Current Reviews


Avengers: The Initiative #16

Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2008
By: Steven M. Bari

Dan Slott, Cristos Gage
Stefano Caselli
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Avengers: The Initiative #16 arrives in stores tomorrow, August 27.

With a title like “Skrull-$%#@ers!” you know you're in for a ride. We pick up right where we left 3D-Man, crash-landing in New Mexico after the Quinjet's Starktech fails. When he's saved by She-Thing, his Skrull-Revealing-Goggles unmasks her true intentions. But luckily, the Skrull Kill Krew has his back and… well, check out the preview below for the nasty business they have in store for her. Meanwhile, Camp Hammond scrambles into action. With the heroes going to war in New York and possibly never coming back, Yellow Jacket grooms the base as the perfect landing pad for the Skrull Armada. Not a good day to be a cowardly and loathsome battle ditcher.

There are so many thrilling moments within this series and this issue is a terrific example of it. The creative team of Slott, Gage, and Caselli build tension and immediacy that allows the reader to invest in the moment. When Trauma and Physique discover everybody's least favorite cybernetic Nazi connecting his powers cables into a collapsed War Machine, the two Initiative staff members jump to conclusions and pull Baron von Blitzschlag off him.

Caselli draws the two entering the room with a tousled intensity. A through line of body language that succeeds from the previous panels indicates how disoriented and frantic this calls to arms has made these characters. Trauma runs down the cavernous underground of the base, his body at a forty-five degree angle with the floor. He balances his weight on one foot, his right leg kicked behind him for momentum. As the two enter the room, Physique gestures widely with her left hand to the reader as if to not only demand an explanation from War Machine for herself but for the audience as well.

The art brings the reader into the mood and energy of the story, allowing the dialogue and its meaning to be absorbed comprehensively. "Get away from him, Baron." Trauma screams. "Ach. Once again I am misunderstood," sighs Bliztschlag. "Ve are all heroes here, nein? Und I am most heroic uff all—keeping this little tin solider alive." The Baron isn't necessarily evil, but he is deceitful. He wants the same respect as the other villain-turned-heroes, but unlike them he wants his dark past to be recognized as commendable as well, because he believes he was a hero then too. It's not about redemption but comprehension. Hence he hides behind such passive-aggressive statements like being "misunderstood."

Avengers: The Initiative is a thrilling and energetic narrative that takes its characters seriously but still lets them have fun. When Physique makes an Obi-wan Kenobi reference about Iron Man's post-mortem message, the Baron is at a complete loss. "You've never seen Star Wars?" asks Trauma. "What were you, living in a cave?" "Possibly a bunker," replies the Baron. Brilliant.

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