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Avengers: The Initiative #9: Review

Jan 2008
Dan Slott, Stefano Caselli

Story Name:

Killed in action part 2: First casualties

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers: The Initiative #9 Review by (November 30, 2015)
Gauntlet is still in a coma here, despite the fact that he woke in #6 to mislead everyone about who put him in that state. But it must have only been temporary because Annual #1 told us he was back asleep. Gyrich was unhappy with Moonstar's treatment of Trauma in #5, but it seems it's taken him until now to actually fire her. She and Beast will now return to their X-teams. This Thor Girl is really a Skrull substitute. But the question of her continuing power still applies to the real TG when she returns. However since Tarene was actually a super-alien who transformed herself into an 'Asgardian' she probably wasn't affected when Asgard and the Asgardians were destroyed. We will learn in #12 that Trauma truly dies here. The Annual showed us the battle between the 2 aliens, and their weapons falling to Earth. We were only directly told that Gauntlet's gauntlet and sword belonged to 1 of them. It was only hinted that the Tactigon belonged to the other. But this issue and next will remove any doubt.

It will become clear in #10 that the gauntlet is controlling Joe Green's body. But I won't be doing #10 because it doesn't fit into any of our Libraries, so I'll briefly describe it here. There's a flashback to an untold tale where Slapstick and Ultragirl help the New Warriors against a Badoon invasion. They're made members and given communicators. We see the beginning of the relationship between UG and Justice. 3 days ago Slapstick is with fellow ex-NWers UG, Debrii and Rage. He almost confesses to attacking Gauntlet when his NW communicator goes off, hidden from Initiative security in his 'infinite pocket'. Justice asks them to join him at a location in Tennessee. Now Cloud 9 comes looking for help and can only find Hardball and Komodo. KIA goes after Gyrich, who calls the Shadow Initiative (Bengal, Constrictor, Mutant Zero and the Scarlet Spiders) to defend him. Most of the trainees are still alive. Ant-Man wakes, but he and Taskmaster decide to ignore Gyrich. KIA rips Constrictor's hands off and beheads 1 of the Spiders. Mutant Zero makes Gyrich invisible, so KIA goes after Gauntlet. Joe Green's body has been brought out of his coma by his gauntlet which sensed the activity of its enemy the Tactigon. Their fight spills outside where KIA also faces Cloud 9's gang (now including Gargoyle, Hellcat, Nighthawk, Stature, Stingray and Triathlon) and the 2 angry Spiders. Von Blitzschlag discovers that KIA has destroyed the other clones he had ready. He activates his now-feeble electric power and gives Cloud 9 a device which will overwrite KIA's brain patterns with those of a stable clone. They can't use the Spiders because they have some of Von B's DNA. They'll have to find the clone posing as the real Michael. Hardball and a wounded Komodo join them. The 3 trainees use a tracker Von B has to find Michael (who went missing in #7). But when they do they also find Justice and the other ex-NWers.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: The Initiative #9 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
An MVP clone is stalking through Camp Hammond's Subbasement 9, shooting people with Armory's Tactigon. Now he sets his sights on insect-sized Yellowjacket, announcing that he's on his list. He blasts YJ and declares him 'killed in action' (which connects with the KIA cut into his bare chest). Then he reverses his route back to a room full of downed trainees, and faces their trainer Taskmaster.

We now flashback to a training session earlier that day. The new bunch of recruits (Ant-Man (Eric O'Grady), Diamondback, Dragon Lord, Geiger, Geldoff (who's now been given the name Proton), Melee and Red 9) try unsuccessfully to defeat Taskmaster. All except Crusader who sits it out because he figures it's not possible. TM commends him as the only 1 with any brains.

Actually Crusader is secretly a Skrull, but unlike the rest of his race he's on Earth's side. And the Freedom Ring he wears would enable him to easily beat Taskmaster, but he wants to keep that secret too.

TM explains the point of the exercise was for him to determine the extent of their individual abilities before designing their combat simulators.

Cloud 9 and Trauma are in the Infirmary, deserted apart from Gauntlet in a coma. She's hurting over having killed a Hydra agent (#2), and he's practising his psychotherapy. He lets her see an image of the agent so she can confess to him personally.

Beast and Dani Moonstar are watching. Dani thinks her work training Trauma is now complete. Henry Peter Gyrich is throwing her off the base in disgust because she's turned his potential superweapon into a healer.

