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Avengers: The Initiative #8: Review

Dec 2007
Dan Slott, Stefano Caselli

Story Name:

Killed in action part 1 of 4: Snafu

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers: The Initiative #8 Review by (November 3, 2015)
Christos Gage starts sharing the writing with the regular Dan Slott from this issue. The partnership will last until #20 after which Slott leaves it to Gage. (Gage will also fly solo in #13.) We won't discover that the dead trainee's body belongs to Dragon Lord until #12. Henry Pym was already a Skrull replacement by the time of the Stamford incident. By the end of the Civil War the idea list had expanded to 100 ideas to save the world. In Fantastic Four #551 we'll find those ideas scrawled on the walls of Reed Richards' secret room, with idea #101 'solve everything'. We've seen most of the various options that Pym, Richards and Stark discuss in action:- SPIN Tech takes away a superbeings powers and was 1st used on She-Hulk in her #18. A variation of the idea of obedience collars may be what is used to control the villains in Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts (including the team in Civil War). Soma Tech may be what was used to power up the Order characters. They cloned Thor in Civil War, and now they've cloned MVP here. Tony Stark allowed the Iron Spider design to be used by the Scarlet Spiders. I don't know if he specifically based the Cape-Killers' armour on the Guardsmen. The GI Ant-Man prototype was the suit stolen from SHIELD by Eric O'Grady to become the Irredeemable Ant-Man. It sounds here as though Reed Richards already had a small Negative Zone prison, which they now expand in Civil War to Project 42. But I can't remember any earlier mention of that.

The Camp Hammond ground-breaking ceremony occurred after the Fallen Son books, when the Mighty Avengers were already formed. Invisible Woman's presence indicates she's not yet left for Titan in FF#543. Dragon Man is an android that dates back to #35 of the original FF series. He's been used by a variety of villains over the years, but was last seen captured by Damage Control in Irredeemable AM #9. We don't know how he got free to need capturing again. Similarly he'll be free and recaptured in Nova #20 and then back in the Neg Zone Prison for our #27. The Marvel Chronology Project notes these and more in a sequence of his unexplained escapes. As an android of very little brain its amazing how easily he gets out of jail. Despite being woken from his coma in #6 Gauntlet was back in the coma state in Annual #1, and now Taskmaster has taken over his training job. The Annual also revealed that TM was already employed by Camp Hammond to train the Scarlet Spiders. Taskmaster was introduced in Avengers #195 as the guy who trains all supervillains' henchmen. He has photographic and muscle memory and can train himself to mimic anybody else's fighting style. Scott Lang fought him at a carnival with Hawkeye in Av#223. Scott Lang was killed in Avengers #500 during Avengers Disassembled. Cassie will use time-travel in Children's Crusade #5 to snatch her father from the jaws of death and bring him to the present (in plenty of time to become a movie star). But she herself will be killed by Dr Doom in CC#8. However during Axis the goodified Dr Doom brings her back to life in time to join Scott in his new series (and the film). Ironically, surviving an explosion by shrinking to the microverse is exactly what Henry Pym's ex-wife Wasp will do at the end of Secret Invasion, and no-one will realise until the End Times storyline in Avengers (2010) #31-34.

A couple of the new recruits are well-known:- We've mentioned Ant-Man (Eric O'Grady)'s short history already. In his just-finished 12-issue Irredeemable AM series Eric stole the suit that gives him Ant/Giant-Man powers and used it to get money and women, along the way accidentally doing hero-type things. It came back to bite him in the end, but Iron Man and Yellowjacket allowed him to keep the suit if he joined the Initiative. Diamondback has a longer history dating back to Captain America #310 as a member of the Serpent Society. She later switched sides and eventually became Cap's girlfriend. She was part of the Resistance in Civil War, and was captured by the female Mighty Avengers in Giant-Size Avengers #1. Presumably she too has been press-ganged into the Initiative. There are 4 more with minor history:- Crusader appeared in the Freedom Ring/Titanus story arc in Marvel Team-Up (2004) #20-25. He is secretly a Skrull who is on Earth's side in the Secret Invasion. In MTU he 'inherited' a ring made from part of a Cosmic Cube. Dragon Lord is Tako Shamara who fought a dragon in Marvel Spotlight (1979) #5. Geiger is a gamma-spawned heroine who debuted in the Doc Samson (1996) mini-series. Red 9 only previously appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #264, and his powers are all in his costume. The other 2 are completely new:- Melee is a martial artist as described. Geldoff fires energy balls and will take the name Proton. (He's the equivalent of a Geldoff in the Ultimate Universe.) The New Warrior who died was codenamed Longstrike, the depowered mutant who used to go by the name of Tattoo, a member of Quentin Quire's Omega Gang at the Xavier School. It isn't apparent here but Komodo is missing the lower half of her legs. This is why she stole Curt Connors' Lizard potion - for the regenerative powers. This will be explained in detail in Special #1.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: The Initiative #8 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This issue starts and ends with short bits of a current episode, separated by a series of flashbacks.

It starts with ant-sized Yellowjacket staggering through the ruins of Camp Hammond's Subbasement 9, past the body of an unidentified student, fearing it's the end of the Initiative.

Several months ago YJ is with Iron Man and Mr Fantastic (with Captain America, Goliath (Bill Foster), Iceman and Thing) helping sort through the ruins of Stamford after the New Warriors incident that sparked off the Civil War. IM, MF and YJ pledge to stop things like this happening again.

