I'm in the process of reading issues 26-30. Don't know the name of this particular arc, nor do any issues sport the Dark Reign Banner but they do take place under Osborn's tenure.
So far I've read 26-28. As always, it's entertaining stuff. The story so far is about Osborne's transition with the Initiative. Namely Taskmaster and The Hood running the training camp. The story has shifted between the Hood setting up shop with his gang, Taskmaster recruiting soilders to put out an uprising in the negative zone prison. We also have the Avengers Resistance trying to thwart Osborne. There's various character subplots as well. We have Tigra systematically taking out the Hood's troops for assaulting her, a story that happened in another title.
A few points so far. The Avengers Resistance plight is dull and predictable. I find the ongoings at the camp with those who decided to stay more interesting. This resistance for one reason or another is kinda dull. It feels like it should have been it's own series rather than still part of the Initiative. The more interesting aspect are the characters who stayed for one reason or another. Some stay/join because they're villains looking for a way to inflict their way like the Hood and the Ufoes. Others stay because they want to either go straight or it's in the best interest of their family, like Constrictor and Bengal. Others stay because they either want to make a difference or it's all they know like Trauma and Cloud 9.
I find this arc so far entertaining but extremely scattered. There's almost too much going on. One thing that Cristos Gage does well is take the time to devote a whole story or at least half a story on a character. Issue 27 focuses on Johnny Guitar, a character who's claim to villain fame was he went head to head with Dazzler and lost. Johnny joins the Initiative to make money and make a name for himself. He realizes he's being used as canon fodder yet continues because he knows that if he dies, the life insurance the government will pay his estranged young daughter is significant. He knows his blind ally, Dr. Sax is unaware of the situation and wounds him so he will get sent home to his family. Johnny goes into battle and is killed. It's a good story showing what the average powered grunt is willing to go through with.
Gage does excel at times with giving good emotion with various characters. It's what keeps the series afloat in these later issues. The story while decent has too much going on. There's a lot of goings on here and there that almost seem like they'll not be tied up. Reading this I had forgotten how scattered it is. Trust me it does tie up in the end. Right now it's a bit jarring. The early issues were more focused and thus provided a stronger story.
Around here might be a good place to stick a link to Chris Fluitt's Blog on the first 4 volumes of the Initiative, seeing as we've just finished talking about them on this thread.
My trade paperback of issues 26-30 is called Dreams and Nightmares, by the way.
The Guitar Man section of #27 - which highlights the Dreams bit of that title - might be the strongest part of the book. It has a similar feel to the bittersweet stories of Butterball and Reptyl. It works much like them, focusing on just one unfamiliar character and telling us everything about them in a short space, but the details are very different, Guitar Man being a low-rent villain about to go into a suicide mission. It had a lot of heart.
I was going to say that maybe the third story of this type is showing up the trouble Gage is having writing a team book. We either get close-ups of one character, who's hardly seen again, or we get so many difuse storylines that don't really have a single thread runnng through them.
But that's not being fair, and anyway, Initiative isn't strictly a team book in the old sense. It's maybe something new. A book about a government organisation in which we get to spend time with everyone from those who answer to the highest powers in the land down to the lowliest grunts. I've said it elsewhere, but Avengers The Initiative is something a little bit special.
I don't have much to add to your comments. I have to say something about two of the costumes. What's with Ultra Girl's horrible new threads? An orange boiler suit with the arms cut off? Yech! Quite a comedown from Ms Marvel's funky 70's sexy but not trashy outfit.
And no true blue Australian would be seen dead Boomerang/Outback's gear tat we see in issue #28! Yes, Australia has a Union Jack in the corner of its flag, and a lot of Australians feel 'British' in some manner, but none of them would go flying around in what is basically the Pom's Union Jack flag as a costume. There is a long rivalry between the English and the Australians so this is a no-no. You can just about see some stars from the southern cross on Boomerang's cowl, but they aren't even arranged in a cross! That's desecration of the only cross that matters to many Australians!