Thor Girl approaches and bows to Moonstar as a Valkyrie, despite Dani saying she no longer is 1. She lost that attribute when the old version of Asgard fell (during Avengers Disassembled). She has no connection to the recent new Thor and Asgard. Beast wonders why Tarene didn't lose her power too. Thor Girl doesn't know why either.

Tarene actually came to see Trauma. She has a crush on him after he took on the likeness of Thor (#5).

In Subbasement 5 HPG and Yellowjacket are entering the Omega Weapons Cache to get the Tactigon. Since they threw Armory off the squad (#1) none of their soldiers have been able to make it work successfully (we saw 1 try in #5). Now they hope 1 of the MVP clones might do better.

In YJ's Subbasement 9 lab Baron Von Blitzschlag has decanted the latest MVP clone. There's already a sign of the instability that will soon manifest as this 1 stubbornly refuses to accept any name other than Michael Van Patrick. Blitzschlag tries to explain that already have 1 clone using that name, pretending to be the original with his family.

This new MVP has been programmed with all their recorded data on Armory and the Tactigon, as well as their info on Michael. But as soon as it bonds to his arm he goes berserk, knocking YJ and Blitzschlag aside. 1 thing that the scientists have excluded from MVP's programming is how the original died. But now the clone uses the Tactigon to access secure files, and sees his original being (accidentally) killed by Armory and the Tactigon in #1.

The clone at 1st refuses to believe that Michael is labelled KIA - he thought that he was the real Michael. But then he turns to anger at all those involved in the death. Unlike all the previous clones he won't accept the Baron as his 'father'. And his weapon stops Henry Pym from growing to giant-size. But YJ manages to escape insect-size.

Now the clone fully accepts his situation and his new mission. And he carves the initials KIA on his chest.

In the Combat Simulator Room in Subbasement 9 Taskmaster has given his students a scenario to play out. They have to keep some robots at bay to give Dragon Lord time to brew a potion. The exercise is interrupted by the clone busting through a wall into the room where he died.

The trainees attack, and the Tactigon responds. The effects are felt throughout the building.

In the Infirmary Thor Girl grabs Trauma and flies towards the battle with him. She tells 'weak' Cloud 9 to go find reinforcements. Trauma protests that he's not an action hero like Tarene. But she won't believe him - she saw him defeat Korg and stand up to the Hulk during World War Hulk (in #5). (Actually he frightened off the 'Stone Man From Saturn' by appearing as Thor - to Korg's race Thor has achieved the status of a mythical demon. And his (unsuccessful) tactics against Hulk were as much psychological as physical.)

In the War Room Gyrich refuses to ask for help from Tony Stark or the Avengers.

In the Simulator the students are lying around dead or unconscious. Except Crusader (again) who's nursing a severed hand. MVP tells Taskmaster off for allowing his untrained trainees into a real fight. Then he ignores him in favour of tracking Yellowjacket - who's 'on his list'. And catches up with him as seen in the opening scene.

Next he comes across Thor Girl and Trauma. Astonished Trauma recognises him as MVP, who he knows is dead. The clone recognises him as the person who caused Armory to fire the shot that killed him - Trauma is on his list. Thor Girl steps between them with a 'you'll have to go through me 1st' speech. That's OK with MVP and he zaps her in the face.

Terrance Ward catches her as she falls. Sickened by her burnt head he attacks MVP, automatically becoming his foe's worst nightmare. Or in this case the Tactigon's nightmare. (As we learnt in the Annual the Tactigon is a weapon owned by an alien, who lost it during a fight with an enemy alien - that is the form Trauma attacks in.) But that doesn't stop the clone. The Tactigon morphs into a blade which pierces his enemy, and MVP declares Trauma KIA.

The clone now heads to the Infirmary to find Gauntlet, the instructor who organised the training session in which he died. But he finds the bed empty where the comatose Joe Green had been.

Joe also has a weapon fused to his arm - hence his codename. Gauntlet uses that to break into the Omega Weapons Cache. There he grabs the blade that was found with the gauntlet. But his eyes are rolled up in their sockets, and he's speaking an alien tongue.



Stefano Caselli
Stefano Caselli
Daniele Rudoni
Stefano Caselli (Cover Penciler)
Stefano Caselli (Cover Inker)
Stefano Caselli (Cover Colorist)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Hulk
Hulk

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)

Plus: Hildegarde (Hildegarde).

> Avengers: The Initiative: Book info and issue index

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