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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Yes, a week. I thought at first it would be too much time but it's obvious it's not. I think I'm about out on what I want to input but I'm eager to see what the rest of you have to say. I have know doubt that whatever you point out or anyone else points out will get a response out of me. Like you said there's stuff that I noticed while reading but didn't really notice.

I dare say that if we were discussing this series 3 years ago it would be interesting but not as interesting as it is now. It may be because we know how it ends. I feel I may be getting ahead of myself by mentioning the Skrulls and the fate of a few characters. Most of those things are still a ways off from happing. However, I feel that they are still worth mentioning because knowing what I know now is affecting how I perceive the comic this time around.

I could keep talking about this but I'm going to go to bed. But first I'm going to read issue 7. I will save my thoughts for next week but I'm eager to keep reading the story. IIRC, issue 7 was one of my favorite issues.
I don’t have the comics with me now, but I think the last thing I wanted to say about issue one concerns the wonderful Abigail Cloud 9.

I’m glad I did comment on Civil War: The Initiative above, as it gives a perfect context not just for the sometimes seat-of-the -pants way that these ‘events’ are managed and benefitted from, not just for the Civil War in-universe background to The Initiative, but also the general way that women are presented in Marvel comics. I’d hate to think of anyone’s daughters growing up being exposed to images and role models like Silvestri draws. They’re not good and not healthy – never mind that they help to make a laughing stock of comics fanBOYS.

Slott directly comments on this kind of thing with Cloud 9. Even depicting her as rather ordinary-looking girl-next-door is almost a revolutionary act in a superhero comic. I’d hate to think of how Silvestri would have drawn her. She is still delightful as a character. She should be this generation’s Kitty Pride if there was any justice.

Her best scene in issue #1, is where she walks into the changing room with all the buff teenage superheroines, and like every female who has ever picked up a comicbook, her first question is how come they all look like they’ve just stepped off the catwalk? It’s no secret that our society inculcates a deep insecurity in women about their bodies and their looks from an early age, and Cloud 9 responds very naturally to the roomful of superbabes: She tries to hide herself, and sneak off to change somewhere away from their critical gaze.

That’s a very pointed meta-commentary on how comics depict women and how real-life women perceive that depiction, all in a very natural character-defining little scene.

Scenes like that justify their choice of artist for this comic. Another example: One of those sad Image artists would have made a meal of Tigra running in the woods with 'Pymmy'. Tigra is inherently a very sexual character (and that's fine and healthy) but Castelli just gives us a catwoman in a bikini. There's no playboy-style posing for the benefit of invisible readers. She's obviously a sexy woman but she's not there just to give the fanboys their jollies. That's maturity in comics.
Good post. I like Cloud 9 as well and didn't realize it but for the reasons you stated above. I had forgotten about the locker room scene until I read issue 1 again. It's a great scene. Then she bumps into MVP who is kind to her. I may have to look back at it again but it seems like he seeks her out again. Which unfortunately is the training room where he meets his fate. I know I reference their almost-romance before, I think. But this was another way Slott really got the character down. Not all jocks like MVP want a "super babe" sometimes they just want to date a nice girl which from all appearances, Cloud 9 is. Another thing about Abby is she changes even through the course of the arc. There's a great scene in issue 5 perhaps where she uses her cloud to suffocate someone. At this point we've only seen her use it as a flight device not a weapon. Who once appeared as a nice girl is slowly changing. And this goes back to the way she was trained. Figs, said it best- I don't see the kids being trained to control their powers in these 6 comics as much as use them in extreme battlefield situations, which again tells me: soldiers not superheroes. This is a perfect example of that. Another thing about Abbey is that she is an excellent marksman. We do see that she makes a reference to Halo so she may be somewhat of a videogame geek. Now playing Halo and shooting Hydra agents in real life are two different things. So this is a bit of a stretch for me. I probably would be ok if they just left it that she was just a natural marksman. I can buy someone who wouldn't normally pick up a firearm being able to shoot well. I know people who go out to the shooting range having never shot befor and are able to hit the target better than someone who practices more.


Another female character we haven't discussed is Komodo. This is a character that I really like as well. She's a bit more of your typical tough-girl super hero but I think Slott handled the character just right. It's not entirely certain if she wants to be there our not. As the issues go on it appears she does want to be there. We know that not only is she tough but she's smart considering she stole Dr. Connors lizard formula and perfected it. Of all the recruits she's deemed the most capable first of course she proves she's not ready for field work. Though her interaction was believable. It does not escape the imagination that she would be able to take him on in a physical contest. However as we saw she wasn't mentally ready. She also has a secret, we see in issue 3 she is a real girl but she seems upset that Hardball saw her in that form. At the end of the issue is afraid of losing her powers for failing because she doesn't want to go back to who she was. So her story is a bit more typical but like I've alluded to the execution is believable and makes her a likeable character.

