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Avengers: The Initiative #16: Review

Aug 2008
Dan Slott, Stefano Caselli

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4 stars

Avengers: The Initiative #16 Review by (August 16, 2016)
Dan Slott continues to co-write this series with Christos Gage. Stefano Caselli is back for the last time as artist. Harvey Tolibao again next time.

This issue occurs during and just after Secret Invasion #3.

She-Thing tries to call the leader of New Mexico's Mavericks who she refers to as J. Next issue we'll discover that is the robot Jocasta. There are no other team members at this time, but Annex and Geiger will join in #21 after Secret Invasion.

Desert Stars' leader Two-Gun Kid was a Western hero with his own comic, but he's spent 2 periods in the modern era. This 2nd stay began in She-Hulk (2005) #3. Komodo was an Initiative trainee earlier in this series. Blacksmith, Johnny Cool and Supermax are inventions of this issue. The team will be back in this series' Special.

The Chandler 3-D Man's origin was in Marvel Premiere #35. But Avengers (1998) #50 revealed that those particular Skrulls had 1 of 3 cosmic artefacts, and it was that which gave 3-D Man his power. A 2nd artefact was possessed by Jonathan Tremont, leader of the Triune Understanding cult. He also captured Hal Chandler and transferred *his* power to Delroy Garrett as Triathlon. Now Triathlon and the 2 Chandlers merged to use all 3 artefacts to defeat a cosmic evil. Later in #55 Triathlon split them up with Chuck returned to his youthful body but with no 3-D Man powers (which is the situation we find the Chandlers in now), but Triathlon retained *his* powers.
The original 3-D Man was able to sense disguised Skrulls, but he couldn't *see* through their disguise and there was no suggestion his goggles were involved. This was an invention of #14 when Delroy 'inherited' the goggles (possibly suggested by the importance of Hal's glasses).

The Skrull Kill Krew debuted in their own mini-series. It will turn out in #18 that the other 3 Krew members aren't actually dead, just reduced to preserved heads.

The Shadow Initiative are still in Camp Hammond. Next issue they team up with Ant-Man to try to assassinate the Skrull Queen. They fail but Ant-Man discovers a Skrull backup plan to send the US to the Negative Zone. Meanwhile the Skrull Kill Krew go round taking out the Skrulls who have infiltrated the Initiative teams, picking up recruits as they go.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: The Initiative #16 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue 3-D Man crashed in the New Mexico desert when the Skrull virus fried the StarkTech in his quinjet. Now he's found by She-Thing of that state's Initiative team the Mavericks. But Delroy Garrett's goggles reveal her to be a Skrull. And when she turns on him she's killed by Ryder and Riot of the Skrull Kill Krew who were watching from concealment. When they learn of his ability they invite him to join the Krew.

They take the body back to the SKK's truck, and the monstrous Riot carves it up to be safe. Ryder explains that they're used to dealing with ordinary Skrulls but lately there's been a new breed, more difficult to detect and much harder to kill.  3-D Man confirms that there are more in the Initiative (but not as many as he thinks - see last issue).

In Camp Hammond the medical staff Physique and Trauma find War Machine recovering from the effects of the virus, having been helped by Baron Blitzschlag. His armour is now OK due to an old StaneTech backup system he didn't know Tony Stark had built in. They rush outside to find only Yellowjacket and SHIELD Capekillers (the active staff and trainees were sent to fight the invading Skrulls in New York last issue). YJ is confused (and as a secret Skrull, unhappy) to find Jim Rhodes' armour still working.

Rhodey gets a message from Tony prerecorded for the eventuality of StarkTech failure. It tells him to trust no-one and follow a pre-programmed course to a beacon. He ignores YJ's demands for an explanation and jets off into Iron Man (2005) #33. YJ tells 1 of the Capekillers to inform the high command. This Capekiller (and presumably all the others) is a Skrull too.

Ant-Man (Eric O'Grady), who shrank and hid last issue to avoid going on the mission, is confused.

Before he crashed Delroy Garrett was heading for the home of the previous 3-D Man Hal & Chuck Chandler and Hal's wife Peggy. He leads the SKK there. As well as the Chandlers' experience fighting Skrulls, Garrett correctly guesses they'll have some old non-StarkTech equipment that has survived the virus.

Chuck tells Ryder and Riot how 50 years ago he was a military test pilot when his plane was attacked by Skrulls. The end result was Chuck trapped as green and red images in his brother Hal's glasses. After that Hal was able to manifest Chuck as the green/red-costumed 3-D Man with the physical abilities of 3 men and the ability to detect Skrulls.

Delroy explains how a group called the Triune gave him tri-force energy (and Chuck and Hal gave him the costume and Skrull-detecting goggles).

Ryder and Riot complete the origin-fest. The 1st Skrull spies the Fantastic Four caught (FF#2) they hypnotised into becoming cows. Those cows later became burgers, and some people who ate them became shape-changers who could see Skrulls. They also had a deadly disease that killed the rest of the Krew (Catwalk, Dice and Moonstomp) and stuck Riot in her current form. The Krew banded together to hunt and kill Skrulls.

We now learn how the SKK manage to identify the new Super-Skrulls when they throw She-Thing's Skrull head on the barbecue. Eating the flesh of the new Skrulls made them detectable too!

Last issue the Initiative trainees joined the Young Avengers fighting Super-Skrulls in Times Square. Secret Invasion #3 showed that didn't go well, and now we see the heroes beaten and a replay of the execution of trainee Proton from SI#3. We also see here that trainee Crusader (secretly a friendly Skrull) is still conscious. He's been fighting his own kind but is now faced with a dilemma for his conscience. He could save his own life by revealing himself as a Skrull sleeper agent and pretend to still be loyal.

But his thoughts are interrupted by the arrival (as seen on the last page of SI#3) of Nick Fury and his new Howling Commandos (who will later be known as his Secret Warriors). Fury recognises Crusader from Captain America's report on the Titannus affair, and tells him to join them. Crusader is inspired to resume his fight for his adopted planet.

Now we see the SKK in Phoenix watching the Arizona Initiative team the Desert Stars (Two-Gun Kid leading Blacksmith, Johnny Cool, Komodo and Supermax) helping with the power crisis after the loss of StarkTech. Delroy identifies Blacksmith as a Skrull. (I thought the other 2 could detect Super-Skrulls because they'd eaten their flesh?)

They attack. Komodo is confused because she was a trainee with 3-D Man. But Blacksmith shapeshifts to his Super-Skrull form and she rallies the rest of her team to fight him. The Skrull holds his own against them all, including chopping off 1 of Komodo's arms. But she immediately starts to regenerate it and leaps back into the fray. Then Delroy shoots the Skrull through Komodo's body, careful not to damage any of her vital organs.

As Melati Kusuma regenerates from that too, Riot interrogates the incapacitated foe as to how many Skrulls are in the Initiative. She threatens him with a Skrull torture device, but he's only too willing to gloat that there's 1 on each team. Then Heidi Sladkin kills him.

The other Desert Stars are all alive, but unconscious apart from Komodo. She says she wants to go with the Krew, and she wants them to go Las Vegas to deal with the Nevada team next, because that's where her boyfriend Hardball is.

Lastly back to Camp Hammond where Ant-Man sees Yellowjacket welcoming loads of Skrulls to what will now be their central command. But YJ himself is going to NY.

Stefano Caselli
Stefano Caselli
Luca Malisan
Mark Brooks (Cover Penciler)
Mark Brooks (Cover Inker)
Christina Strain (Cover Colorist)


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)
War Machine
War Machine

(James Rhodes)

> Avengers: The Initiative: Book info and issue index

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