Justice is Served: The Scourge Files - Chapter One

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Justice is Served: The Scourge Files - Chapter One

Postby Capes (Optional) » Tue Aug 25, 2015 5:27 pm

This is part one of a series examining the original Scourge storyline in the 1980s to 1990s, in which an organization devoted to the assassination of super-villains, typically with a modified submachine gun with explosive shells went into action, usually uttering the catch-phrase "Justice is served!" after killing the villain. Adapted from material previously written in the 1990s on an older website, it was put together from memory, but in 2014 I purchased the Scourge of the Underworld trade. Along with the most recent Marvel Index volumes, I am therefore editing this series accordingly. This series covers Iron Man #194 (May 1985) to USAgent #4 (June 1993). 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 included. For successful hits, postmortem uses of victims are noted.



IRON MAN #194
(May 1985)
by Denny O'Neill (writer) and Luke McDonnell & Steve Mitchell (artists)

Victim: The Enforcer (Charles Delazny Jr.)

Disguise: Homeless woman

Synopsis: The Enforcer is hired by Madame Masque's bio-duplicate on behalf of Obadiah Stane to kill the Termite. En route, a homeless "woman" stops him, asking for change they have a brief heated exchange. The Enforcer brushes her off. "She" shoots him (through her bag) in the chest with a sawed off shotgun containing explosive bullets exclaming "Justice is Served!"

Is it key to the Scourge story? Yes, the Enforcer was the first hit by a Scourge. Also, apparently the same Scourge, when captured by Captain America would tie the Enforcer into his bogus origin, claiming to be the Enforcer’s brother. This claim was bogus however, as he claimed to be the brother of Coot Collier, Jr. and not the Enforcer’s actual real name of Charles Delazny, Jr.

Is is key to the rest of the story in this issue? Marginally. Madame Masque's bio-duplicate was a recurring character in Iron Man at the time, and Stane the main villain of that era.

Postmortem use of victim: Charles Delazny, Jr. has not been brought back from the dead as of 2015. However, Mike Nero has taken on the identity of the Enforcer.

Other comments: Evidently Scourge didn't know where the Enforcer was headed. Otherwise it would have made sense for him to let the Enforcer kill the Termite first, since the whole reason behind the Scourge operation is to eliminate super-villains.
The Thing #24
(June 1985)
by Mike Carlin (writer) and Ron Wilson & Joe Sinnott (artists)

Victim: Miracle Man (Joshua Ayers)

Disguise: Bearded bus passenger

Synopsis: The Thing sits in an aisle seat of a bus, not realizing his old foe the Miracle Man is sitting in aisle seat directly to Thing's right. A bearded man in a window seat to Thing's left tries to engage Thing in a game of Trivial Pursuit. Miracle Man uses his powers to stop the bus so he can break the Rhino out of a Project: Pegasus vehicle. The Rhino ultimately resists the Miracle Man's attempts to manipulate him. As Miracle Man struggles for control, he his confronted by the bearded man, who guns down the Miracle Man, declaring "Justice is Served!"

Is it key to the overall Scourge storyline? No. Just Scourge killing a super-villain.

Does it tie in to the rest of the issue? Yes. as noted above, Scourge is a bus passenger and even interacts with the Thing, only striking near the end. His victim was the main villain of the story (aside from the Rhino, who was just a dupe).

Postmortem use of victim: Miracle Man was one of a number of super-villains brought back from the dead by the Hood.

Comments: This is the oldest of Marvel's villains to get slain by Scourge, first appearing in Fantastic Four #3 (March 1962). Scourge does not attempt a hit on the Rhino in this story. There are probably two reasons for this: it's unlikely that even explosive bullets could penetrate the Rhino, and Scourge likely didn't want to engage the Thing, who was physically too close to the Rhino both during the rampage and after the Rhino calmed down. Curiously, even though Miracle Man spots the Thing prior to boarding but not vice versa, he still ends up sitting beside his old foe. Scourge doesn't attempt to play Trivial Pursuit during later hits, so it's unknown if that was a genuine interest of his or just part of his cover.
SECRET WARS II #2
(August 1985)
by Jim Shooter (writer) and Al Milgrom, Steve Leialoha and Joe Rubenstein (artists)

Victim: Hate-Monger (“H.M. Unger”)

Disguise: Unknown

Synopsis: After the Hate-Monger's defeat in a confrontation with the Fantastic Four and the Beyonder, Scourge, hidden in an alley, guns down the Hate-Monger, revealing him to be an artificial lifeform.

