Thursday, February 19, 2015

Justice is Served!: The Scourge of the Underworld Files 24: Bio-Plastoids, Black Abbott, Dragonfang, Wrench (Failed Hits: Gamecock, Shocker, Steel Wind)

This is part twenty-four 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), Rik Levins & Bob LaRosa (artists)
Would-be victims: Gamecock, Shocker (Herman Schultz), Steel Wind (off-panel)
Actual victims: Bio-Plastoids (Secondus, Tertius, Quarternius); off-panel: Black Abbott (real name unknown), Lionfang (Alejandro Cortez), the Wrench (Kurt Klemmer)
Disguise: White trenchoat/skull cowl/hat (Bio-Plastoids); unknown (everyone else)
Synopsis: Captain America and Hauptmann Deutschland find the bodies of Red Skull, Sin, and Crossbones and call in the police and government agents including Duane Freeman, Another agent shows Freeman footage of Scourge killing Red Skull, Sin, and Crossbones. The actual Red Skull, listening in with Sin and Crossbones gloats about the Bio-Plastoids faking their deaths. He leaves them for a meeting with other agents, including Scourge. After a Watchdog gives a report, Scourge reports killing Black Abbott, Lionfang, and the Wrench. The Red Skull gets him to admit failing to kill Gamecock. Shocker, and Steel Wind, then kills him for his failure.
Is it a key part of the Scourge storyline? Marginally. It concludes the Red Skull agent aspect of the Scourge storyline.
Is it part of the main story in these issues? In the sense that Red Skull, Sin, and Crossbones were recurring villains at the time.
Posthumous use of victims: Black Abbott was revived by the Hood; he had no previous successors. Alejandro Cortez later turned alive with no reference to the Scourge shooting; there were no subsequent Lionfangs. Kurt Klemmer has not been revived; other characters called Wrench are unrelated to him. The Bio-Plastoids have not been revived.
Other comments: As noted previously, the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Master Edition 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. No other Scourges are co-opted by the Red Skull; in fact this is the final Scourge appearance before the USAgent mini-series which answers most of the remaining questions about the Scourge operation. There is some question of the veracity of the kills (or even the kill attempts) other than the Bio-Plastoids, as they happened off panel; even the Black Abbott looked different upon revival, suggesting he may not have been the original. This is the second time Shocker has been shot at in Scourge related matters: the Kingpin sent an imposter after him in Deadly Foes of Spider-Man.

No comments: