Blinding The Watchdogs: Captain America #14 Reviewed
by Josh Davison
[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Steve Rogers, Echo, and White Tiger have infiltrated a bar that is in reality a front for a Watchdog outpost. The three heroes fight through waves of Watchdog soldiers while Steve reflects on what “being a man” means these days. Our heroes make it to the heart of the base, and they discover that this Watchdog outpost is being to run a human trafficking operation. Naturally, Captain America will not tolerate that, nor will Echo and White Tiger. Unfortunately, Sin, Daughter of the Red Skull, is there to support the Watchdogs.
Captain America #14 continues Steve Rogers’ mission to redeem himself with the aid of Sharon Carter and the Daughters of Liberty.
I feel that, in my complaints about recent issues of Captain America, that I’ve obfuscated the fact that I do actually like the story being told here. Steve moving with a covert team of heroes to take down the worst of the worst makes for a compelling narrative. I like that Misty Knight, White Tiger, Echo, and Spider Woman are key players in this, and I like that the Watchdogs are topical and politically-charged antagonists. In regards to the plot, my main complaint is how weirdly passive Steve Rogers feels in all of this.
All of this is to say that the narration from Steve is what trips the comic up. He feels too old-fashioned. It reads like he just got out of the ice yesterday and has been holding on to a lot of prejudices, insecurities, and assumptions about the world. That’s just not Steve Rogers.
He’s also too much of a rule-follower when that’s never really been who Steve Rogers is. Sure, he’s “inhumanly good,” but being inhumanly good has never meant following authority blindly–at least not for Captain America.
I think Ta-Nehisi Coates is a talented comic book writer–Black Panther’s “A Nation Under Our Feet” and Black Panther and the Crew were brilliant stories. It just feels that he’s now writing a stereotypical reduction of Captain America as opposed to the genuine article.
This is likely to be the last time I rag on about this in the reviews to come, as I’m sure it’s getting repetitive. I’ll still probably mention it in one or two lines; it just won’t be a large percentage of the review.
Niko Walter’s artwork is downright great. The fight scenes are coherent and impactful .There are moments were Steve’s face looks strangely flat, but those are few. White Tiger and Echo look dynamic and imposing throughout the book. Matt Milla backs it up with well-balanced and appealing color work that really brings the visual identity together.
Captain America #14 is another issue where the story is far more compelling than the character work. Once again, I found myself thinking–to unfortunately sound like the insufferable and stereotypical fanboy–that Coates maybe doesn’t quite “get” Captain America. Despite that, I did find myself enjoying this comic for most of its runtime, and I can still recommend it. Feel free to check it out.
Captain America #14 comes to us from writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, artist Niko Walter, color artist Matt Milla, letterer VC’s Joe Caramagna, cover artist Alex Ross, and variant cover artist Patch Zircher with Jason Keith.
Final Score: 7/10