Captain America #315-320 (1986)

I picked these up because I was looking through a back issue comics catalog and the issues were described as hidden gems. Well, for what the comics are (standard silly super-hero junk) these comics are pretty well done.

The story concerns a man called Scourge, who is a vigilante set loose in the Marvel Universe trying to mete out what he sees as justice in our society by murdering convicted felons (in this case, convicted super-villains, of course) who have somehow gotten off for their crimes by a corrupt and ineffectual justice system. He murders no less than 29 second-rate Marvel villains in what he sees as an attempt to fulfill his responsibility to society.  Captain America becomes very much involved in the struggle to bring Scourge to justice.

The dichotomy between Cap and Scourge hints at the difference between true heroes and vigilantes. There is a difference between a real hero like Captain America and the thugs that follow in the Punisher’s footsteps. Bad as these villains might have been, the was no reason to murder them. Scourge’s justification for his actions is frighteningly similar to something we have heard recently from the militia movement: he says “I don’t play judge and jury. Every person I’ve killed has been convicted of a crime. Go ahead and check. The American justice system is far too lenient. I have to compensate for it. … A little bang here and there, and I’ve made the world a better place.”

It would be easy to over-praise this book, I think. The art is mediocre at best and the reproduction of it is absolutely horrible. There are parts of these comics that are printed so badly that they are practically unreadable. The story is rather muddled and could have easily been more fleshed out and compelling. But for a simple stretch of issues of Captain America dating from 1986, this stuff is not too bad. It definitely isn’t up to 1997 standards at all, but for something from the 50c box, it’s okay.

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