Created by the late Steve Gerber for Creator/MarvelComics, the '''Foolkiller''' is clearly an offbeat character in the same vein as Comicbook/HowardTheDuck. The only difference is, he's played totally straight. The name is inspired partially by the {{O Henry}} story of the same name and the novel by Helen Eustis, the latter of which was made into a movie starring, appropriately enough, Anthony Perkins. There is also a minor character of this name in L. Frank Baum's "The Enchanted Island of Yew".

The original Foolkiller was introduced in ''ComicBook/ManThing'' #3 (March, 1974) and killed in the the following issue. Several individuals have adopted the mantle of the Foolkiller, such as Ross G. Everbest, Greg Salinger, Kurt Gerhardt, and Mike Trace. Trace's incarnation appears in the Marvel Max universe. Each incarnation modified the definition of "fool" to fit his mission. Everbest, being a devout Christian, sought out those whom he considered sinners. Salinger, on the other hand, hunted those whom he deemed lacked a poetic soul. Gerhardt's razor sharp definition of fool caused him to target those whom he judged to be guilty pursuing "momentary gratification" at the expense of others.

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!!Foolkiler provides examples of the following tropes:

* AccidentalHero: In the '90s mini-series, Kurt is seen as a hero by the public when he starts killing off criminals and other unsavory individuals in New York. [[spoiler:Things however change when he goes after [[VillainWithGoodPublicity corrupt authority figures that hold an image of being benevolent]], and the public begins to hate him and demand his capture.]] -
* BeardOfSorrow: Greg Salinger in the 1990-91 Foolkiller limited series. Now he really does look like a poet.
* CallingCard: All the Foolkillers have their own calling card which they either send to intended victims or leave at the scene of the killing.
* {{Catchphrase}}: Salinger: "Live a poem or die a fool.": Gerhardt: "I kill fools"
* ChekhovsGun: The flask of sulfuric acid seen in Merle's apartment. It was part of some backstory between her and Salinger. She would use it to help Gerhardt later.
* ComicBookTime: Curiously averted, partially. In the 1990-91 limited series, The Runyan Moody Show dates the activities of the First Foolkiller as far back as the early [[TheSeventies seventies]]. Salinger, in explaining his inspiration for taking on the mantle, refers to elements of the same decade that he found annoying. He refers to the shallow banality of the music ("Disco back then") and the testimonies at the Watergate hearings. The 1990-91 limited series is clearly set during the year of publication. The aversion, however, is not without faults. Spider-Man is not 10-15 years older like Salinger obviously is.
* ContinuitySnarl: In the Raft Breakout in ''NewAvengers'' and his appearances in ''{{Deadpool}}'', Gerhardt is wearing his original face. The last issue of the '90-'91 miniseries makes that highly improbable. [[spoiler: As part of his plan to vanish, he uses the sulfuric acid to destroy his original face as a pretext for needing extensive reconstructive surgery]].
* ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: He kills fools.
* HeelRealization: During his battle with {{Spider-Man}}, Greg Salinger, the second Foolkiller, runs into a bum that tells him that only a ''fool'' would want to fight Spider-Man, as Spidey is a genuinely good person who puts himself into danger to protect innocents. As soon as he realizes this, Salinger tries to turn his purification gun on himself, but Spidey stops him, and he's been incarcerated in a mental institution ever since.
* HeroicBSOD: An aging barfly who befriends a depressed Gerhardt unkowingly shows him something that blows his mind and helps solidify his definition of fools. Mavis points him to a sign that she says renews her faith in her own intelligence. Gerhardt stares at it for a very long time oblivious to everything around him. [[spoiler: The sign in question is a mechanic's advertisement where they mispell the word alignment (as in auto alignment) as alinement. Mavis' point being that "A fool is someone who would trust his car to someone who can't spell what he does for a living'']]
* IconicOutfit: Foolkiller's Zorro-esque classic outfit.
