Saturday, February 14, 2015

Justice is Served!: The Scourge of the Underworld Files 15: The Massacre at the Bar with No Name

This is part fifteen 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.

CAPTAIN AMERICA#319 by Mark Gruenwald (writer) and Paul Neary & Joe Sinnott (artists) 

Victims: Gary Gilbert (formerly Firebrand), Bird-Man (Archille DiBacco), Turner D. Century (Clifford F. Michaels), Cheetah (Esteban Carracus), Commander Kraken (real name unknown), Cyclone (Andre Gerard), Grappler (real name unknown), Hellrazor (real name unknown), Hijacker (Howard Mitchell), Jaguar (Ramon De Rico), Letha (Hellen Feliciano), Mind-Wave (Erik Gelden), Mirage (Desmond Charne), Rapier (Dominic Tyrone), Ringer (Anthony Davis), Shellshock (Gary Buser), Steeplejack (Maxwell Plumm), Vamp (Denise Baranger)
Disguise: Jake (bartender)
Synopsis: After Captain America apprehends Blacklash, Blacklash admits that he is resorting to jewelry heists because he expects to be killed by the super-villain serial killer, known to Captain America to be Scourge, and wants to put away enough money to support his mom after he's gone. Sidewinder brings Death Adder's corpse to the Serpent Society Headquarters and orders the super-villain team to track down the killer. At the Bar with No Name Gary Gilbert meets with Ramon "Jaguar" De Rico and Hellen "Letha" Feliciano and they agree to help; Letha has a personal stake as Scourge killed her friend Titania. Captain America learns from his allies Stars and Stripes who all Scourge has killed thus far. The Serpent Society's leads go nowhere. Gary Gilbert chats with Jake the bartender before meeting with Anthony "the Ringer" Davis. Captain America visits Greg "Foolkiller" Salinger; while that proves to be a dead end, Serpent Society agent Diamondback is pursuing the same lead and they  join forces. Gary talks to Jake about the security measures being taken for an upcoming meeting at the bar. Captain America starts to part ways with Diamondback when her flirtation goes too far but she is shot by someone Captain America initially believes to be Scourge but who proves to be a farmer thinking there were Martians in his field. Captain America arranges hospital Care for Diamondback. Seventeen super-villains join Greg and Jake for a super-villain meeting, those villains with gadgets being forced to remove them in case Scourge is posing as a super-villain. The villains start to argue with one another as to the plan. Greg tries to maintain order and hear the plans one at a time. Jake says, "Say Gary -- may I make a suggestion? You could all... eat lead and die!" Jake opens fire with two semi-automatic guns with explosive bullets at the same time at the same time, so there's no chance to veto that particular suggestion. After the shooting stops, Jake, removing his mask says, "Dead -- all eighteen of them! Justice is served!"
Is this a key part of the overall Scourge storyline? Oh yes. Aside from being a key part of the Hunt for Scourge story, it's his greatest success, though it also plays into his downfall in the next issue.
Does this tie into the main story in this issue? It is the main story this time.
Postmortem use of victims:•    Firebrand: Greg Gilbert was brought back from the dead but then almost immediately after killed again by the Punisher. Subsequent Firebrands include Russ Broxtel, Rick Dennison, and Amanda (surname unknown);
•    Bird-Man: Archille DiBacco was revived by the Hood. He has an unidentified successor and is himself a successor to Henry Hawk as Bird-Man; Arnim Zola created a proto-husk of him prior to his revival;
•    Turner D. Century: Clifford F. Michaels was revived by the Hood. There have been no subsequent villains named Turner D. Century, though Arnim Zola created a proto-husk of him prior to his revival;
•    Cheetah: Esteban Carracus was revived by the Hood but killed again soon after by the Punisher. There have been no subsequent Cheetahs, though Arnim Zola created a proto-husk of him prior to his revival;
•    Commander Kraken: He has no successors and has appeared in Pluto’s Underworld, still deceased;
•    Cyclone: Andre Gerard was revived by the Hood but killed again soon after by the Punisher. Gregory Stevens took over the identity but was killed soon after. Pierre Fresson is active as the third Cyclone; Arnim Zola created a proto-husk of him prior to his revival;
•    Grappler: Grappler remains dead and has no successors;
•    Hellrazor: Hellrazor remains dead and has no successors;
•    Hijacker: Howard Mitchell was revived by the Hood but killed again by Venom; he has no successors as Hijacker;
•    Jaguar: Ramon De Rico remains dead; while using the name Jaguar, Major Buxley is likely not a true successor;
•    Letha: Hellen Feliciano was revived by the Hood; there have been no subsequent characters usuing the name Letha;
•    Mind-Wave: Erik Gelden was revived by the Hood but killed again soon after by the Punisher; there have been no subsequent Mind-Waves
•    Mirage: Desmond Charne was revived by the Hood; Boomerang apparently subsequently killed him again; while two subsequent characters used the name Mirage prior to his death, neither have any connection to Charne; Arnim Zola created a proto-husk of him prior to his revival;
•    Rapier: Dominic Tyrone has not been revived nor have there been any subsequent Rapiers;
•    Ringer: Anthony Davis: despite his body being seen by Water Wizard and Captain America, Anthony Davis was found barely alive by AIM agents, saved, and brought back as Strikeback. However he eventually did die from Scourge’s wound after his Strikeback armour broke down. His wife Leila Davis used his equipment for a time as Hardshell. Keith Kraft is the current Ringer;
•    Shellshock: Gary Buser has not been revived nor have there been any subsequent Shellshocks;
•    Steeplejack: Maxwell Plumm has not been revived; while not the first Steeplejack, there have been no subsequent Steeplejacks, though Jack Monroe as a later version of Scourge used his welding gun;
•    Vamp: Denise Baranger remains deceased, though Arnim Zola created proto-husks of both her Vamp and Animus identities.
Other comments: This issue was the start of the Captain America/Diamondback romance, though it wasn’t particularly romantic at this stage. It is unrevealed if Scourge created the Jake identity from scratch or if he usurped the real Jake’s identity; Jake is dark haired in #318 and blond here, but that is likely just a colouring error; most likely Scourge had been setting this trap for a while. The Ringer’s revival seems unlikely because his body was still there hours later, having been seen by both Water Wizard and Captain America, and subsequent news footage seemed to include the Ringer in the body count. Also, the wound was in a location that should have been fatal given the amount of time that had passed (very close to the heart). The villains aren’t directly depicted as dying here; a panel shows Scourge opening fire and then standing in front of the corpses. Various entries of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe v2 (Deluxe Editions) depict the deaths directly for the first time in the Book of the Dead issues (16-20); #16 credits this new art to James Fry and Josef Rubinstein. Many of the Bar with No Name death illustrations depict characters other than the subject of the entry dying, as follows:
•    #16 Turner C. Century: Turner C. Century;
•    #16 Cheetah: figure in shadows, Bird-Man, Commander Kraken, Cheetah;
•    #16 Commander Kraken: Cheetah, Commander Kraken, Bird-Man;
•    #16 Cyclone: three figures in shadows, Cyclone;
•    #18 Letha: Letha;
•    #18 Mirage I: Mirage;
•    #19 Ringer: Ringer;
•    #20 Vamp: Vamp, Turner D. Century.

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