Avengers: The Initiative Special #1 (Marvel – Gage / Slott / Uy)
One of the longest-running plotlines in Avengers: The Initiative is resolved at last! Hardball is among the Initiative’s most respected and decorated graduates. He’s become a celebrity hero in Las Vegas, with his true love, Komodo, serving nearby in Arizona. But all the while, he’s secretly been in the pocket of the terrorist group Hydra! Now everything comes to a head as Komodo finds out the truth…Senator Woodman’s evil plan comes to fruition…and Hardball must choose a side, once and for all! Also in this not-to-be-missed issue, Dan Slott returns to solo writing duties for the previously-untold origin of Trauma…and the shocking revelation of his link to a longtime Marvel character
The majority of this book was written by Christos Gage, if he’s not classified as one of Marvel’s new “Young Guns”, he should be!
For being a one-shot special issue (usually referred to as a “fan fleecing”), this was acceptially good, moved the overall Initiative storyline along and had a nice back-up story, perhaps justifying the $3.99 price tag. The Hardball / Komodo relationship comes to huge road block as Hardball is given a choice between the Initiative and H.Y.D.R.A., and he being covered in guilt and shame for previous decisions chooses the serpent organization. Perhaps a bad call on Hardball’s part but Gage sets up what could be a fantastic future storyline here. That is one of the things that really rocks about this book, the writing both reflects what has happen before and what will come. Both Gage and Dan Slott have taken what could have easily become another “The Order” or “New Warriors” and really brought this book around to the next level!
Steve Uy’s artist ability to emphasize both the visual focus of the frame and the backdrop makes a great slate for the story to unfold. Yes. the truth is sometime Uy’s physiques and faces get a bit smooshed or off-kilter at times, but it’s a worthy price given the overall artistic talent and effect.
The back-up story involves the origin story of Trauma, a telepath / shapeshifter who is destined to become a major player in the MU. Pretty good for what it was. The payoff is in the last frame where we see Marvel baddie Nightmare appear to Trauma’s institutionalized mother, where he refers to Trauma as the “little bastard”. Could Trauma be the offspring of this classic villain? Very cool if he is, his powers certainly fit. Nightmare is recently being “put to bed” in Fantastic Four: True Story (review coming soon)
Issue Grade: A-