Scourge of the Underworld

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The Scourge of the Underworld is the name of a series of characters that have appeared in various series set in the Marvel Comics universe. The Scourge would appear, usually in disguise, execute a minor supervillain (especially ones fans considered ill conceived), shout his catchphrase, "Justice is served!", and disappear.

Unlike a similar character, The Punisher, who is usually treated as an anti-hero, The Scourge is unambiguously condemned as a villain whom the superhero community, most notably Captain America, is determined to bring to justice.


character biography

The Scourge first appeared in Iron Man #194 (1986) and made single-issue appearances in most of Marvel's series published at the time, although the bulk of his story was told in Captain America #318-320. The Scourge of the Underworld first surfaced as an old lady who unexpectedly executed a villain leaving the scene of a crime, and most of the Scourge's other assassinations were committed under similar disguises. His most infamous appearance was in Captain America #319, in which he killed over a dozen minor supervillains at "the Bar With No Name" (see below).

According to the Scourge in Captain America #320, he was the brother of the Enforcer, a minor villain who had been his first victim and received information on villains from his private detective, Domino. The Scourge making this confession was then executed by another Scourge, and that Scourge was later killed by yet another Scourge. This last Scourge also killed the Soviet agent who had used the identity of the Red Skull in the 1950s. It was revealed in Captain America #350 that the Scourge had been financed by the original Red Skull, who had been believed dead at the time but had actually survived in a body that was cloned from Captain America's DNA.

Years later, in the U.S. Agent miniseries, it was revealed that the Scourge was an identity used by several people, all of whom were financed by the original Angel, a hero from the Golden Age of Comic Books who had been driven to vigilantism in recent years. U.S. Agent and the Vagabond fought the Scourges, including one who had claimed to be the U.S. Agent's brother. In the end, the Angel died (although he was survived by a brother who had also used the identity of the Angel), Domino died, and the remaining Scourges were defeated and arrested.

The Red Skull's minion Mother Night was 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 used her illusion-casting abilities to generate the image of the Scourge, who then "shot and killed" both villains, in reality, simply fooling Captain America so as to allow her to escape with the criminals. The primary writer and conceiver 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. The Mother Night "recruitment" sequence is a likely loop by which various Scourge victims might be "resurrected".

The Scourge played 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, preventing him from killing Spider-Man and causing him to flee the scene, all in order to avoid attention being drawn near a location that the Kingpin was having robbed.

In the pages of Thunderbolts, a new Scourge appeared; this one assassinated the Thunderbolts members Jolt, Baron Zemo and Techno, as well as a pair of civilians (Gayle Rogers and Roberta Haggerty) who were investigating Jolt's death. It was revealed that this Scourge was actually Jack Monroe, alias Bucky and Nomad, who was being mentally controlled by the superhuman-hating government agent Henry Peter Gyrich; Gyrich himself was being manipulated by Baron Strucker. Monroe was defeated and freed from Gyrich's control by the Thunderbolts and their allies, the Redeemers. He then, apparently, abandoned 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 were installed in the costume he wore, while several others were miniaturized using Pym particles and stored in one of the costume's gauntlets; all were accessible by a voice-coded system. Specific items used included 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. (Note that Bluestreak wasn't named until the exposition page of Thunderbolts #118.)

The Punisher, Scourge of the Underworld

The Punisher, Scourge of the Underworld

Spinning out of the events of the Civil War the vigilante anti-hero, The Punisher has widened his targets to the throngs of super-villains that either rampage with impunity or are working as registered operatives following the Superhuman Registration Act. The Punisher is referred to by both criminals and various solicitations for The Punisher War Journal comic book as "The Scourge of the Underworld". In his capacity as a villain-killer, Punisher has slain such villains as Goldbug, Plunderer, and the original Stilt-Man. In a move that harkens back to the Bar with No Name incident, Punisher infiltrated the pub where Stilt-Man's wake was held, poisoned the attendees, and then blew up the villain-filled bar. Several of the victims include:

Later, in She-Hulk (volume 2) #17 it is revealed everyone had to be treated at the hospital for third-degree burns. They also had their stomachs pumped.

Villains killed by the Scourge

  • Megatak
    • first appeared in Thor #328
    • killed in Thor #358
    • The Scourge disguised as a homeless man

Villains killed in the Bar With No Name

In Captain America #319, the Scourge was disguised as the bartender of "the Bar With No Name," a super-villain hang-out. A number of villains had gathered there that evening to organize a concerted effort to stop the Scourge, all at the urgings of villain "manager" Gary Gilbert, formerly a villain called Firebrand.

Security equipment that Gilbert borrowed from the gadget-villain called the Tinkerer was ineffective in detecting the Scourge, as no one thought to scan the bartender, and eighteen villains were killed, including Gilbert himself, in the second panel from the end of the issue. The villains had no chance against Scourge due to a "no weapons policy" in the "Bar With No Name."

Villains who escaped The Scourge

  • Constrictor - The Scourge attempted to kill him but failed
  • Solarr - died in government project before the Scourge could get to him
  • Water Wizard - had a flat tire on the way to The Bar, arrived late to find the corpses
  • Diamondback - The Scourge shot at the vehicle she was in, but missed the fuel tank
  • Cobra - The Scourge shot at the vehicle he was in, but missed the fuel tank
  • Hobgoblin - When Flash Thompson was framed as the Hobgoblin and arrested, the Scourge attempted to assassinate him in jail, but Spider-Man stopped him. The real Hobgoblin remained on the Scourge's list when the Scourge was himself assassinated.
  • Puppet Master - On the Scourge's list when the Scourge was himself assassinated
  • Shocker - Attempt failed, as reported in Captain America #394
  • Steel Wind - Attempt failed, as reported in Captain America #394
  • Gamecock - Attempt failed, as reported in Captain America #394

List of appearances

  • Avengers #263
  • Iron Man #194 (1986)
  • Thing #24
  • Secret Wars II #2
  • Thor #359
  • Thing #33
  • Fantastic Four #289
  • The Amazing Spider-Man #276, #278, #364
  • Captain America #311, 318-320, 347, 350-351, 358-362, 368, 393-394
  • West Coast Avengers #3
  • U.S. Agent #1-4
  • Thunderbolts #49-50
  • Dragon's Claws #6
  • Marvel Age Annual #1
  • Marvel Fanfare #29
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