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Initiative Initiation

Initiative Initiation: The New Class

Writer Christos Gage introduces the latest batch of recruits to AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE

By Tim Stevens On May 21 in AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #13, the Initiative's newest recruits, Annex, Prodigy, Gorilla Girl, Sunstreak, Batwing and Butterball, report for basic training...whether they want to or not. Unfortunately, their initial hesitation probably won't go away upon the greeting they receive from the residents of Stamford, Connecticut. "As we'll see on the very first pages of [issue] #13, the people who wanted Camp Hammond out of their city have not backed down one bit" explains writer Christos Gage, who scripts the issue solo without collaborator Dan Slott. "The new trainees will not be welcomed with open arms by any means." The bad news does not stop there for the newbies either. As Gage points out, "Some of these folks will be headed right into the thick of Secret Invasion, and with characters this inexperienced-not to mention obscure-there's always a danger they might not survive. That's if they're still around by the end of issue #13...and not all of them will be..." On that note, and at the risk of growing too attached, let us take a look at the second recruiting class of the Initiative Program...


ANNEX Alexander Ellis, a true blue patriot, fought overseas in the Middle East for his country. Despite being injured in a skirmish along with his friend Davy Dunson, Ellis' quick thinking helped them both escape. Sadly, Dunson's wounds proved fatal and Ellis' leg had to be amputated. Discharged from the service and frustrated with his low tech prosthesis, the man who would become Annex volunteered to don an experimental exoskeleton that, using something called the B.R.E.W.-Bio-Regenerative Energy Well-could create an almost flawless prosthetic as well as any number of weapons or high tech gadgets. Initially, the device took control of Ellis's mind, but he overcame it and eventually developed the ability to summon the armor at will. Why He Doesn't Need the Initiative: The aforementioned incident in the Gulf proves he's a natural born selfless hero.

Preview art by
Steve Uy

Why He Does: Annex's brief history includes multiple instances of having control of his armor wrested from him leaving him powerless or, worse, doing the bidding of those who would use him for evil means. Gage Says: "Annex has been around a while, but hasn't worked on a team, so he needs to learn that dynamic. [He] seems like a natural, with his Army training and prior experience. But he's overconfident. He thinks training is beneath him-he feels he's already proven himself."


PRODIGY To "get" Ritchie Gilmore, just imagine the teenaged Flash Thompson with powers and a worse attitude. A successful, popular high school athlete, Gilmore drove himself to be more. His ambition led him directly into the hands of the Black Marvel, who gifted Gilmore a costume based on the Prodigy identity Spider-Man used while being under investigation for murder. The suit gave Gilmore super strength, incredible leaping abilities, and a cape that allowed for limited gliding. The Marvel then made him the leader of the Slingers, a group made up of teens who wore costumes based on the other three identities Spider-Man employed during that time. Eventually the team disbanded following a battle in hell for the Black Marvel's soul. Prodigy continued to act as a hero until the first day of Superhuman Registration when he picked a fight with Iron Man and ended up soundly defeated and jailed. Why He Doesn't Need the Initiative: He has focus, ambition, and principles. Plus, he has team and

Preview art by
Steve Uy

leadership experience. Why He Does: Given his established pattern of arrogance, coldness-he once left his teammates buried under a collapsed tunnel, reasoning that true heroes would be able to free themselves-and profoundly bad judgment, most heroes would be hesitant to trust Prodigy at their back. Gage Says: "[Prodigy has] potential [and] the pool of candidates available to fill out the team rosters in all fifty states is getting thin. [He] is seething at the fact that, to get out of prison, he's had to join up with the very people he feels unjustly put him there."

Preview art by
Steve Uy

GORILLA GIRL A circus performer capable of morphing between human and gorilla forms, Gorilla Girl had a family of sort called the Freaks, all of whom fell under the sway of the sorcerer Moondark, who set them against Spider-Man. When the spell broke, however, the Freaks proved their innate goodness and would even later perform some heroics on their own. Gorilla Girl failed to register and the Thunderbolts hunted her down because of it. In the course of trying to escape them, she shoved Penance down several flights of stairs. His pain-based powers thus energized, he overcame and badly thrashed Gorilla Girl. Why She Doesn't Need the Initiative: She learned to be a team player as part of the Freaks and helped them defeat Hammer and Anvil. Why She Does: Quite some time has passed since that victory and Hammer and Anvil do not quite measure up to villains like Magneto, Diablo, or even the Shocker. What Gage Says: "Gorilla Girl would rather be a private citizen, but after not registering and getting arrested for it, she needs to get on the law's good side."

Preview art by
Steve Uy

SUNSTREAK A super villain with the ability to fly and produce a "solar lance," Sunstreak joined up with the super powered industrial saboteur team of Stockpile. Under the direction of Tony Stark's cousin Morgan, they invaded an old Stark Industries facility, only to come up against Iron Man-then the teenage Tony Stark-and War Machine. Despite an initial show of strength, the team collapsed and War Machine carted Sunstreak off to jail. She has been behind bars ever since. Why She Doesn't Need the Initiative: She has an impressive power set and experience cooperating with other super powered individuals. Why She Does: She suffers from overconfidence and has heretofore failed to defeat anyone she has fought. Her history as a villain would be described, at best, as problematic. What Gage Says: "Sunstreak thinks Camp Hammond beats jail, but not by much." Additionally, the writer identifies her as one of two recruits to watch for hidden agendas, along with Prodigy.


Batwing As a child, Jimmy Santini tagged along with his father on a trip to Carlsbad Caverns for what turned out to be an investigation of possible illegal dumping practices. The polluters did not take well to Santini's father's inquiry and killed him, leaving the youngster to fend for himself. Thirsty and desperate, he drank some of the polluted water which turned him into a humanoid bat creature. Rejected by his mother at first, Santini found himself reduced to stealing food from rooftop restaurants in New York City. Hired by Councilman Randolph Cherryh, Spider-Man attempted to make a buck off capturing Batwing until he figured out the tragic circumstances behind the creature's origins. Eventually Spider-Man convinced Santini's mother of his humanity and she proclaimed her love to Batwing at a tense police standoff. When he heard it, Santini returned to his human form.

Preview art by
Steve Uy

Why He Doesn't Need the Initiative: Batwing showed a natural ability to control his flying, weaving through New York with ease. He also has an in-born sense of right and wrong and, even at his worst, always made sure not to harm others. Why He Does: Santini has no real super hero experience and spent most of his time as Batwing escaping people, not helping them. Gage Says: "Batwing is pretty happy [to be at Camp Hammond]. [He] hopes the Initiative can find a way to help him change back to human form." BUTTERBALL A brand new hero who should not be confused with the corpulent female wrestler of the same name who fought alongside the Grapplers or the plus size boxer Butterbean, Butterball has been busy, according to Gage, "at home in Morganton, North Carolina, watching NASCAR and eating a lot." Why He Doesn't Need the Initiative: Umm... Why He Does: No experience, for one. Gage Says: "Butterball is thrilled to be there. [Also] he's partial to pecan pie." Camp Hammond welcomes the newbies May 21 in AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #13.

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