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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Dagwan, the story of the authorities in the MU taking responsibility for ensuring potentially dangerous young people become safe, productive responsible members of society might be a good one, but Avengers:The Initiative isn't it. One of the guys running the show is a Nazi for Godwin's sake! OK, an ex-Nazi...

Even John D, in the same post as saying that they were trained to be superheroes, defended Gauntlet by saying he was using time-honoured methods for training military.

(I hadn't thought it all the way through to the child-soldiers thing, John, so thanks for bringing that insight to this comic.)

There's a whole conversation to be had about how the writers just about across the board stacked the deck against the whole post-Civil War Initiative project, so we didn't get stories that showed balance, really. The heroes who were going to be in the sandbox after the Iniative had to think they were doing the right thing, and politically, Marvel comics were reluctant to say outright that all this heavy-handed PATRIOT-era government control was wrong, but .... Blitzshlag* is a Nazi! I don't think any of the the writers were pro-registration, really, although a very rational argument could be made for it, and training young superheroes etc.

And as Slott points out, the same government that people are saying we should trust did happily bring ex-Nazi's over to become highly regarded scientists on their space-programmes and military programmes after WWII, amongst many, many other dubious acts since 'The Greatest Generation' laid down their arms. Perhaps the government is the wrong body to expect to do the right thing.

* Blitzschlag = "lightning-slaughter" btw.
Again, key to this is the fact that Gauntlet, a soldier, is training these young people, not a super-hero. And he was training them how to kill in the name of Tony Stark. Stark hasn't been mentioned much but this was all his plan. And there was no Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, or Vision to disagree with him!
To be honest, I'm not sure how much Stark knew about what was actually going on at Hammond. Yes, I agree that the buck stops with him and if he didn't know the tactics being used on them (ahem) recruits then he should have. Really, though, I don't think Stark knew and I don't think he would have approved. Was Camp Hammond a SHIELD facility? The presence of Gyrich suggests otherwise.
Wasn't he wearing his Extremis suit which can tap into spy satelittes, which being MU spy satelittes are 20 times more all-seeing than our stupid non-superhero universe satellites? Wouldn't he have been a bit curious about what was going on under his new dispensation and tap into whatever communications network would give him the goods.

Camp Hammond is what he'd fought and killed his oldest friends for after all...
Tony does send agents to investigate Guantlet's attempted murder and later one Tony himself makes an appearance at Camp Hammond but that's still a few issues away. I think Tony had bigger fish to fry as the head of SHIELD and I'm not sure he knew everything that went on at CH. I read issue 7 on Wednesday night and it's clear that at this point Gyrich is pulling the strings at CH. Also the 50 state initiative was Hank's idea.
I plan on Monday to start discussing issue 7 since it's a stand alone. Also I think the Annual came out before the next multi-issue arc, Killed in Action. The Annual is mostly origin stories so it doesn't particularly matter when we read it. I thought about tackling it Monday along with issue 7 and then Wednesday start in on Killed in Action. Does that work for everyone?
Sounds fine to me, Jason.
I finally found "The Initiative" to re-read them (I REALLY have to label my longboxes!!). What struck me about the first issue was the parallel of it and "Giant-Size X-Men" #1 (1975) and even "X-Men"#1 (1963) when Professor X searches for and trains his charges. Of course, even he didn't use live rounds at first.

Gyrich want results sooner than later as witnessed by sending Komodo to take on Spider-Man, of all people, in #3. He wants this investment to pay off quickly and prove that the government (i.e. him) can control super-heroes.

And for Stark not to know wants going on with one of his pet projects, which he deemed necessary after Stamford, which he builds IN Stamford and with Yellojacket and War Machine there, that's inexcuseable!
In many ways CH was the X-Men if run by Gyrich.

Oh, that's good. I like that.
Gyrich doesn't want public super-heroes. He doesn't want the Avengers, he wants secret, hidden, unknown and controllable agents and assassins.

I want to believe that the Skrull Hank Pym was echoing the true Hank's conscience, but divided by the Secret Invasion agenda, unable or unwilling to act on it!
There were a few more things from issues 2-6 I wanted to say so I've laid them out here before we move onto the rest of the series.

Hank Pym

Getting back to Slott not knowing that Pym was actually a Skrull plant. I do have my differences with a lot of Bendis' approach. However it's very hard to imagine him chuckling silently to himself while leafing through early copies of Avengers:Initiative, seeing Slott put a lot of groundwork into building Hank's character here. "He doesn' know Hanks not Hank! Ha ha!" Bendis writes dumb crossovers, but I can't see him being this mean! Surely they would all be working together going forward?

