Reaper (Gunther Strauss)
|First appearance||Captain America Comics #22 (Jan 1943)|
|Created by||Stan Lee and Al Avison|
|Alter ego||Gunther Strauss|
|Notable aliases||The Man the Law Could Not Touch|
The Reaper, the alias of Gunther Strauss, is a supervillain in the fictional shared universe of Marvel Comics, and an enemy of Captain America and Bucky. He first appeared in Captain America Comics #22 (Jan 1943), and his origin and first appearance were reprinted in full in The Invaders vol. 1 #10 (November, 1976).
Fictional character biography
Gunther Strauss, a Nazi agent, was ordered by Adolf Hitler to cause a popular uprising in the United States. Acting as "the Reaper", Strauss traveled to Manhattan and claimed to be a religious prophet who had received an oracular vision. He promised to reveal the contents of this vision at a rally in Madison Square Garden, to which a huge crowd of both the faithful and simple curiosity-seekers gathered. The Reaper exhorted the crowd to abandon morality and to attack the trappings of society, to tear down the legal system and, ultimately, the federal government itself.
After the rally, the Reaper continued his ranting speeches in New York City, and more and more people were swayed by his demagoguery. There was a surge in popular unrest in the city, rioting broke out, and a few people even attempted to attack federal buildings. Captain America and Bucky intervened, but were told by the Reaper that he was legally untouchable, as he had broken no laws, his free speech being protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Turning the tables, the Reaper actually filed a police complaint against them, for breaking and entering, which caused the police to issue a warrant for their arrest.
Regardless, Captain America appeared at the Reaper's next rally, to publicly challenge the ideas he was putting forth. The Reaper exhorted the frenzied crowd to attack Captain America, and a large portion of it moved to do so. In the scuffle, Captain America was knocked unconscious by the Reaper, who then personally led the crowd to attack New York City Hall. While this was happening, Bucky had acquired documentation that definitively proved the Reaper was an agent provocateur working for the Nazis, and not an American citizen. Bucky and a revived Captain America pursued the Reaper into the New York City Subway, where he was disarmed by Captain America. The Reaper attempted to flee into a subway tunnel, but fell on the electrified third rail and was killed.
Powers and abilities
The Reaper does not appear to possess superhuman powers. He is, however, an experienced orator and demagogue, capable of whipping an audience of listeners into a frenzy. He carries a large, ordinary scythe, which he can use as a weapon. He also has a number of agents of the Nazi Party at his disposal.
- The Reaper (World War II) at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe
- Hoskin, Michael, et al. (w), Brown, Eliot (p), Brown, Eliot (i). Marvel Atlas 1 (November, 2007), Marvel Comics
- Sanderson, Peter (2007). The Marvel Comics Guide to New York City. New York City: Pocket Books. pp. 74–75, 78. ISBN 1-4165-3141-6.
- Lee, Stan (w), Avison, Al (p), Gabriele, Al (i). "The Reaper" Captain America Comics 22 (January, 1943), Marvel Comics