Marvel Comics fans were delighted recently to learn that the adorable Jeff the Land Shark is getting his own comic book series, which will be written by character creator Kelly Thompson with artist Gurihiru. The series, called It’s Jeff!, is one of seven new titles that Marvel is releasing as part of its digital-only comic book lineup on Marvel Unlimited. But who is this beloved (so unusual) character and how has he gained so much popularity?
What is Jeff’s origin story in Marvel comics?
Jeff the Land Shark is on the scene in 2019 West Coast Avengers # 7. Gwenpool adopts her during her time with this team. Prior to that, he had been trapped in MODOK’s murder trap theme park. And in Fearless # 1, an incident leaves him aging, giving him big, cute puppy eyes and making him all the more irresistible.
As you may know, Gwenpool is the chaotic fourth neutral who breaks the wall that comes into the Marvel Comics Universe from the “real world” – supposedly the world we, the readers, live in. She navigates the Marvel Universe as if she were walking through the pages of a comic book. So when she worries that she won’t have her own comic book series, she gives Jeff to Deadpool, hoping he can give the land shark a better life.
As you might expect, Deadpool goes after Jeff. The two become good friends, as seen in Deadpool # 5 from 2020.
Why is Jeff the Land Shark so popular?
There are a number of factors that seem to contribute to Jeff’s popularity. As a shark that can hunt prey both at sea and on land, it should be terrifying. And yet, most readers see him as utterly adorable.
In fact, his predatory nature seems to contribute to his cuteness. The fact that he’s potentially dangerous but often behaves like a puppy only compounds the cute factor. There is just something special about the juxtaposition of an animal’s physical prowess with cuddly demeanor.
“I think characters like Jeff really have a weird way of capturing the hearts of fans,” co-creator Kelly Thompson told Newsarama. “The characters who live in this weird liminal space where they almost feel like pets due to their adorable non-human characteristics and inability to verbally communicate in the same way humans do, but have more agency.” that we wouldn’t or should associate with “pets,” “she said.
Sharks have a moment
Obviously, Jeff is riding the wave of shark popularity. It started with the song “Baby Shark” shared on YouTube by Pinkfong in 2018. It’s an incredibly catchy little tune that suddenly seemed to be everywhere. And once it’s stuck in your head, it’s almost impossible to get it out.
And this summer, the appearance of King Shark (Steve Agee and Sylvester Stallone) in The suicide squad added to the popularity of the shark genre. Again, King Shark is violent but also wants his friends to like him. It’s a juxtaposition of characteristics that makes it hard not to get heated with him.
Marvel knows when to strike while the iron is hot and now seems like a great time to kick off a comic book featuring an adorable shark. The first two issues of It’s Jeff! are currently available through Marvel Unlimted.
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