Editor's Note: Avengers: The Initiative #18 arrives in stores tomorrow, October 29.
Plot: The Secret Invasion storyline keeps rollin' as the Skrulls step up their strategy for the Initiative. Can these young heroes hold their own against the alien invasion-- and each other?
Commentary: If you been following along with my Avengers: Initiative reviews, you'll notice my rating for issue #18 is lower than that of previous issues. Whereas previous issues have been exemplary to above average, the quality of this book drops in both art and plot.
The major problem is Steve Kurth's sequential art, whose layouts I enjoy but whose figures and anatomy are off substantially. I haven't seen his art before, so I cannot argue if his style is intentionally careless with anatomy. It is, however, needlessly distracting. For example, on page five Kurth draws the Super-Skrull kicking one of the Initiative members into Spinner (both of whom are women). The Skrull's body looks more like it's in free fall rather than kicking. Moreover, when the falling Initiative member hits Spinner, their faces appear horrifically transmogrified beyond the realm of relating pain--it looks like Mr. Magoo body slamming a shaved Wilford Brimley. The anatomical problem is consistent and takes you out of the story.
Granted, that story itself is becoming tiresome. For three issues now, Slott and Gage have been putting the emphasis on Crusader's loyalty to his friends and the Earth over that of his home planet and people Ė The Skrulls. Although this has been touching and dramatic in previous issues, the plot point has stopped developing and is becoming redundant. In this issue, Crusader rallies his fellow teammates to the cause and again gains the respect of Nick Fury. "That was impressive, kid," Fury admires. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were a grizzled old vet like me." It's character growth but it's losing its momentum.
On the bright side, the Skrull Kill Krew narrative steps up the stakes in this whole Skrull invasion, making me wish that it was actually part of the major Secret Invasion book. The Skrulls have a doomsday scenario where if they lose the battle against Earth's heroes, they'll send the planet into the Negative Zone. The "if I canít have it, then no one can" plan forces the team to spread paper thin to stop the Skrulls. All the graduates of Initiative display their hero chops: 3D-Man maneuvers the team confidently into action; Cloud 9 proves that she's cool, confident and the best shot in Montana; and Ant-Man finally makes himself useful by finding out about this doomsday plan and reporting back to his friends. I haven't read the first eight issues of this series, so I don't know fully where all these characters came from, but the writers successfully convey the maturation of their personalities.
Final Word: I can't wait for Secret Invasion to be over. No More SKRULLS!
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