On the surface, “Captain America” #15 seems like a transitional issue from writer Rick Remender and artist Carlos Pacheco, but it quickly proves to be much more than that. The previous issue featured the neutralizing of Nuke, so it only serves logic that this issue would follow Captain America and Falcon through the cleanup process after they get their man.
Eventually, Remender gets there, but not before producing a wild amount of exposition through crazy villain monologuing — not at our hero, but at a character who is, essentially, just a plot speed bump, slowing down the action of “Captain America” #15 long enough to permit readers to understand what’s really happening. As for the “what,” of the issue, the Iron Nail explains that he is ready to take down S.H.I.E.L.D., and makes a dynamic strike at the heart of the organization in a surprising manner that unleashes a Remender-style threat ready to make an impact on the life of Captain America.
Cap is still wrapping his head around his own emotions, which is therapeutically helped by grilling Nuke, but once the action winds down, the Sentinel of Liberty is still left with his own thoughts, a fact Remender drives home through the use of one simple panel in that comes in the middle of Nuke’s interrogation and a buddy moment shared between Falcon and Nick Fury. The cast is kept tight, allowing Remender to give the readers some quality time with all of the characters, as well as some insight to Nuke and the Iron Nail.
Carlos Pacheco answers Remender’s story with his trademark expressions and refined detail. The artist provides peeks of how Captain America disassembles his battle gear and what the operating room looked like during Nuke’s initial programming. With such meticulous detail and fine definition provided to the costuming of the characters, I did find myself wondering how the Iron Nail is able to keep from stabbing himself in the neck with his eccentric clothing choices. Pacheco’s work is heavier under the inking of Mariano Taibo, but it works to ground Captain America and his supporting cast for the surprisingly coherent coloring of this book, which is tackled by a trio of colorists comprised of Rachelle Rosenberg, Rain Beredo and Val Staples.
Rick Remender continues to press the limits of Captain America’s durability and capability to adapt to the excessive changes that emerge in his life. “Captain America” #15 provides the beginning of the healing process for Steve Rogers, but that seems temporary as the Iron Nail strikes at the heart of S.H.I.E.L.D. What should have been a recovery issue, or a transitional issue, is anything but as Captain America and S.H.I.E.L.D find their worlds blown into even more turmoil at the conclusion of “Captain America” #15.