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The untold truth of the Beard Hunter

Fans of the DC Universe series Doom Patrol know that Robotman (Brendan Fraser), Elasti-Girl (April Bowlby), Cyborg (Joivan Wade), Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), Negative Man (Matt Bomer), and "the Chief," Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton) never have any shortage of extremely weird ancillary characters to deal with. In the first season alone, they bumped up against the likes of Flex Mentallo (Devan Chandler Long), who can alter reality by flexing his muscles; Danny the Street, a literal sentient, gender-fluid street with the power of teleportation; and Steve Larson, aka "Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man," an even more bizarre character than his name might imply.

Perhaps the weirdest of the bunch, though, was Ernest Franklin, a villain who goes by the name of "Beard Hunter" (Tommy Snider), a bounty hunter who is able to — how can we put this without making you lose your lunch — locate any man by consuming their facial hair clippings. (We're sorry about your lunch.) Believe it or not, the character was actually adapted from the pages of DC comics — but in print, he's not quite as weird as he is in live-action. No, he's actually a heck of a lot weirder, so get ready for the untold truth of the smooth-faced assassin, the relentless bane of the hirsute — the Beard Hunter.

Beard Hunter was created by a comics legend

If you're a comics fan, then the chances are very good that you've heard Grant Morrison's name before. The wildly creative writer has worked on myriad titles for Marvel, DC, Vertigo, and more; perhpas his most important and influential work, the Vertigo title The Invisibles, ran from 1994 to 2000 and is today widely acknowledged to have had a profound influence on a number of works across multiple media, including the Wachowskis' sci-fi opus The Matrix and Gerard Way's The Umbrella Academy.

Morrison began his tenure at DC by rehabbing the legacy superhero Animal Man, and his success on that title led to an offer to perform a similar revamping of Doom Patrol. While the series had always been known for its, shall we say, eclectic nature, Morrison ramped the crazy up to 11, creating characters like Crazy Jane, Danny the Street, Red Jack (a murderer who believes himself to be both God and Jack the Ripper, and who looks to be figuring prominently into Doom Patrol's second season), and, yes, Beard Hunter.

Obviously, the character was never intended to be a serious one — but that didn't stop Morrison from going exceedingly dark with his characterization. The comics' version of Beard Hunter, you see, shares his defining trait — a genetic abnormality which prevents him from growing a beard — with his live-action counterpart. Unlike Snider's hair-munching baddie, though, Morrison's comic creation is no bounty hunter — just a complete whack job with a very specific mission.

The comics' version of Beard Hunter doesn't have any superpowers

The comics' Beard Hunter differs from the series' version in many respects, starting with his clean-cut look and chiseled features. Also, he has no superpowers — he's basically just a costumed serial killer who, jealous of every beard he sees, has made it his life's mission to murder every bearded man he comes across and collect their beards, which he wears as a kind of bizarre sash around his waist.

Although he has no powers, Beard Hunter is a skilled hand-to-hand combatant who — wait, scratch that. He's actually kind of a wimp, prone to getting his rear end handed to him by anyone with even basic fighting skills. As such, he relies heavily on the "superpower" of always toting around big, powerful guns, which may be Morrison's way of driving home the point that this is a guy who is maniacally driven to compensate for his perceived, er, physical shortcomings. 

In case it isn't clear how completely inadequate this man is, when he's introduced, he's been carrying out his crazed crusade against the bearded for quite some time — despite the fact that he still lives with his mother, and is 36 years old. Being completely single-minded of purpose, Beard Hunter was only ever shown to have one interest outside of wanton murder: bodybuilding magazines, which he really seemed to enjoy looking at.

Beard Hunter is a parody of Marvel's "dark" characters

Beard Hunter may seem like the kind of character that one would dream up while reading comic books profoundly drunk, and for all we know, this could be accurate; we've never hung out with Grant Morrison. But ol' Beardy wasn't just a complete goof on the writer's part; Morrison was highly inclined to spoof his contemporaries at this point in his career, and Beard Hunter was no exception.

Morrison had already taken loving, yet devastating, jabs at the Fantastic Four, X-Force, and John Constantine (whom his DC bosses had declined to give him permission to use) in the pages of Doom Patrol, and with Beard Hunter, the target of his parody was pretty obvious. From the bearded skull insignia on his costume to his ridiculously badass inner monologues, Beard Hunter was chiefly a send-up of the Punisher, although some of his verbal tics (like his frequent use of the word "punk" to describe his victims) were more reminiscent of Wolverine.

Morrison got more comic mileage than he had any right to out of a dangerous, delusional psychotic, but at least the Doom Patrol series gave Beard Hunter an actual vocation and a superhuman ability, disgusting as it may be. When last we saw him, he was trapped inside a painting along with Mr. Nobody (long story), and the Doom Patrol has since moved on to tackle other, even weirder problems in season 2. It remains to be seen whether he'll be making a return engagement, but we wouldn't count him out — for as long as bearded men walk the Earth, the Beard Hunter will never rest.