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Avengers: The Initiative #18: Review

Oct 2008
Dan Slott, Steve Kurth

Story Name:

Don't shoot 'til you see the green of their eyes

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers: The Initiative #18 Review by (November 1, 2016)
Steve Kurth has replaced Stefano Caselli as the penciller alternating with Harvey Tolibao, but only for this and #20. After that it's a whole new ball game.

The Negative Zone scheme is an upscaling of Tony Stark's unused last ditch plan to send Manhattan to the Zone in World War Hulk. But he entrusted it to (Skrull-)Dugan.

When Nick Fury leads his team to battle I can also see Phobos, Quake and Stonewall of his Secret Warriors. Other figures are less identifiable.

There are several Initiative teams seen here:-

We saw Freedom Force before in #12 when Cloud 9 graduated from training and joined them. They'll be back in later issues:- Cloud 9 alone in #22-23 and with the rest of the team in #28 (with the real Equinox, but without Spinner who will die next issue).

The Order of course had their own series, at the end of which they were reduced to these 4 plus Veda (who is still around in other appearances). They'll all show up in Fear Itself: Youth In Revolt, along with lots of other Initiative members.

The Cavalry haven't actually been seen before. Stunt-Master is an old Daredevil villain. Another member is Crimebuster seen in 1 panel during Dugan's broadcast. He was a rival of the original Heroes For Hire without their conscience. Neither will be seen again as team members in this series. The real Thor Girl will return from Skrull captivity in #20 but not to the Cavalry. Red 9 will graduate and join Ultragirl in #21. Then everybody including Thor Girl but not Crimebuster will have a reunion in FI:YIR.

Action Pack were in #7. They are only seen here during Dugan's broadcast, but the Krew will reach them next issue where Frog-Man will turn out to be the ringer. That's it until FI:YIR where the real Frog-Man will be among them.

We met the Liberteens in the Annual. There we learned that Revolutionary was a Skrull, and we 1st heard of the plan to have an infiltrator in every Initiative team. The team except Revolutionary (obviously) and Whiz Kid (who will also die next issue) will also be in FI:YIR.


Next issue will wrap up the Secret Invasion storyline.

4 of the 6 teams will deal with their Skrull:- Ryder and Cloud 9 will kill Arkansas Battalion's Razorback with Tigra's help. Moonstomp and Hardball take on Kentucky Action Pack's Frog-Man with Prima Donna and Vox. Catwalk and Gravity help Wisconsin's Great Lakes Initiative (ex-GLA(vengers)) deal with Grasshopper. Riot and Komodo help Aquarian and Jennifer Kale kill Florida Command's Conquistador who's shape-shifted to Devil Dinosaur.

But in Washington Dice and Jocasta qill face failure as a crowd who believe the Skrulls are mankind's saviours mob them, and the Skrull Earth Force member Skyhawk triggers something which rips robot Jocasta apart. Then he activates the Neg Zone device.

And the last target is the Rangers Initiative team in Texas where the Skrull infiltrator turns out to be Red Wolf's wolf Lobo. 3-D Man will go there with Ant-Man. They and the team (Firebird, Living Lightning, Phantom Rider, Shooting Star and Texas Twister) kill the Skrull, but Skrull agitators set the suspicious crowd on them. 3-D Man's goggles get broken so he can't tell who's a Skrull.

Meanwhile in Central Park the big battle has begun. We see Initiative members Crusader, Gauntlet and Taskmaster.

And Nonstop, Spinner and Whiz Kid are racing round destroying the Skrull 'bombs' in 'safe' Initiative team HQ's. Nonstop wants to blow up the whole New Mexico Mavericks' base, but the Chandlers are talking to 3-D Man and convince him that his tri-force energy means he doesn't *need* the goggles. He finds the ability within himself to see Skrulls, and picks off the agitators.

In Manhattan the war is over. Crusader sees Skrull-Yellowjacket leave the battle site with superspeed. He uses his Freedom Ring to give *himself* superspeed and follows. Spinner reaches the Hawaii Initiative base just as *her* superspeed runs out and switches to another power. Skrulls land to activate the Neg Zone portal. Spinner activates the bomb she's carrying, hoping for invulnerability this time - it isn't. But a Skrull survives long enough to switch on the NZ device. YJ reaches Camp Hammond to tell Skrull-Dugan all is lost. But Dugan says they still have active Neg Zone portals in 2 team bases (1 belongs to Earth Force in Washington) plus the 1 here at Initiative HQ - just enough to unleash their doomsday weapon that will destroy the Earth. Crusader arrives and attacks YJ. The SKK plus the Texas Rangers Initiative team arrive via Neg Zone jump gate. Dugan throws a gas bomb lethal to humans - Whiz Kid disperses it but dies. The Krew attack the Skrulls. Crusader kills YJ. But then 3-D Man kills *him* because he's really a Skrull. But as he's dying Crusader wishes it could have ended differently. The Freedom Ring hears him and he disappears. (But we've never seen him again.)




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: The Initiative #18 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The Skrull Kill Krew are travelling around the US visiting the Initiative team of each State and killing the Skrull infiltrator in each 1. Along the way original members Riot and Ryder have picked up Initiative members Gravity, Hardball, Jocasta, Komodo, Nonstop and 3-D Man.

They are currently in Montana with Freedom Force, and they've exposed Equinox as a Skrull. Hardball, Riot and Ryder are encased in ice while Jocasta and Komodo are burning. Fellow member Spinner is confused, Challenger is unconscious and the globe around Think Tank's brain is broken. Gravity flies him to hospital while Delroy Garrett gets Spinner to concentrate and asks what her power is today - she cycles through a set of possibilities each day, and today's power is speed.

