Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Our favorite (anti) heroes: The Foolkiller

The Foolkiller is a character appearing in the Marvel comics. He was created by writer Steve Gerber He also had a ten-issue limited series that ran from 1990 to 1991. There have been three different individuals to adopt the mantle of the Foolkiller. The character was inspired by a southern legend that was the basis for a short story by O. Henry. This in turn was the inspiration for a later novel by Helen Eustis. An character of the same name also appeared in L. Frank Baum's The Enchanted Island of Yew. A play by Stephen Vincent Benet, called "Johnny Pye and the Foolkiller," has recently appeared on broadway a a musical.

The original Foolkiller was more of a reactionary crusader than subsequent versions of the character. Upset by anti-Vietnam War protests and counterculture movements, he decided that sinners, dissidents, and criminals alike were "fools" who must be eliminated, and that he had been chosen by God to do so. He was inspired by a faith healer, Reverend Mike Pike, who cured his childhood paralysis. As a result, he became an evangelist with Reverend Mike as his mentor and soon became as popular as the Reverend. But after catching Reverend Mike in a drunken orgy, he killed his former hero, preserved the corpse in formaldehyde, and used the preacher's money to fund his vigilante activities. He donned a flamboyant costume and acquired (by unknown means) his "purification gun", a raygun which disintegrated people instantly. Some of his victims were given a 24-hour warning in the form of a calling card:

"Foolkiller / e pluribus unum / You have 24 hours to live. Use them to repent or be forever damned to the pits of hell where goeth all fools. Today is the last day of the rest of your life. Use it wisely or die a fool."

In his comic appearance, the Foolkiller attempted to kill two major characters in the series: F.A. Schist, a real estate developer whose projects threatened the ecology of the Florida Everglades, and Richard Rory, a disk jockey who had denounced the Foolkiller's activities. During a struggle with the monstrous Man-Thing, the Foolkiller died in a freak accident, impaled by a shard of glass from the tank containing Reverend Mike.

The Foolkiller lived on as several other comics including as cabal of fundamentalist super soldiers of 2099 modelled themselves after the Foolkillers of the 20th Century-but none as good (or some say pure) as the original. Marvel have recently announced that a new Foolkiller limited series, written by Gregg Hurwitz, will be released under their Marvel MAX adult imprint beginning February 2007.

Today is the last day of the rest of your life. Use it wisely or die a fool.

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