Scourge of the Underworld

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Scourge of the Underworld
Scourge of the Underworld.jpg
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Iron Man #194 (May 1985)
Created by Mark Gruenwald (writer)
John Byrne (artist)
In-story information
Alter ego various
Abilities Master of disguise
Exploding armor-piercing bullets

The Scourge of the Underworld is the name of a series of fictional characters that have appeared in various series set in the Marvel Comics universe.

Writer/editor Mark Gruenwald originally created the Scourge in 1985 as a plot device intended to thin the criminal population of the Marvel Universe, in particular eliminating those supervillain characters he deemed to be too minor, redundant, or ill-conceived.[citation needed] Since that time, other writers have expanded upon the concept and fleshed out the Scourge's backstory.

Organization[edit]

The Scourge is originally depicted as an individual vigilante dedicated to the assassination of criminals. This person, whose true name has never been revealed, is seen over the course of several months murdering known supervillains. The Scourge approaches a supervillain in disguise, shoots him or her with an explosive-tipped bullet, shouts his catchphrase ("Justice is served!"), and disappears. This first Scourge's killing spree reaches its apex in Captain America #319, where he guns down eighteen such criminals at an underworld meeting which is, ironically, held to devise a way of countering the menace of the Scourge. The Scourge disguises himself as the bartender, whom nobody thinks to search. When Captain America captures the Scourge in the following issue, the character claimed to be the brother of the Enforcer, whom Scourge has killed because his sibling's criminal activities has shamed their father. He claims that this crime led to him creating the Scourge persona with help from a private investigator only identified as "Domino", who provides him detailed information on the supervillain community. Immediately after making this confession, the Scourge is himself shot and killed by an unseen assailant, who is heard to cry "Justice is served!" in the fashion of the Scourge's other killings.

Some time later, in Captain America #350, it is revealed that the Scourge is actually the creation of the Red Skull, who states that he created the Scourge as his personal assassin, with Albert Malik, the communist villain who assumed the identity of the Red Skull during the 1950s, as one of this version's confirmed kills. This is apparently a ruse by the Skull, as during the 1994 U.S. Agent miniseries, it is suggested that the Scourge is ultimately an identity used by several people, all of whom were financed by the original Angel, a hero from the World War II era of Marvel Comics, who has been driven to vigilantism. His Scourge agents operate through subterfuge to get close to targets, then kill them.[volume & issue needed]

The organization operates through behind the scenes direction by Angel, and under him are several individual Scourge agents capable of autonomous action. A man named Domino works for the organization, but the identities of most Scourges are unknown, with the exceptions of Vagabond, Caprice, and Bloodstain. A member must be a legal adult willing to submit to thorough investigation of his or her personal background and swear an oath of loyalty to the principles of the Scourge organization. Any Scourge attempting to reveal the existence of the organization will be assassinated by another member.[volume & issue needed]

When not in disguise, a Scourge wears an all-white coat and hat, and a skull-like mask. Most Scourges are armed with a .50 cal Thompson machine gun with a sawed-off barrel and stock using a special purpose 5-round magazine. Each .50 cal round is equipped with an acceleration activated, delay-triggered explosive shell which exhibits the signature sound of "pum-SPAAK" in the comic book panels. Scourges also use radio devices for communication with Domino, as well as makeup and costumes for disguise.[volume & issue needed]

Membership[edit]

The first person identified as a Scourge killed several supervillains, including the Enforcer,[1] Miracle Man,[2] Hate Monger III,[3] Melter,[4] Titania I,[5] Basilisk,[6] The Human Fly,[7] Death Adder and Blue Streak.[8] This Scourge was also responsible for the "Bar With No Name" massacre, in which he killed 18 supervillains.[9] This Scourge is eventually unmasked and defeated by Captain America. According to this Scourge, he is the brother of the Enforcer, his first victim, and receives information on villains from his private detective Domino. The Scourge making this confession is then executed by the second known person to use the Scourge identity.[10]

The second person identified as a Scourge kills Hammer and Anvil,[11] and the The Wraith (Brian DeWolff),[12] before killing the Scourge who talks to Captain America, and some time later, he kills a member of the Watchdogs.[13] This Scourge is captured by the U.S. Agent and killed by another Scourge.[14]

A third, renegade Scourge kills the Soviet agent who uses the identity of the Red Skull (Albert Malik) in the 1950s.[15] This Scourge attempts to kill the then-current Captain America (later known as the U.S. Agent). It was revealed that this Scourge has been financed by the original Red Skull, who is believed dead at the time but has actually survived in a body that is cloned from Captain America's DNA.[16] This Scourge is eventually eliminated by the Red Skull.[17]

