Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Art: Niko Walter, Matt Milla, VC’s Joe Caramagna, and Carlos Lao
Release Date: September 25th, 2019
On the way to clearing his name once and for all, Cap and the Daughters Of Liberty have tracked down the Watchdogs to their secret base – a dive bar where guys in flannel rub elbows with guys in suits, and a pretty lady in a cowboy hat wandering in isn’t unheard of. A lot of action happens this issue, and while we don’t get many answers about the Power Elite or their long game, we do get to see Cap acting heroic – something that has been missing from Captain America for a long time now. Let’s sidle into the honky-tonk dive bar and see what happens.
We open (as Coates often does) with Cap’s inner monologue – this time he mourns the loss of a bygone era, of John Wayne and Gary Cooper and “Men who fight like men”. The times changed, Dylan went electric, and now Echo busts up a honky-tonk bar on her own partly by using her feminine wiles, partly by smashing drunken rednecks in the face with chairs. Cap, White Tiger, and Echo locate the hidden wing of the Watchdogs lair – Using a palm scan on a specific tile in the bathroom. Make sure you wash your hand’s afterward!
After making quick work of machine-gun-toting Watchdogs while Cap Opines they’re “Losers who become bullies because they weren’t cool/smart/cute enough to get a cheerleader”, They make equally quick work of 2 A.I.M. agents. Or, “Nerds with a persecution complex”. Touche!
Now that the cloak is down, we see what the Watchdogs are really up to – Using A.I.M. tech to traffic the townspeople. Guarding a portal is apparently better-trained Watchdogs. Cap, Echo and White Tiger once again square off only this time Sin shows up, evens the odds and disappears. They managed to save a lot of workers, and after hacking into the Watchdogs server they see the Watchdogs are deeper than they ever thought. Fisk, Von Strucker… and they get a lock on where the teleporter was taking them – to Madripoor.
This issue reads very quickly – It’s essentially 2 long extended fight scenes separated with one page of set up on either side. That being said, because the focus was narrowed, Coates doesn’t really get the opportunity to really delve into a heavy-handed political allegory that often weighs down the flow of his books. Likewise, when he’s unencumbered by the Secret Empire fallout and gets to tell HIS story the books are less of a chore to read. It’s great to see Cap acting heroically again, something that has been notably missing for a long time in his books. The art doesn’t add much to the book, at times is overly line heavy and faces look smeary in several panels. Hopefully, as Coates can slowly shift away from the Secret Empire/HydraCap story and start to focus on his own, we’ll get more consistency.