Amazing Spider-Man #278
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #278
Peter is more or less brow-beaten by Joe Robertson and Kate Cushing into using his connection with Flash Thompson to get an interview with him. We're introduced to Flash's lawyer, Sharon Banks, a corporate lawyer working this case pro bono as mandated by her law firm.
Sharon's assumption is that Peter will use the interview to help Flash, but Peter isn't so sure; he's still not sure if Flash really is the Hobgoblin.
After the interview, Peter's spider-sense alerts him to a police officer that turns out to be the Scourge.
Since Scourge is dressed as a cop, Spider-Man is unable to fight him without bringing the rest of the police department on him, but he does manage to prevent him from killing the Flash, who of course the Scourge thinks is the Hobgoblin.
This is the only time where the (original) Scourge seems to have made a mistake (unless, arguably, Titania really was reformed), and it raises the problem with the Scourge's method of "justice" when dealing with masked criminals; he's got a very final solution that doesn't leave any room for error.
To make matters worse, when Spider-Man foils the Scourge's attempt on Flash, he exits the police building and runs into the Wraith. Based on nothing more than the Wraith's high-speak and probably his costume, Scourge executes him.
Now, maybe Scourge actually knew about the Wraith despite how it sounds in the dialogue, or maybe he would have been happy to kill him regardless. But the Wraith has always been emotionally disturbed, and he's reacting here to the death of his sister, Jean DeWolff. Again, i can't say i really know Scourge's moral code. But you'd think that would count as a mitigating factor. The Wraith has been shown to be reachable, even a good guy, on occasion. Spider-Man has had freak-outs at times, and he's been wanted by the law, but Scourge doesn't seem interesting in killing him. Not the same, but there's definitely a grey line here.
Also worth noting that Flash is already imprisoned, so this isn't a case of a super-villain that has escaped the criminal justice system (Scourge also tried to kill the Constrictor, who was in police custody in a hospital, in Captain America #311). And when Scourge needs to escape, he does so by freeing a bunch of non-powered prisoners, which seems like a risky move if you're concerned about justice, even if you assume the police will catch them all and not get hurt in the process.
Anyway, didn't mean to psychoanalyze the Scourge. Just capturing some data points as we reach the conclusion of the first Scourge saga and to refer back to with when the storyline re-emerges later in Mark Gruenwald's Captain America run.
It's interesting to see the Wraith killed off in this way. As Jean DeWolff became such a well-used supporting character in the Spider-Man books, the fact that her brother was a mentally disturbed super-villain lost emphasis. With her death, it makes sense to check in on him, but the story would be boringly predictable. The angry and confused Wraith should show up and attack the people he thinks are responsible, and Spider-Man should arrive to save them and convince the Wraith that he's going about things the wrong way. Some cathartic crying and cut. The Scourge's random appearance in the same story refreshingly truncates that, and the Wraith's death removes the possibility of endlessly dredging up Jean's death over and over again.
The issue ends with Peter resolving that he's going to trust that Flash is innocent ("I, of all people should remember what it's like to be condemned on the strength of circumstantial evidence!"), and then we see the real Hobgoblin lamenting the fact that Flash wasn't killed.
Earlier, Ned Leeds continues to be highlighted as the prime suspect for the Hobgoblin's identity.
