Thursday, February 19, 2015

Justice is Served!: The Scourge of the Underworld Files 20: Captain America (Failed Hit)

This is part twenty 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 trade. 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.

by Mark Gruenwald (writer) and Kieron Dwyer & Al Migrom (artists)
Would-be victim: Captain America (John Walker)
Disguise: White trenchcoat/skull cowl/hat
Synopsis: The employer of the Scourge from #347, revealed to be the original Red Skull claims that the Scourge operation was his idea. He has Scourge and other agents of organizations who had fought Captain America (Steve Rogers and/or John Walker) of late attack Captain America (at the time John Walker) who defeats Scourge. Scourge is not captured, however.
Is it a key part of the Scourge storyline? Only marginally. It makes for an interesting red herring, but Scourge is basically used as a token gunman here
Is it part of the main story in this issue? Scourge is part of the main plot, but mainly as window dressing.
Other comments: Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Masters confirms what one can extrapolate from the US Agent mini-series: the Scourge in the Red Skull plot thread is a renegade, and the Red Skull lied about coming up with and running the show. This makes sense since while one can see the Red Skull taking advantage of the Scourge operation to eliminate the competition, had he thought of the idea on his own, he most likely would have targeted heroes first. While a darker version of the Scourge costume had appeared previously and the all-white version in a Handbook entry, this is the first time the all-time costume is used in a story. This is the first time a Scourge made a full attempt at killing a hero, though the first one threatened to shoot Steve Rogers previously.

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