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Avengers: The Initiative #26: Review

Jul 2009
Christos N. Gage, Rafa Sandoval

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Up is down

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4 stars

Avengers: The Initiative #26 Review by (September 13, 2017)
It was a plot point in Secret Invasion that all 50 states had their own Initiative teams already, so the teams announced here are presumably replacements. But we never actually saw the previous Delaware. Maryland, Oregon or North Carolina teams.

Norman Osborn and Taskmaster were last in Thunderbolts #131. Since #25 Hood has taken his gang to Marvel Zombies 4 and Deadpool: Suicide Kings #4

Force of Nature were eco-warriors working for Project: Earth in the original New Warriors series. Sunstreak (II) is a new member of the team, replacing Firebrand (II) who replaced Firewall. Since NW#36 Aqueduct has been 1 of Crimson Cowl's Masters of Evil in Thunderbolts.

Psionex are also alumni of New Warriors, and Pretty Persuasions also went on from there to appear in Thunderbolts as part of Baron Zemo's army during Civil War.

The Women Warriors are new as a group here but Asp, Black Mamba and Diamondback have history together as BAD Girls Inc, and previously as members of the Serpent Society - all in the original Captain America series. Quicksand started out in Thor #392-393. Skein originated in the 1st Spider-Woman series as Gypsy Moth. They both met the other 3 in the Femizons group also in CA.
The BAD Girls were last together in the Giant-Size Avengers 1-shot. Since then BM went back to the Serpent Society in Amazing Spider-Man #552, Nova (2007) #19 and Wolverine (2003) #73, but DB has been a regular member of the Initiative. QS was last seen with PP in TB#108. Skein was also last in TB in #75 as a member of the team.

Cutthroat, Razorfist and Scorcher were all members of Hood's gang last issue. So were Brothers Grimm but they've been in Marvel Zombies 4 since then, along with other Hoodie Mandrill.

The 2nd bit of the story with Hood and the trainee group isn't flagged as a flashback but it must be so because in the Marvel Chronology Project timeline Hood loses his demonic powers in New Avengers #54 between the fb and the present.

Very few characters are in both the fb's and the current action. The UFoes make no apps in between. Taskmaster has a couple of fb's in later issues.
Hood is the busiest guy. He has his own mini-series Dark Reign: Hood #1-5 where he starts a relationship with Madame Masque and learns more about Dormammu (his source of power) while fighting a gang-war with the Controller. Norman Osborn sends him against the Punisher in early issues his 2009 series - Hood uses his demonic power to resurrect villains killed by Scourge and sends them after Punny. Then Parker Robbins attends 2 Cabal meetings in Mighty Av #24, between which he fights another gang war in DR: Mr Negative #1-3. After that Dormammu sends him to get the Eye of Agamotto off Dr Strange in NAv#51-54 where he loses his connection to Dormammu and his powers, and winds up in hospital. But he's well enough to have another Cabal meet in Dark Av #6, and try to recruit the new Enforcer in a tale in DR: Made Men.
The Brothers Grimm are in DR:Hood too.
NO is only in the fb. He's in Skull Kill Krew #2, Deadpool #10,12 and the DR: Lethal Legion series before DR: Hood.

U-Foes and Force of Nature will be back for #28, and the Women Warriors in #29. Psionex won't show until Siege #1.

Avengers Resistance will be back in #28, but Gauntlet, Justice, Rage and Tigra will help fight the Unspoken in MAv#30-31 1st.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: The Initiative #26 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In Charlotte, North Carolina Gauntlet, Justice, Tigra and Ultragirl of the Avengers Resistance are fighting the U-Foes (Ironclad, Vapor, Vector, X-Ray). Armed police wade in to help and try to arrest the New Warriors (as the authorities still refer to them to the public).

1 week ago Norman Osborn announced that he'd moved the Initiative training  camp from Camp Hammond to an old Hulkbuster base in the New Mexico desert, renamed Camp HAMMER. It would no longer be a danger to the public as it was in Stamford. (We see Taskmaster training Brothers Grimm, Mandrill, Razor-fist, Scorcher and Vampiro.)

