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Avengers: The Initiative #1: Review

Apr 2007
Dan Slott, Stefano Caselli

Story Name:

Happy accidents

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers: The Initiative #1 Review by (May 20, 2015)
This issue has 2 covers which form the left and right sides of an image showing a large group of supercharacters (some of whom won't actually have anything to do with the Initiative). The recruits we focus on are all new characters:- Armory, Cloud 9, Hardball, Komodo, MVP and Trauma. As is scientist Von Blitzschlag. Gauntlet is also new, but he may have made an earlier published appearance in an issue also written by Dan Slott - She-Hulk (2005) #3, aka SHu#100. There a young SHulk character Southpaw, who has a power gauntlet on her left arm, is shown in a possible future as a grown-up superheroine. She says she was inspired to be a hero by The Gauntlet. She has a young black sidekick Kid Glove with a right-arm gauntlet. Another scene has a costumed black guy with the same fist symbol on his chest as Southpaw and Kid Glove. Various online sources reckon that he is Gauntlet and Kid Glove is his daughter, though I can't find where this theory originates from. All other characters are established members of the Marvel Universe. As well as Gauntlet, Henry Gyrich, Justice, She-Hulk, Von Blitzschlag, War Machine and Yellowjacket there are other staff we see here:- Hellcat, Nighthawk, Stingray and Triathlon. Ms Marvel will be a regular visiting trainer. As well as the other new recruits Bengal, Rage, Slapstick, Thor Girl and Ultra Girl we meet other recruits already at Camp Hammond:- Debrii, Network, Prodigy and Stature. Red Wolf and Texas Twister were already seen in Civil War #7 as part of the Rangers Initiative team for Texas. I'm not sure of the status of Constrictor, Doc Samson and Scorpion.

Of particular interest to our Libraries are Thor Girl and War Machine. Thor Girl is Tarene, an alien who transformed into an Asgardian. She was a staple of the 1998 (post-Heroes Reborn) Thor series but hasn't been seen since then. In #18 this version will be revealed as a Skrull imposter. War Machine is of course James Rhodes, a long-time Iron Man character. He recently finished leading Sentinel Squad O*N*E (from their mini-series to the X-Men: Phoenix - Warsong limited series). Yellowjacket here is also a Skrull. We've seen Camp Hammond before in Mighty Avengers #3 when SHIELD came there to fetch him to deal with Ultron. Camp Hammond is named after Jim Hammond the original android Human Torch. He sacrificed himself to save his fellow New Invaders in their 2004 series, and the Camp has a statue to him. Justice takes time out after recruiting MVP to visit with fellow ex-New Warrior Nova in Nova #2 to help Iron Man try to persuade him to Register and join the Initiative. Nearly all of the characters at Camp Hammond will be seen in later issues of the series, many of them even in next issue. The discarded Armory will only make 1 more Marvel appearance in Annual #1 recounting her origin. Network is here and on the cover but never seen again anywhere. (And she previously only appeared in CW: Front Line #4 and CW#6.)

She-Hulk will be training recruits with War Machine when Mr Fantastic comes to Camp Hammond in Fantastic Four #547 to get Yellowjacket's help for FF#547-549. But that is the end of her Initiative career. At this time she is also a SHIELD agent (hence her uniform in this issue and FF#547) leading the SHIELD Hulkbusters. She will continue that role in her own #17-18, but in #18 she will find out how SHIELD and the Illuminati sent her cousin Hulk off to Planet Hulk. She gets angry about this and Iron Man will use his new SPIN-tech to remove her powers. Almost immediately in Hulk #106 Amadeus Cho will temporarily restore her powers. And then Tony Stark will restore them for the duration of World War Hulk, which will include a cameo in our #4. But she won't return to the fold. (Jennifer Walters will sue Stark to get her powers back permanently in her #20.) Doc Samson will be an infrequent visitor to these pages. Before WWH he'll psychoanalyse the Fin Fang Four in a humourous tale in Giant-Size Avengers #1. Then in Hu#106 he'll be sent to bring in Cho and Jennifer Walters only to find she's back to She-Hulk. Ultimo is a giant robot originally controlled by Mandarin way back in Tales of Suspense #76-78. It was last seen in Iron Man (1998) #23-25 after which SHIELD took custody of it. There's no explanation as to how it went on a rampage here. But it will next appear under military control in the War Machine (2009) short series during Dark Reign.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: The Initiative #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
A US army convoy in Iraq is attacked by a bomb-laden Hydra truck. A Sgt who goes by the codename The Gauntlet, with a huge gauntlet on his right arm that spits energy, deals with it. It turns out he and Henry Peter Gyrich are being escorted to base because Gyrich wants him back in America.

