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Avengers: The Initiative #15: Review

Jul 2008
Dan Slott, Harvey Tolibao

Story Name:

The only good Skrull

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers: The Initiative #15 Review by (August 16, 2016)
Harvey Tolibao takes over as artist for this issue from Stefano Caselli. Caselli will be back next time but Tolibao will do the next 2 odd-numbered issues.

The cover is the Skrull version of #1.

This issue is spread across Secret Invasion #1-3.

Hellcat and Devil-Slayer have history as members of the Defenders

War Machine's need for life-support is because of the cyborg body he currently has, as seen in #11. I believe the armour is his life-support which is why system failure is deadly for him, and why he never leaves the armour. It's been suggested before (#12 and somewhere else?) that he also needs to retire to his quarters regularly, presumably for whatever the external system is doing here. Next issue and Iron Man (2005) #33 will say that the WM armour uses StaneTech not StarkTech, so it should be the external system that failed.

The story of the Freedom Ring was told in Marvel Team-Up (2005) as part of a long storyline involving Titannus. Ringmaster gained the Ring in #7, but lost it in #10. It fell into the hands of Curtis Doyle in #20, who used it to become the superhero Freedom Ring in #21. In #23 he met the Skrull Crusader who told him his backstory about being sent to Earth to spy on the Avengers but finding the team no longer existed - and growing to like Earth and deciding to become a superhero. Crusader trained Curtis. In #24 they helped the New Avengers fight Iron Maniac, an evil Iron Man from an alternate timeline. Curtis died and Crusader took the Ring. In #25 Crusader used the Ring to again help the NAv, this time against Titannus.

Apart from Initiative members I've mentioned some others get speaking roles here. Staff:- Taskmaster. Trainees:- Diamondback, Gorilla Girl, Stature. Others are seen but not heard. Staff:- Constrictor, Gargoyle, Stingray. Trainees:- Annex, Batwing, Geiger, Melee, Prodigy, Proton, Red 9, Sunstreak. Debrii is also shown this issue and last, but she shouldn't be here because she's left as part of Justice's Counter Force.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: The Initiative #15 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue Triathlon inherited the costume and Skrull-detecting goggles of 3-D Man, and discovered that 1 of his new Initiative team was a Skrull. He returned to Camp Hammond with the news. But Crusader (secretly a Skrull but a friendly 1) feared being found out, so he used his Freedom Ring to make the goggles see the opposite in the local vicinity. Now 3-D Man thinks everyone on the base is a Skrull except Crusader.

He's bombarded with questions about what he shouted about an alien invasion when he teleported in. He mumbles some excuse about disorientation due to using Devil-Slayer's cloak to teleport, and Hellcat agrees with that. Then he takes Crusader aside and whispers that the base is overrun with Skrulls, and suggests they go tell the Avengers. Crusader doesn't want to go with him, because he figures 3-D Man will get suspicious if everyone around them always looks like a Skrull, so he sends him off in a quinjet and says he'll stay behind to make sure the Skrulls don't get suspicious.

Delroy Garrett isn't sure who he can trust so he can't risk phoning someone he can't see with his goggles. So he changes plan and flies to New Mexico to find Chuck Chandler, the original 3-D Man, to ask his advice. But when he gets to the state the StarkTech virus that the Skrulls released in Secret Invasion #1 destroys the quinjet's computer system, and the craft crashes in the desert.

The virus also hits Camp Hammond. In particular it hits War Machine's quarters where he's in armour hooked up to a life support system which fails, and he starts to die. Baron Blitzschlag uses his reactivated electrical powers to give WM's armour a boost.

Gauntlet leads staff and trainees to the 'safety' of the barracks but the trainees  insist he tell them what's going on. He doesn't know more than that all systems are down (because they rely on StarkTech) and they can't contact Tony Stark, the Avengers, SHIELD or anyone else. Yellowjacket arrives to say that the Avengers are missing (they're in the Savage Land from SI#1), SHIELD is down (at least the helicarrier is in SI#1) and New York is under attack by aliens (by Skrulls from SI#2). He sends Gauntlet and the others to New York to help.

That scene is replayed in SI#3, but without the following extra bits. Crusader had a suspicion last issue that YJ was a Skrull that he couldn't detect. He tries a modification of the Freedom Ring trick above and does see that Henry Pym is a Skrull with some kind of superior undetectable shapeshifting (as certain people have already discovered about the Skrull replacements for Elektra and Black Bolt - see NAv:Illuminati #5). And Ant-Man (Eric O'Grady) avoids the dangerous mission by shrinking down and hiding.

Crusader flies off with the rest. On the way he recalls some of his history.

As Z'reg he trained in the Skrull army with his friend K'rtem. K'rtem was assigned to a secret squad while Z'reg was sent to spy on the Avengers. But when he got to Earth he found the Avengers were disbanded (Avengers Disassembled). Not knowing what to do he fell in with a girl who worked at Blockbuster and was a big fan of Avengers and their (documentary) DVDs. He also fell in love with her.

Then he met a new young superhero called Freedom Ring with a ring made from a Cosmic Cube. Z'reg revealed his Skrullhood and as Crusader trained the youth until he died in battle with Iron Maniac. Crusader took the Ring and used it to help fight Titannus.

Later he Registered and joined the Initiative.

The Initiative team join the Young Avengers fighting Skrulls in Times Square (as seen in SI#3 and SI: Runaways/YAv #1. Crusader can't bring himself to actually attack other Skrulls so concentrates on saving civilians. But he himself is attacked by 1 of the new type of Super-Skrull, who turns out of course to be K'rtem. Fearing that his friend will expose him (though it's unclear to me whether he means to the Skrulls or the Initiative), Crusader lashes out and fatally wounds K'rtem.

Z'reg offers to use the Freedom Ring to cure his friend. But K'rtem chooses to die as a warrior. Crusader is now irrevocably a hero of Earth, and throws himself into the fray.

Harvey Tolibao
Harvey Tolibao
Jay David Ramos
Mark Brooks (Cover Penciler)
Mark Brooks (Cover Inker)
Christina Strain (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

3-D Man
3-D Man

(Chuck Chandler / Hal Chandler)

(Patsy Walker)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
War Machine
War Machine

(James Rhodes)

Plus: Super-Skrull.

> Avengers: The Initiative: Book info and issue index

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