WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Captain America #15, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jason Masters, Matt Milla and Joe Caramagna, in stores now.
Captain America continues to push Steve Rogers to the mental brink after his recent escape from prison and subsequent relinquishing of the shield. Back as Commander Rogers, the soldier formerly known as Cap is working with Sharon Carter and the Daughters of Liberty, not realizing that Peggy Carter is back in play as head of this superhero unit. All that matters for Sharon, though, is the mission as they aim to take down the male hate group known as the Watchdogs.
However, in Captain America #15, when Steve finds clues linking the terrorist cell to a spate of cop killings, his crew attains footage which reveals that Cap's deadliest foe from the '80s is back: the Scourge of the Underworld.
Steve has been having a tough time with Sharon keeping secrets from him. He isn't in charge of the Daughters and feels like he's in the dark on a lot of issues. Eventually, he puts these concerns aside and investigates the death of a cop, Angel Larimore, which is tied to a series of other police murders. Steve thinks they're linked to the Watchdogs, as well as the Power Elite, which includes Selene, Alexa Lukin and other villains looking to revive Hydra after Secret Empire.
Steve meets up with his former flame and lawyer, Bernie, while attaining info on a house in the Bronx where Larimore stored footage, only to find the Daughters and Watchdogs there brawling. While he helps the heroes out, he's still pissed that Sharon had her crew following him and doesn't believe Sharon's claims that their meeting is purely coincidence. Nonetheless, he puts the differences aside for now as they scrutinize the footage Larimore left which shows a squad of cops getting sniped out. From the shadows emerges the Scourge, leaving Steve stunned.
We've seen various Scourges over the years, running in circles with Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts and the Hood, but they've all been imposters. The real one, created by Mark Gruenwald and John Byrne morphed from a vigilante who killed criminals into one of Red Skull's lead assassins. Scourge would go on to feud with Captain America, as well as USAgent, hating what their symbols stood for.
We'd find out later on the Scourge mask was tainted and appropriated by agents who worked for the original, Thomas Holloway, the former Golden Age superhero known as Angel. He ran the organization with help from Domino and a couple of henchmen known as Caprice and Bloodstain, and his agents would turn on him and wear the mask later on, turning it into a symbol of hatred and murder in the '90s.
Nonetheless, the evil Scourges were quite a lot for Cap to handle in the old days, especially when they were under the sway of the Red Skull and Doctor Faustus. Right now, there's no indication who this Scourge could be, and it could be anyone from a mad John Walker to Holloway's former allies, Caprice or Bloodstain. After all, in such a dark political climate like the one this series has built, even former heroes can become corrupt.
To make it worse, Wilson Fisk might be bringing his Kingpin persona back into play so as mayor of New York, he's buying off cops left, right and center. So until Steve unmasks this villain, he can't say if he's killing innocent or dirty police officers. Even if he's following the original Scourge's example and acting like a vigilante, it's still in line with the Punisher's brutal methods, and Steve doesn't embrace this philosophy at all. While Scourge's identity might be a mystery, it's one that Captain America -- and readers -- are eager to get to the bottom of quickly.
Captain America #16 goes on sale Nov. 20.