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Avengers: The Initiative #13: Review

May 2008
Christos N. Gage, Steve Uy

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Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers: The Initiative #13 Review by (December 8, 2015)
Christos Gage is the solo scripter for this issue, but Dan Slott will rejoin him for a few more issues yet. Although Boulder is the star of this issue, he's the only 1 who has no previous appearances. Although Gorilla Girl has only been in a flashback in Thunderbolts: Desperate Measures. Sunstreak also only had 1 earlier outing in a mercenary group in Iron Man #330-331 (in the young Tony Stark era just before Heroes Reborn). Batwing was a regular villain/guest in Untold Tales of Spider-Man. Annex also began life as a Spidey villain turned hero in Amazing SM Annual #27. After another Spidey app he featured in a Vengeance strip in Marvel Comics Presents then had his own mini-series. Prodigy was 1 of the 4 Slingers in that Spider-Man spin-off series. They showed up in the 2nd Contest of Champions, turned down an offer to join the 2nd New Warriors, and then split up. But Prodigy continued the trend by refusing to join the Great Lakes Avengers. Then he had his drunken confrontation with Iron Man and spent the rest of Civil War in the Negative Zone Prison. Marvel Chronology Project and others have him at the Initiative camp in the background in our #1, but that makes less sense now. Elektra is assumed dead because the current version has been revealed as a Skrull (and killed) in New Avengers #31.

Cobra and Mr Hyde were originally separate Thor villains who eventually teamed up against him, all back in the Journey Into Mystery days. They stayed together for a while, and still bicker like an old married couple. This is the 2nd Firebrand whose short career started as an eco-terrorist in Web Of Spider-Man #77-78. He's made a few more apps, the last being in Fallen Son: Captain America against the Young Warriors' Hawkeye and Patriot. This will be his last outing until Amazing SM #700.3-4. The 3rd Firebrand, also an eco-terrorist, has already been in action. Mauler is another low-grade villain since Iron Man #156. He'll get an upgrade courtesy of Mandarin and Ezekiel Stane in IM#513, alongside a 4th Firebrand. Constrictor's defeat by the New Warriors was in their 2nd Annual - he was part of Sphinx's gang. Taskmaster's defeat by Ant-Man and Hawkeye was in Avengers #223, as he mentioned when Eric O'Grady joined the team in #8. Next issue will see the start of the Initiative's involvement in Secret Invasion. But before that there will be the Marvel Apes series, and Gorilla Girl will appear in its sequels MApes: Speedball and MApes: Grunt Line Special, along with a few other Initiative bods including Prodigy in Speedball. (These issues will entangle the Apes with Marvel Zombies.) #14 will mainly feature other Initiative members, but Prodigy, Batwing and Sunstreak will cameo. Then all 4 will reunite with Annex for #15. Even Emery Schaub will return much later in #27.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: The Initiative #13 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue our 1st group of trainees graduated, and in #8 we met a new bunch of recruits. But for this issue we'll ignore them and introduce a 3rd intake:- Annex, Batwing, Boulder, Gorilla Girl, Prodigy and Sunstreak.

Boulder is bouncing round the bus with an excitement not shared by the others. Prodigy and Sunstreak are only here to get themselves out of prison. Boulder remembers drunk Prodigy standing up to Iron Man on Superhero Registration Day. Army vet Annex doesn't know why he needs training. Batwing is more friendly. Boulder remembers him as an old Spider-Man character who got cured of his bat-like condition - it's returned and he's here for help. Gorilla Girl is also friendly, but is also here rather than be sent to jail for non-Registration.

Yellowjacket enters the bus to give his welcoming speech. But awe-struck Boulder puts his foot in it asking about Captain America - now (Marvel) dead since Civil War.

Trainer Taskmaster takes over. He renames tubby Boulder as Butterball. Then he sends them on a 10-mile run.

A week later Taskmaster discusses the trainees with War Machine and Yellowjacket. His main problem is Emery Schaub/Boulder/Butterball. He's immune to all physical attacks, and even from mental attacks apart from mind-control. But he can't attack back because he's unfit and lacks coordination. Similarly he can't run but he can walk forever. And he doesn't improve with exercise. YJ has a theory that the invulnerability extends to preventing any change to his body. (Does this mean he'll never grow up.)

Taskie is also annoyed by the boy's incessant fanboy questions and naive impertinence. He's impervious to punishment. TM tried punishing the other trainees for Schaub's faults, hoping peer pressure would affect him - but he doesn't seem to catch on, even though he's now ostracised.

Henry Pym reports that SHIELD have heard about a contract out on the villain Taskmaster for collaborating with the heroes. TM isn't worried - Bullseye's working for the Thunderbolts and Elektra is dead (again), and he can take anyone else.

Prodigy is forced to give a press conference to deny his previous public anti-Registration stance in Civil War: Front Line #2. He claims (correctly) he was drunk at the time, and he definitely hasn't joined the Initiative just to avoid prison. But no-one's buying it. Behind the scenes he's angry with Pym for putting him up as a poster-boy for a cause he doesn't believe in.

Ritchie Gilmore takes out his frustrations that night by persuading the rest of his group to sneak off base. Annex jams the security cameras. They steal a jeep and put Butterball on the hood to absorb anything that's fired at them as they break through the exit barrier.

They can't go for a night on the town because Batwing looks like a bat and Prodigy is on the news (and is in costume, as is Annex). So they drink beer on the beach (except underage Batwing, and Schaub because his power prevents alcohol from affecting him). Prodigy suggests skinny-dipping. Gorilla Girl agrees, but transforms into a gorilla. She says she might transform back to a naked human if Annex joins them. He does, and Batwing takes to the air leaving Emery alone with Sunstreak.

Andrea Roarke is interested when she finds that the boy is unaffected by the intense heat of her body. This means they can actually kiss. But Emery rejects her advances because his power means that he can't even feel sexual attraction. He drives off in the jeep.

The others follow, with Annex carrying Gorilla Girl the only non-flyer. They see Boulder apprehended by Yellowjacket, War Machine, Taskmaster and Constrictor. And they hear him claim that he broke out of the base on his own. The others now only have to figure out how to get back to barracks before anybody finds they're missing.

But the scene is disrupted by an attack by the villains who have accepted the contract on Tony Masters - Firebrand, King Cobra, Mauler and Mr Hyde. A fight ensues, and the trainees break cover and join in. Giant-size YJ downs Mr Hyde and the other 3 decide to retreat. Mauler grabs Boulder as a hostage and threatens to shoot him. But that threat doesn't stop the heroes, so Mauler fires and is hit by the backblast. Cobra and Firebrand flee, pursued by War Machine.

But next day WM and YJ throw Emery off the project. He's not cut out for combat, but he'll be certified as Registration-compliant and can serve in other capacities where his invulnerability will be an asset. Eg in hazardous environments.

His teammates think he's lucky, but Constrictor and Taskmaster understand why he's dejected. They share with each other their most embarrassing defeats - Constrictor by the New Warriors and TM by Ant-Man and Hawkeye. Before Schaub leaves they set up a photo for him to take away with him where he appears to have beaten them single-handed.

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Peter Parker)
War Machine
War Machine

(James Rhodes)

> Avengers: The Initiative: Book info and issue index

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