Editor's Note: Avengers: The Initiative #14 arrives in stores tomorrow, June 25.
Should I gush first or be analytical? It's genuine gushing, but there is so much to discuss, like the narrative and aesthetic choices that convey the meta...
Oh screw it!...that convey the meta-event into intimate occurrences. In other words, Slott and Gage take the huge scope of Secret Invasion and focus on the series' characters rather than their place inside the event.
OH MY GOD! HE'S A SKRULL! AND HE'S A SKRULL! Wait… THEY BEEN SKRULLS THE WHOLE TIME!? HOLY $*$#!!! THIS IS %#$@ING AMAZING!!!
We follow three coalescing plot threads: The Crusader, who is a Skrull but not part of the invasion, Hank Pym, who is a Skrull and very much part of the invasion, and the new 3-D Man, whose suit was used to locate and destroy Skrulls some fifty years ago.
The Crusader has already struggled with admitting to the others who he really is, but when he discovers that someone else is a Skrull as well (someone who could seriously hurt him and everyone around him), his guilt is amplified. Slott and Gage really make good use of his culpability to build the tension before the real you-know-what hits the fan. Also, the plot device The Crusader uses to identify his Skrull brother is simple and clever, which is honestly refreshing from the convoluted timelines of who has been an imposter for how long.
As for Hank Pym, readers finally get some explanation of his Skrully activity from previous issues: how he escaped death twice, and what exactly has been going through his mind during the major events of the series. For instance, we discover how he actually survived the KIA incident, when a clone of cadet MVP went mad and attacked targeted members of the Initiative team. What's most surprising, however, is the revelation of who else is a Skrull and how high up he/she is in the chain of command. The consequences of this reveal will definitely affect the entire Secret Invasion offensive as well as the Initiative program itself.
Lastly, 3-D Man (formerly Triathlon) arrives at his first post-graduation assignment in Hawaii as the leader of the Point Men. Scenes like these make one realize how amazingly passionate an artist Stefano Caselli is, and how much his presence on the book affects the story's intensity. Caselli can express the human form with not just strength and sexiness, but with levels of emotion. When 3-D Man ascertains that something is amiss among his new teammates, his face, body, and even the perspective of the panel twist to express the shock.
Avengers: The Initiative #14 is the best Secret Invasion tie-in I've read yet, and that's because it hasn't given up its pages for the sake of event. What is paramount are the characters, and even though many like Pym appear in other tie-ins, his story is the one that pertains to the events of Avengers: The Initiative and not Secret Invasion. Although fans of the Skrull invasion who haven't been satiated yet may feel infuriated by this fan-service, it shows that creative team's love of their title and characters and makes a reader like me all the more invested in their journey.
Final Word: He loves you.
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