Osborn also announces some replacement Initiative teams. Oregon gets the Force Of Nature (Aqueduct, Skybreaker, Sunstreak and Terraformer). For Maryland it's Psionex (Asylum, Coronary, Impulse, Mathemanic and Pretty Persuasions). Delaware has the Women Warriors (Asp, Black Mamba, Diamondback, Quicksand and Skein). And North Carolina's team is the U-Foes we've just seen.

Sally Floyd from Front Line points out that most of these are criminals, to which NO responds by listing Avengers who started out on the wrong side of the law:- Hawkeye, Black Widow, Quicksilver, Vision, Wonder Man. He believes *his* guys deserve a chance at redemption too. Sunstreak fought Skrulls in Secret Invasion (she was originally part of Morgan Stark's criminal team Stockpile in Iron Man #330-331, but joined the Initiative to avoid jail in our #13). He claims (falsely) that the U-Foes were respected scientists before their powers affected their minds - but the Initiative has cured them (they actually deliberately gave themselves superpowers for gain in Hulk #254). Diamondback was the partner of the original Captain America. Norman claims (possibly correctly according to Heroic Age: Villains) that Psionex were very early Registerers, and all the others have Registered under the Superhero Registration Act.

Finally he brings on another Initiative member Constrictor. Frank Schlichting has been in the organisation since #1 (and had been a reformed character for some time before that). He reveals that he lost his arms in the line of duty (against KIA in #10) and had them replaced by bionic versions. Off stage Taskmaster and Hood congratulate him for his performance, but Frank just wants a drink.

Back in the present Justice throws up a telekinetic shield and the team escape to a cloaked jet piloted by Night Thrasher. They were really a diversion while NT hacked into a bank (presumably the HQ of Bank Of America). He couldn't find any sign of the U-Foes doing the same yet, but he left a Trojan Horse to alert him if they did. He figures the target is just too tempting for the bad guys to ignore. Ultragirl isn't happy with them using such tactics but Tigra thinks the ends justify the means now that the bad guys have taken over.

Back in the fb in Camp HAMMER Taskmaster and the Hood are explaining to the trainee group we saw earlier (plus Cutthroat) how things are. The real training will be in how to continue their criminal activities while appearing to the public to be heroes. Eg bust drug dealers and then sell their goods.

But Hood calls forward Vampiro, who's not a vampire but just likes sucking people's blood until they die. (He's only previously appeared as 1 of the Larcenous Three in Nova (1999) #5.) Hood says his activities are drawing too much attention. Vampiro brazens it out until Hood turns into his demon form and tears him to pieces. (And as of this writing he's really dead.)

For the rest of the issue we return to the present. Donyell Taylor flies the Resistance back to their Chicago HQ in the Taylor Foundation Building where they find the rest of the team:- Debrii, Rage, Slapstick and the last of the Scarlet Spiders. Rage and Thrasher get into an argument over tactics because Rage thinks they should all have gone and beaten up the 'heroes'. The others try to keep them apart until Gauntlet draws their attention to a news report about them.

The news includes an interview with Gauntlet's wife. Althea Green says Sgt Green abandoned his family, and she wants nothing more to do with him. But Joe says that's what he *told* her to say to keep her out of trouble.

In Camp HAMMER Trauma continues to counsel Penance. He expresses his worries to Taskmaster:- Robbie Baldwin meeds more serious medical help. His treatment between Thunderbolts and here has left him with no memories, not even his name and family, except the guilt over the hundreds of deaths in the Stamford incident that caused Civil War. He's a time-bomb waiting to go off. TM repeats Osborn's orders to just keep Penance well enough to function as a weapon. He reminds him that Hood has promised to cure Terry Ward's mother of her psychological problem.

Terry Ward has his next session with Penance. He tries to convince his patient that he didn't kill the people at Stamford, the person he was fighting (Nitro) did. He wants him to stop dwelling on it, but Penance says that's the only thing in his head. Trauma tries to get him to remember something else. Penance says he can vaguely remember a group of good friends (the original New Warriors), but Terry isn't allowed to tell him about them.

