NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for "Captain America: Sam Wilson" #16.
It truly is a time of upheaval and uncertainty in the Marvel Comics Universe, and one in which "doing the right thing" has never been cloudier. The bulk of that comes from the recent "Civil War II" event, but even before that, the loss of the super soldier serum saw Steve Rogers stripped of the Captain America moniker - passing the role on to his friend and ally, Sam Wilson. In the time since, Steve Rogers has revealed himself to be a HYDRA agent manipulating the deaths of his fellow heroes, and Sam Wilson has learned just how heavy the crown of Marvel's flag-emblazoned poster boy really weighs.
After complaining in previous issues of just how badly he needed a day away from the shield, "Captain America: Sam Wilson" #16 sees Sam at his lowest point yet. With the death of a senator weighing on his conscience, he turns to the one person who hasn't disappointed him yet in his new role: Misty Knight. The former cop-turned superhero is more than up to the task, tackling a unique case for the superhero community - joining the elite group to wield Captain America's shield in battle along the way.
Misty Knight of Marvel's Universe
There's a good chance that most non-comic readers would still recognize the name Misty Knight, thanks to her recent portrayal by actress Simone Missick on Netflix's Luke Cage series. In that story, Misty is still spending her days as a member of the NYPD. In the comics, that career came to an end when she lost her right arm to a terrorist bomb - and when Tony Stark outfitted her with a bionic replacement made of vibranium and diamond, her new career as a superhero began.
It's no coincidence that Misty be introduced into the New York-based roster of Netflix heroes, since she, herself became an important Defender alongside them. After starting a detective agency with her friend Colleen Wing, the 'Daughters of the Dragon' worked with Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Daredevil to make the Heroes For Hire a New York institution. When the first "Civil War" struck, she and Wing even took over the team title, tracking down heroes running from registration.
It was a morally complicated time, but after things returned to normal and her... complicated relationship with Iron Fist came to an end (alluded to by Misty in this issue), Misty returned to the role of beloved heroine as part of Marvel's new Fearless Defenders. But in "Captain America: Sam Wilson," its her sparring sessions with Sam that bring her into the action. And if Misty is known for doing anything, it's stepping in when a man in her life needs some help.
Captain America Needs a Vacation
As we mentioned above, "being there" for Sam Wilson has never been more complicated. In the issue, Misty notes that her partner - a term she now applies wholeheartedly to Sam - is dealing with the kind of pressure that most heroes may never have to. The death of a senator is bad enough, but given the recent changes in Marvel's superhero community, being a new Captain America - and a new, Black Captain America - is weighing on Sam's mind, to say the least. In a bit of a meta moment, Sam specifically mentions the criticisms and accusations thrown at him by Internet commenters (of which there were no shortage in the real world when he claimed the title of Captain America).
Luckily, she helps the best way she knows how: by beating him senseless, as if its her job (and now, it kind of is). But Misty's hands can help as much as hurt, which is why she's finally holding Sam to his calls for a day off, and not taking "no" for an answer. Calling in Sam's older brother, Gideon, to escort him away for a weekend road trip, Misty promises that she'll man the phones should a Cap-level emergency arrive.
Sam heads off knowing that Misty is more than capable of "handling the business," but the first call she gets is one meant for her.
In a terrific blend of old school, community-minded Captain America and the sisterlike compassion Misty Knight is known for, writer Nick Spencer crafts a case that's unexpected, but completely modern. After being called to the hospital by her former friend and partner, Callie Ryan - also known as the small-time criminal Lady Stilt-Man - Misty learns that Callie's injuries were no accident, but the actions of a victim of sexual exploitation. With a video of Callie and an unknown man spreading online - a video Callie says she couldn't possibly have made - the humiliation, insults, and laughter behind her back have left her at rock bottom... with no one to call but Misty.
It's a truly modern crime, and Misty wastes no time in returning to her detective roots, finding dozens of similar cases involving female superheroes filmed or photographed without their consent. And, just like Callie, most deny the authenticity. But where the public is ready to spread the humiliation and ignore the denials, Misty finds evidence corroborating the victims' accounts, and sets her sights on the mystery villain apparently orchestrating the entire operation.
Putting The Shield To Good Use
As she packs her bags to cut the head off of this disgusting snake, Misty makes sure to bring a nearby item along with her. After all, if Captain America is taking a bit of a vacation... he doesn't need his signature shield, right?
The villain is revealed to be, fittingly, The Slug - an all-around repulsive criminal who has turned his hatred for the women of the Marvel Universe into the aforementioned racket. Thanks to an unknown "hook-up," Slug is purchasing Life Model Decoys of second-tier Marvel women as a form of prostitution for wealthy clients (with the recordings used later for sale or blackmail). Once Misty arrives on the scene, no amount of powerless Life Model Decoys can stop her, and she soon smashes her way through the fake Black Cat, Psylocke, Storm and more.
Using Cap's shield to put the finishing hit on Slug, he's soon turned over to the authorities, and the process of clearing Callie's name by exposing the hoax begins. Thankfully, Misty takes it upon herself to dish out justice on behalf of all the women wronged: one video-spreading accessory at a time. When the storm of keyboards smashed over the heads of those responsible clears, there's nothing left to do but return home.
It's just in time for Sam to return, too, having no idea of the case Misty solved... or the patriotic shield used to do it. Considering how close Sam and Misty get while celebrating their equally-rejuvenating weekends, we're not certain this is an isolated incident.
Captain America: Sam Wilson #16 is available now.