Or – “The Answer To The Question We’ve All Been Asking…”


Since the return of the heroes duplicated by Skrulls, my particular corner of comics fandom has been asking the question: Could this be Marvel’s way of writing the spousal abuse out of the backstory of one of their founding Avengers?  The answer comes this issue, along with some other surprises, and at least one moment of pure shock, and a wonderful moment for an old supporting character that pushes her towards top-tier status…  Whattaya waiting for?  Click and let’s get goin’!

Av4.jpgPreviously, on Avengers: The Intiative:   The Fifty-State Initiative turned out to have been a nest of vipers from the very start, with a Skrull in every garage and a government official with a bad haircut in every pot.  The 3-D Man managed to mobilize the various recruits into a new Skrull Kill Krew, and swept across the country taking out shapeshifting schmucks, while Yellowjacket revealed himself to be an infiltrator.  The Crusader, a Skrullian expatriate, stopped the Pympelganger cold, but got his brains blowed out in the bargain.  Hank’s ex-wife, The Wasp, was killed in the big soopahero blowout, and the Stormin’ Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin, has been set up as the new head of security for the government.  The whole world has gone higgledy-piggledy, and now Pym has returned home to a life he doesn’t know, consequences that he never considered, and a wife he didn’t realize that he could ever miss this much…

Is that not a beautiful cover?  Props to Marvel and whomever painted it.  We open our festivities at Camp Hammond in Stamford, Connecticut, where the locals are once again up in arms about the presence of the hero boot camp in their backyard.  The recently healed up Gauntlet arrives, sweeps the protestors out of the way with one energy field, and enters the base, where the survivors of the Skrull invasion are being reintegrated into society.  Dum Dum Dugan calls Doc Samson a green-haired hippie in a cute moment, while Alicia Masters offers first-hand advice on how to reintegrate with society.  Meanwhile, the Gauntlet finds out that he’s the senior officer on base, and that Hardball has gone over to the side of Hydra.  He realizes that they need the Shadow Initiative, but doesn’t even know who is left that can authorize them.  He asks where the real Henry Pym is, and is told that Hank is “busy.”  In his quarters, Henry Pym sits down to a nice quiet dinner and a bottle of wine with his former wife Janet, and my brain starts to sputter like a Volkswagen in the Alps.  “That Skrull wasn’t just wearing my face, Jan.  He was living my life…  Hanging my pictures, doing my research, interacting with people I care about.”  Wasp asks if he means her, and he says, “No.  You’re dead.”   They talk about what happened while he was out, how the dupe had a relationship with Tigra, created “Clor,” who killed Black Goliath, and created the Ant-Man suit that Eric O’Grady stole.  Meanwhile, in the Camp Hammond cafeteria, Tigra and Hellcat have a quick conversation that leads to the reveal that Tigra is pregnant (!!!) by the Hank dupe. 

The Shadow Initiative is brought together by Gauntlet for the Hardball mission, and Mutant Zero gets snotty with the Sarge.  The 3-D Man and Ryder of the Kill Krew find an icy reception from Crusader’s pals, and Riot turns human again long enough to die.  Ryder and Delroy set off to kill Skrulls together, while Taskmaster confront Mutant Zero, answering the secret of her identity… Typhoid Mary!  (Who?)  Tigra visits Trauma to deal with the ramifications of her pregnancy, and decides to terminate her pregnancy, remarking that she couldn’t ever be Hank Pym’s wife, or have his child.  “I was there, you know…  I was one of the Avengers when he…  Sometimes, when I’m around him, I pretend it never happened.”  In Hank’s room, Jan finally asks the question we’ve all been waiting for.  “If it was the Skrull, I’ll take you back right now…  Look me in the eye and tell me that it wasn’t you.”  He pauses, and tells the truth.  It was the real Hank that hit her all those years ago.  She turns on her heel to leave, and he calls out after her, “You’re leaving.  Is that what the real Janet would have done?”  The woman turns, and drops her holographic disguise.  “That is exactly how she would have reacted,” says Jocasta.  Soon after, Yellowjacket takes his leave of Camp Hammond, reminding them all that he was never really there, anyway.  Back in his lab, a failsafe program goes off, and the systems start to rebuild the form of Clor, the clone Thor…

This was actually fine issue for me, with Dan Slott and Christos Gage delivering a nice script, using the image of the Wasp to great effect, and coming up with some horrifying imagery when Trauma shows Tigra her greatest fear (imagine the birth scene from “The Fly” with a litter of green tiger-hybrids.)  The art isn’t bad either, from a name I don’t recognize, Steve Kurth.  His faces are occasionally a bit blank, but the overall effect isn’t unpleasant.  Some might find troubling overtones in Tigra’s decision, but bearing in mind that Greer was a product of the Women’s Lib movement of the ’70’s, her status as Pro-Choice rang fine to me.  Overall, this issue was chockfull of moments that enriched my Secret Invasion reading experience, and it hopefully sets up Henry Pym as someone to watch in the New World Order.  Avengers: The Initiative #20 earns a nicely done 4 out of 5 stars, setting up new storylines well, and giving us some of the human cost of the interstellar conflict that ate so much of our time and money.



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. I’m actually glad Marvel didn’t have the skrull as the one who hit the Wasp. It would have been way too easy a cop out.

  2. You know Hank gets a lot of grief for one slap, but no one admonishes Janet for basically manipulating a mentally unbalanced person into marriage.

  3. i forget where i read it on the intarwubs, but somebody actually predicted “typhwho mary” as Mutant Zero…. and, like, i STILL don’t know who she is. for them to have said “everybody will know who she is when we take the helmet off”… whatta crock.

  4. Slott deals with the misquoting andparaphrasing of his Typhoid Mary clues on his message board and even if I didn’t think it was Mary from her first appearance I would have loved the reveal!

  5. Maybe this is one of those “difference of opinion” things, but it isn’t much of a reveal when I don’t even care who the person I don’t know is. Like, I seriously cannot be bothered to even look her up on Wikipedia. The whole thing had me primed to see Jean Grey, and there is no Jean. Fail. or at least “Bait and Fai…er Switch”. Wait. A comic book company pulling a bait ‘n’ switch? Next thing you know, I’ll be upset with wrestling for being “fake”. I should just learn to never believe anything or anybody again!!! B-) (If there were a way for me to post this instead of my previous one, I would remove the first, because this one says more effectively what I wished to say. End rant.)

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