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Avengers: The Initiative #12: Review

Apr 2008
Dan Slott, Steve Uy

Story Name:

Changing of the guard

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers: The Initiative #12 Review by (December 8, 2015)
Steve Uy is back after #6 as artist for this issue and next. This issue has a slightly misleading cover in that Iron Man doesn't even get into verbal conflict with War Machine. It's Gyrich he has a beef with. Flashbacks in the 2nd War Machine series will show that James Rhodes was critically injured in an explosion, which led to him becoming a cyborg. The Marvel Chronology Project puts this just before he joined the Initiative, but it suggests here that he was already in this condition when he worked for O*N*E. However the Sentinel Squad O*N*E mini-series shows him out of his Sentinel armour and not a cyborg, as do some other *O*N*E* appearances. The last 1 in the MCP sequence that shows his (non-cyborged) face is X-Men (2004) #192. There are later apps attributed to him only in Sentinel armour, so possibly he could have sustained his injury before some of them. He's supposedly present out of armour at Captain America's funeral in Fallen Son #5 after all his O*N*E appearances, but I can't positively identify him. The original 3-D Man was invented in Marvel Premiere #35 as a Skrull-hunting hero of the 1950's. He was seen in the modern Marvel age in Hulk #251-252. Triathlon was given 3-D Man's powers by a villain and became involved with the Avengers in their 1998 series. During that time the true origin of the 3-D powers was uncovered, and he helped the original 3-D Man return to normal humanity. Now the mantle is passed to Triathlon, just in time to hunt Skrulls with the Skrull Kill Krew in Secret Invasion.

The Initiative's Freedom Force is not the same as the mutant team Mystique led for the government. Its leader Challenger was a Golden Age Timely superhero in Daring Mystery Comics #7 and Mystic Comics #6-10. Roy Thomas mentioned him in the WWII Liberty Legion story in Marvel Premiere #29. Then the hero got brought into the modern age by unknown means (not as part of The Twelve in the series of that name) in She-Hulk (2004) #11. Equinox was a villain starting in Marvel Team-Up #23. After a few more adventures he enrolled in Vil-Anon (Spider-Man Unlimited (2004) #12) to get rid of his evil tendencies. He was seen in Civil War trying to avoid being on either side. But this version is a Skrull substitute. Spinner and Think Tank are new. Freedom Force will return in #18 during Secret Invasion. Henry Gyrich may have been drummed out of the Initiative but his annoying self will keep popping up in other places. His next big gig will be in Dark Reign as Norman Osborn's representative in the SWORD series. Although most of the graduates are leaving for State teams we'll see them all in the Secret Invasion issues of this title. 3-D Man will be here alongside Trauma in #14, Komodo in #16 and Hardball in #17. We already know that Cloud-9 will be in #18, but Thor Girl will also be there, as will Ultragirl after a side trip to New Warriors (2007) #11. In that issue she will attend a sanctioned meeting with journalist Sally Floyd alongside the ex-NW contingent of Counter Force. After that Justice will guest in some Fantastic Four issues. And then in NW#14-15 Counter Force will go after NW's leader Night Thrasher because they think he's part of the Skrull invasion, but then will team-up with NW to invade SHIELD looking for proof that the NW team that caused Civil War were really Skrulls - but they weren't. Counter Force will return here in #21. The new trainees won't be in next issue, where we'll meet yet another new bunch. But they'll be here for #14.

Nighthawk leaves this book for the Last Defenders which tells the adventures of the New Jersey Initiative team. Gargoyle and Hellcat are in the crowd at the graduation ceremony. Hellcat will have her own 4-issue strip in Marvel Comics Presents and then her own series Patsy Walker: Hellcat as Alaska's lone Initiative heroine before returning for #14. Gargoyle will share some apps with her, and they'll both pop in to separate issues of Last Defenders. And as of this writing there's no sign of Dragon Lord's son following his father's footsteps.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: The Initiative #12 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The previously page confirms that Dragon Lord (#8) and Trauma (#9) were killed in the Killed In Action story as well as 1 of the Scarlet Spiders (#10). Now we get the fallout from that tale.

In #9 his gauntlet woke Gauntlet's body from a coma to fight against KIA and the Tactigon. Now we find that Joe Green is awake and back in control of his body. He, Cloud 9, Hardball and Komodo are preparing for Trauma's funeral. But Henry Peter Gyrich, War Machine and Yellowjacket are getting ready for an inquest into recent events.

Iron Man represents SHIELD and is chairing the inquest board, with Ms Marvel representing the Avengers, Valerie Cooper from O*N*E and Senator Woodman of the Superhuman Armed Forces Committee.

Before the meeting we learn that YJ survived KIA's attack by shrinking to subatomic size (again). Val asks WM how his (secret) 'condition' is, and Jim Rhodes replies that it's better than when he was working for O*N*E. And Woodman expresses his support for Gyrich.

The 1st thing IM wants answers about is the hushed-up death of MVP (#1). Gyrich claims not to remember what happened. So Tony Stark asks if Gyrich's memory is equally vague about the deaths in the KIA story, including 8 SHIELD agents.

