Netflix recently released The Defenders to its streaming service, and it follows the pattern established by the MCU: give a bunch of heroes a solo adventure and then do the team-up. The weird thing, though, is the character on The Defenders are not the classic Defenders line-up of the Hulk, Dr. Strange, Namor (whose name autocorrect hates), and the Silver Surfer. Now, the basic concept of the Defenders were they were barely a team, mostly made up of loners who essentially tolerated each other for the greater good. But as it turned out there were other Defenders, including at one point Luke Cage, but the main team is the bunch people mostly remember.
Another one of those somewhat forgotten Defenders was the Gargoyle.
Now, Marvel had used the name at least once before. The first foe for the Incredible Hulk was a Soviet spy, a deformed genius called the Gargoyle. However, this was a “uplifting” Cold War story, so Bruce Banner cured the Gargoyle, costing the man his genius intellect but making him look normal so he could “die like a man” and blow up some Russians.
But there was a heroic Gargoyle. His name was Isaac Christians, and he was an elderly man concerned his small hometown, founded by his ancestors, was dying out, so he made a deal with some minor demons to bring prosperity back. Sticking his soul in a gargoyle body, Isaac was sent off to kidnap defender Hellcat, but he rebelled against his masters and ended up joining the Defenders. From there, he had points where he could sometimes assume a human form, and others when his gargoyle body was more permanent.
And as a further aside, he continues a minor tradition in comics of having a demonic-looking body with a very religious alter-ego. In this case, it might be limited to Isaac’s name, but try telling that to Blue Devil or Nightcrawler.
What could the Gargoyle do? Well, he had superhuman strength, he could fly, heal quickly, and had some limited immunity to magic.
But here’s the problem with the Gargoyle. He looks an awful lot like the Jack Kirby DC character of Etrigan the Demon.
In point of fact, while doing a search for images for this article on Google, I found one where I can honestly say I am not sure which of the two characters I was looking at.
As it is, Gargoyle is now one of those many background characters. He had a somewhat prominent role in the Earth X universe, but beyond that, you see him standing around in group shots, presumably there to help, but rarely getting to even speak all that much.
But hey, a guy like this probably isn’t getting his own Netflix show. Particularly when there are other superhero gargoyles out there doing more than acting like fancy drain spouts on old buildings.
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