Spinner attacks her 'team-mate' with a flurry of blows and Nonstop joins in, but the Skrull shrugs them off. Robot Jocasta shrugs off the flames and frees the 3 in ice, but Equinox seems to be winning. But then a gun pokes out of a cloud and shoots him in the head. It's the other Freedom Force member Cloud 9, who's much hardened since her trainee days. Ryder immediately co-opts her into the Krew.

They are using Initiative member Devil-Slayer's cloak as transport to teleport them and their vehicles to each new destination. But they've obviously used him to visit many sites already, and 'porting so much so frequently is taking a toll on both cloak and man.

Skrull-Dum Dum Dugan demands that his underlings at Camp Hammond, the new Skrull Central Command, find a way to predict where the Krew will strike next. This is difficult because DS's cloak is magic, and all the Skrull sorcerers are busy in England (Captain Britain & MI13 #1-4). But they've been analysing the energy signature in order to recognise it before the Krew reach their target. 1 more example should give them enough data. Dugan puts a strike force on alert.

Ant-Man (Eric O'Grady) overhears this and prepares to hitch a ride with that force. He has information that he wants to pass on to active heroes.

Dugan also initiates another move against the Krew. He broadcasts a message to all the Initiative teams telling the Skrull sleeper agents to reveal themselves. If nothing else this will sow distrust amongst the teams, especially Tony Stark's hand-picked Order in California which actually has no Skrull agent. We see them as well as Georgia's Cavalry and Kentucky's Action Pack.

The next attack is in Philadelphia but Dugan holds the strike force back because this time is still to late. The Krew attack Revolutionary, leader of the Pennsylvania's Liberteens. He's already attacked his own team, and the only 2 still standing are Hope and Whiz Kid. Gravity kills him by dropping Hope's diamond-hard form onto him with greatly-increased mass. The Krew take Whiz Kid with them, leaving Hope to tend to the wounded.

Elsewhere in his safehouse under Manhattan Nick Fury and his team have heard the message too. Initiative trainee Prodigy is suspicious of the Young Avengers' half-Skrull Hulkling. Stature, Initiative trainee and ex-YAer, leaps to Teddy's defence. And his boyfriend Wiccan recalls that Prodigy was anti-Registration during Civil War, and now he's 'changed his mind' and joined the government's supergroup.

Initiative trainee Crusader points out that this is how the Skrulls have conquered 100's of planets. (He knows because he's secretly a Skrull himself, but on our side.) But he says they've all been in battle together in Times Square (Secret Invasion #3-4) so they know they can trust each other. Fury commends his speech and takes them (and others) back into battle again.

The next stop for the SKK is Georgia, but Dugan's Skrulls detect their teleportation and the strike force are on their way. The Skrull here has struck too. The Krew find Stunt-Master in the rubble of the Cavalry's HQ caused by a fight between Thor Girl and Ultragirl. But SM doesn't know which is a Skrull, and they're now too high in the sky for the limited range of 3-D Man's goggles to work.

The Skrull strike force arrives. Ant-Man hangs back with the rationalisation that it's no use getting killed before he can deliver his info.

Cloud 9 tells the others to defend against the Skrulls while she sorts out the 2 supergirls. She thinks back to what she knows about them from her time with them as trainees. But she can't find a definite clue. So she shoots them both with a big gun, hoping that the real human will survive. They crash to Earth and Thor Girl Skrulls out. 3-D Man grabs her dropped hammer and hits her with it as Gravity makes it super-heavy. Exit Skrull-Thor Girl.

The Krew prepare to 'port out, but recovered Ultragirl elects to remain to protect Atlanta. Ant-Man hitches another ride and they land on top of Washington's head on Mount Rushmore. Komodo spots him but 3-D Man verifies he's not a Skrull.

Eric's news is that the Skrulls have a backup plan for if they lose the war. The Initiative team bases all have portals to the Negative Zone which they could use (when Starktech was working) to travel to Camp Hammond or other teams' sites. But Skrull-Henry Pym arranged for devices to be attached to these portals. It would only take 3 of these to be triggered to send the US into the Zone. And the loss of mass would also alter Earth's orbit.

They need to finish off the remaining Initiative teams as quickly as possible. There are only 6 left (and the Order isn't 1 of them next issue, so they must already know there are no Skrulls there), but they only have 3 people capable of detecting the Skrull infiltrators. (Surely this isn't a problem if the sleepers have all been awoken?)

Then Ryder reveals a secret. The 3 other original SKK members aren't actually dead. The original Krew are all dying from the Skrull infection that gives them their powers. The disease progressed faster in Catwalk, Dice and Moonstomp, but their heads are in cryo-stasis in the Krew truck.

Ryder brings out the heads-in-bottles and wakes them up. This mission will likely kill them.. He mixes up a Skrull meat smoothie to feed them. (The Krew could detect ordinary shape-shifted Skrulls. But the new breed have been made super-undetectable. The Krew have to eat meat from this new type in order to detect them. So the heads need this.) There are now 6 Skrull-detectors to go on separate missions to the last 6 sites.

Ryder turns to the 3 speedsters Nonstop, Spinner and Whiz-Kid. (Spinner obviously still has the power-of-the-day and she must have joined them at some point.) He wants them to race around the country blowing up the devices in the Initiative sites that they've already de-Skrulled. Because they could still be used by other Skrulls.

Ryder splits the group up and Devil-Slayer sends them all on their ways. Then he coughs blood and collapses.



Steve Kurth
Drew Hennessy
Matt Milla
Mark Brooks (Cover Penciler)
Mark Brooks (Cover Inker)
Mark Brooks (Cover Colorist)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

3-D Man
3-D Man

(Chuck Chandler / Hal Chandler)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Wiccan (Asgardian).

> Avengers: The Initiative: Book info and issue index

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