For the past few years I have been one of the more vocal supporters of Avengers the Initiative. A series that came out of the Marvel Civil War. A few weeks ago the series that I love ended. I've decided to go back and read the series from the beginning to see if it how it's held up. I could do this in the Avengers group thread but since it doesn't get a lot of activity I'll just do it on the message board. I'll probably read anywhere from 1 to a few issues and night and hopefully post my thoughts and a brief synopsis fo the issue. Feel free to join in if you have read any of the issues or just want to throw your two cents in.

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So what are your thoughts on this tie-in? I think it's a good example of what Super Hero comics should be.

I'd agree wholeheartedly. Superheroes define themselves by what they do, rather than what they sit around talking about, and this 6-parter is more plot-driven than character-driven. Much like Morrison's JLA, which flung the characters from one tight spot to another with barely time to breath.

Reading it all at once, it was great to see how many narrative plates Gage and Slott kept spinning. 3D Man and his goggles, Crusader's lonely arc, the cowardly Ant-Man being trapped behind enemy lines. We also checked in with the 50's old-skool Skrull hunters and the less old-Skool Skrull Kill Krew, an impressively battle-ready Cloud 9, and Komodo's romance with Hardball. There's a lot going on in these 6 issues. Superhero comics are strange in that a good story starring a motley crew of D-listers like this can make their previously undistinguished appearances worthy of a second look. Didn't 3D Man used to be Triathlon in Busiek's Avengers? That mild and well-meaning character has come a long way since then. That's a hardened Skrull killer that pulls the trigger on Crusader at the end.

It's great the way that mixing a 90's D-lister with a couple of 50's D-listers in an organic story-driven way gives them both more depth and texture. For all that, 3D Man is just as much a loner as Crusader, underlining why he never really fit into the Avengers in the first place.

It's not just that more superhero comics should be like this, but more superhero comics should be such a celebration of the genre as this! It's great how all these super guys from different decades work so well together in one story without them all coming across as having similar personalities. The best example of heroes remaining true to their original conception was the portrayal of the Skrull Kill Krew. They remain just as chaotic, iconoclastic and non-family friendly as when Morrison and Millar created them. They bring a lot to the party just when it's settling down into a particular type of story. They are hilarious. SKRULL-#&%*ERS indeed!

I also love how good writers make continuity work for them, rather than pushing against it or riding over it. Obviously introducing 5 more characters into an already crowded cast would be pushing it, but Slott and Gage have done their homework. As it turns out, when we last left the Skrull Kill Krew, they were dying from an exotic comicbook variant of Mad Cow Disease anyway, so that whittles down their numbers without bending anything out of shape. All in all, this is a great send off for these neglected 90's trailblazers, and it's a the logical culmination of their story rather than just tacked on superhero universe housekeeping.

Slott and Gage made sure they included minor heroes whose stories dovetailed naturally with the story of the Skrull Invasion. (Over in Young Avengers/Runaways: Secret Invasion, Hulkling and Xavin’s encounter with the Skrulls just kind of highlighted how similar a lot of elements of their stories are…)

The way tension was built up here was great. First with counting down through the infiltrators in 50 states, and then in nullifying the apocalypse device.

I'm not sure how well Secret Invasion would have sold if it was headlined by 3D Man and Crusader.

That's the rub. The writers could do a lot more with these characters, and handpicked the ones whose stories tied into the Invasion and their fates were very much in the hands of events, which added to the tension.

I think there is something broken about the comics publishing model, that Bendis seven-parter sold more than this. This is by far the better superhero story.

All in all, a very enjoyable tie-in indeed.

In fact, I'm thinking of starting a seperate Skrull-bashing thread to look at the original Skrull Kill Krew series and a couple of other Secret Invasion tie-ins that I've been meaning to read. It seems that most of them aren't as bad as Bendis' central plank.

plank (n) - piece of wood, lifeless, mechanically produced to order, without artistic merit...
The advantage of using *minor* heroes is the freedom from tedious continuity and the chance to do something outside the norm without serious commercial reprecussions.

Yes the 3-D Man (II) is the Avengers' Triathalon, a far cry from the token black guy/far out religious group member/guy usually left behind. He is now appearing in the new "Atlas" series.