The fourth person identified as a Scourge is first seen killing the second Scourge, who had been captured by the U.S. Agent.[18] When this Scourge is captured by the U.S. Agent, he is killed by yet another Scourge.[19]

The fifth person identified as a Scourge is Priscilla Lyons, also known as Vagabond; the sixth Scourge is an agent also known as Caprice, and the seventh Scourge is an agent also known as Bloodstain. Lyons is unable to bring herself to kill the Matador and is targeted by the other Scourges. She seeks the help of U.S. Agent, who captures some of the Scourge agents and confronts the Angel and Domino. Bloodstain dies in combat during this encounter.[20]

Appearances[edit]

The Scourge first appears in Iron Man #194 (1985) and makes single-issue appearances in most of Marvel's series published at the time, although the bulk of his story is told in Captain America #318-320. The Scourge of the Underworld first surfaces as an old lady who unexpectedly executes a villain leaving the scene of a crime, and most of the Scourge's other assassinations are committed under similar disguises. His most famous appearance is in Captain America #319, in which he kills eighteen minor supervillains at "the Bar With No Name" (see below).

Years later, in the U.S. Agent miniseries, U.S. Agent and the Vagabond fight the Scourges, including one who claims to be the U.S. Agent's brother. In the end, the Angel dies (although he is survived by a brother who also uses the identity of the Angel), Domino dies, and the remaining Scourges are defeated and arrested.

The Red Skull's minion Mother Night is at one time sent by the Skull to recruit the villains Jack O'Lantern II and Blackwing for his pool of underlings, loosely titled The Skeleton Crew. She uses her illusion-casting abilities to generate the image of the Scourge, who then "kills" both villains; in reality, this is a ruse to fool Captain America so as to allow her to escape with the criminals. The primary writer and creator of the Scourge plotline as well as the Captain America storyline, Mark Gruenwald, had often expressed some disappointment in what he saw as the short-sightedness in killing so many potentially "fun" villains rather than re-imagining or improving them.[citation needed]

The Scourge plays a major role in the story The Deadly Foes of Spider-Man, despite the fact that the character never actually appears during the story, outside of a dream sequence. Throughout the events of the story, the Shocker is stricken with paranoia over the idea that the Scourge will come for him next. During the climax of the arc, the Kingpin employs an unseen Scourge imposter to fake an attempt on the Shocker's life, which prevents him from killing Spider-Man and causes him to flee the scene, all in order to avoid attention being drawn near a location that the Kingpin wants to rob.

In the pages of Thunderbolts, a new Scourge appears; this one assassinates the Thunderbolts members Jolt, Baron Zemo and Techno, as well as a pair of civilians (Gayle Rogers and Roberta Haggerty) who investigate Jolt's death. This Scourge is actually Jack Monroe, alias Bucky and Nomad, who is being mentally controlled by the superhuman-hating government agent Henry Peter Gyrich; Gyrich himself was being manipulated by Baron Strucker. Monroe is defeated and freed from Gyrich's control by the Thunderbolts and their allies, the Redeemers. He then, apparently, abandons the Scourge equipment and identity after the battle. As Scourge, Monroe had access to a wide array of technology based on equipment confiscated from super-villains. Some are installed in the costume, while several others are miniaturized using Pym particles and stored in one of the costume's gauntlets; all are accessible by a voice-coded system. Specific items used include versions of the Green Goblin's glider, the Unicorn's helmet-installed energy projector, and Stilt-Man's telescoping legs, as well as various unspecified weaponry, including a metal quarterstaff. He could also access his gauntlet's Pym particles to alter the size of himself or others, though excessive use of this ability on the Thunderbolt Atlas forced him to abandon much of his weapon stores when his supply of Pym particles was spent.

Three characters bearing the names of the Scourge's previous victims – Hellrazor, Caprice, and Mindwave (minus the hyphen) – appeared in Thunderbolts #116. Caprice and Mindwave appeared along with Mirage and Bluestreak as supervillains incarcerated in Thunderbolts Mountain in Thunderbolts #117 telepathically discussing a plot against the Thunderbolts. Caprice, Mindwave, Mirage, and Bluestreak are all killed in their cells by Bullseye in Thunderbolts #121.

