For this edition of our blog series, “Where Are They Now: Forgotten Comic Book Characters,” we are taking a look at Marvel’s Americop, who made his first appearance in Captain America #428 in June of 1994.
As you can probably surmise by the character’s name and the year of origin, Americop was a prototypical 90s representation of a classic character archetype (What a mouthful, huh?). No doubt, he was inspired by popular fictional vigilante police characters such as Robocop and Judge Dredd.
Former Houston police officer Bartholomew Gallows was a man with a strong sense of justice. After years of trying to play by the rules, Gallows became disillusioned with the justice system’s inability to protect citizens from an increasingly lawless world. It was in that moment that he decided to take matters into his own hands. He immediately resigned from the Houston police force and stepped into the persona of Americop.
Americop used his vast experience as a police officer to track down the worst of the worst criminals. Armed with state-of-the-art 1994 police equipment like a nightstick, .45 caliber pistol, Kevlar body armor, and a net gun (for some reason), he often acted as judge, jury, and executioner in cleaning up the streets of Houston. So essentially, he’s a way less cool version of the Punisher.
While tracking some missing children, Americop came into contact with Captain America. Naturally, Steve Rogers did not approve of Americop’s methods and the two clashed. Eventually the search led them both to a millionaire’s mansion in New Orleans, where their infighting distracted them long enough to be captured. Americop managed to escape, killing many of the criminals before destroying the helicopter that their leader, Damon Dran, was fleeing in. After that, Americop seemingly disappeared.
So, what became of America’s self-appointed top cop?
During Marvel’s Civil War, Thunderbolts leader Norman Osborn sent Bullseye and Penance to capture the gruff vigilante Americop in the Thunderbolts One-shot: Desperate Measures in September 2007. In the ensuing battle, Americop was left broken and bleeding, and later paralyzed. Eventually Gallows succumbed to his injuries and died, a sad ending for a man that never really found his bearings as a hero.
Americop may have died, but not without leaving a legacy, albeit not one he would have likely appreciated.
After his death, his code name and costume were appropriated by Keane Industries for their new private police initiative known as “the Americops.” The initiative became surrounded in controversy however, as many of the members were particularly hostile to certain citizens. They were accused of using excessive force, harassment, and specifically targeting minorities.
Eventually, after Hydra took over the United States under the leadership of a brainwashed Captain America who was suffering the effects of becoming a Hydra sleeper agent by the Cosmic Cube Kobic, the Americops became the main police force in the U.S.
Once the evil regime was defeated, the Americops were seized by Wolfgang Von Strucker for his own nefarious use. It remains to be seen if the Americops are truly gone for good after they were struck down at the hands of the Daughters of Liberty in Captain America #11 from August, 2019. Only time will tell what the final legacy is for Bartholomew Gallows’ Americop.