Real Name: (presumably) Rufus T. Hackstabber

Identity/Class: Human

Occupation: Taxi driver

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Cutlass, Defenders, Hellcat, Daimon Hellstrom, Hannibal King, Shang-Chi, Typhoon, Dinah Warmflash, Quigley J. Warmflash

Enemies: Minerva Bannister, Si-Fan, Tiger-Claw

Known Relatives: Quigley J. Warmflash (second cousin, twice removed by berth, mirth and worth) Dinah Warmflash (second cousin, thrice removed), an unnamed uncle whose best suit was ambushed by moss in the closet where east meets vest

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: San Franciso, California
formerly, New York, New York

First Appearance: Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu#4 (June, 1975)

Powers/Abilities: Rufus T. Hackstabber is an accomplished taxi driver, as there are very few obstacles he fails to hit while driving at breakneck speed. He occasionally carries a tennis racket, and always has a cigar close at hand. He also has a knack for being at the right place at the right time. As well of the wrong place at the wrong time. Come to think of it, he has a way with places.

History: (Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu#4)- Rufus T. Hackstabber picked up two fares who turned out to be bank robbers, working for the villain Tiger-Claw. They forced him to drive them to a bank, crashing his cab through the window. After robbing the bank, they then robbed him, taking the $7.80 in his cab. Determined to get his fare back, Hackstabber recruited Shang-Chi, taking him aboard his cab, and set after their getaway car. They were delayed briefly by an old woman crossing the street, but soon followed the trail to the dead end of an alley, where a locked van lay.

Hackstabber convinced Shang-Chi to break the van open and they found the getaway car inside. Inspecting the car, he fell through a passageway into an open manhole, and he and Shang-Chi set off into the sewers to find the thieves. They finally caught up to the two robbers and Shang-Chi defeated them, but they didn't have the money on them. Rufus went back for his cab, and set after the thieves' meeting-place, where he learned that the money was to be picked up at Rockefeller Center. At Rockefeller Center, Hackstabber lay his hands on the money, only for Tiger-Claw to appear, followed by agents of the Si-Fan sent by Fu Manchu. Hackstabber was knocked out during the fight. When he came to, he again tried to take the money, but was prevented by Black Jack Tarr, who took custody of it. Although Shang-Chi defeated Tiger-Claw, Hackstabber was disheartened at losing his fare, believing he would now have to sell his cab. However, after driving Shang-Chi back to his townhouse, Shang-Chi presented him with the fare for his ride-- $7.80.

(Master of Kung Fu I#52)- Rufus answered a summons from his cousin Quigley J. Warmflash to Casablanca, needing his help. Rufus rented himself another taxi cab while he was over there, and soon ran into Shang-Chi, investigating an apparent sighting of Fu Manchu, which instead lead to a reappearance of Tiger-Claw. Just as the two men were reunited, 3 of Tiger-Claw's men dropped from a nearby roof, causing Hackstabber to muse: "I must've said the secert word-- 'cuz all these ridiculous birds are droppin' down, and they must be ducks if it's down they're droppin'!"

Hackstabber offered his verbal support to Shang-Chi as he fought them off ("Gip 'em one for the giver!! An' while you're at it, kick 'em one in the liver!!"). Hackstabber convinced Shang-Chi to join him, explaining to him the problems of Quigley J. Warmflash, his cousin twice removed by berth: "he slept in the second bunk down..." Hackstabber drove his cab right into Warmflash's Blue Parrot club, knocking down three men who had been threatening his cousin. Warmflash explained his problem to the two men, and introduced them to his daughter Dinah, who Rufus was immediately taken with

Shang-Chi set out to investigate the 1001 Nights Curio Shop himself, but Rufus followed at his usual laconic pace, driving his cab straight through the shop's wall. Rufus attempted to fight off Tiger-Claw, but was knocked senseless with a single blow. After reviving, he had Dinah assist him in aiding Shang-Chi by throwing pots at Tiger-Claw's men ("The family that throws together, grows together.") Rufus finally noticed Quigley going after an elephant statue, the very artifact Tiger-Claw's men had been after. Rufus fought him over the statue, but it fell from their hands and shattered on the floor-- hollow. With Tiger-Claw defeated, Rufus stole a kiss from Dinah, then chased her around the room. "They don't call me Hackgrabber for nothing!"

