The new Initiative starts here! Norman Osborn, as the Director of National Security, has stepped up and assumed control of the Initiative. He has moved the training from Camp Hammond near Stamford, Connecticut to an abandoned Hulkbuster base in New Mexico. Avengers: Initiative standbys Taskmaster, Gauntlet, Trauma, Ultragirl, Justice, Tigra, Constrictor, and more are still in the book, but the table has been turned and the heroes are now villains as Osborn recruits a plethora of new soldiers for the Initiative. Among those recruited are Brothers Grimm and the U-Foes. The depths are plumbed much deeper, however, as the pages are literally filled with characters called upon to serve in the Initiative.
Rafa Sandoval does a great job of filling those pages. Roughly five pages in, it occurred to me that Sandoval's style is reminiscent of Carlos Pacheco, and the "Ultimate Avengers" ad confirmed that for me. Sandoval, with Bonet providing the inks, delivers characters that do more than just pose on the page. They interact with the other characters, the settings, and the backgrounds. Sandoval is a great new talent, and his work here is well placed.
My biggest gripe with Sandoval, however, is his lack of tail. Tigra's tail has disappeared somewhere. Sure, this may be a minor glitch, especially considering Sandoval deliberately changed Tigra's hands to be more paw-like, but Tigra's tail is a part (literally) of the character's identity. I really do like what Sandoval did with Tigra's mitts, but the tail walking away bugs me a bit more than it really should.
This issue of the Initiative grabs hold of some of the stories floating around the rest of the Marvel Universe for the past year, most notably the prison set up in the Negative Zone, 42. As "Guardians of the Galaxy" readers know, Blastaar overthrew the prison. Now the Initiative aims to take it back. Problem is, it's the Osborn-led Initiative. Their first task is to collect cannon-fodder in the form of villains and lawbreakers who copped plea deals, or signed on the Initiative thinking it was the easy way out.
Gage has done a tremendous job making this book and enjoyable title again. I'm not the biggest fan of "Dark Reign", but the collection of heroes –- Tigra, Gauntlet, Ultragirl, Justice, and the rest of the New Warriors –- forced to try and clear their names is such an awkwardly interesting collection of heroes that making them outsiders makes them more compelling.
Finally, fans of Tigra who were upset over the beat down the Hood put on her need to pick this issue up. Gage and crew are setting Greer up for a full recovery. Now, if they could just recover her tail. . .