* HollywoodHacking: How else is Salinger able to get the modem on a computer in a mental institution connected to a computer bulletin board (the 1990 version of the internet) so that he may secretly communicate with Gerhardt? Salinger was given access to the computer with the assumpton that he was writing a book. The 1991 ''Marvel Year in Review'' lampshades this somewhat when Salinger states "My shrink still lives in the Freudian age of paper and pencil. He didn't even think to check it out.". Although this is years before internet tracking, it is before cable modem, it should have at least shown up on the institution's phone bill if anywere, especially as they log and monitor all phone activity in and out of the facility.
* InsanityDefense: This is why Salinger is in a mental hospital in Indiana and not a prison or death row. Also, the only fool that he is publicly known to have successfully killed was an annoying second string supervillian named Blockbuster. His other publicly known actions were all failures to kill his intended targets.
* KnightTemplar
* NameDrop: Gerber mentions Reagan, Bush, and Willie Horton, all on the same page in issue 2. But he had a good reason.
* OnTheNext: So what exactly was "Greg's Secret Sorrow"? That's what was promised for issue 10 of Omega the Unknown (Salinger's first appearance). But we were left hanging due to the unexpected cancellation of the series with issue 10. That issue, instead was dedicated to trying to tie up all the loose ends with the title character Omega. Actually, they didn't manage to do even that.
* OddNameOut: In the Foolkiller limited series, whenever Steve Gerber inserted a character based on a real life figure, the character's real life analog is somewhat derivable from the fictional name. For example, Mal Flapton (an analog of Al Sharpton). However, the source of the name Runyan Moody is hard to trace back to its inspiration of Morton Downey Jr.
** This is a case of NoCelebritiesWereHarmed.
* MasterOfDisguise: Gerhardt's incarnation more than any of the others.
* MythologyGag: The Marvel Max series has a prison called the Gerhardt Detention Facility and a bookstore named Salinger's.
* PresentDay: Clearly dates the story as it gives the year of the mugging/killing of Gerhart's dad (1989 as seen on the tombstone) and takes place during Operation Desert Storm.
* RayGun: Foolkiller's purification gun.
* RuleOfCool: The Foolkiller's mission could easily be carried out with any old gun. But then again, he'd just be a clone of The Punisher.
* UnlikelySpare: Foolkiller was defeated by the Defenders and Spider-Man. In both cases, it would be logical to assume that his purification gun was confiscated at the time. None of the Foolkillers appeared to have the technical know how to build their own purification guns, so it is reasonable to assume that it is the same gun that is passed on to each successor. The apparent uniqueness of the gun (as well as the deliberate lack of explanation of the exact origin and nature of the gun) seems to support this. Therefore Everbest (the original Foolkiler) must have had a lot of spare guns to begin with.
** In The Marvel Universe, there's plenty of sources for items like this gun; some villains even ''make'' weapons to order for others.
** The Foolkiller was a suspect of the Scourge of Crime supervillain killings (in the CaptainAmerica series.) But he wasn't involved. The Scourge turned out to be a ''whole group'' of self-righteous vigilantes, organized by an old WWII hero, The Angel. Maybe there's a similar setup for the Foolkillers.
* SerialKiller
* StrawmanPolitical: Kurt Gerhardt's victims included exemplars on both sides of the political spectrum.
* SuspensionOfDisbelief: The exact nature of the purification gun is never explained. As mentioned above, this appears to be deliberate on the part of Steve Gerber. It also never seems to run out of power, hence the noticable absence of power cells or energy packs. The Marvel Max series dispenses with the Zorro-like costume and the purification gun. Instead, his favorite weapon is a sword cane (which you could purchase in the real world). However, whether or not real sword canes can cleanly decapitate arms or legs is rather subject to its own criticism. We are also meant to accept that 90 pound weakling assassin Sickle Moon can also do the same with his impractical looking glaive.
** It should be noted that the continuity of the MAX series with the mainstream Marvel universe isn't 100% official. Some of its stories seem to be apocryphal, similar to UltimateMarvel.
* TheDragon: Drug lord Backhand to Emilio Mendoza who in turn is this to Darren Waite. Interestingly, [[spoiler: Backhand survives the story, Waite and Mendoza don't]].
* VillainProtagonist: In the '90s mini-series.

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