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Writer Dan Slott introduces four characters you’ll want to watch in the pages of Avengers: The Initiative

By Kiel Phegley

Posted April 4, 2007  4:50 PM

It’s a common complaint in comics circles: Where is the “new”?

New ideas, new stories and new characters are repeatedly called for by industry watchers and diehard fans and repeatedly shot down in a tough marketplace dominated by heroes and villains who have been in print for decades. Today, writer Dan Slott (She-Hulk) and artist Stefano Caselli (Civil War: Young Avengers/Runaways) do their best to break the catch-22 with Avengers: The Initiative #1. The new ongoing series from Marvel employs the massively popular Civil War event as a springboard for new characters coming into the Marvel U.

“The boot camp at Camp Hammond [in Stanford, Conn., where the series takes place] is just a great place to introduce new characters,” explained Slott. “Who wouldn’t want to introduce new characters into the Marvel Universe? And it’s also a place to revisit old, obscure characters and characters that haven’t been around in a while.”

Heading up the obscure and familiar end of the spectrum are Marvel standbys like War Machine, Yellowjacket and Slott’s own personal favorite Marvel heroine She-Hulk, although the writer is quick to note that inclusion of classic Marvel characters doesn’t mean rehashing of older Marvel storylines.

“When you read The Initiative, you’re not going to get ‘Here’s Dan’s leftovers from She-Hulk,’” Slott assured. “She-Hulk might be in it, but she’ll play as much a part in these stories as an instructor of the Initiative as the Wasp did in the Korvac Saga. She’s there as a player, but these stories will clearly be Initiative stories.”

And as for what those stories will focus on, Slott promised that the adventures inherent in the premise will range from adolescent drama to ultra-cool black-ops spy stories. “There’s so many things this book can be,” the writer said. “On some level it is the boot camp book, but I want to check in on some of the people who make it through Avengers basic and get assigned to one of the Fifty State Initiative teams. I want to see what those teams are. What is the team in Florida? What are they doing?”

But before we jump too far into the future of the Marvel U., let’s take a look at the Initiates Slott picked as having the biggest impact on the story so far.
CLOUD 9: A teenage girl with the powers of flight and air manipulation, Cloud 9 doesn’t seem to fit too well on a squad of aggressive fighters and ultra-thin supermodel types, making her a prime candidate for the focus character of the series.

Slott says: “She’s the young rookie that is the closest thing we’re going to have to a character whose eyes you’ll see the book through. She’s a girl that when she discovered she had this power of flight, she just had fun. It was an escape for her. And suddenly this thing that was the ultimate freedom for her is now a trap. If she wants to fly, she needs to register. And if she’s going to register and learn how to use her power, she’s in the Initiative. And that’s a scary thing.”

MVP: A dashing and dedicated athlete whose apparent super-strength found him ejected from competing in his school’s athletic program, MVP is looking to prove something in his shot at being a hero.

Slott says: “He’s the great-great grandson of Abraham Erskine, who came up with the super-soldier serum. He’s the all-American boy, and he has a secret. [Laughs] I can’t say what that secret is.”

KOMODO: A smart-mouth, punk rocker lizard chick with regenerative powers, Komodo doesn’t play well with others, which can be a strength and a weakness.

Slott says: “She’s a student of Curt Connors who stole the Lizard formula and thinks she’s perfected it. And Curt Connors registers her. So now she’s at the Initiative, and she likes it.”

THE GAUNTLET: A military man more at home on the battlefield than the home front, the Gauntlet and his one-armed army are drawn into the Initiative by way of one Henry Peter Gyrich.

Slott says: “The Gauntlet is a drill instructor who has a right gauntlet which is surprisingly similar to South Paw’s left gauntlet. What could be going on?”

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