Overall- You know a comic book is good when it puts a smile on your face after you read the last page. That's what this comic book did for me. Here I am, sitting in the lounge at my college, reading a comic book and smirking like a little kid.
This comic was actually two stories in one. The first story dealt with Hardball, an original member of the Initiative, who graduated, and wound up being placed on a super hero team in Nevada, as part of the 50 state Initiative. Well, Hardball has been dating a girl by the name of Komodo, since they met back at the Initiative Academy, who gained her powers the same way Spider-Man's old foe the Lizard did, with a serum, in order to replace her legs, which she lost in a traffic accident.
So, anyway, everything is great, Komodo works on a super hero team based out of Arizona, so Hardball and Komodo are close enough to spend time together. There is just one problem, Hardball received his powers from a super villain named the Power broker, and Hardball has been secretly working for Hydra to pay off his debts to the Power broker. Hardball meets with his Hydra contact, a U.S. Senator named Woodman, who says if Hardball can get Hydra a sample of the serum that transformed Komodo into a half lizard, they would cure Hardball's sick brother, and release Hardball from any further obligations to Hydra.
Although Hardball doesn't want to betray his lover's trust, he agrees to Woodman's proposition, and meets up with Komodo, casually asking her where he would be able to find the Lizard's laboratory. Komodo tells him, and when Hardball tries to break into the lab the next day, Komodo is there waiting for him. Realizing he was caught, and not wanting to hurt Komodo any further, Hardball comes clean with her and tells her all about his relationship with Hydra. Komodo says to help Hardball's brother, she'd supply him with the serum Hydra wanted.
Hardball leaves, serum in hand and Komodo informs her superiors that she had received a tip on how to take down Hydra. Hardball gives the serum to Sen. Woodman, and soon there after, the combined forces of the Nevada and Arizona super hero teams attack the limo containing Woodman and Hardball. Woodman injects the serum into himself and becomes a giant lizard creature, and begins to tear up Las Vegas. Finally, during the battle, Hardball kills Woodman, and realizes that he is in too deep with Hydra to get out. Hardball decides to take Woodman's place as Hydra leader, and leaves his former teammates, as well as Komodo, stating he didn't want to corrupt her anymore than he already did.
The second story gives us the origin story of Trauma, another one of the original recruits for the Initiative program. For the record, Trauma has the ability to transform into a person's greatest fear. Trauma recounts how his powers were out of control in the beginning, and that he drove his mother insane due to the horrible vision he showed her.
After that, he kept his distance from people, and tried to avoid his father and little brother out of the fear that he would drive them insane as well. Trauma's father asks Trauma to join the Initiative program, but Trauma isn't too keen on the idea, until he sees that his father's greatest fear is that one day he will wind up killing Trauma. After that, for the sake of his family, Trauma joins the Initiative, and hasn't been contacted by his father or little brother since.
The story ends with us seeing Trauma's mother strapped down in the crazy house, babbling to herself. Suddenly, a portal opens up, and the demonic Nightmare walks out, asking Trauma's mother how his bastard son was doing. Great ending, that I never saw coming!
Out of the original recruits, Hardball and Trauma were among my favorites, along with Cloud 9, so I was delighted to see that this comic was dedicated to the two of them. I liked the Hardball story, although, I didn't like his decision to join up with Hydra at the end, that won't end well...
The story with Trauma really stole the show for me, considering that in his prior appearances, next to nothing was ever revealed about his past. I especially loved the reveal at the end, that Nightmare was Trauma's true father. All in all, this was an extremely well written comic book that I would strongly recommend whether you were a fan of the Avengers:Initiative comic book, or not. For a score, I'll go with a 8 1/2 out of 10, I wold have made it a 9, but I really didn't like the way the Hardball story ended.