Captain America 315-320 (coverprice $0.75)
Writer: Mark Gruenwald
Artist: Paul Neary
Reviewer: Dennis Janssen
The king is dead, long live the king!! As of issue 441 Mark Waid is the writer of Captain America. He succeeded Mark Gruenwald, the writer who told most stories about this American freedomfighter. It has to be said that the last 24 issues or so of Gruenwalds run on Captain America weren't his best. That's a real pity, especially if you remember all the great stories he wrote a couple of years ago. My personal favorite is the 'Scourge of the Underworld' storyline. In this story (it spans Captain America 315 through 320), a couple of super villains are brutally murdered. In my opinion, Marvel was cleaning it's closet, because a lot of super villains who died in this story arc were second raters. But hey, it isn't very often you see somebody actually die and stay dead in the Marvel Universe. Pay close attention to the last page of Captain America #319. In it we see The Scourge killing 18 supervillains. After the act he stands on a pile of bodies and cries his slogan: "Justice is served!". It'll send chills down your spine.
The story reaches it's climax in the issues #319 and #320. A supervillain called Water Wizard (what do you mean, second rate) asks Cap to protect him and solve the murder case. Water Wizard survived the mass murder because his car (a 2CV) had a flat tire and he was an hour late for the meeting were The Scourge slaughtered his buddies. To trap The Scourge, Cap disguises himself as one of the murdered supervillans, Mirage. The trick works; The Scourge chases Cap and after a short but hard fight Cap defeats The Scourge. But just when Cap starts to interrogate his prisoner, The Scourge is shot down from afar and the cry "Justice is served" echoes through the air and woods. At that moment, the open end was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, the sequel to the first Scourge story was bad with a capital B, so I'm not gonna bore you with that.
The question you might ask yourself is: "What makes this such a great Captain America story?". Well, in my opinion this story is the perfect mix of action and characterization. It shows really well what kind of a person Captain America is. Were a more 'recent' hero would probably turn his back on villains when they are being murdered (and probably even help the killer), Captain America comes to the rescue, because he believes every live is sacred. To me, that shows that real heroes can still be popular (instead of all the women with Pamela Anderson breasts or lunatics with guns the size of a battleship cruiser) if they are written as well as this story is.