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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Children Are the Future...a review by Counter Monkey Steve the Animeniac

Children Are the Future...Avengers: A Review of Avengers: The Initiative and Avengers Academy In 5 Parts
by Counter Monkey Steve the Animeniac

Following the tragic events that occurred in Stamford at the beginning of Marvel's Civil War event, Tony Stark and other leaders within the superhuman community gathered together and developed several plans to put into action in order to prevent another tragedy on that scale from transpiring.  One such plan created the Initiative, a project which provided each state with its own team of protectors, each certified by the government and trained by veteran heroes. Built as a sign that Stamford would never again be devastated the way it had been, Camp Hammond, named after the then deceased original Human Torch, was used as the main training site for all recruited and volunteering young men and women who wanted to use their powers and abilities to help others.

The first batch of trainees faced not only the pressure of being the first to be sent through the molding process but also the pressure of maintaining their stability in the wake of a death on the first day, a chance encounter with the Hulk and his Warbound during his return to and declaration of war on Earth, and the near fatal assault of the main drill sergeant The Gauntlet, Despite this, Cloud 9, Komodo, Hardball, Rage, Slapstick, Thor Girl, Trauma, Ultra Girl, and Triathlon all manage to make it through their first couple of experiences alive. When their deceased teammate appears to return from beyond the grave, the trainees do not back away from the challenge, even though it does leave some of them just slightly worse for wear, physically and mentally, Following the return of The Gauntlet to full health, Cloud 9, Komodo, Thor Girl, Hardball, Ultra Girl, Trauma, and Triathlon are all graduated with honors and were each assigned to an Initiative team in a different state, Hard work and sacrifice doesn't always lead to a worthwhile outcome, but for these heroes, it did, an unusual occurrence in the Marvel Universe and in comic books in general.

The first two major story arcs consisted of #1-6 and # 7-12, both collected in their own trade paperback collected editions. Dan Slott wrote the first few story arcs of this very underrated series, and they still hold up as entertaining stories, enriched by the fact that they center mostly on new characters that readers quickly warm up to, Dan Slott is a man of many writing talents and certainly has a knack for creating new characters that readers can sympathize with and grow to love. As the current unrivaled Marvel master of continuity, Slott manages to work as much Marvel continuity and as many Easter eggs as possible into the series, and longtime Marvel readers should get a kick out of spotting these elements. He even manages to use the Iron Spider wearing Scarlet Spiders to prove that One More Day did not have to be used to erase the identity of Spider-Man from the minds of Earth's inhabitants.

Stefano Caselli is Dan Slott's partner in crime for the early Initiative stories, and the artwork delivered is beautiful. If you're a fan of Caelli's recent work on THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, his work on AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE is just as stunning. Each character is unique and could jump off the page at any moment. Facial expressions are natural and suited to any given situation, a task not easily accomplished, and bodies are proportioned properly. Well done.

In any medium, it can be difficult to introduce new characters and even harder to give them longevity. Fortunately, even with the Initiative having ended years ago, these cahracters still manage to pop up from time to time.

Next time, I will continue reviewing and explaining the Initiative, as the cast expands and finds itself embroiled in another war in the form of the Skrull's Secret Invasion.



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