|First appearance||Captain America #335 (Nov 1987)|
|Created by||Mark Gruenwald (Writer)
Tom Morgan (Artist)
|Type of organization||Terrorist|
They have also been adapted into other media, having appeared on the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Most of the villains Mark Gruenwald introduced in Captain America were created to symbolize aspects of contemporary American culture and the world political situation. In the case of the Watchdogs, Gruenwald created them to symbolize censorship and repression.
Philosophy, goals, and activities
The Watchdogs are dedicated to restoring and preserving traditional American culture and values, and fighting against indecency, immorality, and sexual perversion. The Watchdogs seek to impose their conservative moral views on the general public; they believe in strict enforcement of family values, and are violently opposed to pornography, obscenity, sex education, abortion, homosexuality, and the teaching of evolutionary theory. Their terrorist activities, which include vandalism, arson, intimidation, assault, kidnapping, brainwashing, and murder, are targeted primarily at people who produce material which the Watchdogs consider pornographic, including nude art and sexually explicit music.
The Watchdogs are active in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, West Virginia, Missouri, plus Washington, D.C. and New York City. The Watchdogs imprison their kidnapping victims at a large compound in Vermont, where they force them to wear "dog collars" which the Watchdogs use to administer a painful electric shock as punishment for undesirable behavior. The prisoners are forced to participate in group activities such as sing-alongs, and exposed to constant televised Americana imagery such as baseball games, American flags, fields of flowers, and happy children.
The Watchdogs are headed by a leader referred to as Watchdog Prime (real name unknown), also called Watchdog One or Top Dog. Each state ("realm") is governed by a Head Dog. Each realm has one or more operating units ("packs"). Individual cells of Watchdogs, called "dogpounds," are organized by city and led by "pack leaders." Members call one another Dog-Brothers. Unbeknownst to nearly all of its membership, the Watchdogs were partially funded by the Red Skull through his dummy corporation, the Freedom Foundations; the Watchdogs receive the rest of their funding through public contributors and other undisclosed financiers. Watchdog Prime held the position of one of the Red Skull's "division chiefs," and the Red Skull saw in them an opportunity to harm America by creating chaos. Whether Watchdog Prime was deceived by the Skull or was secretly working against that which he claimed to uphold is unknown.
The Watchdogs use conventional technology, with all weapons and paraphernalia purchased from legitimate retailers; members use their own ground vehicles, usually pick up trucks, vans, motorcycles, and recreational vehicles. The Watchdogs wear identical costumes of synthetic stretch fabric resembling riot gear, consisting of tight-fighting purple shirts and pants with gold-colored gloves, leather boots and accessories, armored kevlar vests, and hard plastic helmets with built-in visors. They are trained in the use of firearms, and usually arm themselves with conventional American-manufactured handguns, shotguns, and rifles, and Army surplus explosives. Watchdogs also carry Army surplus walkie-talkies, and short-wave radios. The Red Skull denies Watchdog Prime's request for funding to purchase exotic weaponry, because use of such weapons would undermine the group's image as a grassroots organization.
A Watchdog member must be an adult male over 21 with a valid gun permit willing to sign an affidavit in blood that he is not a homosexual, believes in the Bible and the United States Constitution, disavows all immoral acts, and is willing to use violence to oppose all activities, materials, institutions, and individuals which are deemed by the organization to undermine the morality and decency of the United States.
Fictional team biography
The Watchdogs were introduced as the first group fought by John Walker and Lemar Hoskins after officially becoming the new Captain America and Bucky, respectively. A major Watchdog pack torches an adult bookstore and women's health clinic, and attempts to lynch an alleged pornographer. This pack is busted by John Walker, as the interim Captain America, who was initially conflicted in his opposition to the Watchdogs because he shared their political views. The Watchdogs later hold Walker's parents captive in an effort to get revenge upon him; during the ensuing melee, the Watchdogs murdered his parents, and Walker became a bitter enemy of the organization. The Red Skull was seen to have employed a single Watchdog in his elite cadre of bodyguards.
At the public ceremony where Walker relinquished his title of Captain America to Rogers, a lone Watchdog shot and apparently killed Walker. In the same issue, an unnamed member of the Watchdogs was killed by Scourge of the Underworld disguised as a government agent. The "Watchdog" was actually a government agent who staged the ruse on John Walker's behalf so that he can re-emerge as the U.S. Agent. As Captain America, Rogers continued to oppose the Watchdogs, especially once they kidnapped his then-girlfriend Bernie Rosenthal.
Although he and U.S. Agent arrested all the Watchdogs at the Vermont compound, the organization was apparently still active by Captain America #394, when Watchdog Prime joined his fellow division chiefs in a meeting with the Red Skull. At the time, they were expanding their operations and membership westward across the United States.
