Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Our Favorite Elf ... With A Gun!

From Habakkuk at Everything2:
A character published by Marvel Comics. The Elf with a Gun first appeared in Defenders #25 in 1975 and was created by Steve Gerber

So you like your comics bizarre, you say? You are all for continuity and comics canon, but occasionally you like things that are just so odd that they leave you puzzling over them for days. Then, you will in general love the work of Steve Gerber. Gerber is the creator of such cultural icons as Howard the Duck and Doctor Bong, so his history of the off-kilter is well documented, but over a couple of years, he introduced into the Marvel Universe a wonderful character that became known simply by the moniker the Elf with a Gun.

The character first appeared in a brief interlude in Defenders #25. The scene opens with a couple watching TV in their trailer one evening when their activity is interrupted by a knock on the door. The husband goes and answers the door and is met with the unexpected sight of an elf. That's right: an elf - small, red hair and beard, pointed ears, hat with a pom pom, and curly toed shoes. And as the husband stares at the elf, it pulls out a gun and shoots both the husband and his wife. End of Interlude.

What makes this interlude so odd is that the couple has nothing to do with the Defenders at all. We have never met them or their assailant, but it is an intriguing plot point and began speculation as to who this elf was.

Six issues pass, and the elf appears again, this time in Las Vegas, posing as a cab driver. He picks up another couple, drives a bit, discards the disguise, and for no visible purpose, shoots them both. Again, there is no connection between the Defenders, the victims, or the Elf that we are aware of.

This trend continues over the next couple of years. On at least two more ocassions, the Elf with the Gun appears and kills seemingly nameless people for no particular reason. The fans by this point were demanding an answer from Gerber as to who this character was, why he was shooting people, and what it all meant. Gerber, to his credit, never explained or said a word on the subject. He did however move on to other projects and the new writers of the Defenders were left with this huge dangling plot thread, one which they attempted to clean up by having the Elf with a Gun run over by a truck outside the home of Defenders' member Kyle Richmond (Nighthawk).

In retrospect, the Elf with a Gun was one of the oddest and most perplexing moments in Marvel history. Steve Gerber for his part stated years later that the Elf with a Gun was only supposed to represent the randomness of life and how no matter how much you plan and work, something completely random may occur and destroy all of your plans - like, one supposes, getting shot by an Elf with a Gun.

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