In the aftermath of the Skrull invasion, Camp Hammond is burnt out, literally and figuratively. As the base camp of the Skrull ground troops, its buildings are damaged and its administrative systems compromised. As the home of the Fifty-State Initiative, now revealed to be a Skrull plot, its credibility is exhausted and many of its staff and graduates have been exposed as Skrull infiltrators. Some of those replaced have now returned, including the nominal Director, Hank "Yellowjacket" Pym, who came back to discover his reputation in tatters – the Skrull infiltrator who took his likeness was a propaganda mouthpiece for the invaders – and that his ex-wife, Janet "the Wasp" van Dyne, is dead, murdered by the same infiltrator.
All of which is to say, Camp Hammond isn't a jolly place right now.
Who's unhappy? Roll call!
Surely the most unhappy is Hank Pym. He's closeted in "his" quarters at Camp Hammond, talking to someone who really, really looks like Janet van Dyne. The pair of them know it's a façade, but Hank seems to finds it soothing. The fake-Wasp fills Hank in on everything "he" was up to recently, including inventing the G.I.-Ant Man armour, making a clone of Thor to use as a weapon (later used to kill Bill Foster, Hank's friend) and schtupping Tigra. The fake-Wasp is intrigued by how out-of-touch Hank seems to be: just how far back was he kidnapped? Was it before Avengers #213, when he famously struck his own wife? Could it be that Hank Pym was innocent of that crime?
"I'm sorry," says Hank, after a pause. "That was me. It's all on me."
With that, fake-Wasp reverts to her true form: Jocasta. As an android, like the Vision, she shares Janet van Dyne's brain-patterns, and as a "friend and fellow Avenger," she's happy to help Hank work through his problems. Apparently disguising herself as the Wasp and play-acting was something Hank felt he needed.
That's very creepy. Thankfully we're supposed to interpret it as such.
The book ends with Hank departing Camp Hammond for greener pastures. The Gauntlet would like him to stay, but Hank isn't tempted. "Sgt. Green, I don't know you. I've never met your cadets. I've never set foot in that lab or in those quarters. I was never here."
As Hank leaves, so does writer Dan Slott, who's been writer or co-writer of this book from its inception. Christos Gage, now taking the book on entirely, leaves us with a cliffhanger: the Skrull "Pym" left behind a failsafe, a parting shot against Earth's heroes. Somewhere in the bowels of Camp Hammond, the Thor-clone begins to regenerate.
I anticipate another KIA-style rampage through the camp, coming soon to this title.
This is an issue to tie up the last of Dan Slott's plot threads – Mutant Zero, mostly – and segue many of the characters to other books. Ant-Man is off to Thunderbolts; Ryder to Skrull Kill Krew (and maybe 3-D Man, too); Pym and Jocasta to Mighty Avengers. Dan Slott will be joining them on the latter, so expect to see the creepy Pym-and-Jocasta-and-Janet van Dyne menage à trois continue there.
There's not a lot to say about this issue – it's an epilogue that lets us catch our breath after the Secret Invasion, which is appreciated, but it's all about housecleaning, which is hard to get excited about. The reveal on Mutant Zero is nice and unexpected: I recently remarked to other SpiderFan staffers that Typhoid Mary was an underutilized character who deserved more attention. I'm glad to see folks at Marvel felt the same way.
That move of Dan Slott's is one thing to admire in this issue. The other is his deft touch with the continuity. I happen to own a copy of Avengers #213, but I had forgotten that Tigra was on hand for Pym's descent into recklessness, selfishness, and wife-beating. And that Tigra thought Pym was totally unworthy of Janet van Dyne. Given that history, the fact that Tigra and Pym became lovers in Bendis' Mighty Avengers is highly unlikely, but I'd completely missed that fact. Not Dan Slott, though, who manages to address the problem without even acknowledging that it was one. It's little bits of business like that which make him one of the best, or so I believe. I'm glad he's on Mighty Avengers, but we'll miss him here.
It's housecleaning, but done in an engaging fashion. No highs, no lows, just a satisfying middle. Three webs.
With the departure of Dan Slott and the Scarlet Spiders from this title, there's really no more reason to carry on reviewing it for SpiderFan.org. So with a tip of the cap, your obedient servant is departing also. I'll keep reading Avengers: the Initiative, but not reviewing it any more, unless something specifically Spider-related comes up.