Avengers Initiative 1B NM Dan Slott 1st prnt She-Hulk Stephano Caselli Variant


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Avengers The Initiative (2007 Marvel) #1B

Published Jun 2007 by Marvel
Written by DAN SLOTT
32 PGS., Full Color

After Stamford, Connecticut was destroyed during a televised fight between the New Warriors and a group of dangerous villains, a federal superhuman registration act was passed. All individuals possessing paranormal abilities must now register with the government. Disagreement over the act split the Superhuman community in two, with Tony Stark — Iron Man — as the figurehead for the pro-registration movement and Captain America leading the anti-registration resistance. Now, with Captain America’s surrender and assassination, the superhuman civil war is over. Tony Stark has been appointed Director of SHIELD, the international peacekeeping force. He has set into motion The Initiative, a plan for training and policing superheroes in this brave new world, intended to position a local superhero team in each of America’ fifty states…

After Armory’s weapon causes the death of M.V.P., she washes out of the Initiative Program. The circumstances of the event have since been made hush-hush. As far as the Initiative is concerned, M.V.P. never died in Stamford…

This first issue deals with a group of young heroes that have been sent to ‘Hero Boot Camp’ in Stamford, Connecticut, the site of the explosion that launched the whole civil war. The issue largely follows the young heroes MVP, Cloud 9, Armory, and Trauma, as well as their drill-sergeant, Gauntlet. MVP is established as one of the most capable young heroes there and begins to express some feelings for the shy and self-conscious Cloud 9. During a training exercise, however, Trauma’s powers accidentally cause Armory to lose control of her powers, and MVP is apparently killed pushing Cloud 9 out of the way. In response, they forcibly remove Armory’s power-glove and kick her out of the camp. Henry Peter Gyrich, who is overseeing the entire project, informs Trauma and Cloud 9 that the mishap ‘never happened.’

Featured Characters:

Gauntlet/Sergeant (First full appearance)
War Machine (Commander Jim Rhodes)
Justice (Vance Astrovik)
Hardball (First full appearance) (Joins team)
Cloud Nine (Abby) (First full appearance) (Joins team)
MVP (Michael van Patrick) (First full appearance; Death) (Joins team)
Trauma (First full appearance) (Joins team)
Armory (First appearance) (Joins and leaves teams)
Komodo (First full appearance) (Joins team)
Secretary Henry Peter Gyrich
She-Hulk (Jen Walters)
Yellowjacket (Dr. Hank Pym)
Baron von Blitzschlag (First full appearance)
Slapstick (Steve Harmon)
Bengal (Duc No Tranh)
Rage (Elvin Haliday)
Thor Girl (Tarene) (First appearance)
Ultragirl (Suzy Sherman)
Stature (Cassie Lang)
Constrictor (Frank Schlichting)
Network (Val Martin)
Scorpion (Carmilla Black)
Hellcat (Patsy Walker)
Debrii (Deborah Fields)
Prodigy (Ritchie Gilmore) (Cameo)
Triathlon (Delroy Garrett)
“Wiccan” (Bill Kaplan) (Earth-721) (Cameo)
“Hulkling” (Teddy Altman) (Earth-721) (Cameo)
Nighthawk (Kyle Richmond)
Stingray (Walter Newell)
Texas Twister (Drew Daniels) (Cameo)
Red Wolf (William Talltrees)
Mighty Avengers
Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers)
Wasp (Jan van Dyne)
Wonder Man (Simon Williams)

The Civil War has ended, and Tony Stark’s vision for the future has roared in as the new reality. With the threat of an Atlantis invasion looming, many super-powered beings have joined what is now being called the Initiative. Some aren’t as willing, but with the help of Stark’s personal task forces, even those who run are being brought in. The objective is to secure a meta-human team in every state. The world will supposedly be a better place because of it. This is, of course, assuming that this Initiative can actually train its “recruits”. Dan Slott and Stefano Caselli intend to explore that concept in the newest addition to the Avengers franchise.

The administrators of the Initiative include familiar faces such as War Machine, Justice, Hank Pym and She-Hulk, as well as newer ones like Gauntlet. Gauntlet is the stereotypical rough and tough drill instructor, complete with sarcastic, insulting commentary. Complementing this group are their soldiers. The majority of these are brand new characters, while a few are obscure ones that already exist (Slapstick, anyone?). This first issue moves us through these new faces, giving us a glimpse into their past and/or personality. It’s hard to really judge many of them properly given their limited exposure, but some seem promising.

The rookie nature of the cast here means the entire issue feels a bit shaky. I have no idea who these characters are, and Dan Slott has to balance all of them, the development of the Initiative and the interactions of the senior members. It’s a lot to do, and it’s remarkable that Slott manages as well as he does. A few of them are instantly likeable, but Slott throws a curve towards the end of the issue that, while shocking, undermines the advancement of the rest of the issue. I really don’t want to spoil anything, but Slott has a double-edged sword here. He can keep us on the edge of our seats or he can build this world. It’s going to be tough to do both if he continues with this pattern. I’m also a little apprehensive about the fact that there probably will be many more additions to the book over the coming issues. Any decent team book can only handle so many reoccurring cast members before everything becomes watered down. A lot of this will be determined in the coming months, but these types of problems dominated my thoughts as I progressed through this first chapter.

All of these questions and concerns do oddly mean one thing – I’m hooked. Conceptually, as a series, the Initiative is very cool. It’s not exactly original; we’ve seen plenty of titles with the idea of heroes as oppressive, militaristic forces (heck, Marvel’s own Ultimates is doing it). This one is a bit different however, demonstrating time and time again that innocence and youth are lost to theoretically create peace. Everything has a cost. One of the strongest aspects of the book is how it shifts through the various elements of a boot camp. Slott utilizes everything from training to the moments between to do his best to introduce us to the entire team. It’s practically an impossible task as I mentioned before, but it does keep the plot moving at least. This is a very fast read. Slott also manages to jump around to a variety of emotions in his various characters. There is a lot of promise here, which keeps me optimistic about what this could turn into. This could definitely be the new Young Avengers. It’s not there yet, and roster issues could plague it, but the possibility is there.

Stefano Caselli is really impressive here. Previous to this issue I hadn’t seen much from this artist that I enjoyed. Caselli has definitely worked on his approach as his semi-animated style works well. His characters’ expressions have improved dramatically as well. Initiative is so grounded in its military operation that I would expect an artist with a slightly more realistic, mature style. Caselli’s work does lend itself to better expressions and more empathy for the young students however, so I’d say those two elements balance each other out.

Dan Slott has the near-impossible task of running an ongoing series that monitors the heroes protecting 50 states. That’s a lot of characters. While we know not every roster will be divulged, it’s still a difficult juggling act to manage, even if only a small fraction of the potential is actually used. So far I’m impressed. Slott throws a bunch of new characters at me with minimal introduction, and I actually like some of them. That’s a testament to Slott’s skill, and I think my interest in many of these characters will grow (although there’s at least one I think is just plain stupid). The question is whether Slott will actually let me enjoy these new heroes or if he’s more interested in shaking the snow globe and throwing it across the room. There’s no way to really judge that, and as a result I’m left impressed and uneasy at the same time. Perhaps that’s the precise feeling the Initiative is supposed to leave both the reader and the people living in the Marvel Universe.

The Initiative was referenced in The Super Hero Squad Show episode “Tales of Suspense.” War Machine tells Iron Man that he had to cover for him when handling the Initiative.

Near mint, 1st print. Bagged & Boarded.