Real Name: Gunther Strauss
Identity/Class: Human (World War II era)
Occupation: Nazi; subversive
Group Membership: Nazis
Affiliations: Agent of Adolf Hitler;
Enemies: Bucky (James Barnes), Captain America (Steve Rogers), United States of America
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Herr Reaper, The Man the Law couldn't Touch
Base of Operations: Berlin, Germany; Manhattan, New York; World War II era
First Appearance: Captain America Comics#22 (January, 1943)
Powers/Abilities: None. The Reaper was a charismatic speaker, able to turn his listeners into a frenzied mob, but he was not known to have any superhuman powers. He carried a large scythe, which could be used as a blunt or sharp weapon. He was served by a number of Nazi agents.
(Cap Comics#22) <1941> - Ranting that the bigger the lie, the more chance that it will be believed, Hitler sent his agent, the Reaper, to cause an uprising in America. Soon after, the Reaper arrived in Manhattan, where he claimed to be a prophet who had just received a vision. A large crowd gathered to hear him speak in Madison Square Garden. Over and over again he ranted his message that wrong is right and right is wrong. He encouraged people to turn against society, destroy their courts and system of laws, and ultimately destroy their government as well. Incredibly, as time passed and his messages continued, more and more people became caught up in his message, and civil unrest began to grow. People began to riot and storm government buildings.
Captain America and Bucky investigated, but when they confronted the Reaper, he told them that he had broken no laws and that they could not touch him. The Reaper called the police on them, and even managed to convince the police to put out a warrant against Cap and Bucky for breaking and entering. Shortly thereafter, the Reaper met with his Nazi allies in a hidden underground tunnel, discussing the progress of their plans.
At the Reaper's next rally, Captain America appeared and challenged his ideas. The crowd, having been whipped into a frenzy by the Reaper's rhetoric, followed the Reaper's orders to attack Captain America. Cap vaulted over them and confronted the Reaper himself, but was dropped in mid-leap by a blow from the side of the Reaper's scythe. The Reaper then led the mob to overrun City Hall.
Meanwhile, Bucky somehow obtained documents proving that the Reaper was not an American citizen at all, but a Nazi agent. Cap and Bucky caught up with the Reaper at City Hall, but he fled into the subway. Cap followed the Reaper into the subway, disarmed him, and knocked him to the ground. The panic-stricken Reaper raced away, but fell onto the third rail, and was electrocuted.
Cap shared the moral of the story with Bucky: People like the Reaper have always been able to fool some people, which is why we should all trust our leader and not listen to rabble-rousing trouble makers!
Comments: Created by Stan Lee? and Al Avison.
The date of 1941 is defined by George Olshevsky in the Marvel Comics Index Series. This fits in best with Cap's chronology, and also makes sense that there would be a lag between occurrence and publication.
The story is reprinted in Invaders I#10 (November, 1976), which is where I got it.
I think it might be likely that either the Reaper possessed low-level psychic powers to convince others to believe his message, or that he had assistance from someone else who had such powers, like the Rumor. Unfortunately, however, stranger ideas and beliefs have gained support in the past, so it might just be a case of the public being a bunch of stupid sheep.
Captain America Comics#22 (1/43) 3rd story page 2 panel 3 says, "It is the most dreaded man in Germany--the deadly murderous Reaper..." ---so clearly the writer wanted him to be a Red Skull class Nazi agent like the creator of the Teutonic Knight did.
The Reaper in German is Schnitter.
Reaper's real name was revealed in Marvel Atlas#1.
No known connection to:
Captain America Comics#22 (January, 1943) - Stan Lee (editor/writer?), Al Avison (pencils), Al Gabriele (inks)
Last updated: 03/23/14
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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