This is nicely done.
Of all the many things I've thought about Steve Gerber--and believe me, I've thought about him a lot since learning of his passing earlier today--what sticks with me is that Gerber was the hero without the mask, the guy brave enough to forego the secret identity. I grew up in whiter-than-white Humboldt County and even I could tell that Gerber was Jewish: his stories were always of outsiders (outsiders even by Marvel's standards) and usually focused on defiant, frequently angry, guys who viewed with both bemusement and amusement the world surrounding them. By the time I got to high school and started reading Malamud (a little), Bellow (embarrassingly less), and Roth (a whole shitload), I could see how Gerber and his work belonged as much to their tradition--that of the soulful shit-stirrer--as to Stan's patented mix of soap opera and winking carnival barker.
The term "patented" is almost more than cliched hyperbole, by the way. What makes eulogizing Gerber difficult--and it will be even more difficult when other writers of his generation pass on--is that his most substantial work was done while stylistically imitating someone else. Every writer passing through Marvel in the '70s had to write in Stan's house style and now that styles and mainstream tastes have finally progressed, I find it's a bit of tough sell to convince younger readers--and more than occasionally myself--that there's good writing buried underneath all the labored rhetoric, and the expository diatribes and the "Dear God, no!" melodramas, and those last panel captions that read, "And somewhere, in the distance, comes the gentle weeping...of a clown."