Some days later the 3 of them are in the Baxter Building, the Fantastic Four's HQ, making plans. They currently have 40 ideas that will change the world, but none that will take immediate effect. Henry Pym provides idea #41, the 50 State Initiative.

They wonder how to get enough trainees. They consider modifying their SPIN Tech idea to create nanite-based obedience collars for supervillains. Soma Tech to induce powers in ordinary humans. Cloning. Imitating powers with technology. On that score Tony Stark suggests the Guardsman armour he invented, or the Iron Spider suit he created for Spider-Man. And YJ shows them the plans for a suit that uses Pym particles to make the wearers small or large. SHIELD call it GI Ant-Man.

Then they move on to idea #42, expanding Reed Richards' Negative Zone prison. Which will be called Project 42.

Weeks later, after Civil War, they announce the start of building Camp Hammond in Stamford. They promise the townsfolk that the presence of so many superheroes will mean they never have to fear supervillains again. Ares, Black Widow, Gargoyle, Invisible Woman, Justice, Ms Marvel, Nighthawk, Sentry, Thing, Wasp and Wonder Man show up to prove the point.

Now we jump to the week before 'now', as protesters protest about a new busload of recruits. Yellowjacket goes to give them his welcoming speech, leaving War Machine to handle the crowd. But when Jim Rhodes points to the subdued Dragon Man android being brought in on a truck with a bunch of the existing trainees (Cloud 9, Hardball, Komodo and Thor Girl led by Triathlon), this only fuels the anger and fear.

Inside the compound they're met by Bengal, Constrictor, Gargoyle, Nighthawk, Stature, Stingray and the 3 Scarlet Spiders. When Cloud 9 tells everyone that they were able to capture Dragon Man because he had a crush on Komodo, Constrictor treats it as a big joke. Komodo responds by revealing her relationship with Hardball, which angers DM who goes on a rampage. A Spider saves Cloud 9, who finds him strangely familiar. And War Machine KO's the Dragon.

Henry Peter Gyrich is none too pleased about the bad press this is going to get, as Rhodey takes the android off to the Negative Zone prison. He then goes to introduce the new recruits to with their new instructor Taskmaster. Henry Pym is none too pleased about that, but Gyrich reminds him about the villain's obedience collar.

Stature (Cassie Lang) comes over to talk to 'uncle' Hank Pym about her dead father Scott (Ant-Man) Lang. She asks him about how he survived an explosion (in #2) by shrinking to subatomic size. She wonders if her dad might have survived the explosion which killed him in the same way. Maybe they should go into the microverse to look for him. But Henry says he checked the site of Scott's death, and there was no trace of the use of Pym particles.

Taskmaster lines up the new recruits:- Ant-Man, Crusader, Melee, Geldoff, Dragon Lord, Geiger, Red 9 and Diamondback. We learn that Melee is a mistress of all martial arts, and Dragon Lord can summon and control dragons but needs to prepare a potion 1st.

Then Taskmaster does a double-take when he realises he's got an Ant-Man on the team, and accuses him of wrecking his circus scam. That was a long time ago and was Scott Lang. This AM is the irredeemable Eric O'Grady in a stolen GI Ant-Man suit who correctly denies being that guy, but goes on to blacken Scott's name by crediting him with some of his own misdeeds.

Cassie overhears this slander, turns giant and tries to stamp on O'Grady. But he grows to giant-size too and they start to fight. Ant-Man wins by telling Stature she's stepped on Stingray and then whacking her with the bus while she's distracted. So giant-size Yellowjacket wades in instead.

Henry Gyrich orders Taskmaster to intervene. TM uses it as a class demonstration. He uses his spinning shield to hit all their Achilles' tendons, and the 3 giants topple on top of each other. YJ is still conscious because he lands on top. So TM KO's him with a blow to the nerves in his oversize neck.

Later HPG and YJ review the Dragon Man mission with Triathlon (recently completed his training as an instructor) and the trainee team. Triathlon thinks it went well, and particularly commends Komodo for this and other jobs. Gyrich ignores all that and instead blasts the trainees for their poor performance against the Zodiac when they had to be rescued by the latest New Warriors (in NW#4, back between our #2 and #3). In particular he's angry that 1 of the young New Warriors died then in public view.

Hardball reacts by anrily reminding his superiors that they know that 1 of their own trainees killed another (Armory killed MVP in #1). Triathlon and Thor Girl don't know what he's talking about, nor that HPG and YJ had forbidden the other 3 to mention it.

Komodo drags Hardball into a storage room - she's turned on by his aggressive insubordination. Roger asks her if she could change back to human while they kiss, but Melati is ashamed of her original body. Roger admits that he knows her secret since he saw her human form in #3, so she transforms while he holds her up.

Meanwhile we follow the 2 Henry's to YJ's lab in Subbasement 9. There we see the 3 MVP clones (the Scarlet Spiders) in stasis. HPG wishes they had more of them instead of bolshie trainees. Dr Von Blitzschlag offers to make more.

The issue ends back in the now where we find that the cause of the mayhem is an MVP clone with Armory's Tactigon on his arm and the letters KIA incised into his chest.

Stefano Caselli
Stefano Caselli
Daniele Rudoni
Stefano Caselli (Cover Penciler)
Stefano Caselli (Cover Inker)
Stefano Caselli (Cover Colorist)


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