Is it key to the Scourge storyline? No.

Does it tie in to the main story? Only to the extent that Secret Wars II covers events from Fantastic Four #279-281. Since Psycho-Man begins using the Hate-Monger there, Scourge's hit actually ties more into the Fantastic Four issues.

Postmortem use of victim: Unger has not been recreated as of 2015. He was the third of four (to date) villains using the Hate-Monger name and hate motif but otherwise bearing little resemblance to one another.

Other comments: This is the first Scourge victim to be killed in his initial storyline, as well as the only one to be an artificial lifeform. Scourge's disguise, if any, is not actually seen here. While the gun the Scourge uses is referred to by She-Hulk as a raygun, it actually looks fairly similar to the gun Scourge used to kill the Miracle Man.
THOR #358
(August 1985)
by Walt Simonson (writer and artist)

Victim: Megatak (Gregory Nettles)

Disguise: Old man

Synopsis: Not far from Beta Ray Bill and Sif, Megatak prefers to go into action oinly to be shot dead by an old man who declares, "Justice is Served".

Is it key to the overall Scourge storyline? No.

Does it tie into the main story in this issue? Very little. Megatak appears to want to take advantage of the distraction caused by Sif and Beta Ray Bill having finished their battle with Titanium Man, but that's about it.

Postmortem use of villain: MEGATAK was one of a number of super-villains brought back from the dead by the Hood.

Comments: As with the Rhino in the hit on Miracle Man, it makes sense that Scourge wouldn’t target the Titanium Man, due to his armour and not wanting to attract the attention of Beta Ray Bill and Sif.
MARVEL AGE ANNUAL #1
(1985)
by Kurt Busiek (writer) and James Fry (artist)
(note: there were other stories and features in this issue, but only this one involved Scourge).

Victim: Phone Ranger (A.G. Bell)

Disguise: James Fry

Synopsis: The Phone Ranger is present during a skirmish between various Marvel heroes and the Lethal Legion in the Marvel offices, and is shot by Scourge, disguised as James Fry, apparently not realizing that the Phone Ranger is a hero.

Is it key to the overall Scourge storyline? No.

Does it tie into the main story in this issue? Well, it ties into this particular story at least in the sense of the hit occurring during the chaos.

Postmortem use of victim: Bell turned up alive during the Civil War, his suit having protected him somehow despite being shot passing through his head. There have been no subsequent Phone Rangers.

Other comments: This is the first time that Scourge shot someone in their first appearance and the second time that a character got shot in their initial storyline, such as it is. It’s unclear why Scourge would shoot the Phone Ranger and leave the more obvious villains alone. Perhaps he felt that he could only get in one shot during the chaos. This is the first time that Scourge shot someone who was not actually a villain and the first time that Scourge impersonated a specific person. Prior to his revival, this story was believed to be non-canonical.
CAPTAIN AMERICA #311
(November 1985)
by Mark Gruenwald (writer) and Paul Neary & Dennis Janke (artists)

Would-Be Victim: Constrictor (Frank Schlichting/Frank Payne)

Disguise: Nurse

Synopsis: The Constrictor is in the hospital recovering from injuries in the previous issue. A nurse asks Captain America to leave and then pulls out a gun. Before "she" can kill the Constrictor, Captain America returns to the room to say one more thing to the Constrictor. Realizing what's happening, he stops the hit, though Scourge gets away, abandoning the padded suit and latex mask.

Is it a key part of the Scourge storyline? Somewhat. It’s his first failed hit and it’s where Captain America first becomes aware of Scourge. It's also the first time that Scourge uses a version of his codename, in this instance "the Scourge of All Criminals!"

Is it part of the main story in this issue? Partly since Constrictor is in the hospital for crossing the Serpent Society, whom Captain America started investigating as a result.

Other comments: This is the first Scourge appearance to be written by Mark Gruenwald, who came up with the original concept for the character.

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