Despite a fill-in artist and some scripting help for Tom Defalco (or dare i say because of the latter?), this was a good issue.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: See the first reference below. This definitely takes place after Captain America #319, and seemingly takes place during Captain America #320, some time after the Water Wizard shows Cap the slaughter at the Bar With No Name. Or possibly it takes place between #319-320, with maybe Cap having heard about the slaughter somehow before the Water Wizard showed him. I'm assuming the former, but my placement between issues #319 and #320 allows for either interpretation. A bigger problem is the death of the Wraith. We saw a newspaper headline in Captain America #318 that listed his death but obviously based on the reference below #318 can't take place after this issue. I'm assuming the headline got it wrong; my first thought was maybe the Wraith had mentally forced someone else into his costume and that's who the Scourge killed, or Scourge just had a near miss or something else. But Scourge doesn't seem to recognize the Wraith and just kills him as a consolation prize after failing to kill the Hobgoblin. So maybe the Wraith dressed a victim in his costume and killed him (he's unstable, after all) or there was some other unrelated event that Firebrand just assumed was related to the Scourge in Cap #318. I should mention that the MCP solves the Wraith problem by saying it was a second Scourge that appears here, one of the ones that emerges later in Gruenwald's Cap run. They also attribute the Scourge appearance in Marvel Fanfare #29 to that second Scourge. I prefer to keep all of the original Scourge appearances to one guy unless there's something explicitly saying otherwise.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #286
Inbound References (5): show
Just out of curiosity, did Spidey ever learn what happened to Scourge in Captain America or is this the only time they met?
Posted by: AbeLincoln1865 | December 3, 2013 6:29 PM
I'll keep an eye out to see if Spider-Man ever references it again.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 3, 2013 7:50 PM
Scourge was supposed to only kill super-villains that had been CONVICTED of a crime, as we'll see in Captain America 320. That was contradicted by this issue and by the killing of the Hate-Monger in Secret Wars II, although in the Hate-Monger's case he might have made an exception since the Hate-Monger wasn't really alive or the Hate-Monger could have been used by the Psycho-Man in an earlier assault on Earth and wound up in jail.
Posted by: Michael | December 3, 2013 7:56 PM
I guess the Wraith was really distraught so probably not taking things into account, but the Scourge basically stops him by shooting him--like I assume any real cop would do, right? If Wraith couldn't stop one guy with a gun, how was he going to confront an entire police station?
Posted by: MikeCheyne | December 3, 2013 8:44 PM
He does have a gun with explosive bullets, but you're right that the Wraith wasn't in his right mind. It's also worth noting that this is what had the other super-villains so scared by the end of the story in the Cap issues; Scourge shoots to kill unlike what a super-hero or regular cop would do.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 3, 2013 10:55 PM
Scourge knows the Wraith is a villain the same way we do: good guys don't wear purple.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | December 4, 2013 12:55 AM
@ Walter Lawson - "Scourge knows the Wraith is a villain the same way we do: good guys don't wear purple."
As a life-long Celtics fan who grew up in LA in the 80's hating the Lakers, I absolutely agree with you.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 18, 2015 11:47 AM
Shouldn't the Hobgoblin be tagged as a "character appearing" here?
Posted by: Dan H. | October 14, 2015 1:51 PM
Posted by: fnord12 | October 14, 2015 2:01 PM
IO can see why Scourges might kill the Wraith: given all the stuff Domino seems able to dig up, presumably the Scourge organization knows of Brian DeWolff's involvement in the Maggia from Marvel Team-0Up #72. Perhaps, in their view, that would be enough to peg him as a costumed criminal who got away thanks to his connections (his sister). So when he turns up out of the blue...er, purple, here, ranting about how he's going to do horrible things to the police.....
Posted by: Omar Karindu | September 10, 2016 7:02 PM
It's revealed later in issues of MORBIUS that the Wraith now lives as a disembodied intelligence, able to take possession of a host body. I doubt his subsequent resurrection and quick death thereafter in Remender's PUNISHER series has changed this in any way.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | October 11, 2016 10:12 AM
Just realized- during Flash's conversation with Peter, Peter talks about how Flash said he brought the teasing on himself. Does that count as a reference to Web of Spider-Man 11?
Posted by: Michael | October 7, 2017 11:24 PM
Yes, agree. There's also a similar line earlier when Peter is thinking to himself ("even convinced me that he had always had my best interests at heart, even when he made life miserable for me in high school").
Posted by: fnord12 | October 8, 2017 12:26 PM
Comments are now closed.
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