Saturday, October 20, 2018

Halloween 11: The Elf With a Gun

Hi there! I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You is counting down to Halloween with 11 days to go.

During this countdown, I'm looking at some weird shit that sort of connects to the spirit of this holiday.

Halloween is a time for horror stories, tales fraught with fear and danger. One staple of such stories is the relentless killer, a maniac on a mission of mayhem and... MURDER!

The maniac is strange, off kilter, the very fact of their presences is odd, disturbing. Then the maniac takes action to end someone's life. Michael Meyers from Halloween comes to mind, as does Jason from Friday the 13th or Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. 

Today we look not to the movies or a Stephen King novel for such a maniac. No, we turn our attention to comic books for one of the most relentless, horrifying serial murderers in the history of fiction.


With a GUN!!!  

A favorite device for serialized comic book storytelling is the cut away, usually for one page or half a page, the writer cuts away from the main action of a given issue to check on something else.

Sometimes it was a quick look in on a supporting cast member we haven't seen for a few issues. Other times, the cut away helped the writer seed future plot developments and create a sense of forward movement in the overall narrative in the comic book. Perhaps a villain is gathering objects of power or pulling together minions for a future strike against our heroes. The cut away was building to something.

One of the most bizarre cut away sequences ever in comics was created by writer Steve Gerber during his stint writing the Defenders for Marvel Comics. 

Gerber did a cut away to some standard schmucks doing something when they were interrupted.

By an elf.

With a gun.

Who would shoot them.

A few issues later, it happened again.

Elf. Gun. Shoot!

And later, it happened again.

Elf. Gun. Shoot!

And again!

Elf. Gun. Shoot!

Where was this all going?

If Steve Gerber knew, he didn't tell anybody. And unfortunately, he got fired as writer of the Defenders.

New writers Roger Slifer and David Kraft had absolutely zero interest in the Elf With a Gun.

But he was out there, somewhere, a dangling subplot that needed to be undangled.  

Which led to this sequence.

Elf. Gun. Hit by a truck!

That is how Gerber's Elf With a Gun subplot was resolved. The friggin' elf is run over by a friggin' truck. And not once did his path cross that of any of the Defenders.

Man, I loved that!

Many years later,  writers J.M.DeMatteis and Peter Gillis returned to the Elf With a Gun and tried to make sense of it. My feeling on this is shared by a lot of other comics readers; whatever Steve Gerber had in mind for his homicidal elf, I think that ending with the elf being hit by a truck is one of the best things in comics. 

The existence of the Elf With a Gun was too strange to begin with. His demise was equally strange and perhaps a most fitting end. 

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