Captain America's Newest Enemy Is Toxic Masculinity

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Captain America#14, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Niko Walter, Matt Milla and Joe Caramagna, in stores now.

Ta-Nehisi Coates' Captain America run has been one of the most thought-provoking of all time, putting it right up there alongside modern stories from Ed Brubaker, Nick Spencer and Rick Remender. Following the end of Secret Empire, Steve Rogers was imprisoned by the Power Elite after being framed for the murder of "Thunderbolt" Ross, only to be broken out by the Daughters of Liberty, including Sharon Carter and Peggy, aka the Dryad.

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However, the symbol of Captain America and the shield have been left behind for now, and Steve has reassumed his Commander Rogers mantle. As a result, he's back helping innocents as a Nomad-esque character. In this case, migrants trying to survive in America. However, as Issue 14 now shows, the journey won't be an easy one, especially as he combats the epitome of toxic masculinity in the form of the terrorists known as the Watchdogs.

As Steve, Echo and White Tiger track the all-male group down, they discover the Watchdogs are trafficking the migrants, with Sin and Crossbones at the helm. It's not clear if they're harvesting them or using them as slaves, but what's for certain is Steve wants to make sure these folks are safe and sound, free to forge a life in America.

Also, as the Daughters of Liberty gather intelligence on the group, Steve realizes the Watchdogs are the very thing he fights against when it comes to oppressive regimes. In fact, they  embody doctrines of hate similar to the Nazis he went up against in World War II.

There's also a comparison to the real-world neo-fascist group, the Proud Boys, with Coates making a powerful political statement on what this group represents. In short, it's discrimination, sexism and pure hatred -- ingredients for genocide, which they're thankfully not carrying out against the kidnapped migrants. Well, not yet anyway.

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Steve calls out the Watchdogs' privilege as he takes a cell down, labeling them "man-babies" and jocks who couldn't cut it in high school. To him, they're bullies who use violence and aggression to compensate for women rejecting them, a resentment stemming from high school and even earlier. They're kids, petulant and deserving of a beating, which is what Steve dishes out when he finally gets his hands on them.

He even admits some of the men -- thugs he fought against or put in prison at some point -- were in his legion during the war. Yet rather than trying to stop things like the Holocaust, they were just there to find someone to beat on.

By enacting violence for the wrong reasons, Steve acknowledges America shot itself in the foot because it gave people like the Watchdogs an opportunity that allowed their disease to spread. Now, with masks similar to the Confederate Flag, they're trying to create their own America, while desecrating Steve's home by putting women and migrants in their crosshairs. Luckily, Steve and Co. are there to stop and bag them for Nick Fury and his unit, with only Sin escaping to her lair.

Still, as much as her squad runs, we know they can't hide. Not for long anyway. Toxic masculinity isn't something Cap stands for because, to him, part of being a real man is possessing an outlook that allows for love, acceptance and building each other up. And so, he won't rest until this cell is taken down and the Power Elite loses one of the biggest cogs in its latest sadistic campaign.

Captain America #15 goes on sale Oct. 16. 

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