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Avengers: The Initiative #14: Review

Jun 2008
?, Stefano Caselli

Story Name:

We have met the enemy and they are us

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers: The Initiative #14 Review by (June 1, 2024)
Dan Slott and Christos Gage are the scribes again.

This issue and all its flashbacks involve the 2nd Criti Noll as Yellowjacket. The switch from the 1st 1 will be explained in Mighty Avengers #17 in the following month.

I explained the background of Crusader in my comments in #8, and I describe the Freedom Ring in #15 which I also reviewed earlier.

Chuck and Hal Chandler's career as 3-D Man in the 1950's was shown in Marvel Premiere #35-37. They also showed up in modern times in Hulk #251-252 and with everyone else in Marvel Super Hero Contest Of Champions #1. Their connection to Triathlon was revealed in Avengers vol 3 #36 and used to help defeat Kang in #50-55.

Devil-Slayer debuted in Marvel Spotlight #33 in the continuation of the Deathlok story from Astonishing Tales. Then he migrated to Defenders #58-60,97-110. He had his own tales in Marvel Comics Presents #37,46-49,143,146. He featured in Man-Thing (1997) #3-5 and followed the title char into Strange Tales (1998) #2. Now he's here.

This is the only app of Magnitude. And there doesn't seem to have been a human Magnitude who got replaced.

This is also the only app of Paydirt and Star Sign in Secret Invasion. But they do survive and turn up 1 more time (to date) back in the recreated Initiative and Point Men in Fear Itself: Youth In Revolt #1.

Before then Devil-Slayer and 3-D Man will continue in more issues of this title until #18 and #19 respectively. Then Stingray *will* arrive and replace them for #21-23.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: The Initiative #14 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Now that the cat's out of the bag (see Mighty Avengers #15 and New Avengers #42) this issue's flashbacks can show us the Skrull Criti Noll in action as Yellowjacket at the Camp Hammond Initiative training centre in previous issues.

1st we have an fb to the end of #2 where giant-size YJ diverts a Hydra terror-carrier from ramming the White House. He saves himself from the ensuing explosive crash by using Vision's power to go diamond-hard. But he claims afterwards it was by using Henry Pym's power to shrink to subatomic size.

At the end of #1 he is appalled by Henry Gyrich's intent to surgically remove the Tactigon from Armory's arm. Similarly he thinks Baron Blitzschlag's idea to clone the dead MVP is insane. And later that the plan of both of them to put the Tactigon on 1 of the clones is very risky (and he was proved right in the KIA arc). Meanwhile as architect of the 50-state Initiative he has complete control over who goes to which state's team, which can enable Skrulls to infiltrate them all. The last fb is 2 weeks ago at the start of #9 where the MVP clone calling himself KIA blasts YJ with the Tactigon. This time the Skrull uses Black Panther's reflexes and Quicksilver's speed to escape.

Now he explains to Tigra at the Camp Hammond cafeteria counter that he used the subatomic trick again. She's impressed because he didn't use to find that easy, causing him to worry that she suspects something. But she just puts it down to practice, which leads to banter about seeing each other tonight. (They are secretly sleeping together.)

Crusader joins them at the counter. He is also secretly a Skrull (Z'Reg but using the name Aubrey Thompson) but not part of the Secret Invasion. He misses Skrullian t'manja berries but mixes strawberries with pickles to get a similar taste. Then he sees that YJ has chosen the same meal, but rather than worrying that the boss is a Skrull he panics that Pym might realise that *he*'s 1, so he quickly uses the power of his Freedom Ring to convert his food to grapefruit.

Meanwhile Triathlon (Delroy Garrett Jr) has graduated from the training program. Brothers Chuck and Hal Chandler who were the original 1950's 3-D Man attended his graduation. (Delroy gained their powers as Triathlon, and for a while they shared them.) Chuck joked about joining the Initiative himself. He might be old but nothing beats 'old school'. They agreed to Delroy changing his super-id to 3-D Man, and gave him a boxed-up graduation present. Now he's being sent to Hawaii as leader of the local Initiative team the Point Men. On the plane he opens the box to find the 3-D Man costume. However he doesn't want to switch, but as a gesture of appreciation he swaps his own goggles for their 3-D visor.

