|Pop Culture Gadabout|
Tuesday, February 12, 2008 |
( 2/12/2008 07:35:00 AM ) Bill S.
GERBER: It was the Elf who did it.
Twenty-five issues into its run, young comics writer Steve Gerber introduced the Elf into The Defenders - and in so doing turned what had been a below-average Marvel Comics title into something worth noticing. His first appearance was outside a mobile home in California, where a vacuous young married couple named the Pritchetts are shown singing John Denver songs. A knock on the door; there's the Elf, who proceeds to pull out a pistol and shoot Tom Pritchett. The character would appear three more times during Gerber's run on the title, each time randomly appearing before an unfortunate victim, each time blowing 'em away without explanation. Then Gerber left the title and the character.
This being corporate comics, of course, subsequent writers would attempt to round out and explicate Gerber's creation. But I prefer to think of the Elf as he was initially imagined: sarcastic, amoral and utterly unknowable - perhaps the first true example of motiveless malignancy to hit mainstream comics. Gerber would go on write better known characters during his stint at Marvel - the most famous, of course, being Howard the Duck - but when I first think of the man and his fascinating/frustrating career in comics, I think of that damn Elf.
Looks like the little bastard finally showed up at Steve's own door.