Evasion, Precise Attack (Close, Concealment), Ranged attack 2.
Benefit 1 (Beloved of Su Wan), Benefit (FBI special agent), Equipment 2, Language (Cantonese Chinese), Well-Informed.
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 1 to common land and air vehicles).
|Unarmed +7, Close, Damage 1|
|Light pistol +6, Ranged, Damage 3|
* Without Defensive Roll.
- Relationship Jimmy is in love with the daughter of the monstrous Yellow Claw.
- Duty Agent Woo is a duty-bound patriot.
- Trade-off areas Attack & Effect PL 5, Dodge/Toughness PL 5, Parry/Toughness PL 5, Fort & Will PL 6.
- Point total 94. Abilities 36, Defences 14, Skills 31, Powers 0, Devices 0, Advantages 13. Equiv. PL 7.
In the 1960s he had more Equipment Ranks for spy-type gadgetry.
Source of Character: Yellow Claw (1956-1957) and his Marvel Universe appearances.
Helper(s): Gareth Lewis.