It's true that the Union Jack character and Captain Britain have great costumes, but that's no reason to make Boomerang look positively un-Australian! But Marvel comics have never been great on cultural sensitivity I suppose!
I think they might have done Cloud Nine a disservice by making her a sharpshooter. Flying and having a cloud you can control are interesting and unique powers, but being able to shoot people in the head with a gun isn't really a true superheroine's power, is it? So much for being the next Kitty Pryde.
Didn't the Hood have a high public profile as a major gangster before Osborn made him Chief Operating Officer of Camp HAMMER?
Finally, it's only a coincidence I know, but I read lately that Bradley Manning, the wikileaks guy, was stationed in Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq before he was arrested. Just thought I'd note it.
This concludes the Dreams & Nightmares arc for the Initiative. While this has threads from the previous 3 issues, these two work best as their own story arc. The primary focus is Trauma and Penance coming to term with themselves. Trauma's father, Nightmare, makes contact with him finally. What happens is a big fight. Minor things that happen: Constrictor saves Diamondback's life, she pays him back ;), Komodo is depowered and joins the resistance, Tigra is still after the Hood's goons. Diamondback is revealed to be the resistance's mole.
These two issues were a much more complete story, more focused. It still had moments of being all over the place but we can see things finally coming together. But I had a problem. A few.
When did Nightthrasher join the resistance? Wasn't he leading the New Warriors in their series. It seemed like he was just there one day when I opened the comic. Granted I read these issues now albeit, quickly. So I could have overlooked his inclusion in the series. Also, while I don't mind Tigra taking out the Hood's goons, I wish that her attack was in the pages of the Initiative. Otherwise, just have go after them in the series where it happened. Minor annoyance but still an annoyance.
Also the cover to issue 30 had a very 90s feel to it. Not a good or bad thing, just something I noticed. It could be that most of those characters had their last heyday in the 90s.
I do like that Penance has seemed to figuve out who he is. Also like that Trauma has matured and come to grips with his past, at least it seems he has. I really enjoyed Trauma and Penance moment at the end of the arc when they are ready to face the wraith of the Hood and Taskmaster. Had kind of a buddy cop move feel to it.
While the story was all over the place, the character moments where strong. I already stated the stuff with Penance and Trauma. I like the building love connection between Constrictor and Diamondback.
Figs stated that this series wasn't a team book, I agree. It's more of an enssemble. The problem with this part of the series is that we go between the various arcs of the enssemble cast and a very defined team, the Avengers Resistance. We have a lot of back and forth with individuals and then a cohesive unit. I think I stated before but the Resistance could have moved to their own series, at least a mini series. I guess we should see though, somebody going against Osborne's regime.
Finally, I never read anoything else featuring the Hood. He appears to have a lot of power but he's kind of a doofus.
I hope to read issues 29-30 and comment on them shortly.
In the meantime, I did a tiny bit of research and discovered why Night Thrasher suddenly drops into the story with issue #26. It came cover-dated June 2009 and Vol 4 of New Warriors ended with issue 20 cover-dated Feb 2009. Yes there was a volume 4, which I and probably most other people didn't even know existed, showcasing the adventures of a team of de-powered z-grade mutants using all sorts of Marvel tech to replace their powers and with new superhero identities. (Snore) Look at Vol 4 in the middle of this wiki page.
Marvel is trapped in an awful sales model. NW Vol 4 started with about 56,000 readers and by issue 20 was down to 15,000. Then they tried to sucker those 15,000 readers into propping up the sales of Avengers Initiative by shoehorning Night Thrasher in there. As we've found, that isn't fair on AI's readership, and detrimental to the stories being told in 'our' series. They are tying up threads from both New Warriors Vol 3 and vol 4, neither of which were big sellers anyway, or wonderfully innovative comics masterpieces come to that.
This attempt to milk sales out of the same barren stock over and over is a very different storytelling model to the early issues of Avengers Initiative, where we got fresh stories, fresh premises and mostly brand new characters, who were created to service this story.
