Written by Dan Slott & Chris Gage
Art by Stefano Caselli
I believe Avengers: The Initiative is falling victim of Secret Invasion's broad strokes, no room for characterization storytelling, something earlier issues had made room for that made me care about the various D-listers appearing in this book, and it only serves to undermine everything Slott, Gage and Caselli, who doesn't actually draw this issue, have built.
For example, Thor Girl fights Ultragirl in this issue and the resulting fight has Thor Girl revealed as a Skrull infiltrator, killed and forgotten in the span of a few pages. This is a character that has been in the book for a fair length of time and was one I was enjoying. Aside from her sketchy origins, what with the Asgardians all 'dying' and her still kicking, she had shown no signs of Skrullification and was receiving some solid character development with Trauma that was thrown out the window for a shock reveal and killing.
In fact, most of the book dealt with the Skrull Kill Krew, along with a select group of random Initiative members, going from state to state killing the Skrull on each team, quickly dismantling the various teams that were setup before we even got a chance to get to know any of them, which is a lot of wasted time establishing them in the first place.
The saddest development was witnessing how far Cloud 9's fun loving, "I just want to fly", character has fallen since graduation. Here, she's hiding in cloud formations and sniping off enemies with adamantium tipped bullets without even batting an eye. I miss the old Cloud 9 and hope they find a way to fix her because she's broken and unlikeable at this point.
The remainder of the issue was devoted to moving people into position for their appearances in Secret Invasion, such as having most of the team converging on Central Park and meeting up with Nick Fury. The remaining members find out from Ant-Man that the Skrulls are going to use the Negative Zone portals connecting each Initiative base as a giant teleporter to phase out a huge chunk of landmass to the Negative Zone, which would result in the Earth's orbit shifting, if their invasion plans fail. Thus, they all set out to blow up the Negative Zone portals, which seems far more compelling than the actual conclusion to Secret Invasion is with the Wasp blowing up.
Verdict - Check It. There are flashes of the old Initiative book pre-SI tie-ins, but they are few and far between. With only one issue left of tie-ins, I wonder if the book will be able to keep me entertained long enough to stick it out for future stories.