Marvel Comics: Who Is Jeff the Land Shark and Why Is He so Popular?

Marvel Comics fans were delighted to learn recently that the adorable Jeff the Land Shark is getting his own comic book series, to be written by the character’s creator, Kelly Thompson, with artist ​​Gurihiru. The series, called It’s Jeff!, is one of seven new titles Marvel is launching as part of its digital-only line of comics on Marvel Unlimited. But who is this beloved (if unusual) character, and how did he gain so much popularity?

What is Jeff’s origin story in the Marvel comic books?

Comic books for sale in London, 2017
Comic books for sale in London, 2017 | Ollie Millington/Getty Images

Jeff the Land Shark hits the scene in 2019’s West Coast Avengers #7. Gwenpool adopts him during her time with that team. Prior to this, he had been trapped in M.O.D.O.K.’s murder trap theme park. And in Fearless #1, an incident leaves him de-aged, giving him big, cute puppy eyes and making him all the more irresistible.

As you may know, Gwenpool is the Fourth Wall-breaking chaotic neutral who comes to the Marvel Comics Universe from the “real world” — supposedly the world that we, the readers, live in. She navigates the Marvel Universe as if she’s walking through the pages of a comic book. So when she fears she isn’t going to get a comic book series of her own, she gives Jeff to Deadpool, hoping he can give the land shark a better life.

As you would expect, Deadpool takes to Jeff. The two of them become good friends, as we see in Deadpool #5 from 2020.

There are a number of factors that seem to be contributing to Jeff’s popularity. As a shark who can hunt down prey both in the sea and on land, he should be terrifying. And yet most readers see him as utterly adorable.

In fact, his predatory nature seems to be contributing to his cuteness. The fact that he is potentially dangerous to be around but often behaves like a puppy dog just compounds the cute factor. There’s just something special about the juxtaposition of an animal’s physical prowess with cuddly behavior.  

“I think characters like Jeff really do have a strange way of capturing the hearts of fans,” co-creator Kelly Thompson told Newsarama. “Characters that live in that weird liminal space where they almost feel like pets because of their adorable non-human features and inability to communicate verbally the same way humans do, but that have more agency than we would or should associate with ‘pets,'” she said.

Sharks are having a moment

Clearly, Jeff is riding the wave of shark popularity. It started with the “Baby Shark” song 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 nearly impossible to get it out.

And this summer, King Shark’s (Steve Agee and Sylvester Stallone) appearance in The Suicide Squad added to the popularity of shark kind. Again, King Shark is violent but also just wants his friends to like him. It’s a juxtaposition of characteristics that makes it difficult not to warm up to him.

Marvel knows when to strike while the iron is hot and now seems to be the perfect time to launch a comic starring a loveable shark. The first two issues of It’s Jeff! are currently available via Marvel Unlimted.

RELATED: Marvel’s ‘Hawkeye’: Who Is Kate Bishop?