The first Gargoyle, Yuri Topolov, appears in The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962), and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The Gargoyle's appearance in Rampaging Hulk #1 is merely part of one of Bereet's fictional techno-art films. The first Gargoyle received an entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition #17, where his real name was revealed.
The second Gargoyle, Isaac Christians, is a human/demon composite and a member of the Defenders. He was created by writer J. M. DeMatteis and artist Don Perlin. Perlin's design was inspired by a sequence in Prince Valiant in which the titular hero disguises himself as a gargoyle. During his long run on The Defenders, Gargoyle also was the co-star of Marvel Team-Up #119, written by his co-creator DeMatteis, who later described the issue as "one of my favorite favorite stories."
In 1985 Marvel published a four-issue Gargoyle limited series, written by DeMatteis and drawn by Mark Badger. DeMatteis said of the series, "It was a psychological fantasy. You take the interior life and make it concrete... give it substance... and play with it." Explaining why he decided to do a limited series starring Gargoyle, he said,
I'd always wanted to do that character the right way. We'd had him in Defenders for years and Don Perlin and I were... We came to like him so much, as a person... this was a classic case of the character coming alive for us. We came to like Isaac Christians, this little old man inside the Gargoyle's body, so much that it began to mellow out the way we portrayed the outer shell, the gargoyle aspect. And, before you know it, he's this cute little funny animal. Which he was never intended to be.
In a 2013 interview DeMatteis said that Gargoyle "is a character I still have tremendous fondness for."
Fictional character biography
Gargoyle (Yuri Topolov)
|First appearance||The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962)|
|Created by||Stan Lee, Jack Kirby|
|Alter ego||Yuri Topolov|
Used a gun that fired will-weakening pellets
Yuri Topolov, was a Soviet scientist and the first foe of the Hulk. An atomic accident caused by working with radiation mutated him into a grotesque, large-headed dwarf of extremely high intelligence. He was informed of the Hulk by an imprisoned spy using a miniature transmitter, and succeeded in capturing him and Rick Jones using a gun that fired will-weakening pellets. Bruce Banner managed to cure him using Gamma rays. He gratefully used his rocket to send Banner and Jones back to the United States and managed to destroy several Soviet generals and 'die like a man' in an explosion he set off.
However, he passed this deformity on to his son, the Gremlin.
Gargoyle (Isaac Christians)
|First appearance||The Defenders #94 (Apr 1981)|
|Created by||J. M. DeMatteis, Don Perlin|
|Alter ego||Isaac Christians|
Heroes for Hire
The Six-Fingered Hand
|Abilities||Superhuman strength, durability, and physical resistance|
Biomystical energy manipulation
Limited immunity to magic spells
Isaac Christians was an elderly man who sold his soul to an alliance of minor demons styling themselves as "The Six-Fingered Hand" in exchange for prosperity for the dying hometown that his ancestors had founded (the fictional town of Christiansboro, Virginia). Christians made a pact with the demon Avarrish to inhabit the body of an ancient gargoyle and act as an agent of the Six-Fingered Hand. The demons of the Hand transferred Christians' life force into the Gargoyle body and sent him on a mission to capture Patsy Walker, at that time operating as Defenders member Hellcat. Christians battled the Defenders, but rebelled against the Hand. He was trapped in the gargoyle's body, but joined the Defenders. The Defenders then helped him defeat the Six-Fingered Hand.
As a member of the Defenders, Gargoyle helped the Squadron Supreme defeat the Overmind and Null the Living Darkness. The Gargoyle briefly fell under the control of an Afghan wizard, and he was forced to battle the Defenders.
Christians later returned to Christianboro, and was later released from the Gargoyle body and the original demon spirit re-inhabited it. Christians, to prevent the chaos being wreaked by the gargoyle, re-assumed the body with the help of a druid and killed his original human body to prevent the demon from returning.
Moondragon, under the influence of the Dragon of the Moon, later separated Christians' life force from the gargoyle body. The body was to be used as a vessel for the Dragon of the Moon, and it became larger and more grotesque. The gargoyle body was carbonized and transformed into a statue of ash, when the Defenders defeated Moondragon and the Dragon of the Moon.
Christians' life force came to reside in a crystal talisman. He reconciled with the spirit of Moondragon, and journeyed with Pamela Douglas to Titan, where he witnessed the rebirth of Moondragon. Eventually, the former Defender known as Cloud created a new body for Christians, with the ability to change back and forth between his gargoyle and human form.
