By Dan Slott & Christos N. Gage (Writers), Steve Kurth (Pencils), Drew Hennessey (Inks), and Matt Milla (Colors)

Some Thoughts Before The Review: Avengers: The Initiative #20 marks the end of Dan Slott’s run with the series. While it’s a bit sad to see him go considering how consistently entertaining the series has been since the very beginning, I have no doubt that Slott’s writing partner, Christos Gage, will effortlessly continue to carry the torch as The Initiative heads into Dark Reign. Time to find out if Slott leaves the series with a bang or a whimper.

The Story: The twentieth issue of Avengers: The Initiative is all about setting a course for the future while addressing a few things from the past. Translation? There is a hell of a lot going on at Camp Hammond. Here is just a taste of some of the plot points dealt with in the book: Hank Pym confronts the loss of his wife and his absence head on, the Shadow Initiative gets a new mission and a new leader as the identity of Mutant Zero is finally revealed, the Skrull Kill Krew deals with the consequences of its actions, and Ant-Man gets something of a promotion. There are a few more plot points as well, but I don’t want to mention everything in order to avoid spoilers.

What’s Good: As usual, Dan Slott and Christos Gage do a fantastic job juggling a cast of dozens without missing a beat. I could go on and on about the character work, but if you have been following the series (or have read another of my reviews for the series), you know how good the writers can be. And they are at the top of their game in this one. Couple all that good stuff with several intriguing plot developments and you have one heck of a good read.

What’s Not So Good: There are only two things about the issue that I consider to be a negative. The first is that the reveal of Mutant Zero’s identity is a bit of a letdown, especially considering that the character isn’t exactly a major player (or at least hasn’t been for a while). The second is that the artwork, while fine enough and totally serviceable, isn’t exactly noteworthy in any way, shape, or form.

Conclusion: Avengers: The Initiative #20 is a prime example of why I consider the series to be one of the best that Marvel puts out. If you haven’t checked it out already or bailed during Secret Invasion, now would be a great time to get on board. The character work is fantastic, the artwork is almost always strong, the storylines are compelling, and the impressive size of the rotating cast always keeps the series feeling incredibly fresh and unpredictable.

Grade: B+

-Kyle Posluszny