Overview

Avengers: The Initiative #8

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Avengers: The Initiative #8

Credits

  • Words: Dan Slott and Christos N. Gage
  • Art: Stefano Caselli
  • Inks: Stefano Caselli
  • Colors: Danielle Rudoni
  • Story Title: Killed in Action - Part 1 (of 4): Snafu
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Dec 28, 2007

One of the best features of Avengers: The Initiative is the unique pacing. Dan Slott and recent co-scribe Christos Gage cram each monthly installment with more characters and plot threads than most full-fledged story arcs can deliver.

This scattershot approach may scare off some fans used to the increasingly plodding progression of most modern books, but if you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, look no further than The Initiative . And rejoice: Issue #8 is the perfect jumping on point.

In a brilliant move by Slott and Gage, the recruits have managed to take down Dragon Man off panel. We never see the battle and instead focus on our teen heroes dragging the purple behemoth’s body back to Camp Hammond which happens to be located in Stamford, Connecticut, the location of the schoolyard explosion that set off last year’s Civil War .

Needless to say, the locals aren’t thrilled about the constant caped reminders. Meanwhile, longtime villain Taskmaster has been brought in to act as drill sergeant for the latest batch of troops, including fan favorite Eric O’Grady, the Irredeemable Ant-Man, and various other oddities from all ends of the Marvel Universe, including the first character unique to the Ultimate universe to get a 616 makeover: the Brian Michael Bendis loser Geldof.

For fans jumping over from Robert Kirkman’s unfortunately cancelled Irredeemable Ant-Man —all four of you—Eric O’Grady is the same jerk you’ve grown to love. Within moments of his arrival he mocks someone’s dead father and punches out a teenage girl. And as great as O’Grady is, the pre-existing characters never get the shaft in favor of the new additions.

Yellowjacket has his time in the sun during a framing device that starts at the end of the death centric storyline, and Hardball and Komodo continue their budding romance during the team’s downtime. Even Cloud 9 has a run in with one of the Scarlet Spiders that could shed light on their mysterious identities.

Stefano Caselli has returned to art duties after a brief hiatus and his style has never meshed better with The Initiative. His frantic, cartoony pencils fit well here especially in the scenes that double back on Civil War through flashback. Despite touching on World War Hulk and a HYDRA attack earlier in the run, Caselli really hasn’t been given an opportunity to cover a multi-issue encounter. It will be interesting to see how his pencils develop considering the dramatic twist at the end of the issue which seems to set up the book’s next major villain.

Despite having zero A-list characters among their regular cast, Avengers: The Initiative has earned its rightful place among Marvel’s top three most consistent books—I’m looking at you, Thunderbolts and Captain America . This book explores a world that doesn’t depend on the twelfth weekly appearance of Spider-Man or Wolverine to sell. Slott and Gage have managed to build their own stable of interesting characters and mix them in with Marvel mainstays that have been lost in the shuffle such as War Machine and Hank Pym.

With a new villain approaching and the threat of multiple deaths, the sophomore arc of The Initiative could prove to be one of the most thrilling surprises during the first quarter of 2008.

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