Following the Civil War storyline, Christians has been identified as one of the 142 registered superheroes who appear on the cover of the comic book Avengers: The Initiative #1. He was shown flying in an attack against HYDRA; this helped save the President from an assassination attempt. He is shown along others in the battle against KIA.[volume & issue needed] Gargoyle also was seen aiding Hellcat. He ignored Nighthawk's offer to join the Last Defenders[volume & issue needed] and remained at Camp Hammond serving as an instructor to train the Initiative cadets[volume & issue needed] before retiring. He swiftly returned to assist in defeating a deranged copy of Thor called 'Ragnarok'.
Alyosha Kravinoff later captured Gargoyle and placed him in his zoo for animal-themed superhumans which also consisted of Bushmaster, Tiger Shark, Kangaroo, Aragorn (the version that was owned by the Vatican Black Knight), Vulture, Mongoose, Man-Bull, Dragon Man, Swarm, Mandrill, Grizzly, Frog-Man, and Rhino.
Powers and abilities
The second Gargoyle is the result of the magical transfer of Isaac Christians' spirit into the body of the Gargoyle. Gargoyle possessed superhuman strength and durability in his gargoyle form. His leathery hide offered resistance to various forms of physical attack. He could manipulate "bio-mystical" energy to numerous effects, including concussive blasts and projection of the emotion of fear into others. He could siphon bio-mystical energy from others, causing temporary debilitating weakness. Surrounding himself in a field of bio-mystical energy granted Gargoyle limited immunity to certain types of spells. Gargoyle could fly via mystical levitation; his wings were incapable of producing sufficient lift but could be used for navigation. Gargoyle could regenerate lost or damaged limbs, although they would differ wildly in appearance from the original limb. Over-expenditure of bio-mystical energy over a short time could weaken or kill the Gargoyle; also, he could be commanded to act against his will by a wizard who spoke a particular obscure spell. Isaac Christians was a student of the occult with minor mystical ability. Prior to his transformation, Christians had some ability to manipulate mystical forces, including rudimentary spell-casting and summoning demons.
In other media
- The Yuri Topolov version of Gargoyle appeared in the Hulk segment of The Marvel Super Heroes. Although he was called the Gorgon and not the Gargoyle in the TV version of the comic.
- The Yuri Topolov version of Gargoyle appeared in the 1996 Incredible Hulk animated series, voiced by Mark Hamill. Gargoyle is always trying to find a cure for his mutation even allying himself with Leader. In the episode "Mortal Bounds," he accidentally released a gamma virus (infecting amongst others Betty Ross) in his search for a cure where he was restored to a near normal state yet also infected. When Betty Ross was dying from the virus, Gargoyle gave Bruce Banner the antidote as Gargoyle is also cured. Before leaving, Gargoyle warns Banner that the next time they met he would not be so favorable. His position with Leader was one of grudging subservience, although he did become the dominant member when Leader temporarily lost his powers at the beginning of the second season. From then on like MODOK in the Iron Man animated series, he became the bumbling comic relief with a crush on She-Hulk.
- DeAngelo, Daniel (July 2013). "The Not-Ready-For-Super-Team Players: A History of the Defenders". Back Issue!. TwoMorrows Publishing (65): 12.
- Salicrup, Jim; Higgins, Mike (October 1986). "J. Marc DeMatteis (part 2)". Comics Interview (39). Fictioneer Books. pp. 7–19.
- Salicrup, Jim; Higgins, Mike (September 1986). "J. Marc DeMatteis (part 1)". Comics Interview (38). Fictioneer Books. pp. 20–35.
- The Incredible Hulk #1
- Defenders #94
- Defenders #99-100
- Defenders #112-114
- Defenders #136-137
- Gargoyle #1-4
- Defenders #152
- Solo Avengers #16, 18, 20
- Quasar #19-20
- Hellstorm #21
- Avengers: The Initiative #1 Character Map[permanent dead link]
- Avengers: The Initiative #2 (July 2007)
- Marvel Comics Presents Vol. 2 #3-4
- Avengers: The Initiative #21 (2007)
- Avengers: The Initiative #22 (2007)
- The Punisher War Journal vol. 2 #13–15