(Defenders I#133 (BTS))- Rufus phoned Typhoon and asked her for a date, despite the fact that he knew she was married to Oliver Cutlass.

(Defenders I#148)- Now operating out of San Francisco, Rufus transported Daimon and Patsy Hellstrom to the home of Mr. Van Vliet, who had hired them to protect him. Rufus took all of Van Vliet's cigars except for one out of his cigar bowl, just as Van Vliet said he could have one. "What? And take your last cigar? Never!" Rufus was present as Harry Crun, Oliver Cutlass, and a grenade all passed through the office, and Rufus managed to smash the grenade out of the house with his tennis racket. Cutlass was soon joined by his wife Typhoon, who once more rejected Rufus' advances. Just then, Rufus recalled that he had another fare waiting for him at the airport, and departed.

Rufus brought Hannibal King to the home of Minerva Bannister, where the assembled heroes and detectives had gathered. When Bannister was revealed to be behind the attempt to steal the Lesser Grey God from Van Vliet (who never actually had it), she attempted to make a getaway, only to trip over Rufus' tennis racket. As the Defenders departed the scene, Rufus polished his taxi cab's hood ornament...the Lesser Grey God. Comments: Created by Doug Moench, Keith Pollard and Sal Trapani.

Rufus T. Hackstabber was based upon Groucho Marx, and his name is meant to resemble the character names Groucho used in his films, names which included Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding (Animal Crackers), Rufus T. Firefly (Duck Soup) and Hugo Z. Hackenbush (A Day at the Races). His choice of headgear in particular is meant to remind one of Captain Spaulding.

The Lesser Grey God is meant to invite comparisons with the Maltese Falcon, but is also reminiscent of the infamous Giant Rat of Sumatra of Sherlock Holmes lore (infamous because it was mentioned but not explained, inviting Holmesians of all sorts to write the story themselves).
    It's interesting that (1) The Lesser Grey God was created by the Six-Fingered Hand and (2) A cheap imitation of the LGG was "no more than 1000 years old"--since the Six-Fingered Hand is a demonic group organized only in recent years by Mephisto under false pretenses. Perhaps they did actually exist in the past, perhaps there was an original Maya that Mephisto replaced, perhaps they created the artifact in recent times and sent it back in time, or perhaps there's just no explaining it, since it's magic.

In Captain America I#401 (June, 1992) Hawkeye takes Cap to a bar full of cameos from other fictions. One of them looks like (and would have been intended to be) Groucho Marx. However, it just occured to me that within 616, this is as likely to be Rufus T. Hackstabber.

New main and updated images by Loki.

Profile by Prime Eternal

The Lesser Grey God is pictured in the Six-Fingered Hand an entry in Mystic Arcana: The Book of Marvel Magic.

Rufus T. Hackstabber should not be confused with:

The Lesser Grey God was a mystical artifact created by the Six-Fingered Hand which has the power to reactivate old curses such as vampirism and Daimon Hellstrom's darksoul. The statue was sought by Minerva Bannister, wanting to use it to restore Hannibal King's vampirism, but she wound up with a cheap imitation-- "no more than a thousand years old." She believed that Mr. Van Vliet possessed the genuine artifact, but was wrong. The true statue is in the possession of Rufus T. Hackstabber, and adorns the hood of his taxi cab.

--Defenders I#148

Images taken from:
Giant-Size Master of Kung-Fu#4, p6, pan3 (main)
Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu#4, p2, pan1 (head shot)
Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu#4, p27, pan7 (full body)
Master of Kung Fu I#52, p19, pan6 (vs Tiger-Claw)
Defenders I#148, p2, pan2 (behind steering wheel)
Defenders I#148, p5, pan5 (picture of Lesser Grey God)
Defenders I#148, p23, pan6 (Lesser Grey God)

Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu#4 (June, 1975) - Doug Moench (writer), Keith Pollard (pencils), Sal Trapani (inks), Len Wein (editor)
Master of Kung Fu I#52 (May, 1977) - Doug Moench (writer), Keith Pollard (artist), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Defenders I#148 (October, 1985) - Peter Gillis (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Art Nichols (inks), Carl Potts (editor)

First Posted: 08/11/2004
Last updated: 10/30/2022

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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