CAPTAIN AMERICA: SCOURGE OF THE UNDERWORLD (Marvel, 2011; Softcover)
Collects Amazing Spider-Man No. 278, Captain America Nos. 318-320, Marvel Fanfare No. 29, US Agent Nos. 1-4, the US Agent back-up stories from Captain America Nos. 358-362, as well as additional material (selected pages) from Iron Man No. 194, Thing Nos. 24, 33, Secret Wars II No. 2, Thor No. 358, Captain America Nos. 311, 347, 350, 351, West Coast Avengers No. 3, Avengers No. 263, Fantastic Four No. 289, and Amazing Spider-Man No. 276 (cover dates May, 1985- September, 1993).
Writers: Mark Gruenwald, John Byrne, and others.
Artists: John Byrne, Mark D. Bright, M.C. Wyman, Paul Neary, and others.
“Justice is Served!”, fired by a gunshot, is how it all began. My first encounter with the villain eventually known as Scourge was in Thing No. 24, a healthy portion of which is reprinted in the beginning of this book. This book is what I call a “Jeph York special”, meaning that Jeph York of Marvel pored over countless comic books, cataloging incidents that tied into the larger whole of the story. He takes pages, in a virtual razor blade style, slices them out of various titles where the villain would appear, and collates them into a cohesive, fully explained introduction. Scourge would pop in the middle of any title, and you'd see a villain, i.e. the Human Fly, vowing to get Spider-Man, but before he could even so much as escape, Scourge would plug him and shout Justice is served!
This happened for a year or so before finally being addressed in the pages of Captain America and the Amazing Spider-Man. I read the ASM issue at the time, but never got to know the nuts and bolts of the villain. This book handily answers any and all questions one could possibly have about Scourge.
The US Agent (whom I'll go more in depth about in my forthcoming review of Captain America: The Captain TPB) ends up locking horns with Scourge over the course of his mini-series.
Mark Gruenwald handles the majority of the scripts in this book. Gruenwald's a solid writer, able to build things to a boil before dashing off into a completely different direction. I loved all of the twists and turns. A good writer can make or break a book.
M.C. Wyman's artwork on the US Agent mini-series was surprisingly good. I had never heard of him/her, and found the artwork to be fluid and storytelling clear and concise. All of the artwork in this book was decent, and for the time these issues were originally published, above average.
This is an excellent package overall, and reads remarkably well. I missed out on Cap during the '80s, but am making up for lost time now.
The OCD zone- This has the same nice, dull matte finish coated stock as Marvel's Classic and softcover Masterworks lines of trade paperbacks. This is my favorite paper stock currently being used by Marvel for softcovers, and works really well for presenting vintage material. It reads and feels comic book-y without feeling like cheap pulp paper.
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