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Avengers: The Initiative #3: Review

Jun 2007
Dan Slott, Stefano Caselli

Story Name:

Bug hunt

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers: The Initiative #3 Review by (June 2, 2015)
Dani Moonstar was a founder member of the New Mutants. In her and their 1st appearance in Marvel Graphic Novel #4 we learned that a Demon Bear killed her parents. That Demon Bear was defeated in NM#17-20 (and her parents turned out to be alive inside it, sort of). Another version/incarnation of the Demon Bear turned up briefly in X-Force #99. Yet another(?) version will menace Warpath in X-Force (2008) #8-10. It will also run through most of the Uncanny X-Force (2013) series. Thing mentions that Justice was in the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation with him. This happened in Thing (1983) #26-32 during Vance Astrovik's youthful career as Marvel Boy. She-Hulk was depowered by SPIN in her #18 after she discovered how Iron Man and the Illuminati sent her cousin Hulk into space (and the Planet Hulk storyline). But she almost immediately has them restored temporarily by Amadeus Cho in Hulk #106. Then Tony Stark will return her powers so she can fight in the imminent World War Hulk. The take them away again until Jen sues him for their return in SHu#20. Tony Stark gave Peter Parker the Iron Spider armour in Amazing Spider-Man #529 while they were pals in New Avengers. Spidey continued to support Stark over Registration, even revealing his secret identity to the world Civil War #2. But he switched sides and reverted to his original costume in CW#6. Post-CW as an unregistered hero Spider-Man has switched to a (non-symbiote) black costume in the 'Back In Black' era, including his recent appearances in New Avengers. The Scarlet Spiders will turn out to be clones of the dead MVP. Not to be confused with any of the other people who have used or will use the Scarlet Spider name.

The Sinister Syndicate debuted in ASM#280 and were recurring Spidey Foes, especially in the Deadly Foes of Spider-Man mini-series. Other members were Beetle, Rhino and Speed Demon, but since then Beetle and Speed Demon joined the Thunderbolts. However by now that version of Thunderbolts has disbanded. Beetle has remained reformed, but Speed Demon (and Rhino) would have been available to rejoin the old gang. The mystery man is Senator Arthur Woodman who will be revealed to be a member of the Commission on Superhuman Activities but also a secret Hydra agent. The Marvel Chronology Project puts several relevant comics in the gap between the start and finish of the issue. In New Warriors #4 some police detectives visit Yellowjacket to reverse the effects of a shrinking ray, and then Cloud 9, Hardball, Komodo and Thor Girl fight NW's foes Zodiac. Then War Machine and YJ are seen in Fanatastic Four #547 when Reed Richards comes for YJ's biochemistry help in FF#547-549.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: The Initiative #3 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The issue begins on a flight back to Camp Hammond from Washington DC where the Campers ended last issue being commended for saving the President from Hydra. We see Cloud 9, Gargoyle, (the fake) Hulkling, Justice, Wonder Man and a silhouette who is probably Thor Girl flying under their own power. Meanwhile inside a plane Hardball is seated next to Komodo.

Hardball worries that Justice suspects the trainees know what happened to MVP (and were ordered to keep quiet about in #1). But when he turns back to his sleeping companion he finds she's transformed to an ordinary-looking girl. His surprise awakens her. She reverts immediately to her lizard form, angry that he's seen her human version.

Gauntlet and Yellowjacket interrupt the spat. Komodo complains that Hardball has seen her secret identity. But HB assures her she's nobody he recognises.

Meanwhile in Camp Hammond Subbasement 9 Henry Gyrich has introduced Trauma to the guest that Beast has brought to train him in controlling his power. She is ex-mutant Dani Moonstar, who like him used to manifest people's fears. She believes she can teach him how to use his power productively.

But Trauma only wants to learn control so he can stop his power from activating at all. Beast wants him to see his power as a gift, but Terrance reacts by showing Henry McCoy the human he used to be and asks the furry X-Man if he really wouldn't give up his mutant gift to return to that form.

Moonstar tries to intercede, but Trauma reacts by transforming into her nemesis the Demon Bear. But Dani overcame this fear long ago, and she leaps onto the Bear's back and gets it in a choke hold until Trauma returns to human. And he agrees to take her as his personal mentor. (He seems to stop training with the others.)

Sometime later drill-sergeant Gauntlet downplays his trainees' success against Hydra, and insists they've still got a lot to learn. (We see Rage and Slapstick alongside our focus group Cloud 9, Hardball and Komodo.)