Taskmaster meets with Hood and Baron Blitzschlag, the Initiative's resident Nazi mad scientist. Hood tells them that Prison 42 in the Negative Zone has been taken over by native aliens (by Blastaar and his followers in Guardians Of The Galaxy #8-10). The guards escaped and the prisoners joined the enemy. Osborn wants the situation resolved before they manage to get the gateway to Earth open. (The GOTG warned the Initiative in their #10 and the gate is now locked from this side.)

The Baron projects heavy casualties in an assault. TM says their new (villainous) recruits are tough but not suicidal. But Hood says he's got lots of expendables from both sides of the fence queueing up to join. Send them in to kill as many of the aliens as they can before they die. Then send in the main force to mop up.

Next day Taskmaster tells Komodo he's sending the Shadow Initiative to take Prison 42. He reminds her that her hated ex-boyfriend Hardball is a prisoner there and he's joined the enemy. So she's in, but she thinks the SI isn't big enough for the job. TM says he's expanded the group and shows her a roomful of super-characters.

We see ex-trainee Butterball gathering autographs. Vampiro's ex-partners Badd Axe and Firearms are there. Batwing and Bengal are the only other previous Shadow Initiative members. Ringer (2nd person to wear the suit, appeared only in villain groups starting with the Acts Of Vengeance crossover), Slaughter Boy (in Ghost Rider (1997) #51 he'd been thrown out of the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation for excessive violence) and Heavy Mettle (crimeboss Joe Manfredi's super-army from New Warriors (1999) #4&7) (Barracuda, Blackwing, Riot, Stronghold and Warbow)

In the last scene of the issue Tigra is starting her own tactic against Osborn's Initiative. She breaks into the bedroom of Percy Grimes (1 of the Brothers Grimm) and attacks him. She reminds him how Hood attacked *her* (New Avengers #35) and threatened her mother, and then showed a tape of it to his gang (including Grimes) to 'inspire' them. Greer Nelson says she's sent her mother out of the US so Hood's got nothing to hold over her now. She leaves the severely beaten Grimes with a message for the rest.

The expendable Shadow Initiative are sent into the Project 42 Negative Zone prison next issue and at least Firearms and Slaughter Boy don't survive. Butterball is a major player by providing an invulnerable distraction. So is ex-Initiative prisoner Hardball who hits the enemy from behind. And also his ex-lover Komodo who tames prisoner Dragon Man and turns him against the aliens. (We also learn the story of Dr Sax and Johnny Guitar who only previously appeared in Dazzler #20-21, and won't return because JG dies in the Neg Zone and DS sustains an injury which negates his power.)

Taskmaster will follow with Constrictor, Penance and Scorcher when all the hard work's done.

Trauma will counsel Johnny Guitar when he accidentally learns that the SI are being sent on a suicide mission, and it is JG who 'accidentally' wounds Dr Sax so he gets to stay home.

Cutthroat will be around when Barton Grimes brings his damaged brother Percy in.

Rafa Sandoval
Roger Martinez
Edgar Delgado
Matteo De Longis (Cover Penciler)
Matteo De Longis (Cover Inker)
Matteo De Longis (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Joe Caramagna.
Editor: Jeanine Schaefer.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Rachel Leighton)
Iron Patriot
Iron Patriot

(Norman Osborn)

(Greer Nelson)

Plus: Baron Blitzschlag (Wernher Von Blitzschlag), Batwing (James Santini), Bengal (Duc No Tranh), Brothers Grimm, Butterball (Emery Schaub), Debrii (Deborah Fields), Gauntlet, Justice (Vance Astrovik), Komodo (Melati Kusuma), Night Thrasher (Dwayne Taylor), Penance, Rage, Razor-Fist, Scarlet Spiders (Michael Van Patrick clones), Scorcher, Slapstick (Steve Harmon), Trauma, Ultragirl (Suzy Sherman).

> Avengers: The Initiative: Book info and issue index

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