After the Punisher fails to assassinate Osborn due to the intervention of Sentry during the Dark Reign storyline, Osborn asks the Hood to hunt him down.[21] In Punisher #5, the Hood is granted the powers of the Dark Dimension by his master Dormammu to revive eighteen murdered criminals (Basilisk I, Bird-Man II, Black Abbot, Blue Streak I, Cheetah, Cyclone I, Death Adder, Firebrand I, Hijacker, Human Fly, Letha, Megatak, Mind-Wave, Miracle Man, Mirage, Titania I, Turner D. Century, and Wraith I) to help him take down the Punisher. Scourge tells the villains that if they fail, they will be returned to their previous states of death and rot.[22] The Hood tells these criminals that the Scourge of the Underworld is actually Frank Castle and by killing him they'd be avenging their previous deaths and prolonging their new lives. When Microchip asks if he thinks any of them believed the story, the Hood replies, "Sure they did".[23] Several of these villains (including Firebrand, the Wraith, Cyclone and Mirage) are killed again while confronting the Punisher, but ultimately Basilisk and Death Adder subdue the vigilante, and the terms of the Hood's agreement are apparently fulfilled.[volume & issue needed]

The original Scourge is among the various people in Erebus when Hercules travels to the Underworld. He is later seen in Pluto's jury (alongside Abomination, Armless Tiger Man, Artume, Baron Heinrich Zemo, Commander Kraken, Iron Monger, Jack O'Lantern, Kyknos, Nessus, Orka, and Veranke) at Zeus' trial.[24]

In Thunderbolts #133, an otherwise unidentified man is christened Scourge by Norman Osborn and assigned to the Thunderbolts. His first mission is to eliminate Songbird.[25] This character is later revealed to be Nuke with a new identity.[26]

An unknown person under the name of Scourge joins up with Villains for Hire (the villain counterpart of Heroes for Hire).[27] This Scourge ends up in fact being Paladin in disguise, as part of a massive con to take down Purple Man.[28]

Another new Scourge is shown to be using a list of the locations of supervillains who have been relocated via the witness protection program and killing them, most recently Viper, member of the Serpent Squad. In the battle, he severely injures the hero (and former villain) Diamondback, who recognizes his voice.[29] He is then shown to be working for Henry Peter Gyrich, revealed to be under the influence of Hydra. Encountering the villain the Rattler, whom Scourge subdues and kills after a short but brutal fight, he pulls off his damaged mask, shattered from the fight, to reveal his identity to be Dennis Dunphy, formerly known as the hero Demolition Man.[30]

Villains killed by the Scourge[edit]

Name First appearance Last appearance Notes
The Enforcer Ghost Rider #22 Iron Man #194 The Scourge is disguised as a homeless woman.
Miracle Man Fantastic Four #3 Thing #24 The Scourge is disguised as a long-haired and bearded bus passenger.
Hate Monger Android Fantastic Four #279 Secret Wars II #2 The Scourge's disguise is not seen.
Megatak Thor #328 Thor #358 The Scourge is disguised as a homeless man.
Melter Tales of Suspense #47 Avengers #263 The Scourge disguised as Melter's assistant Keegan (who was also killed by Scourge).
Titania Marvel Two-in-One #54 Thing #33 The Scourge is disguised as a female wrestler named "Golddigger".
Basilisk (Basil Elks) Marvel Team-Up #16 Fantastic Four #289 The Scourge is disguised as a construction worker.
The Human Fly (Richard Deacon) The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #10 The Amazing Spider-Man #276 The Scourge is disguised as a sanitation worker.
Death Adder Marvel Two-in-One #64 Captain America #318 The Scourge is disguised as a taxicab driver.
Blue Streak (Don Thompson) Captain America #217 Captain America #318 The Scourge disguised as a truck driver.
The Wraith (Brian DeWolff) Marvel Team-Up #48 The Amazing Spider-Man #278 The Scourge is disguised as a police officer.
Red Skull (Albert Malik) Captain America Comics #61 Captain America #347 The Scourge is disguised as a pilot.
An unnamed member of the Watchdogs Captain America #351 Captain America #351 The Scourge is disguised as a government agent.
Minions of the Power Broker Captain America #358 Captain America #358 No disguise.
Black Abbott Marvel Team-Up #147 Captain America #394 Disguise unknown.
Wrench (Kurt Klemmer) Omega the Unknown #6 Captain America #394 Death is mentioned only.
Hammer and Anvil Incredible Hulk #182 Marvel Fanfare #29 The Scourge is disguised as an old Native American. Hammer was the one that was shot, and Anvil dies due to a psychic link between them.
Blowtorch Brand Defenders #135 U.S. Agent #2 The Scourge disguised as a movie patron.
Jaguar Daredevil #120 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
Mirage The Amazing Spider-Man #156 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
Hellrazor Marvel Team-Up #87 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
Shellshock Fantastic Four Annual #5 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
Bird-Man II Daredevil #157 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
Cyclone (André Gerard) The Amazing Spider-Man #143 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
The Ringer (Anthony Davis) Defenders #51 Captain America #319 Although thought killed in the Bar with No Name, A.I.M. turns him into a cyborg named Strikeback. Following a fight with Stegron the Dinosaur Man, Strikeback dies again.[31][32]
Turner D. Century Spider-Woman #33 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
The Grappler She-Hulk #18 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
The Cheetah Captain Marvel #48 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
The Vamp Captain America #217 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
Commander Kraken Sub-Mariner #27 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
Letha Marvel Two-in-One #54 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
Steeplejack Ms. Marvel #14 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
Mind-Wave Daredevil #133 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
Rapier The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #2 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
Firebrand (Gary Gilbert) Iron Man #27 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.
Hijacker Tales to Astonish #40 Captain America #319 Killed in the Bar with No Name.