On landing he's greeted by team members Paydirt and Star Sign (a big believer in astrology). He's a bit reluctant to hand over his bags to scruffy Paydirt until Star Sign assures him that his total control of dirt particles means that the bags will cleaner than new afterwards. They travel by SHIELD hydroplane to Lookout Point artificial island (supposedly modelled on Hydrobase but it doesn't look anything like it to me).

They claim that they're here to defend against invasion by Atlanteans, Fin Fang Foom or giant monsters from Japan. As such they introduce him to monster hunter Devil-Slayer who tells them he senses doom today (as usual). Garrett assures them that Nighthawk vouches for him as an ex-Defender. They leave Eric Payne and move inside and make a video call to the gym where the other team member Magnitude is honing his magnetic powers. Star Sign says they're highly motivated here because there's a long list of people just dying to replace them. She's just grateful that being a local got her on the team. She also mentions that Stingray has applied to do oceanic studies here.

Then Magnitude joins them and 3-D Man immediately sees him as a Skrull. The other 2 don't know what he's talking about, but Magnitude blasts Paydirt and asks Garrett how he detected him. As the foe turns Skrull for real Delroy realises it must be the Chandlers' visor because they could see Skrulls in the 50's.

Now we have an interlude back at Camp Hammond where Crusader is waiting to have a therapy session with counsellor Trauma. He's psyching himself up to tell him that he thinks there's a Skrull on the base, and he suspects that person because he himself is 1. Ant-Man (Eric O'Grady) comes out having giving Trauma nightmares by describing a repressed memory involving a Naked Santa. But then his next patient begs off because he remembers he's due at a physical therapy session for his hand (chopped off by KIA and reattached by doctor Physique). Which leaves Trauma wondering what *he*'s afraid of.

Back in Hawaii Magnitude is still attacking 3-D Man who realises he's facing a Super-Skrull with the powers of Banshee, Havok, Polaris and Sunfire. Star Sign fires off a light blast while trying to send a distress call but the Skrull uses his magnetic power to fry all their tech and KO the girl. Enter Devil-Slayer through a window and hitting the foe with a metal ball on a pole. He advises Garrett to reach into his Shadow Cloak and pull out some other weapons. He does so and gets 2 glowing swords. The Skrull uses magnetism to get rid of DS's metal weapon and starts pounding him. But then there's an explosion of light and when it clears Eric Payne claims that the Skrull has fled. But Garrett stabs him through the chest with 1 of the swords because he can tell he's really the Skrull. The foe can't understand because the improved Skrull shapeshifting is proof against all Earth's current science and magic. 3-D Man stabs him through the head with the other sword just to make sure, and says that nothing beats 'old school'.

The real Devil-Slayer returns from wherever he went and declares that his 2 comrades are barely alive, but he puts them in the dimensional folds of his cloak where slow time will keep them alive until he can get them to a hospital. Delroy has checked that all comms are down and also the access to the Negative Zone Jump Gate doesn't work, but he needs to warn Camp Hammond about the Skrull infiltration. But DS sends him there through his cloak and Garrett promises to get help back to him.

3-D Man suddenly materialises in the Camp where Crusader is wondering why he couldn't detect that YJ was a Skrull (his Freedom Ring prevents other Skrulls or humans detecting *him*), and how many other undetectable others are there here. Then the new arrival starts spouting about infiltrating Skrulls and how he can see them, and Z'Reg remembers that the original 3-D Man could also see Skrulls. He panics. He knows he should have revealed his Skrullness long ago but now they'll never believe he's a good guy. So he uses the Ring to change Garrett's visor so that he sees *everyone* as a Skrull to discredit him.

Stefano Caselli
Stefano Caselli
Daniele Rudoni
Mark Brooks (Cover Penciler)
Mark Brooks (Cover Inker)
Christina Strain (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Joe Caramagna.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: Joe Quesada.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Eric O'Grady)

(Eric Payne)

(Greer Nelson)

Plus: Baron Blitzschlag (Wernher Von Blitzschlag), Chuck Chandler, Crusader (Z'Reg), Hal Chandler, KIA, Paydirt, Star Sign, Trauma, Triathlon (Delroy Garrett Jr.), Yellowjacket (Criti Noll).

> Avengers: The Initiative: Book info and issue index

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