The original "Scourge of the Underworld" was an organization of vigilante assassins trained in the use of firearms and as masters of disguise. The origin of the first man identified as Scourge is unknown. He claimed to be the brother of one of his own victims. He was aided by a man known only as Domino (formerly an agent of the Conspiracy), who provided him with information on his targets. With every successful assassination, a Scourge exclaims "Justice is served." as his signature catchphrase.
Scourge was created by Mark Gruenwald as a means to clean out some of the underused supervillains floating around the Marvel Universe. He first appeared in Iron Man #196, written by Denny O'Neill. John Byrne is credited with the design of his white overcoat and hat with the skull visage.
Major Story Arcs
The Year of the Scourge
Scourge began his killing spree by murdering criminal mercenary gunman the Enforcer while disguised as a homeless woman. The Scourge next targeted the hypnotic Miracle Man but found himself aboard a bus with not only his target but The Thing as well. The Miracle Man's plan to free the Rhino (who was being transported by Guardsmen in another vehicle) was interrupted by the Thing, but while the Thing and the Rhino fought, Scourge slew the Miracle Man. When the Fantastic Four defeated the Psycho Man's emotion-manipulating Hate Monger construct after he caused mass chaos in Manhattan, Scourge hiding in a nearby alleyway shot the artificial being, causing it to lose its form. While still in New York, Scourge murdered video game-inspired villain Megatak and later shot the would-be super-hero Phone Ranger during a chaotic battle between various heroes and the Lethal Legion. The design of the Phone-Ranger's helmet apparently saved his life. It has been conjectured that the Scourge mistook the hero for a member of the Lethal Legion.
Scourge first encountered Captain America during an unsuccessful attempt on hospitalized super-criminal Constrictor. Posing as a nurse, Scourge failed due to Captain America's intervention, but managed to escape. He traveled to Los Angeles, where he failed to kill Kraven the Hunter when he couldn't get close enough to the villain to avoid hurting Tigra, whom Kraven was battling. Shortly thereafter, Scourge murdered Keegan, the super-criminal Melter's assistant. Disguised as Keegan, Scourge shot the Melter before destroying the criminal's melting device.
Soon after, a Scourge joined the Grapplers wrestling stable, posing as a woman called Golddigger. When the opportunity presented itself, she murdered Titania, one of several Grapplers who moonlighted as costumed criminals. To cover her escape, this Scourge accused a man of the murder, which led to a battle between the Grapplers and the Thing, who was working for the same wrestling promotion at the time. This assassin was most likely Caprice, the only female member of the organization at the time.
A Scourge disguised as a construction worker at the new Four Freedoms Plaza. Having escaped his underground prison, the gem-empowered super-menace Basilisk entered the Plaza and murdered a construction foreman. Intent on attacking the Fantastic Four, the Basilisk was instead shot by Scourge, the shot carrying the villain's body out of a glass window on a higher level of the construction. A Scourge next appeared in the American Southwest, tracking Hammer and Anvil. However, he encountered the Hulk. Disguised as an elderly Native American, the Scourge pacified the Hulk with an unidentified tranquilizer and hid out until a battle began between the Hulk and the vengeful villains. At the climax of the fight, Scourge shot Hammer in the face, causing Anvil's death due to the symbiotic chain that linked the duo.
Scourge then successfully killed three more super-criminals: the insect-powered Fly, Serpent Society founder Death Adder and ex-SHIELD speedster Blue Streak. The numerous deaths began to be attributed to a lone killer, and many super-villains feared for their lives. The Serpent Society began investigating the murders. Criminal entrepreneur Gary Gilbert, formerly Firebrand, tried to organize a meeting of like-minded criminals at the Bar with no Name in Ohio, to discuss how to deal with the Scourge threat. Unbeknownst to him, Scourge had already targeted Gilbert and, posing as Bart the bartender, bided his time for the meeting.
