By Christos N. Gage (Script), Humberto Ramos (Art), and Edgar Delgado (Colors)

Some Thoughts Before The Review: Avengers: The Initiative is downright reliable. The storylines are a perfect fit for the style of the series, the artwork is almost always solid, and the character work is handled in a way that manages to impress each and every month.

The Story: Bengal’s wife comes to Gauntlet looking for answers about her husband, Bengal’s whereabouts. As you probably know, he’s in Madripoor with the other members of the Shadow Initiative, desperately fighting to survive the night. But Taskmaster has an idea that just might help them deal with Hydra…

What’s Good and What’s Not So Good: It’s cool to see an issue dedicated almost entirely to the Shadow Initiative. Especially one that’s as entertaining, funny, character-driven, and intelligent as Avengers: The Initiative #24. The book has some nice twists and turns, a few surprising guest stars, and best of all, it sets things up for the future in a very interesting way.

Christos N. Gage’s character work is some of the best he’s written, though from time to time he tries a bit too hard to bring the funny. Most of the humor and sarcasm is spot on, especially the way he handles Typhoid Mary’s personality and the banter between Taskmaster and one of the guest stars, but a few lines feel slightly forced. Another thing worth mentioning about Gage’s work is how well he uses the Dark Reign concept to elevate both his storytelling and his character work; partiulary the way he writes Norman Osborn the politician and the Dark Reign period for the Initiative. Everything has far been better than I expected it to be.

The artwork by Humberto Ramos and Edgar Delgado is solid all around. While the kinetic, cartoony style may not be for everyone, it definitely does the job. Of particular note is the way that the muted color scheme that Delgado uses allows Ramos’ work to stand out a bit more than usual. I think it does wonders for Ramos’ style, as I’ve seen it completely overpowered by the color work in the past.

There is one thing I must ask though. What’s the deal with showing Typhoid Mary’s nipple? While I have no problem with seeing some (drawn) skin, I found it rather odd considering that the book is rated “Teen +” and not even “Parental Advisory.” Maybe I’m weird for noticing, but I just had to bring it up.

Conclusion: Despite a flaw here and there, Avengers: The Initiative #24 is a damn fine chapter in a very good series. I highly recommend it.

Grade: B+

-Kyle Posluszny