We have yet to see Komodo and Cloud 9's back stories. We know some about Komodo but we don't know how she stole the Lizard formula and how she perfected it. We know pretty much nothing of Cloud 9's origins. I'm not sure if Slott was saving that for a later time or if it was to keep them covered in mystery which in away makes them appealing.
I've re-thought my stance on the basic training, thanks to your posts guys. I stated before that the "drill instructor from hell" bit used by Gauntlet didn't really trouble me. It's harsh, but it has been proven to work; whether you volunteer or get drafted to the military, you have to go through it..

Then, after reading what you guys had to say, I knew something was bugging me. You guys said the methods were too brutal, and then it hit me why you were right: whether they volunteered or were drafted to go to Camp Hammond, they were all minors. You can't go into the military before, what, the age of 18, right? So right away, Gauntlet becomes much less sympathetic in my eyes. He should know, better than anyone, that minors aren't ready for the methods he employs. We saw in issue 6 he has kids himself. He should have said something, should have objected to it. A drill instructor's job is to mold young women and men into soldiers. Most nations, the U.N., the Geneva Convention, etc all take a pretty dim view of the use of child soldiers; frankly, Gauntlet is helping that happen here.
Further thoughts:
Rhodey - I'm not surprised he was "on board". He trusts Tony completely, and he has a military background. I'm no expert on him but he didn't seem out of character to me.

Justice - Since neither Gauntlet, War Machine, or Yellowjacket seemed overly concerned with how Camp Hammond was run and how the recruits were treated, I'm glad Justice was there to be the conscience. As for the bit with the Thing, Vance knew Ben wouldn't really hurt the recruits.

Cloud 9 - I was startled how quickly she went from wide eyed idealist, just a kid having fun with her powers, to a killer. It was sad. Witnessing MVP's death and being forced to cover it up no doubt did a lot of mental damage.

Komodo - We don't get to know her well in the first arc, all we know is she puts on a good "tough girl" act; but she must be brilliant as she perfected a formula she stole from Curt Connors.
Mark S. Ogilvie said:
True, they left her the arm after taking it off of her. But when it bonded to her body it became a part of her body. At the moment Tony's armor is a part of his body. Cyclops eyes are a part of his body. If either of them prove unable to control their body does the government have the right to blind Cyclops or reduce Tony to an invalid? And the training session was about as poorly set up as you could wish for. It seemed to me that it was a set up and that it didn't matter to anyone in charge how many kids died. Taking away part of the body is too much power for the government to have. it is a bit like taking away an artificial limb after a man has hurt someone with it.


Mark

I disagree that the Tactigon was a body part, and I pretty much disagree with everything else you say. There's no indication that the training session was a set-up. As for your contention that "it didn't matter to anyone in charge how many kids died", that simply isn't true. It was stated that Gauntlet was haunted by MVP's death (sure, a lot more should have bothered him, but still) and various characters were shown to be upset by all the secrecy surrounding MVP, notably Justice.
I believe Mark stated the training session was poorly set up not a set up. I would agree that it seemed a bit soon to pit the recruits against robots on their first or second day. But there was supervision and it seemed that the higher ups were keeping it safe. I think the biggest mistake was who ever signed up the recruits didn't research Trauma's powers throughly. If they had they wold have known his power didn't work on robots. I would expect and hope they would have placed someone experienced next to him for him to feed off their fears. So I don't think the training session was poorly set up. I believe the fatal flaw was the Initiative not evaluating their cadets before assigning their training.
Mark S. Ogilvie said:
And the training session was about as poorly set up as you could wish for. It seemed to me that it was a set up and that it didn't matter to anyone in charge how many kids died. Taking away part of the body is too much power for the government to have. it is a bit like taking away an artificial limb after a man has hurt someone with it.
My bad. I missed that part. I focused on the first part where he said poorly. I apologize. I don't think it was a set up either.
No apology required, my friend. It can happen to anyone.
Mark, my sympathies for what happened to your nephew. It really sounds like an unfortunate situation and I hope he recovers from his surgery. I think you would agree that your interpretation of the Avengers: The Initiative series is colored by this situation. You are entitled to your opinion of the series but I will say, respectfully, that I still disagree with you. I don't want to upset you further so that's where I'll leave it going forward.
Every single one of those children was a living weapon, and without guidance and training, any one of them might not only accidentally cause another Stamford-like incident, but actually become an active threat to people's lives.

As much as we all like to fantasize about how cool it would be for there to be super-powers in the real world, I think we all know that the damage caused by people with them would far, far out way any "benefits" they might produce. There would be way more Hancocks than there would be Spider-Mans (Spider-Men?), because that is human nature.

The entire idea of the SHRA and the Initiative training was to explore this story concept in a fictional setting. It's a concept that was (and still is!) well worth exploring, and served as an excellent backdrop for some fantastic (and some awful) stories. The main point of the end of the "Dark Reign" and the start of the "Heroic Age" is to let us know that the exploration of that particular concept is over in the MU, for now.

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