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Avengers: The Initiative #23: Review

Apr 2009
Christos N. Gage, Humberto Ramos

Story Name:

Avengers: The Initiative disassembled part 3

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers: The Initiative #23 Review by (February 21, 2017)
Norman Osborn is the thread that binds Dark Reign together. Since the end of Secret Invasion #8 (which coincides with the SI:DR 1-shot creating the Cabal) he's:-
Spent time messing in his son Harry's life in Amazing Spider-Man #587-588.
Recruited Victoria Hand in Dark Avengers #1.
Attended Wasp's funeral in Mighty Av#20.
Sacked Maria Hill in DAv#1.
Recruited Bullseye in DAv#1.

Bloodscream and Roughhouse are, like Tyger Tiger mentioned last issue, characters introduced in the Madripoor stories at the start of Wolverine's 1st main series. Bloodscream is a sort-of vampire and Roughhouse is a sort-of Asgardian Troll. They were both last seen in the Iron Man Annual also mentioned last issue.

Next issue just concludes the Madripoor plot, dragging Gauntlet, Norman Osborn and Victoria Hand (and Ant-Man) into it.
Most of the rest of the cast members will show up in subsequent issues, but some will take detours 1st:-
Justice will attend Nova (2007) #19-20 for a reunion with original New Warriors Nova and Firestar before returning with the rest of the current NW squad for our #25.
Tigra gets involved with War Machine in #8-10 of his 2009 series before returning for #25.
Baron Blitzschlag will be in #26, but before then he will cameo with Gauntlet in Guardians Of The Galaxy (2008) #10 as the GotG warn them never to reopen Camp Hammond's Negative Zone portal.
Some others won't return to this series:-
Annex won't be seen again anywhere.
Geiger will only reappear in Fear Itself: Youth In Revolt #1-2.
Gorilla Girl leaves as she intended back in #21. She will resurface briefly in Marvel Zombies: Evil Evolution and New Avengers Finale.
Doc Samson will feature in Fin Fang Four Return before returning to DR proper in Thunderbolts #128-129.
Gargoyle will disappear into his promised retirement until Heroes For Hire (2011) #9-11.
Despite being the sole member of the Alaskan Initiative Hellcat finds time for other stuff like MODELS#1-4.
And we don't see Stingray in the Hawaiian team but he returns as an Avenger after Dark Reign is over in I Am An Avenger #3/3.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: The Initiative #23 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In Stamford outside Camp Hammond Justice is giving a press conference. Among the reporters is Sally Floyd of Front Line. He is telekinetically towing a preservation container with a body in it. He explains that Michael Van Patrick was killed in a training accident and the Initiative have covered it up. Meanwhile he was cloned without any consent. And the last Scarlet Spider unmasks to show that he is 1 such clone. The other New Warriors (Debrii, Night Thrasher, Rage and Slapstick) stand in support.

Drill Sergeant Gauntlet, who knew about the death but not the cloning (until last issue), is unable to answer questions. He claims he's got to concentrate on the damage (by Ragnarok last issue again) to Stamford and its people. Sally turns instead to Ultragirl who's been in the Initiative and a member with Justice of the New Warriors. Suzi Sherman hesitates but then confirms it.

Norman Osborn is watching the news with his assistant Victoria Hand. This is the opportunity he's been looking for.

In Madripoor the Shadow Initiative team (Bengal, Constrictor, Komodo, Taskmaster and Typhoid Mary) are confronted by Hydra Agents led by Hardball and Scorpion. They've come to 'arrest' traitor Hardball. His ex-girlfriend Komodo suggests that Scorpion is mind-controlling him, but Scorpion suggests a more intimate connection. This angers Melati Kusuma to attack, but Roger Brokeridge shoots her with a SPIN dart which removes her powers. (Hardball stole SPIN Tech for Hydra in #4).

Without her lizard/regeneration powers Melati reverts to a human with no legs. Bengal catches her falling body and Taskmaster orders a retreat. Typhoid erects a flame barrier to cover their escape. Hydra chase after them as they decide to drop into the sewer system. Bengal is hit and drops Melati, but Constrictor's coils drag him down the manhole leaving Komodo to Hydra.

The Warriors leave Stamford with MVP's body. Ultragirl elects to go with them, and she throws her old Ms Marvel costume (which must have folded up very tightly in a pocket) to the lawyer who Osborn sent to claim it (#21).

The Stamford residents are understandably angry. 1 version of New Warriors blew up a large chunk of their town, triggering the Civil War. They've protested ever since about the Initiative training base Camp Hammond built next door because it would attract problems like Ragnarok.

Tigra has no ready answer and turns instead on Gauntlet asking him if he knew about MVP. Annex, Doc Samson, Gargoyle, Geiger, Hellcat, Prodigy, Red 9, Stingray and Sunstreak would like to know too. Sgt Green admits that he knew about MVP's death but not the cloning. Cloud 9 and Trauma admit that they knew about that too (but Cloud 9 doesn't say she also learned about the cloning in #9).

Doc Samson blames the current disaster on another secret - keeping the (inactive) Ragnarok clone on the base. Green blames that on Henry Gyrich, the Skrull-Henry Pym and Baron Blitzschlag. The Baron claims that the US military knew all about it too - they wanted the cyborg clone back working as a weapon.

Trauma tries to take the blame for MVP because it was his fault he died. But Gauntlet says it's on him because he was in charge of the training session. And he should have come clean about it despite his orders.

Diamondback makes her 1st appearance since #21 as she announces the arrival of a SHIELD craft without the SHIELD insignia. (And we also get to see Batwing and Gorilla Girl in the following scene.) Osborn and Hand step out, along with armoured guards also without SHIELD markings. Norman addresses the reporters and announces sweeping changes.

The 50 State Initiative was a good idea and its teams performed well during the Secret Invasion despite being infiltrated by Skrulls. They will be reviewed and any changes necessary will be made. The immoral cloning experiments will be investigated. All Initiative facilities will be moved away from major population centres - and so Camp Hammond will be closed.

He also declares that SHIELD has been dissolved, and will be replaced by a new organisation he will announce later. He ignores questions about a 'hammer' logo and rumours of a new Avengers. He tells Sgt Green to take his staff and vacate the place. As his jet leaves the Stamford citizens start demolishing the Camp, including tearing down the statue of Jim Hammond - the android Human Torch.

Back in Madripoor Taskmaster wants the team to head for the SHIELD extraction point with the info about Hydra and SPIN Tech. It doesn't matter that they've failed their mission to capture Hardball, and only Bengal wants to 'waste time' going back for Komodo. But then Typhoid sees the news that SHIELD has been disbanded, so their ride home won't be there.

And 2 figures are lurking behind them - Bloodscream and Roughhouse.

Humberto Ramos
Humberto Ramos
Edgar Delgado
Humberto Ramos (Cover Penciler)
Humberto Ramos (Cover Inker)
Edgar Delgado (Cover Colorist)


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> Avengers: The Initiative: Book info and issue index

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