Elsewhere, Captain America began to investigate the killings after encountering a frightened Blacklash. He found few leads, as his main suspect was Foolkiller, who was institutionalized at the time. Gilbert, meanwhile, had gathered 17 other criminals for this meeting, during which Scourge revealed himself, shooting and killing them all. Those murdered included Gilbert, the winged Bird-Man, nostalgia Turner D. Century, the catlike Cheetah, modern-day pirate Commander Kraken, wind-manipulating Cyclone, wealthy criminal athlete Grappler, blade-firing energy parasite Hellrazor, high-tech highwayman Hijacker, Latin American HYDRA agent Jaguar, Grapplers founder Letha, high-tech telepath Mind-Wave, holographic illusionist Mirage, the swordsman Rapier, the hoop-tossing Ringer, high-tech gunman Shellshock, corrupt construction businessman Steeplejack and martial artist Vamp. The liquid-manipulating Water Wizard, running late found the dead bodies and called in Captain America.
While the Avengers and local authorities investigated, Scourge made a failed attempt on the life of Flash Thompson, who was jailed and believed to be the criminal Hobgoblin. When Spider-Man intervened, Scourge escaped - but on his way out, he killed the psychic vigilante Wraith who had gone mad and was seeking vengeance on the police.
Scourge then unsuccessfully tried to murder a hospitalized Diamondback, who had been shot in the course of the Serpent Society's investigation. She escaped with the help of her Serpent Society teammate Cobra. Captain America planned to draw the Scourge out by posing as a survivor of the bar massacre. Disguised as Mirage, Captain America was placed in protective custody and reports of Mirage's survival were circulated in the media. The ruse worked, as Scourge learned of his apparent failure and his informant Domino trailed the fake Mirage to a cabin in the wilderness. Trying to kill "Mirage," Scourge was ambushed and captured by Captain America. Claiming to be the brother of the Enforcer, this Scourge was shot dead by an unseen gunman who cried out, "Justice is served!" and escaped while Captain America saw to the dying Scourge.
The Return of Scourge
Months later, a Scourge killed Albert Malik, the communist criminal mastermind who called himself the Red Skull. Scourge also attempted to kill John Walker, who had then taken over the identity of Captain America. Walker injured his attackers before confronting the original Captain America.
After Walker gave the Captain America identity back to Rogers, a press conference for the event was set up. A government employee was hired to pose as a member of the Watchdogs extremist organization and "assassinate" Walker at the conference, with Rogers unaware of the plan to fake Walker's death. After seemingly shooting Walker, the "Watchdog" was shot by Scourge himself who was planning to assassinate Walker himself.
Scourge targeted Curtiss Jackson, recently revealed to be the criminal Power Broker. He invaded Jackson's compound, killing numerous employees. At the time, Jackson was inside his home with adventurer Priscilla Lyons, who had previously worked with Nomad and Captain America as Vagabond. As the two discussed the possibility of Lyons receiving Jackson's power-enhancing treatment, Scourge assaulted the building. Jackson contacted General Lewis Haywerth, who sent Walker (now in the costumed identity of U.S. Agent) to investigate. Walker captured Scourge, but not before a frightened Jackson accidentally turned himself into a deformed monstrosity using his own machinery.
It was revealed soon after that the original Red Skull, Johan Schmidt, in his guise as "Mr. Smith," had created his own Scourge, tasked with eliminating competition to the Skull's plans.
Sometime later, Lyons discovered that the Scourge of the Underworld was a group of like-minded vigilantes. She joined the organization, but after failing on her first assignment, to kill the Matador, Lyons herself was targeted for death. She enlisted the U.S.Agent to help her. As a result of their efforts, World War II hero, The Angel (Thomas Halloway) was revealed as Scourge's primary financial backer, and the Scourges were either killed or apprehended. Halloway was released due to lack of evidence.
During the Dark Reign storyline, the Hood resurrected many of Scourge's victims, planning on using them to kill the Punisher. However, the Punisher survived this assault and many of the resurrected villains were killed, several more during in a subsequent encounter with Venom.
While several iterations of the Scourge of the Underworld have existed since Halloway's original organization, none have been nearly as successful. Among the impersonators was a brain-washed Jack Monroe used as a pawn against the Thunderbolts, and the cyborg Nuke, who used the identity to serve as a member of the Thunderbolts.
Powers and Abilties
Scourge most often utilized a .50 cal Thompson machine gun with a sawed-off barrel and stock using special purpose 5-round clips. The rounds are equipped with acceleration activated, delay-triggered explosive shells. Scourge also utilizes a mobile van that serves as a sort of base of operations, complete with weapons, disguises, computer system and sleeping quarters.