Gyrich claims that mutants were a worldwide phenomenon while the US has most of the non-mutant superbeings. When M-Day decimated the mutant ranks it left the US winning the superpower arms race. I don't really see how this is directly connected with the Initiative project, and Gauntlet being asked to train a superhero army.

In Illinois Abigail Boylen is using her power to fly on a cloud of gas. War Machine arrests her as an unregistered superhuman. He insists she tell him her super-identity, and strangely enough she has 1, Cloud 9, despite not being or wanting to be a super hero (or villain).

In Kentucky Justice recruits Michael Van Patrick. He lost his sports scholarship when it was revealed that he was the great-grandson of Dr Abraham Erskine who invented Captain America's super-soldier serum. This despite the fact that Michael tests drug-free.

In San Francisco some of the Mighty Avengers (Ares, Ms Marvel, Wasp and Wonder Man) are fighting Ultimo when the robot is taken down by a girl calling herself Armory. She too has an energy-spewing gauntlet, but on her left arm, and she wants to join the team.

The Initiative have set up their training ground Camp Hammond at Stamford Connecticut which was the town blown up by Nitro fighting the New Warriors, leading to the Superhero Registration Act and the Civil War. There are protestors outside the base as a busfull of new recruits arrives.

The earlier paragraphs were flashbacks because Gauntlet and Michael calling himself MVP are already there. But Armory and Cloud 9 arrive in the bus along with Bengal, Hardball, Komodo, Rage, Slapstick, Thor Girl, Trauma and Ultra Girl.

They are greeted by Yellowjacket who tells them they are going to be trained as responsible heroes (not like the New Warriors). If they make the grade they'll be assigned to the Avengers team of a State, as part of the 50-State Initiative. He ignores Abby's question about what happens if they fail.

Off the bus they are met by Gauntlet and She-Hulk. Gauntlet goes all drill-sergeant on them. He compares them now to the 'worthless' New Warriors and promises to turn them into Avengers. In the background are Ms Marvel and Stature, possibly Prodigy and Texas Twister, and unidentifiable others.

YJ joins Justice and War Machine in the observation deck. Vance Astrovik is unhappy about the regular slagging off of his old team New Warriors. James Rhodes doesn't think Cloud 9 will make the grade. Hank Pym is more worried about Komodo's attitude - his associate Dr Curt Connors sent her after she stole his lizard formula.

Justice is happier about MVP who is demonstrating his skill and endurance on an assault course supervised by She-Hulk. Among those watching are Constrictor, Debrii, Doc Samson, Hellcat, Network, Nighthawk, Red Wolf, Scorpion (Carmilla Black) and Stingray.

Meanwhile Gauntlet leads the new recruits to the supply depot where they are issued with their new uniforms - fatigues including a mask and a vest with a symbol representing their power. They mist not use their superpowers off-base without the mask. They must only use their super-identities, even on-base. No-one should know their real identities except Tony Stark.

When Cloud 9 follows the other girls into their changing room she's embarrassed comparing her body to their model-like versions. So she backs through a door to change in private. Unfortunately she's gone through a utility door into the men's shower room, where she bumps into MVP.

She exits quickly, but MVP is interested. When he has got dressed he asks Triathlon where the new recruits are now. Gauntlet has them in the combat simulator room. MVP goes there and catches Cloud 9 waiting with some others for her turn. He tells her he is MVP, and Abby almost gives her real name before remembering the rules.

Henry Gyrich is watching alongside Gauntlet and a scientist Wernher Von Blitzschlag as Armory uses her Tactigon glove to defeat 3 Combat-Bots. The Tactigon automatically reshapes itself to the right weapon for any job.

Gauntlet calls Trauma in next, but his power doesn't work against robots or when he's alone, so Armory is told to stay with him but not to do anything. A Bot approaches and Armory starts to get worried. This enables Trauma to feel her worst fear - spiders. And he automatically transforms into a giant spider.

Armory panics and the Tactigon turns into a large gun which blasts energy. The energy bolts head towards the waiting recruits, and Komodo gets an arm sliced off. But she immediately regrows it. Hardball generates a hard-energy ball around 1 hand to deflect another bolt. Another 1 just misses Cloud 9 who's frozen in shock. MVP dives to push her out of the way but a bolt gets him through the skull.

Gauntlet leaps down into the arena and uses his own gauntlet to restrain Armory. Trauma has reverted to human. HPG takes control and orders them all to 'forget' what happened here. They're not allowed to tell anyone about it.

Armory has the Tactigon surgically removed and is thrown off the program. Most of the other recruits don't know why. Von Blitzschlag does an autopsy on MVP and discovers something interesting.

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Doc Samson
Doc Samson

(Leonard Samson)

(Patsy Walker)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Jennifer Walters)
War Machine
War Machine

(James Rhodes)

> Avengers: The Initiative: Book info and issue index

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