It's plain from issue one that Hank's survival from his Dr Strangelove moment is a bit too 'miraculous', but Slott is only planting it here, skating over it to prefigure the reveal when it comes.

Rhodey Rhodes

I'm afraid I don't have a lot of experience with Rhodey Rhodes before this series, so I can't say a lot about his portrayal here. To be honest, Iron Man himself was never a very interesting character to me before Civil War. I don't like the recent Tony Stark, but he's an interesting element in the broader picture. Rhodey does often get to be Stark's conscience, doesn't he? But not here. One of my favourite episodes of ST:TNG is the one where its all from the point of view of the cadets. In it the usual affable crew that we cheered on every week seemed very stern, harsh and unapproachable. I think we're seeing something similar going on here.

BTW It's obvious Justice used Ben Grimm for the training because Ben is so experienced at this and essentially gentle that he was guaranteed not to hurt them.

She-Hulk

It looks like She-Hulk is badly managed between comics here. Why does she become a trainer after she is depowered without her consent? What happened between this and her solo Peter David series? I was surprised to see her here on this read-through. As ever Slott is sensitive to continuity, and has one of the characters ask the same thing.

Spider-man

Seeing how proscribed his movements as a hero are here, its not hard to see why they U-turned on the big reveal of his secret identity to everyone in his own comic.

The Big Question

Regarding the big over-arching debate about what's going on in Camp Hammond and what Slott's attitude is, I think, from reading all the posts above, that he is being quite subtle here. Perhaps his message is that laws and institutions of themselves often aren't good or bad in themselves, but it depends how they are managed and used. The trouble is that governments set up things like Camp Hammond to answer various competing agandas and try to please everyone, but once they are up and running its up to those with the power over them to steer them depending on their own agenda. Thus Gyrich and Justice both thinking they are doing the same job, but actually working at odds with each other. This is very 'real-world'. If you are in power, you give your competing factions what they think they are asking for, and leave it to them to steer it as best they are able.

World War Hulk

I wasn't reading any other HUlk books when I read this arc first, so it did seem a little sketchy. This was originally supposed to be a 6-issue mini-series, and its hard to imagine devoting two chapters to some current crossover in the middle of it. Once it becomes an ongoing, then Slott is obliged to have the crossover and does it with panache. He cleverly makes his story elements actually CENTRAL to the whole crossover. If Tony hadn't been firing blanks in his first run-in with Jade-jaws, the WWH would have been a lot shorter. Why his bullet doesn't work is sorta skipped over in WWH. Again, I'm not sure how much collaboration goes on behind the scenes, but I hope its a lot, for the readers sakes.

Having read WWH since, Slott's section fits in beautifully and he even gives us the reason why the Initiative crew are hardly seen in any of the other comics despite have a major stand-off with the MU's baddest monster. Heaven and Earth is moved to haul them out of there before anyone notices they've even arrived!

Judging by this WWH portion of the first arc, I would definitely buy into any big event that Slott masterminded. He put a lot of the kind of care and craft into this which Bendis couldn't give a toot about.

Slapstick's beatdown of Gauntlet.

Yay! You go, funny little guy I've never seen before I read this comics series!!

I know how I feel about this end of issue reveal, but I'm not sure I know what Slott thought the readers were supposed to feel about it.
You want to believe that Gauntlet wants these kids to strive and succeed but his interactions with Justice, Rage and the rest only proves he wants them to order-obeying, do-what-you're-told-or-else *good* soldiers. Could you imagine someone trying to bully and intimidate Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Daredevil, etc, at the start of their careers? They would not be super-heroes protecting the public but government agents contolling the public.

Gyrich and Gauntlet can be summed up as "My country, right or wrong" which is very dangerous when wrong is the direction they're going. Lines are being crossed and trampled on in the name of duty and loyalty. Fear of losing one's powers keeps these young people in line. "Right or Wrong?" , I made my choice!

The trainees encountering an angry Hulk who lets them live and allows the city to be evacuated is a lesson in mercy they have yet to be taught!

And Slapstick is what it would be like if you had to fight Bugs Bunny all the time and YOU are not a toon! The scary part is how he got away with it, not because he was clever but as part of another lie to cover up Camp Hammond's cloning factory. Plus, I think Slapstick is a wee bit insane!!

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