We're being fobbed off with second hand goods by the end of Avengers: Initiative, and even without the research, we were realising it and reacting against Marvel's tactics.
To add insult to injury, not only are we being presented with a 90's superhero with the most laughable 90's superhero name (and that's saying something!), but it's not even the real Night Thrasher.
It's his even lamer brother!
Now I feel bad about the snoring, Z-grade labelling and the snorting at Night Thrasher's name!
New Warriors must have had their fans, and I've written all the above without reading a frame of any New Warriors comic. Whatever about the quality of the comics themselves, just because someone's readership dwindled to almost nothing in another comic is a poor reason to bring them into a completely different comic.
Ever decreasing circles.
The Hood is a real idiot. His superpower is pointing his guns ineffectually at people, saying he is a badass and not actually being feared by anyone.
It says in the dialogue here that his role in the Initiative is secret as far as the public are aware, and also they mention that he has appeared on TV fighting Brother Voodoo. Yes, I'm down with the Initiative being corrupted from the inside into a nest of supervillains, but its still a bit much to have the Hood swanning around the camp in front of non-villainous members and they don't actually raise it as an issue with anyone higher up the chain.
So this wraps up Trauma's arc for now. This series is actually fairly tidy in how it winds down as it approaches it's last issue. Although the storylines seem all over the place right now, the big showdown with Nightmare gives this collection of six issues a strong finish.
Hood was the big recurring enemy in New Avengers at least from Secret Invasion on. Being the big bad in Marvel's bestselling books might indicate that he's popular with Da KIDZ, but I doubt it. Waving his guns around is a big no-no in superhero comics anyway. Just as in the real world, guns are great equalizers. It doesn't matter how tough a superhero or how strange their power, for most of them a bullet to the brain will kill them just as dead. Hood depending on his side-arms kind of shatters the unspoken rule of superhero comics that there is a point to dressing up in a costume and sticking to walls or firing ice from your fingertips.
Thanks to guns, everyone in America has the potential super-power of ending anyone's life in an instant, and that's kind of the ne plus ultra of super-powers! When we see the Hood using his mystical cloak to terrorise decent people and ensure loyalty from his men, the guns remind us that people do this in real life without mystic cloaks or what have you.
Again and again we see Hood wishing someone was dead while standing pointing a gun at them. Superhero fisticuffs in Times Square would end pretty quickly and messily if people start bringing guns to the party. I know non-invulnerable superheroes charge into hails of bullets all the time, but that is a comics convention. Someone full of hatred and insecurities like the Hood with guns, and opportunities every issue to kill people, really starts to wear through my suspension of disbelief.
I guess the subtext of villains using super-powers instead of guns in the Silver Age was that they didn't really mean to seriously harm anyone. It was just a game. But if heroes and villains start waving guns around, it's a whole new ballgame where costumes and powers are beside the point.
Hood's habit of waving his guns aorund in a threatening manner, but not actually inflicting gunshot wounds and fatal injuries on those he points them at makes him seem very impotent and, yes, a doofus. He's a bit like one of Joe Pesci's characters in a Scorsese movie. Someone who would never get the trust of underlings or superiors.
title that is going great guns right now: Avengers Academy?
Frankly, I love it, and didn't think that I was going to. It's thoughtful, well-plotted, and seems to be building to lead somewhere.
I like that there are repercussions to decisions and actions, although the cliff-hanger with them getting suspended/expelled was a bit of a ploy in hindsight.
Still, since the first two or three issues, and the "blackmail of Quicksilver", I've loved it. Frankly, I thought it might run 4 or 5 issues as a mini series and that the lip-reading "They must never know..." was going to pay off much earlier and faster.
But it's one of my guilty pleasures that I look forward to every month. In some ways, it is the old school concept of the X-men dusted off and updated nicely.
Thank you, Marvel!
"Thanks to guns, everyone in America has the potential super-power of ending anyone's life in an instant..."
Says the Irish guy living in Australia. ;-)
I'm not saying you're exactly wrong but that's a world-wide issue, not just America.