Villains who escaped The Scourge[edit]

Name Notes
Constrictor The Scourge fails to kill him.
Kraven the Hunter The Scourge fails to kill him.[33]
Solarr He dies in a government project before the Scourge can get to him.
Water Wizard He is delayed by a flat tire and does not arrive in time at the "Bar With No Name" meeting. Water Wizard then turns himself in to Captain America for his own protection.
Diamondback and Cobra The Scourge shoots at their vehicle, but misses the fuel tank.[34]
Hobgoblin (Roderick Kingsley) When Flash Thompson is framed as the Hobgoblin and arrested, the Scourge attempts to assassinate him in jail, but Spider-Man stops him. The real Hobgoblin remains on the Scourge's list when the Scourge is himself assassinated.
Puppet Master He is on the Scourge's list when the Scourge is himself assassinated.
The Phone Ranger He is attacked in Marvel Age Annual #1 by the Scourge, who is disguised as a workman, but he turns up alive in Civil War.
The Matador He is allowed to live by a rookie Scourge who takes pity on him.[35]
Shocker He is attacked in Deadly Foes of Spider-Man #3, but it fails when the bullet bounces off the vibration field around his body. His attacker is later revealed to be an agent of the Kingpin sent to scare him away from the scene.[36]
Steel Wind The Scourge fails to kill her.[37]
Gamecock The Scourge fails to kill him.[38]
Lionfang Although initially thought to have died at the hands of a Scourge,[39] he is revealed to be a middle management heroin dealer in North Philadelphia. He uses a wheelchair due to a back injury inadvertently caused by Luke Cage.[40]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Iron Man #194
  2. ^ Thing #24
  3. ^ Secret Wars II #2
  4. ^ Avengers #263
  5. ^ Thing #33
  6. ^ Fantastic Four #289
  7. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #276
  8. ^ Captain America #318
  9. ^ Captain America #319
  10. ^ Captain America #320
  11. ^ Marvel Fanfare #29
  12. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #278
  13. ^ Captain America #351
  14. ^ Captain America #358-364
  15. ^ Captain America #347
  16. ^ Captain America #350
  17. ^ Captain America #394
  18. ^ Captain America #364
  19. ^ U.S. Agent #[volume & issue needed]
  20. ^ U.S. Agent #1-4
  21. ^ Punisher Vol. 7 #1
  22. ^ Punisher Vol. 7 #5
  23. ^ Punisher Vol. 7 #6
  24. ^ Incredible Hercules #129
  25. ^ Thunderbolts #133
  26. ^ Thunderbolts #136
  27. ^ Villains for Hire #1
  28. ^ Villains for Hire #4
  29. ^ Captain America (vol. 6) #11
  30. ^ Captain America (vol. 6) #12
  31. ^ Lethal Foes of Spider-Man #4
  32. ^ Thunderbolts #56
  33. ^ West Coast Avengers #3
  34. ^ Captain America #320
  35. ^ U.S. Agent #1
  36. ^ Deadly Foes of Spider Man #4
  37. ^ Captain America #394
  38. ^ Captain America #394
  39. ^ Captain America #394
  40. ^ New Avengers: Luke Cage #?[volume & issue needed]

External links[edit]