Well, I'll be ordering the collected 26-30 soon, and then the Siege finale after that, so there's no big rush for now. I'd be interested if anyone has anything to add to my short review of the Disassembled collection, especially as I might have sold it short with such a brief post on the final 5 issues of it.
I think you have already stated one of the reasons that the posts have dried up for the later books. To wit:
Jason Marconnet said on June 2, 2010 at 11:04pm:
... I recall the series slowly becoming more of a superhero tale and a look at the general goings on of the Marvel Universe and less of a social commentary on the happenings of our society and the society of the Marvel Universe
Slott did use his superhero tale to subtly comment on life out here, didn't he? And it made for much more interesting and enjoyable comics, IMHO. Would that more comics followed its lead.
Another reason for the drop in interest might be that those reading Avengers: the Initiative along wth this thread, lost interest when Gage took over from Slott. Just because Slott was a fine writer telling a fine story, doesn't mean that anyone had to stay on with the book a second after he left, sad as that may be for Gage and for Marvel (and for DC too!)
As for the wider readership, it looks like the numbers were falling when Slott left the book, and another chunk left with him. Nothing Gage did was able to halt this process. I dug up some sales figures for the lifetime of The Initiative, but I’m not sure they tell us much beyond the fickleness of modern fanboys and how jaded they quickly become. 92K for the initial issues is world-beating by today’s standards, but where were half of those readers when Slott was producing the best Secret Invasion tie-in, Alien Invasion story on the shelves?
06/07 Initiative #3 - 92,339
06/08 Initiative #14 - 62,236
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #19 SI - 52,558
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #20 DKR - 51,230
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #21 DKR - 47,734
06/09 Initiative #25 - 40,101 ( -5.7%)
07/09 Initiative #26 - 38,215 ( -4.7%)
08/09 Initiative #27 - 39,014 ( +2.1%)
09/09 Initiative #28 - 33,855 (-13.2%)
10/09 Initiative #29 - 31,412 ( -7.2%)
11/09 Initiative #30 - 28,688 ( -8.7%)
12/09 Initiative #31 - 32,291 (+12.6%)
01/10 Initiative #32 - 36,127 (+11.9%)
02/10 Initiative #33 - 39,968 (+10.6%)
03/10 Initiative #34 - 38,616 ( -3.4%)
05/10 Initiative #35 - 38,158 ( -1.2%)
Figs has been working on other reading projects and i've been doing well whatever it is I've been doing. I'm ready to get back on this project. With a new mini series coming out featuring many of the Initiative characters I figured it's time to finish strong.
Part of the problem I've let myself get overwhelmed with reading. I've got a lot of current comics that I still need to read that have just been sitting there. Also have a lot of trades I haven't touched. As well as a big batch of Spectacular Spider-man comics from ebay that have been patiently waiting for me since December. I have a short attention span and get distracted by other things.
I don't know where to start. I've got things going tonight and tomorrow night. So Thursday I plan on reading. I think I'll read where ever I left off with this project.
It'd be great to finish this series, seeing as it ended with #35, and there's only a collection or two to go.
I'll order Avengers : the initiative. Dreams & nightmares from the library and I should have it by the time you get through A:I Dissassembled. I'll be interested to see what you think of Dissassembled, Jason, as I might have been a bit unfairly dismissive of it above.
Then Siege: Avengers - The Initiative is a touch problematic for me, as I haven't read any Siege at all, and it seems to be interspersed with that crossover, rather than being nicely separated from it, the way A:I Secret Invasion was. So it looks like I'm going to read Siege, and its relevant tie-ins, in all its crossover glory.
I've been working my way through Dark Reign for the last year or so, and I'm ready to read Siege now. I guess I was saving the last Initiative Dark Reign collection for when you got back to it. From my research, especially on this link, I'll have to order and read the Siege-branded collections of New Avengers, Thor, and Dark Avengers along with the main Siege TPB.
Maybe it's crazy but I've got to try!!!!
Sadly the only Siege tie-in that my library doesn't have is Siege: Avengers: The Initiative, but in honour of the enjoyment I've got out of this thread so far, I'll pay my own hard-earned casheroo for that one, if I can find it.
It's a lot of reading, but I don't anticipate that Siege has much to offer beyond being a huge multi-title crossover, so I might as well experience it as such.
Having said all that, it occurs to me that some of the previous posters on this thread mightn't be keen on getting involved with a tie-in to a big cynical old crossover like Siege. Am I right, guys?
And don't worry, Jason if you don't have as much to say about the later issues in this series. I've found on other threads that most of the discussion tends to be concentrated at the start of interesting runs. For a variety of reasons. Early parts of a series tend to set up mysteries and puzzles and there's more talk in discussing those than in discussing the closure that the writer provides to those narrative puzzles. Also, Slott was setting up something quite subtle and artistic at the start of the Initiative, but without disrespecting Gage, it looks like he is just servicing the various brands with monthly exposure, rather than telling a powerful over-arching story the way Slott was.
Ok I read a few issues finally. I read Initiative #20, Special featuring Reptil, and the Special.
