This is the first part of a two-issue storyline about one of Captain America’s former neighbors in Brooklyn, who now runs with a new crew, some of whom you can see on the cover—and the romantic machinations of a certain Ms. Bernie Rosenthal continue.
The issue begins with the Watchdogs—the right-wing extremist group that debuted in issue #335 during John Walker’s time as Cap—preparing to blow up the office of a hip-hop record label as part of their mission against “moral indecency.” Here we learn, as was hinted in issue #382, that firefighter Mike Farrel is now a member of the group, and while he agrees with their cause, he is more concerned than the rest of them with human casualities (such as an unconscious janitor caught in the explosion).
When we first see Cap, he is working out in the auxiliary Avengers gym… also known as his quarters.
It turns out Bernie is making quite an effort to get back into Cap’s life, but he only has eyes for Rachel Leighton, aka Diamondback… and he wants to let Bernie know without having to bring her up himself (as he very deliberately neglected to do in issue #380).
After Bernie shows up in her nice jacket, it doesn’t take long for her to see Rachel’s picture. Regardless, she tries to convince him to go shopping for home furnishings with her anyway, but Cap is evasive.
“This isn’t the first time someone’s tried to take me shopping, Bernie—SHIELD trains us against this, you know.”
Later, Bernie checks in with Mike, who is visibly upset and tells her that he lost somebody in a firefighting call, before a fellow Watchdog pays a quick visit, after which Mike breaks down to Bernie and tells her everything, defending the Watchdogs’ mission if not all of their tactics.
Why doesn’t she want to argue philosophy with him? It’s fun! And she’s a lawyer! (Obviously, Mike and the Watchdogs have every right to their opinion and to express it in a way that doesn’t violate anyone else’s rights, but they are out of bounds, both morally and legally, when they engage in property damage, assault, and murder.)
Back at the primary Avengers gym, Cap’s training the newbies (since Avengers #329) when Peggy tells him you-know-who is calling…
…and Cap actually has to consider that it may be a ploy to get his attention, however unlikely.
At least he wore a scarf!
Cap gets to his old apartment building to find Watchdogs inside (after they learned that Mike told Bernie about them)…
…and he again considers an unlikely alternate explanation for what he sees, until he remembers seeing the Watchdogs before and sees an opportunity to enforce firearm registration law.
Cap also wonders what the Watchdogs would want with good ol’ Mike Farrel… who, at this very moment, is checking out the Watchdogs’ next target, an art gallery hosting a provocative modern artist. For his part, Mike warns them to be gone before trouble starts (obviously wanting to avoid a repeat of the death he failed to prevent earlier).
At least the artist was interested in arguing some philosophy!
Back in Brooklyn, Cap continues to tangle with the ‘Dogs, who are no real threat…
…until one of them finds Bernie and uses her to force Cap to stand down… on his shield. (He also wants to argue some philosophy, pointing out the contradiction between their moral code and what they’re willing to do to enforce it, but it doesn’t go very far.)
The Watchdogs set a bomb on the floor next to him—and imply he should be doing their job—before taking off with Bernie, which leaves Cap to play bomb squad. figuring out how to minimize the risk with very little information about how the bomb is set up.
We don’t often see Cap sweat due to nerves, telling us how uncertain he is, despite his training and experience…
…but he does it, although Bernie and the
Jets Watchdogs are long gone.
Whatever does he mean by that? Come back for the next issue to find out… and see who joins Cap in the fight. (Hint: It’s someone all too familiar with Cap and the Watchdogs.)
Captain America (vol. 1) #385, May 1991, “Going to the Dogs”: Mark Gruenwald (writer), Ron Lim (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Max Scheele (colors), Joe Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Captain America Epic Collection: Streets of Poison
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Captain America #384 and Namor the Sub-Mariner #13 (April 1991)
ALSO THIS MONTH: Avengers #332 and X-Factor #66 (May 1991)