Avengers: The Initiative #19 (Marvel Comics)
by Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Harvey Tolibao & Bong Dazo
Unlike the other two main Avengers titles, this second-tier Avengers series really made the most out of its tie-ins to Secret Invasion, telling a story that ran concurrently with the main event title but still held up pretty well on its own. In the midst of all the super-hero action and the chaos of war, the writers have also managed to incorporate a couple of strong character-driven subplots, perhaps the best of which is that of the Crusader, a heroic Skrull-in-hiding who sides with Earth in the war. His arc comes to a logical conclusion in this issue, but I have to admit that I was disappointed in how it was resolved. It’s a tragic ending, but one that works in the context of the story, but it’s dealt with almost casually that the tragedy of the moment passes by so quickly that it fails to have the proper impact.
Moreso than any other issue in this series so far, the story crumbles under the weight of the expansive cast of characters. There are so many players in this game that the writers’ effort to give each one of them a role to play overwhelms any sense of flow, making for a dizzying and frenetic read. Furthermore, the art suffers from the inclusion of so many colorful characters. It seems like we barely see any Skrulls in this last-ditch effort to repel a Skrull invasion. The panels are busy, cramped and confusing. Now while this concluding chapter in the Secret Invasion story arc fell a little short, the larger plot remains a success, and I remain interested in the premise of the series and the third-tier characters. 6/10