I'll start with the Special. It takes place after the Secret Invasion. It's consequences are mentioned in #20. This issue is split in two stories. The first story is about two initiative teams battling Zzzax. The story ends up wraping up Hardball's Hydra ordeal. Hardball is confronted by Senator Woodman into stealing Dr. Curt Connors' regeneration formula. He does but is confronted by Komodo who realizes her boyfriend is a double agent. The deal goes down with Komodo ratting out Hardball. The Senator takes the formula, turns into a big monster, hilarity ensues. Just kidding about the last part, a big fight takes place. Hardball kills the Senator and leaves with Hydra as the leader of that particular Hydra cell. Part 2 is Trauma's backstory. It's revealed he is actually the son of Nightmare. The story ends with Nightmare visiting Trauma's mother who is in a mental institution. He wants to know about his son.
Thoughts on the Special: I liked this issue. I was excited about it coming out. Since the beginning of the series we had been promised back stories on the characters we had been introduced to in issue 1. We really didn't know how Trauma got his powers. His story is a sad one. He chose to join the Initiative to protect his family from himself. The featured story was quite good. Poor Komodo had found someone to open up to and that dirt bag Hardball broke her heart. C'mon we knew that the moment we figured out Hardball was feeding Hydra info that this wasn't going to end well. Stay tuned, these stories may be closed out for Slott's run but Gage takes them on new journeys.
Now Reptil. This issue focuses on a new character, Reptil. He can channel aspects of dinosaurs. He's recruited by the Initiative to locate Stegron who's been attack various SHIELD bases. Reptil trains with various members of the Initiative and gets all sorts of varying advice. His dream is one day find his parents. Figs already filled you in on this one so I won't go further plus I'm getting tired.
Thoughts: I'm going to agree with Figserello on this one. It was an ok issue. The best bits involved Reptil bonding with the various issue members. My biggest complaint about this issue and the other Special was the art. I noticed that the Initiative uses Steve Uy as a fill in artist. His art does nothing for me. Maybe people like it. It doesn't have any movement or flow to it, to me it looks like screen shots form an anime film.
Issue 20: This is a post Secret Invasion issue. We've got Hank Pym trying to cope with his life. There's even a support group for Skrull abductees. This issue like Figs said was a chance for Slott to wrap things up. He does a pretty good job but still leaves room for Cristos gage to do his thing.
You know I remember reading the next half of the series at the time and enjoying it. However flipping through the issues now, they're not as exciting. Pretty standard stuff, nothing like the first half. It could be the writer, it could be the principle cast. I guess once we keep reading we'll find out.
Up next: Disassembled!
I'm finally getting back on track with this project. I finished the Dissassembled storyline this morning. It was Cristos Gage's first multi-issue story arc on this series after Slott's departure.
We start with two stories. The first is the Clone Thor wreaking havoc on Camp Hammond. He bascially beats the crap out of Stamford and all of the heroes. Then he leaves. Was he ever seen or heard from again? Then Justice exposes the coverup of MVP that's been in the backdrop of the series. Norman Osborne steps in and begins to clean house.
The other story involved the Shadow initiative plus Komod traveling to Madripoor to find Hardball. After some double crosses and vampire decapitations they get their man. On their return Osborn makes Taskmaster the head of the Initiative.
This was an action packed storyline. I remember enjoying it the time. Right now though it was just ok. I enjoyed the Madripoor stuff more than what was going on at Camp Hammond. The characters that become the resistance are kind of dull. The shadow initiative is much more interesting to me anywyas.
The art was good at times but at times I couldn't tell what was going on. It seemed like a blur which was much like the story. A lot of stuff happens and now I can't remember it.
I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this series now. I honestly don't remember what I thought about it when it was first released. I do like the Taskmaster and some of the other criminals trying to make it straight-ish.
It seems to me that Gage is carrying the story through like he and Slott planned but instead of looking at any depth or social issues. It's become more of a literal snapshot of the Marvel Universe but without the repricussions or big name cameos that the first half of the series had. But I shouldn't be to hard on Gage though. He did write that great one shot on the series about Butterball. He is capable of character depth. I think we do see it again through the series.
I'd be interested in hearing why some of the great commentators from the early part of this thread have gone silent. I take it they stopped reading The Initiative around the time that Slott left, or perhaps Secret Invasion induced a bout of event fatigue?
For myself, I stopped getting the monthly comic when I dropped ALL Marvel comics at the end of Secret Invasion because that series and especially its denoument was insultingly bad! I didn't want to continue to encourage bad comics with my hard-earned cash. Also, sadly, due to reading it in monthly instalments, I didn't get at the time how actually good the Avengers Intiative: Secret Invasion tie-in issues were, so I cooled on this particular monthly comic, and Slott's moving on gave me a jumping off point.
You are hitting on all the points that I would cite regarding why Gage's comics aren't working as well as Slott's. The cartoony art here is a drawback. In principal, there should be more cartoony art in comics. Cartoony art shows extremes of tone and emotional expression that realistic art can't. Unfortunately the cartoony art in this collection can only show a very narrow range of extremes. Anger, aggression, fright, physical exertion are about the limits of this school of art. That's one of the reasons it's hard to remember anything from this collection after putting it down. Everything has the same emotional tone.
