Sunday, November 20, 2011

Justice is Served!: The Scourge of the Underworld Files 5: Phone Ranger

LAST UPDATED: February 8, 2015

This is part five of a series of posts examining the original Scourge storyline in the 1980s to 1990s, in which an organization devoted to the assassination of super-villains, usually with a modified submachine gun with explosive shells went into action, usually uttering the catch-phrase "Justice is served!" just after killing the villain. Adapted from material I previously wrote in the 1990s on an older website. Previously I was going from memory but in 2014 I purchased the Scourge of the Underworld. I also have the most recent Marvel Index volumes. I am therefore editing this series accordingly. This series covers Iron Man#194 to USAgent#4. It does not cover subsequent appearances of characters called Scourge as all subsequent appearances deviated in key ways from the original concept. On the other hand, hits that were considered unsuccessful even at the time are covered. For successful hits, postmortem uses of victims are now noted.

MARVEL AGE ANNUAL# 1 1985 by Kurt Busiek (writer) and James Fry (artist) (note: there were other stories and features in this issue, but only this one involved Scourge).
Victim: Phone Ranger (A.G. Bell)
Disguise: James Fry
Synopsis: The Phone Ranger is present during a skirmish between various Marvel heroes and the Lethal Legion in the Marvel offices, and is shot by Scourge, disguised as James Fry, apparently not realizing that the Phone Ranger is a hero.
Is it key to the overall Scourge storyline? No
Does it tie into the main story in this issue? Well, it ties into this particular story at least in the sense of the hit occurring during the chaos
Postmortem use of victim: Bell turned up alive during the Civil War, his suit having protected him somehow despite being shot passing through his head. There have been no subsequent Phone Rangers.
Other comments: This is the first time that Scourge shot someone in their first appearance and the second time that a character got shot in their initial storyline, such as it is. It’s unclear why Scourge would shoot the Phone Ranger and leave the more obvious villains alone. Perhaps he felt that he could only get in one shot during the chaos.  This is the first time that Scourge shot someone who was not actually a villain and the first time that Scourge impersonated a specific person.  Prior to his revival, this story was believed to be non-canonical.

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