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Avengers: The Initiative #5: Review

Oct 2007
Dan Slott, Stefano Caselli

Story Name:

The Shadow Initiative: Secret Weapons

Review & Comments

3 stars

Avengers: The Initiative #5 Review by (February 15, 2010)
A tie-in the WORLD WAR HULK, this story takes place during the events of WWH #3. The issue is collected in WORLD WAR HULK: X-MEN.

Avengers: The Initiative #5 Review by (February 15, 2010)
The issue starts with some Henry Peter Gyrich flashbacks:- He and Gauntlet and Von Blitzschlag watch the 50th soldier try to master the Tactigon that they confiscated from Armory in #1 - and be the 50th to fail. They give up on it as an Omega Class Weapon. He was hoping that Danielle Moonstar could train Trauma to control his ability to manifest other people's fears - giving him an Omega Class Warrior. She's trained him alright, but in the therapeutic uses of his power. So Moonstar gets the sack and goes back to the Young X-Men. HPG wants Trauma for his secret Shadow Initiative black ops team. Later he recruits Bengal (who has been coerced into the Initiative for the sake of his family, and has issues with Jim Rhodes due to the Vietnam incident recounted in Daredevil #258), Constrictor (a villain who got rich and was persuaded by Nighthawk to become a hero), the 3 Scarlet Spiders (who we met in #3, and seem to think in unison), and Mutant Zero (who Doc Samson certifies as mentally fit-ish, and who we don't know is Typhoid Mary and HPG won't say). We also see a flashback following the end of last issue, where the trainees (Cloud 9, Hardball, Rage, Slapstick, Thor Girl and Ultra Girl) fight Hulk and the Warbound and get beaten and captured. Now HPG wants them rescued before the press find out that they went in unauthorised and unsupervised (just like the New Warriors in Stamford). The Shadow Initiative will sneak in under cover of the military assault in WWH#3. They mustn't try to rescue the other heroes held by the Hulk. We see Justice, War Machine and Yellowjacket controlling a cordon around Manhattan of all the Initiative teams. (I see 3 of The Order, who list as Anthem, Calamity and Veda.) WM has also roped in the Sentinel Squad O*N*E that he used to lead. YJ is keeping them out of the city because Dum Dum Dugan has told him about the last-ditch plan designed by Tony Stark (see IM#20) to send Manhattan to the Negative Zone.

The robots the SI fight are called Death's Head units and are seen in other WWH issues too. Bengal and Constrictor face them alone to protect Trauma (whose power doesn't work on robots). Until Mutant Zero appears and wipes them out, then leaves. Thor is Korg's worst fear because the Thunder God defeated the Kronans in his initial adventure in Journey Into Mystery #83. The Scarlet Spiders are keeping watch in stealth mode, and report that Hulk is on his way after defeating the army. Rage, Slapstick, Thor Girl and Yellowjacket will make a guest appearance in World War Hulk Aftesmash: Damage Control #1-2, and Justice will join them in #2. War Machine will also be in that #2 but won't return until #7 of this title. The Scarlet Spiders will have their own tale in Annual #1/4 then also pop back for #7. Meanwhile we won't see Trauma again until #9, and Bengal, Constrictor and Mutant Zero until #10. Bengal debuted in Daredevil #258 where we learned of the Vietnam incident as a boy. He became involved with the New Warriors and their leader Night Thrasher as part of his continuing search for revenge for Vietnam War atrocities. Constrictor is a long-time villain (since Hulk #212), but lately Dan Slott's been ringing the changes with him. In She-Hulk (2004) #9 he got rich from suing Hercules for beating him up. In Thing (2006) #2 Nighthawk persuaded him to become a superhero. And so here he is. (But Slott also had him lose all the money back to Hercules in a poker game in Thing #9.) Typhoid Mary (Mutant Zero) has been a regular Daredevil villain since #254, with side-trips to the realms of such as Deadpool, Spider-Man and Wolverine. She has multiple personality disorder (as I still call it), which is why Gyrich has to be careful with her use.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: The Initiative #5 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro
The report that the Initiative team members have been captured by the Hulk and are being held prisoner at Madison Square Garden leads Henry Peter Gyrich to order his own black ops superhero team to mount a rescue mission. The team—Bengal, Constrictor, Mutant Zero, the Scarlet Spiders and their secret weapon, Trauma, who can become what his opponent fears most—sets out. They enter the Garden and battle robots, coming to the cells where the Initiative members are held. They are surprised by Korg and Elloe, and Trauma defeats the former by becoming Thor, and Elloe is suffocated by Cloud 9. As they are heading out of the building, Hulk appears. Trauma orders the others to get the ex-prisoners to safety while he fights Hulk, trying to become what Hulk most fears, first the Abomination, then Juggernaut, then Brian Banner, then Bruce himself. Suddenly he loses the ability to change and Hulk knocks him down with a light blow. Hulk leaves him with a message: “I’m not afraid of anything.” Later Trauma recovers slowly in the hospital.

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Stefano Caselli
Stefano Caselli
Daniele Rudoni


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