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Avengers: The Initiative #2: Review

May 2007
Dan Slott, Stefano Caselli

Story Name:

Hero moment

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers: The Initiative #2 Review by (May 27, 2015)
A statue and inscription shows that Camp Hammond is named after Jim Hammond, the WWII Human Torch, the 1st of the Marvels. Hank Pym struck his wife Jan in Avengers #213 as part of a mental breakdown that got him expelled from the team. Pym (and others) created the Thor-clone Ragnarok for use in Civil War, where it killed Goliath (Bill Foster). His evil robot creation Ultron's most recent appearance was Mighty Avengers #1-6. Yellowjacket here is actually a Skrull. This issue is another example of how the Skrull replacements take on the personalities of their victims. Hank Pym's instability takes its toll on his Skrullpersonator, and MAv#17 will show that this is the 2nd Skrull to take YJ's role, as the 1st 1 went insane. The original Rangers team (Firebird, Phantom Rider, Red Wolf, Shooting Star and Texas Twister) debuted in Hulk #265. They were shown as the Texas Initiative team in Civil War #7 with new recruit Armadillo, a not-very-villainous supervillain and wrestler. They now also include Living Lightning. Armadillo seems to have kept a foot in both camps as he was shown in Hood's supervillain gathering in New Avengers #35 between Civil War and here. He won't be in the team when they reappear in our #19, and he'll be back to wrestling and villainy in Super-Villain Team-Up: MODOK's 11 - in #1 it says he was thrown off the Rangers team. Living Lightning was originally a foe then a member of Avengers West Coast. Since then he's continued heroing and was in the Resistance during Civil War.

Hulkling and Wiccan appear in this issue, but another Dan Slott comic She-Hulk (2005) #21 will reveal that inhabitants of Earth-A have been popping over on vacation to this Earth in the guise of their super-powered alternates. 2 of them are the alternate Hulkling and Wiccan who say that is was them who joined the Initiative, not the 'real' pair. Earth-A was an alternate Earth that featured in Fantastic Four #118 and #160-163. Gargoyle (Isaac Christians) is an old man inhabiting the body of a gargoyle. He was a long-time member of the Defenders. He's stopped being Gargoyle several times. The last time he became Gargoyle again was in Solo Avengers #20 courtesy of Cloud (no relation to Cloud 9). Nighthawk is a reformed member of the original Squadron Sinister who had a long stint in the Defenders (overlapping Gargoyle's tenure), including financing them. He fought on both sides (consecutively) in Civil War. Ultra Girl is a mutant Kree who was brought up as a human in her own mini-series. She was on the anti-Registration side during Civil War. Beast has a long history of taunting Henry Gyrich ever since the government agent's earliest appearances in Avengers #165-192. Danielle Moonstar had psychic powers as Mirage, including the ability to manifest a person's worst fear, originally uncontrollably like Trauma. She lost them during the Mutant Decimation after House of M.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: The Initiative #2 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Gauntlet is putting new recruits Cloud 9, Hardball, Komodo and Trauma through an assault course at Camp Hammond without the use of their powers (except Komodo can't turn her reptilian abilities off). Justice is watching, and is as usual unhappy about the slurs Gauntlet makes about his old team New Warriors. The world has forgotten all the good things they did, and now only remembers the last incarnation of the group as responsible for the destruction of Stamford, where the Camp is situated.

Justice asks Yellowjacket why trainee MVP hasn't been seen for days, but Henry Pym tells him it's classified. The 4 students know how Armory accidentally killed him last issue, which is why she was expelled after having her alien glove removed. Cloud 9 can't stop thinking about it, and it triggers Trauma to turn into a decaying image of the boy.

YJ sends Justice to calm the other kids down while he handles Trauma. But he orders Vance Astrovik not to ask them about MVP. Vance justifiably protests that he can't do his job as guidance counsellor if they aren't free to discuss everything with him.

When YJ berates Trauma for his action, the boy reminds him that he can't control his power. He detects that Hank too is scared of losing control, and manifests a battered image of Pym's ex-wife Jan (the Wasp) who Henry once beat up. Gauntlet has to hold YJ up while Justice pulls Trauma away.

Vance tells Trauma he'll get him some help to control his power. And demands that Gauntlet and YJ tell him what's going on. But Henry Pym has gone. Hank is in his quarters taking anxiety pills. He rings Jan Van Dyne, but hangs up when she answers, as he gets called down to the lab.

There he finds Henry Gyrich with Dr Von Blitzschlag. The doctor has been examining the body of MVP and found him to be a perfect physical specimen. Gyrich assumes it's due to the super-soldier serum his great-grandfather invented for the origin of Captain America. But Blitzschlag says there is no superpower here - the boy's physique was purely down to exercise.

The ex-Nazi doctor wants to use MVP's genetic material to create more perfect people. Pym objects, but Gyrich is ready to do anything to complete the 50-State Initiative program. Blitzschlag  bites back by reminding Pym of some of his own 'successes':- Ultron and the Thor-clone Ragnarok (whose broken body he has in storage). Their squabbling is interrupted by a call to arms.

A Hydra terror-carrier (their version of SHIELD's helicarrier) is attacking the President's ranch in Texas. The Texas Initiative team, the Rangers (Armadillo, Firebird, Living Lightning, Phantom Rider, Red Wolf, Shooting Star and Texas Twister), has responded. The Pres refuses to leave.

War Machine drafts flyers (Cloud 9, Gargoyle, Nighthawk, Thor Girl and Ultra Girl plus Hulkling and Wiccan (sort of), and also Ms Marvel and Wonder Man of the Mighty Avengers) to go with him on this mission. He issues Cloud 9 a pulse rifle, despite the fact that she's never fired a gun and doesn't want to. Hardball and Komodo complain about being left behind, so Gauntlet gives them (and himself) jet packs and they join the troop.

Before they leave Henry Pym hands James Rhodes a vibranium-shelled projectile, and Rhodey notes the payload it's designed for. Iron Man contacts Camp Hammond to tell them the SHIELD helicarrier is on the way to Texas, but won't be there for an hour.

The team flies through a portal to the Negative Zone. Rhodey points out the Neg Zone prison built during the Civil War. And then they exit through another portal to Texas. (Presumably these portals link all the State Initiative HQ's.)

They're immediately in a fire fight. Cloud 9 shoots down a Hydra fighter plane, until it hits her that she's just killed someone. Ultra Girl gets hit. Heavy hitters like Gauntlet and War Machine attack the terror-carrier directly but can't get through its forcefield. But their efforts drain power from the carrier, and Hydra decide to ram the President's residence.

War Machine fires the vibranium projectile which pierces the forcefield. Its payload turns out to be Yellowjacket himself. He lands on the carrier and goes extremely giant-sized. His weight disrupts its flight and they crash in an explosion in the desert.

But YJ escapes by riding the shockwave at subatomic size(?!).

Later at the White House the President gives him the Medal of Freedom, and commends the Initiative for their actions.

Back at base Henry Gyrich takes Trauma (real name Terrance Ward) down to a secret sub-basement. He needs Trauma to learn to control his power. To that end they've sent for a specialist from the mutant community. Beast has come along as bodyguard (and for the chance to annoy his old sparring partner). We don't get to see Trauma's tutor yet, but she's a mutant who lost her powers on M-Day.

Stefano Caselli
Stefano Caselli
Daniele Rudoni
Jim Cheung (Cover Penciler)
David Meikis (Cover Inker)
Justin Ponsor (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

War Machine
War Machine

(James Rhodes)

(Billy Kaplan)

> Avengers: The Initiative: Book info and issue index

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