Picking the ten best Steve Gerber stories for this list was impossible. For one thing, much of his work is out of print and impossible to find. For another, there’s so much of it. So damn much!
Steve Gerber created many memorable characters, and even ones he didn’t technically create, he at least had a major formative influence: Howard the Duck; Korvac; Omega the Unknown; The Defenders; Son of Satan; and, of course, Man-Thing. And from Man-Thing you can extrapolate Swamp Thing, DC’s answer to Marvel’s muck monster. He focused on the off-beat, with storylines and characterizations that emphasized misfits and misfortune—rather than “super” heroes who could do no wrong. Even his big team book, The Defenders, was about a bunch of superheroes nobody wanted to include in The Avengers.
He’s a (posthumous) member of the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and was nominated for dozens of Eagle Awards for his work on Howard the Duck and The Defenders. He was a writer and editor for Crazy Magazine—Marvel’s answer to Mad Magazine—and was a member of the celebrated 1970s Marvel Bullpen—hand-picked by Roy Thomas himself.
But in 1978, Jim Shooter fired Gerber, and Gerber sued. He tried to get the rights to his Howard the Duck creation (and lost)—and in the process enlisted Jack Kirby, another guy famously screwed by Marvel, to illustrate “Destroyer Duck”—a miniseries that Gerber used to raise legal fees.
He went on, however, to produces some truly brilliant comics after that, before he passed away in 2007.
So, how do you pick just ten books from a guy who wrote thousands of pages? Answer: With a lot of caveats.
And in order to capture the quirky, underground, edgy uniqueness that was Steve Gerber, I’m making this a two-part post. Today:
THE TOP FIVE WEIRDEST AND WILDEST STEVE GERBER FRINGE CHARACTERS
(Note: This doesn’t include his recurring, better-known creations like Silver Samurai, Dr. Bong, etc.)
The main difference between Steve Gerber and Stan Lee is that when Stan created a character, the dude would get his own title. Steve’s guys just ended up disappearing for the most part.
5. Dizzie The Hun.
A wizard from Latveria who taught Doctor Doom’s mom how to do magic. He appeared in only two comics, and the second one was about the band KISS. Seriously. And it was great.
5. Elf With A Gun.
Just like it sounds: A psychotic elf who shoots people at random. One person he killed was a woman who was in a public bathroom hiding from Hulk.
4. Steve Gerber.
Yes, in the spirit of all the great comic writers from Stan Lee to Grant Morrison, Steve Gerber wrote himself into a comic: The last issue of Man-Thing.
3. Florence Sharples.
A She Hulk villain who gets her powers from a cure for PMS. Yeah, it’s a little sexist—but the character’s supername alone gets her on my list: Abominatrix.
Here’s what Wiki says about Ikthalon: “Ikthalon is an embodiment of man’s tendency to resist change, and thus represents frozen stagnation.” That’s the perfect way to desribe the wonderful weirdness of a Steve Gerber character.
1. Ruby Thursday.
A chick with a computer for a head who ran for President. No kidding. This is why Gerber’s run on The Defenders is killer.