In other media
- The Watchdogs appear in the third season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. This version is a radical Inhuman-hunting group. It first appears in "Watchdogs" where they are led by ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Felix Blake, who is wheelchair-bound since being injured by Mike Peterson. They first became known when they used Nitramine explosives on a facility that is owned by the Advanced Threat Containment Unit. The hologram of Felix Blake stated to Phil Coulson and Lincoln Campbell that he took matters into his own hands ever since it was discovered that S.H.I.E.L.D. had Hydra infiltrators in it. Upon mistaking Mack as an Inhuman, members of the Watchdogs attacked Mack's house where most of them ended up either dead or wounded at the hands of Mack and his brother Ruben. The wounded Watchdogs were taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody and will be handed over to the Advanced Threat Containment Unit. In the final scene, Felix Blake meets up with Giyera, unaware that Hydra is the secret benefactor of the Watchdogs. In the episode "Emancipation," five Watchdog members are abducted by Hive and Hellfire where they are subjected to Holden Radcliffe's experiments that involved the bloods of Daisy Johnson and a slain Kree Reaper, the Terrigen Crystals, and Hive's physiology. The resulting outcome transformed the five Watchdog members into Inhuman Primitives that obey Hive's every command, two of them are killed by Lash (Andrew Garner's second form), when he tries to kill Hive and to save Daisy, as delivering her of his control. In the 4th season episode "Uprising," the Watchdogs use an EMP device to shut down power to the known cities that have Inhumans in them with their unidentified member demanding that the Inhuman registration be stopped. In Miami, they attack a party where Elena Rodriguez was in. Despite the fact that Elena was outed by someone who saw her use her speed ability, the Watchdogs present were defeated when Phil Coulson, Mack, and Leo Fitz came into view. Upon the four of them tracing the location of the EMP device, they defeat the Watchdogs guarding it and deactivate the EMP device. By the end of the episode, it was revealed that the Watchdogs have Senator Ellen Nadeer as their latest benefactor. In the episode "Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire," Hellfire cuts deal with the Watchdogs where he will help them take out the Inhumans in exchange that they will do away with him last. Thanks to Daisy Johnson knocking off the wrist device on Hellfire earlier, Phil Coulson and Mack arrive where they take out the Watchdogs members present at the fireworks store that Hellfire works at while Robbie Reyes in his Ghost Rider form fights Hellfire. In the episode "Lockup," it was discovered that the Watchdogs have been recruiting new members from the prisons as seen when some of the inmates at South Ridge Penitentiary sport the Watchdog tattoos. In the episode "Broken Promises," Senator Ellen Nadeer has the Watchdogs on standby near her country house when dealing with her Inhuman brother Vijay. When a group of Watchdogs led by Tucker Shockley arrive, Vijay persuaded Ellen not to have him killed. During Jeffrey Mace, Daisy Johnson, and Jemma Simmons' visit to confront Ellen, the Watchdog Superior told Tucker to kill Vijay. After Vijay's abilities kick in which he uses to defeat some Watchdogs, Ellen persuades Vijay to come with her. While on the helicopter, Ellen shoots Vijay and has Tucker dispose of the body. Tucker states that the Watchdog Superior has some high-ranking operatives that might help both of them out. Tucker and the Watchdogs with him toss Vijay's body into the lake unaware that he underwent another Terrigenesis at the bottom of the lake. In the episode "Hot Potato Soup," the Watchdog Superior Anton Ivanov and Tucker Shockley lead the Watchdogs into capturing Billy Koenig in order to obtain the Darkhold.
- The Watchdogs appears in the fifth and sixth episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot. It was revealed that former National Police of Colombia member Victor Ramon had cut a deal with the Watchdogs after getting out of prison where he agreed to help them eliminate the Inhumans. During the Watchdogs' fight with Victor Ramon's old enemy Elena Rodriguez, Alpha Dog of the Watchdogs accidentally killed Victor Ramon with the 0-8-4. The rest of the Watchdogs are defeated when S.H.I.E.L.D. comes into view.
- Zimmerman, Dwight Jon (January 1988). "Mark Gruenwald". Comics Interview (54). Fictioneer Books. p. 15.
- Captain America #335
- Captain America #345. Marvel Comics.
- Captain America #350. Marvel Comics.
- Captain America #351. Marvel Comics.
- Captain America #354. Marvel Comics.
- Captain America #385. Marvel Comics.
- Captain America #386
- Captain America #394. Marvel Comics.
- All-New Ultimates #9. Marvel Comics.