What follows is a montage of individual training sessions probably spread over several days. We see Hellcat teaching Komodo resuscitation techniques, Black Widow teaching Cloud 9 to shoot and Stingray showing Hardball how to save someone from drowning.

Then Justice introduces the class to Thing as an example of a Class 100 opponent. The whole mob gets to try to defeat him. Bengal, Scorpion (Carmilla Black) and Triathlon are included in the mix. But Ben Grimm is basically just an immovable object who wears them all down.

Yellowjacket is watching the proceedings with Dr Curt Connors. Henry Pym has called Connors here to discuss Komodo. She (Melati Kusuma) was a student of Curt's who stole his lizard-transformation formula and improved it. As such she is in control of her lizard form, which Connors never was. Hank says he's going to send Komodo on an active mission, but won't tell Curt what it is.

After the Thing session Justice gives the students the night off. Hardball tries to persuade Cloud 9 and Komodo to come into town with him. But Cloud 9 has a counselling session scheduled. And YJ tells Komodo to report for a briefing with War Machine.

WM and YJ tell Komodo that her performance against Hydra last week was impressive, so they've got a job for her. YJ reminds her of the inhibitor collars that are used when capturing unregistered superpeople. The collars use neural feedback to prevent the person using their superpower. Now Pym tells her of a development that she must keep secret. He and SHIELD have upgraded this tech to Super-Power-Inhibiting Nanobots - SPIN tech. Fired in adamantium darts this removes superpowers completely.

YJ also says they've had their 1st live test successfully against She-Hulk. She used to be an Initiative instructor, but Pym says she's now turned against them. Komodo is unfazed by this, and wants to know who her target will be.

Cut to black-suited Spider-Man in Manhattan foiling an auction house robbery by Boomerang, Hydro-Man and Shocker. Spidey jokes that this will be too easy without the rest of the Sinister Syndicate. But the battle is observed by an invisible figure refering to himself as Red Team 1, and reporting to War Machine who flies there accompanied by Komodo on a 1-person skysled.

(We learn that the SPIN bullets are DNA-locked to their intended target, so Komodo shouldn't worry if she accidentally shoots herself or the wrong person. But don't waste them because they cost half a million dollars each.)

Meanwhile Hardball (sporting his eyemask as per regulations) goes into a bar in Stamford expecting impressed locals to buy him drinks. But 1st they mistake him for Speedball, and even after that's cleared up they still hate all superheroes for what the New Warriors did to their town before Civil War.

But a mysterious stranger who followed HB in defuses the situation and offers to but him 1 drink before he leaves. He orders a soft drink for our hero because he knows HB's not quite 21 yet. He also knows HB's name Roger Brokeridge and how he got his powers And he expects this to be enough to convince HB to bring him info about SPIN tech.

Back in New York War Machine targets the burglars while Komodo goes after the unlicensed Spider-Man. Who uses a web line to pull her skycraft into a collison with WM. The bad guys use the opportunity to escape, but James Rhodes just orders Red Team to pursue them.

Rhodey and Komodo concentrate on Spidey, who complains about them prioritising capturing him over real criminals. But WM tells him that their weapons are designed to take his powers away. But don't worry, the world won't be without a Spider-Man.

The 3 robbers think they've got away. But Red Team switch off their stealth mode to reveal 3 people in the red Iron Spider armour that Tony Stark gave Peter Parker before Civil War. They're known as the Scarlet Spiders, and they get the job done off panel.

Meanwhile the real Spidey is holding his own against Komodo and War Machine, using his spider-sense to doge bullets and his web-stuff to gum up WM's works. But Komodo gets him pinned down and is about to stick him with a SPIN injector. SM holds her off while he brags about the much tougher villains he's triumphed over - and how the Initiative will punish her failure by taking her own power away.

This shocks Komodo so much that Spidey is able to escape. The distraught girl begs Rhodey not to take her power. Without it she's a nobody.

Stefano Caselli
Stefano Caselli
Daniele Rudoni
Jim Cheung (Cover Penciler)
John Dell (Cover Inker)
Justin Ponsor (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)

(Frederick Myers)

(Patsy Walker)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Jennifer Walters)

(Peter Parker)

(Ben Grimm)
War Machine
War Machine

(James Rhodes)

> Avengers: The Initiative: Book info and issue index

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