Trainer Taskmaster and trainer-in-training Triathlon take Dragon Lord's ashes to his family, along with his co-new-recruits Ant-Man, Diamondback, Geiger, Melee, Proton and Red 9. DL's son swears to take up his father's role. Taskmaster can't help being sarcastic.

Gauntlet and the 3 students go to view Trauma's body. They find Thor Girl already there, recovered from her injuries defending Terrance (#9). But then he had defended her to lose his life, so she stands over him now as his shield maiden until a Valkyrie comes to take him to Valhalla. Cloud 9 tells them not to expect Terrance's family at the funeral - he was estranged from them.

Suddenly and traumatically Terry sits up in his coffin. Komodo can't believe it because he was embalomed. Trauma can't explain it but he's alive.

Back at the hearing Gyrich claims not to know exactly how many trainees were injured. Yellowjacket assures them that they're being treated by a new specialist in superhuman medicine named Physique. And War Machine adds that Nighthawk is presenting them with medals at that moment.

So we segue to the infirmary where Nighthawk meets Physique and is taken aback by her transparent skin. She is studying Crusader's hand which has been reattached after KIA severed it in #9. Constrictor has had his shredded forearms replaced by bionic versions which also extrude his trademark coils.

Physique is astounded that Crusader's operation worked so well - the hand had already turned green. This was actually because he's secretly a Skrull, but he puts the success down to his being a shapeshifter. However she wants to do a body scan to make sure everything's OK. Crusader doesn't want to be exposed as a Skrull, even though he's a friendly 1, so he gets his Freedom Ring to temporarily change him into a human. Physique is now astounded at how perfect a specimen the scan reveals him to be.

Baron Von Blitzschlag is also recovering in a wheelchair hooked up to devices devised to drain(?)/resupply(?) his electrical energy. The ex-Nazi isn't surprised that the US government isn't going to give him a medal. But the Red Skull never appreciated him either.

Back to the hearing once more as Woodman throws Gyrich a bone. He asks about the ex-New Warriors who have gone AWOL (last issue). Gyrich can truthfully say he wasn't there when that happened. And Woodman now asks Iron Man about the same thing - because he was there. It transpires that IM let Justice and friends go free after their help against KIA.

But War Machine calls in Ultragirl, 1 of those ex-NWers, to give evidence - apparently she opted to stay with the Initiative. She relates the story:-

Justice declared that he and his allies couldn't stay in the Initiative because of all the secrets and lies which led to KIA and the subsequent deaths. They intend to be a separate group he calls Counter Force. They are all registered and trained heroes, and he will make sure that they stay within the law. But they will be keeping an eye on the Initiative, to make sure it does the same.

Debrii, Rage and Slapstick are in. So are the 2 remaining Scarlet Spider clones and the clone that has become Michael Van Patrick. Michael's dad will help them to hide.

But Suzy Sherman still believes in the Initiative idea, so she elected to stay even though it meant separation from her lover Justice.

Ms Marvel congratulates Ultragirl on her bravery. Tony Stark, who knows about his friend Rhodey's current problem, offers to call a break for him - but WM declines.

Iron Man now turns to the matter of the clones. It's a sore point with him after the problem they had with the Thor clone during Civil War. YJ in particular should have known better. But Henry Pym protests that this was just the cloning of a normal human - albeit MVP was a perfect specimen of such. And it had been OK'd by Woodman's committee.

A sarky remark by HPG is the last straw for Stark. But Gyrich counters his anger by demanding the return of the Tactigon, which it appears the Avengers took away. Tony gets his own back by claiming not to remember what happened to it. Gyrich shouts that Stark is responsible for the death of Captain America. Stark swears to get him fired. HPG says he has connections.

But the next scene sees Gyrich giving a press conference where he resigns from the Initiative to 'spend more time with his family'. Sally Floyd of Front Line points out that he doesn't have a family. HPG slinks off.

Then Iron Man presides over a graduation ceremony for Cloud 9, Hardball, Komodo, Thor Girl, Trauma, Triathlon and Ultragirl. They have new costumes. Triathlon has the costume and name of 3-D Man. Ultragirl has been given Ms Marvel's original threads.

Trauma is staying at the training base to become a counsellor. The others are going to various State teams. Hardball and Komodo are being split to Nevada and Arizona. Cloud 9 has Montana and 3-D Man is pleased to get Hawaii. Thor Girl and Ultragirl are both heading for Georgia.

An epilogue 1 week later shows us Cloud 9 as part of Montana's Freedom Force led by Challenger, with Equinox, Spinner and Think Tank as they save people from a burning building.



Steve Uy
Steve Uy
Steve Uy
Steve Uy (Cover Penciler)
Steve Uy (Cover Inker)
Steve Uy (Cover Colorist)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

3-D Man
3-D Man

(Chuck Chandler / Hal Chandler)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)
War Machine
War Machine

(James Rhodes)

Plus: Hildegarde (Hildegarde), Valerie Cooper.

> Avengers: The Initiative: Book info and issue index

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