Slott (and Nuy?) gave us those insightful scenes of Cloud 9 comparing herself to the superhero 'babes' in the locker room, showing us that presentation of that single body-type causes misery and consternation amongst normal women. The women here are now nothing but T & A! It's hard to believe it's the same series.
The difference between the Shadow Initiative and the Avengers Resistance factions illustrate where the series is going wrong. The Shadow Initiative storyline largely involves the original characters Slott created for this series, and further developing the storylines that the readers have been buying into since day one.
The Avengers Resistance storyline may feature many of the characters that appeared in issue #1, but they are mainly New Warriors and we are picking up the threads from that series. The people who got on board for the up-to-date political relevance of Avengers the Initiative (in fun superhero form), largely have no interest in fanservice to a group of characters that couldn't sustain their own series in the first place! Why should our story be derailed so that the tiny numbers of New Warriors fans get their brand serviced? The New Warriors as a group are definitely less than the sum of their parts. Characters that were interesting as individuals in Slott's start-up become very boring when presented as the New Warriors putting the band back together.
The New Warriors never stood for anything in the first place, apart from keeping in copyright some Marvel brands who couldn't sustain their own solo comics!
This insistence that putting the New Warriors back together is an interesting and worthwhile plot thread for non-NW fans is alienating to those of us who came aboard to read about the Initiative!
A big plus for this phase of the series is the characterisation of Taskmaster. Gage gives him a very distinctive sardonic voice and his practicality (or 'enlightened self-interest') adds a touch of grounding realism.
You might want to keep an eye on the Thor issues of my Siege thread for the return of Clor, Jason.
I started with issue one and kept with it to the end. While the second half of the series wasn't as good as the first, it'll still be one of my favorite comic series. It may have been because it featured a bunch of characters I ended up caring about. It may have been because I collected it in its entirety, I didn't drop it once. I tend to stick with series for maybe two years, if their lucky.
I agree with you Figs about the New Warriors. I never read the series but I remember it when I was a kid. I'm sure they had their fans but I'm not sure I've met them. Another thing is the Guantlet. As a drill instructor for super heroes he was interesting. As a drill instructor on the run with superheroes, not so much.
Belated comment on the AI Special that Jason reviews here.
Because Marvel is often run in such an amateurish fashion and they couldn't give a flying footrest for a large chunk of their readership, I've only just read the Initiative Special, which kicks off this whole post-SI phase of the series. I didn't get it when it came out because it was a higher-priced tie-in to a series that I was cooling on at the time. Getting the monthly regularly was my commitment to the series, but that wasn't good enough for Marvel. They had to try to squeeze an extra few bucks out of the fans that were staying with the book.
Having read the Special, I see that it was pivotal. The end of Hardball and Komodo's relationship is a key plot point in the series, as is Trauma's connection to Nightmare. I admit it was a long time between my putting AI:Secret Invasion down and picking up AI:Disassembled, but even so, I still understood I was missing some of the backstory that Gage was referring to. Trauma's parentage and Hardball being a Hydra 'head' did come out of left field as I read AI:Disassembled and made it harder for me to get into Gage's run. Gage didn't need any more reasons for readers to switch off once he took over from Slott, so Marvel were doing him no favours.
Undercutting the main series just to gauge a few more quid out of the remaining readership is pretty cynical of Marvel, and it's no wonder the fans in turn have become cynical too. I know it’s part and parcel of how comics have been sold for the last 10 years, but it’s a very short-sighted way to manage your market. Constantly restricting your customer base and making diminishing returns your main marketing strategy seems like a poor business model to me.
Marvel then compounded this idiocy by only printing this key 'Special' as an extra at the back of the last trade collection of the series! It is tacked on to the end of the AI:Siege TPB. So Marvel manage to insult those readers following the story in trade form too! Again, Disassembled was a hard enough change of gears to get enthusiastic about, without leaving out a key stepping stone leading into it. Gage is a good writer, and he could be an even better one in the future, but he has a hard enough job keeping a diminishing readership on board without Marvel undercutting his storytelling like this.
Obviously, you were a good fan that bought into the whole shebang, Jason, but I feel I’m being punished as a reader here for not strictly following Marvel’s cynical marketing model, and I’m annoyed at Marvel for making it so hard for someone with an interest like me to feel valued as a reader. I fear that you can just multiply how I feel about this one Special many thousands of times to get an idea of why comics have been a shrinking market for the last decade or two.
I decided I really like Uy’s artwork though. The colours are muted and the figurework isn’t as bombastic as we’ve been trained to like, but that keeps the focus on the personalities in the costumes. There’s something appealing in the linework too. It looks like work from a self-published comic, but is all the more appealing for that ‘naiveté’. It matches the content of these young barely-formed personalities learning who they are.
I also love that it says ‘Artist : Steve Uy’ in the credits. Give me an artist over a production line any day. It looks like Uy sticks to his guns in wanting to have control over what he produces, and I hope Marvel continues to employ him.