And the Skrulls have the whole "Galactus ate my homeworld" thing for REAL motivation!
And the Skrulls have the whole "Galactus ate my homeworld" thing for REAL motivation!

Did Reed Richards have anything to do with that? In which case the Skrulls could have had a half-baked excuse for the invasion.

As you point out, there is a LOT, tucked away in years of continuity, that could have been done with the Skrulls. They can't be ALL-bad, otherwise they wouldn't keep throwing up characters sympathetic to Earth, who take huge risks for humanity.

But Bendis wasn't interested in any of that.

They are bad so we shoot them in the head.

At least The Initiative ultimately showed that shooting our perceived foes in the head isn't always a good thing...
The Skrulls blame Reed for the destruction of their homeworld because he saved Galactus' life instead of allowing him to die. He was even put on trial for it in an intergalactic court and got acquitted during Bryne's excellent FF run. Thus Reed not on the Skrulls' Christmas card list and the true reason for the Secret Invasion!

BTW, everyone should get the SI handbook, "Skrulls". I just love those things!
BTW, everyone should get the SI handbook, "Skrulls". I just love those things!

I'd never heard of it until I looked up the Crusader yesterday. The Marvel Saga leading up to Secret Invasion was a fun read though. Great to see all those threads over many decades coming together.
I'm behind on reading. I picked up a bunch of new comics on Thursday and have been busy reading those. I hope to get back on track and read the next arc of the series.
No panic. I have only been able to get my hands on the first arc after Secret Invasion, so I'll be bailing after that anyway...
Avengers: The Initiative Featuring Reptil #1

Despite being set between issue 19 and 20, for some reason this story is placed at the end of the next Avengers: The Initiative collection.

It seems this one-shot about a hero no-one had ever heard of before was nessecitated because Reptil was due to appear in an upcoming episode of Marvel Super Hero Squad, and a toy of the character was already in the works.

It reminded me very much of issue 13 about Boulder/Butterball's experiences as a keen hero-in-training. In fact, as that issue was also written by Gage, there might be an element of treading water here too.

Like Boulder, Reptil has to learn that being a hero and doing what the Initiative demands are often two very different things.

I liked it that Gage picked up the little thread from the Heroes for Hire World War Hulk tie-ins where that team sold out their little buddy Moon-boy to the nasty gummint. Moon-boy and Devil Dinasaur deserve more respect than that! There's something right about a boy who can transform various parts of his body into dinasaur parts being let loose in the Savage Land.

All in all, though not a great leap forward for the series.

My copy of Avengers: The Initiative - Disassembled is now overdue at the library, so I'll rush down these last few posts on it before I give it back in.
Avengers: The Initiative #20

This is Slott's last issue on the Initiative, and he really doesn't go out with a bang. Like a good tenant at the end of his lease he spends the last month cleaning out the house, and sorting out the different properties that he is going to leave behind, send elsewhere, or take with him when he goes.

As with his rushed conclusion to She-Hulk, Slott uses the last issue to get a few ideas that he was hoping to use out there, even if he isn't able to work in a big build up or anything. In this case, he reveals the true identity of Mutant Zero in a rather cursory way. Turns out she's a character I have never read in a single comic, ever, although I know of her.

Looking around the internet I came across Slott's exit interview for issue 20. Anyone interested in the discussion we've been having will love it.

I think I argued that Slott knew that the Henry Pym in the early issues of this comic was a Skrull, and this interview confirms it. So it was significant that Pym escaped the first explosion in the same way that the Pym we knew as a Skrull escaped a later explosion. He said he shrank, but I think really he was simply replaced?

Anyway, here's Slott:

“This is a story I've wanted to do ever since Brian [Bendis] laid out 'Secret Invasion' and we knew Hank was going to be a Skrull,” Slott continued. “I said to Brian, 'Here's a story I'd love to do once the invasion is over. It's this and this.' And he went 'That's really good.' So I've had this in my pocket for some time. Before the first issue of ‘Initiative’ ever came out.'”

:-P

He also explains how the Slapstick/Gauntlet slapdown came about, but I'll let you read the interview yourselves.

