Promotional art for Agents of Atlas #1 (Oct. 2006)
by Tomm Coker
|First appearance||Silver age: Yellow Claw #1 (Oct. 1956)
Modern age: Strange Tales #160 (Sept. 1967)
|Created by||Al Feldstein and Joe Maneely|
|Alter ego||James Woo|
Agents of Atlas
Jimmy Woo is a fictional, Chinese-American secret agent in the Marvel Comics comic-book universe. Created by EC Comics writer Al Feldstein and artist Joe Maneely, the character first appeared in Yellow Claw #1 (Oct. 1956) from Atlas Comics, the 1950s predecessor of Marvel.
Jimmy Woo was the hero of an espionage series Yellow Claw, named for his antagonist, a "yellow peril" Communist mandarin. While the short-lived series named after that villain ran only four issues (Oct. 1956 - April 1957), it featured art by Maneely, Jack Kirby, and John Severin.
Kirby took over as writer-artist with issue #2 — inking his own pencil art there and in the following issue, representing two of the very rare occasions on which he did so. On the final issue, Kirby's bold lines and dynamic compositions were given uncharacteristic grittiness by the scratchy inks of Western- and war-comics veteran Severin. Also unusually for a Kirby book, other artists drew the covers: Severin on #2 and #4, Bill Everett on #3.
Well regarded for its relatively mature storyline and in particular for Maneely's exquisitely atmospheric art, the book nevertheless failed to find an audience. Its influence rippled as the Yellow Claw, Woo and other characters from it were brought into the Marvel universe a decade later, beginning with the "S.H.I.E.L.D. " story in Strange Tales #160 (Sept. 1967). Woo joins that espionage agency in Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 (July 1968).
Woo went on to be featured in the 1977-1979 Marvel series Godzilla and the 2006-07 Marvel series Agents of Atlas. Before the cancellation of the 1990s alternate universe Marvel imprint Razorline, as produced but unpublished titles of its various series were preparing to blend the Razorline into primary Marvel continuity, Woo as well as Nick Fury and other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents guest-starred in Wraitheart #5. Woo starred as the leader of a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives code-named Agents of Atlas, in the 2006-2007 series of that name.
Fictional character biography
James Woo is an Asian-American FBI agent assigned primarily to investigate and apprehend the Chinese-national mandarin known as the Yellow Claw, a Fu Manchu manqué. (author Sax Rohmer had a Fu Manchu novel titled The Yellow Claw.) The Yellow Claw, who attempts world domination, claimed in 2000s comics that his American rubric is a mistransliteration of the Chinese characters for "Golden Claw". Complicating matters, the Claw's grandniece, Suwan, was in love with Woo in the 1950s series.
In retcon stories, Woo is the FBI agent assigned in 1958 to oversee the 1950s superhero team the Avengers, a short-lived predecessor of the later, more established team of that name.[volume & issue needed]
As a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Woo went on to join its "Godzilla Squad" to hunt down the giant monster Godzilla (the character from the long-running series of films from the Japanese movie studio Toho). This unit, led by Dum Dum Dugan, employed such weapons as a giant robot called Red Ronin (for which Woo was shortlisted as a pilot candidate), and was headquartered in a smaller version of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, known as the Behemoth.[volume & issue needed]
Woo was temporarily replaced by a Life Model Decoy (a form of artificial human utilized by S.H.I.E.L.D.) of the self-aware, renegade "Deltan" class, and went through five such bodies before dying with other repentant LMDs. Woo reemerged from stasis, along with other high-ranking officers that had been taken and replaced.[volume & issue needed] At some point he becomes a high-ranking agent within the S.H.I.E.L.D. Directorate.[volume & issue needed]
In 2006-2007 stories, Woo attempted a secret raid of a group identified as The Atlas Foundation. Going AWOL and taking several other willing agents with him, he infiltrated an Atlas Foundation location, resulting in all the recruits being killed. Woo was critically burned and lost higher brain function. The former 1950s Avenger Gorilla-Man, by now also a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, gave the organization a classified record of the 1950s team, of which S.H.I.E.L.D. had no prior knowledge. Gorilla-Man rescues Woo with the aid of fellow 1950s teammates M-11 and Marvel Boy, who restores Woo to his 1958 self.
Along with his teammates he follows the Atlas Foundation all over the world, unlocking secrets about his teammates former lives, restoring Namora to life, and eventually confronting Yellow Claw, who reveals that the whole ordeal was only a test. As Woo passed it flawlessly, he commits suicide, ending his long life and granting to Jimmy Woo his role as Head of the Atlas Foundation, and Suwan's hand. Woo later surfaces in New York, where he and Spider-Man shut down a rebellious cell of the Atlas Foundation.[volume & issue needed]
During the Infinity storyline, it is shown that Jimmy is now the head of the Pan-Asian School For The Unusually Gifted, a Mumbai-based school for Asian teenagers with superhuman abilities. Jimmy Woo runs the school with Sanjar Javeed as a fellow teacher.
Jeff Yang, curator of the "Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986" exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum, called Jimmy Woo a "positive exception" to the "largely negative" depiction of Asians and Asian-Americans in comics at time when "the view of Asians was shaped by racist, xenophobic wartime propaganda." 
In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Jimmy Woo is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., partnered with Sharon Carter. He was introduced in Ultimate Spider-Man #16, in which he and Carter are trying to capture Doctor Octopus.
In other media
- Jimmy Woo appears in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode "Iron Man is Born", voiced by Nolan North. He later drives a transport vehicle with Captain America, Betty Brant, and Peter Parker in the episode "Along Came a Spider."
- Agents of Atlas #4 (Jan. 2007)
- 'What If Vol. 1, #9 (June 1978) and in the 2000s miniseries Marvel: The Lost Generation.
- Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 (June 1988)
- Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. #6 (Nov. 1988)
- Agents of Atlas vol. 1 #1
- Agents of Atlas vol. 1 #4
- Agents of Atlas vol. 1 #6
- Infinity: The Hunt #1
- Wada, Karen (2013-12-08). "‘Marvels & Monsters’ exhibit explores comics’ portrayal of Asians". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-12-09.
- Ultimate Spider-Man #14
- "Watch Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes Micro-Ep. 9 | Movie & TV News | News". Marvel.com. 2010-09-30. Retrieved 2010-12-26.
- Don Markstein's Toonopedia: The Yellow Claw
- Jess Nevins' "A Guide to Marvel's Pre-FF #1 Heroes: Jimmy Woo
- Comic Book Resources (June 12, 2006): "Agents Of Atlas Agent Profile: Woo, Jimmy Woo", by Dave Richards
- The Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators
- Marvel Directory: Yellow Claw
- Atlas Tales
- The Grand Comics Database
- Comic Book Resources - Parker Talks "Agents Of Atlas"
- Index to the Marvel Comics Universe: Jimmy Woo LMD (Deltan)