It seems Slott has been laying the seeds in most of the MU comics he has written so far for a major storyline called the Reckoning War set in the future of the MU. Hopefully he'll get to mastermind that crossover some day, and I'd like to be there when he does.

Slott does thumb his nose up at a certain type of continuity -obsessed fan on his way out the door. Jocasta tells Hank that its time to say exactly when he was abducted by the Skrulls, and he says.... Actually we don't know what he says as we get a cut to another scene entirely. We do find out that it was after Hank infamously hit his wife, though.
Issues 21-25 - Disassembled



Humberto Ramos' art only emphasises that the Initiative is leaving subtlety behind for this phase of the story. The artist on issue 20 mightn't have been great, but he was more or less able to show human emotions and reactions on the faces of the characters. Ramos is a throwback to the bad old days of 90's X-men. Normally I'm OK with cartoony art - you can take superheroes too seriously, after all - but y'know '...bad 90s X-men comics!'



After a little set up in issue 20 we get the working out of Clor's rampage and the black ops team being stranded on the mission against Hydra. It does all seem a little mechanistic after the intensely character-driven action of the Slott issues. Lots of sound and fury, signifying very little. 

Poor Stamford gets a reprise of the Stamford Incident, showing that the PTB in the MU at this stage were stupid as well as short-sighted, mean-minded and practically criminal.

With Osbourne's appearance, the ideological arguments over Civil War become moot, but at least the writers can cease pretending that they are impartial. Disassembled is nothing if not a black parody of Bush's presidency. All we see of the PATRIOT act is its use by self-serving individuals to establish power over those that disagree with them. What about that image of the original Human Torch statue being pulled down by the rioting citizens of Stamford? Their belief that freedom is just around the corner is as delusional as the Iraqis in 2003. It's all very in your face at this stage.



My only problem is that Marvel only started being so obvious about its Bush satire after he was gone. I can see the pragmatism of it as his regime came down hard on any soft targets that questioned them, but it hardly reflects well on Marvel. Anyone can bell the cat once the damn thing is dead!


Having said that, better late than never!

I'm reading a lot of Dark Reign books at the moment and this book ties into the tapestry very well. Ultra-girl losing her 'upriding' costume is another aspect of Carol being fired as Ms Marvel, and Moonstone taking over. Nutso Osbourne bonding with Emo poster boy Penance is consistent with his relationship with the Sentry.

The Hood is still a petty nobody, which makes his bullying of Tigra and Trauma all the harder to take. But I can't really complain that a comic is getting a reaction out of me! I just hope the writers themselves don't think the Hood is anything more than a sad petty little bully. Most bad guys are, after all.

I'm reading a lot of Dark Reign books at the moment and this book ties into the tapestry very well.

 

The 'trouble' with my local library is that they get pretty much all the collections of the major superhero crossovers!  Thus I have been slowly working my way through most of the Dark Reign books over the last 6 months.  I spread it out because I am too much of an old-school fan to enjoy so much cynicism, negativity and occasionally plain rubbish in a concentrated dose.  The fanboy nerdist in me argues that Dark Reign was conceived and told as a line-wide story involving the whole MU, so I feel I have to read it as such.

 

I do have more to say on this, but I will keep it short here, as this isn't the place for the big Dark Reign/state of the MU discussion.  I mention it here, because I am reaching the end of my Dark Reign reading, and my library has recently added Avengers: The Initiative. Dreams & nightmares, containing issues 26-30 to it's burgeoning collection. The fanboy nerdist in me will have to read it before I move on to the Siege-branded books. 

 

I've enjoyed this thread immensely and since we've made an excellent start, I would like to talk about the winddown of the Initiative project here once I've read the final issues.  I know that the Initiative continues on into its own Seige storyline too.

 

Who's with me?  Jason?  Anyone? 

 

...Bueller?

 

I've read some of the post Secret Invasion issues and have been meaning to post. I'll get on it. We started out strong and should finish just as strong.

With that said. If you want to get things back on trqck figs, be my guest. I will join in. This week is going to be crazy for me. My brother is getting married next weekend and as the best man I've got my work cut out for me. I'm looking forward to finishing this project though. I apologize for dropping the ball.

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