As I've been saying for months now, this series is my favorite Avengers title. Mighty is OK to very good, and Dark and New are both written by BENDIS(enough said there!), so Avengers: The Initiative is where I go to get my fill of old school style Avengers action. This issue is written by Christos Gage.
-For the most part this issue focused solely on the Shadow Initiative and their mission to take Hardball, who used to be a member of Shadow Initiative, into custody. This issue begins with the Shadow Initiative(minus Komodo who was de-powered and captured last issue)battling with Wolverine's old sparring partners, Roughhouse and Bloodscream in Madipoor.
-After an extended battle, Taskmaster realizes that if the fight goes on any longer there will be a mess of Hydra agents all over the streets, and the Shadow Initiative. To prevent that from occurring Taskmaster tells Roughhouse and Bloodscream that he wants to surrender to Hardball and join Hydra.
-Hardball and Scorpion(his co-leader in Hydra)hear Taskmaster out and decide to lock the Shadow Initiative up for now in order to protect against a possible Shadow Initiative double-cross.
-Some Hydra agents take the Shadow Initiative to the armory to disarm and Taskmaster and his crew make their move, attacking and taking out the guards there. More guards arrive and Typhoid Mary(one of the Shadow Initiative members)snaps and burns all of the Hydra agents to a crisp. After warning the rest of the Shadow Initiative to leave her be, she escapes into the streets of Madipoor... Oh Mary, you so crazy!
-While this action is going on, Scorpion reveals to Hardball that she only joined Hydra in order to tear them apart from the inside. Needless to say, Hardball is stunned, but since he didn't have any real loyalty to Hydra and only joined out of necessity, he allows Scorpion to make her escape. Hardball then goes to make sure the de-powered Komodo(his ex-girlfriend)is OK.
-By this point, a whole mess of HAMMER agents have honed in on the Shadow Initiative's position and along with some help from Ant-Man of the Thunderbolts, defeat all of the remaining members of Hydra. Hardball manages to lead Constrictor to Komodo's room(to make sure she isn't left behind when HAMMER pulls out)before surrendering.
-This issue ends with Taskmaster debriefing Norman Osborn back in the US on the mission and Osborn offering Taskmaster the position of leader of the Initiative.
I know I sound like a broken record when it comes to this series, but once again, this was a very good issue. I admit that I have a soft spot for Initiative originals like Komodo and Hardball, so I was happy to see the both of them survive this storyline. I was also pleased to see Scorpion return to her heroic roots here. I've liked her since her initial appearances in Amazing Fantasy, so I'm glad to see her escape unharmed.
Taskmaster as the new leader of the Initiative program is an interesting idea. Taskmaster is another character I've always liked(yeah, I know, I'm saying that a lot...), and I've never really understood why Taskmaster hasn't received a better position in the Marvel U. He's got an awesome look, great powers and a very cool vibe about him. Hopefully this new position will be a springboard to bigger and better things for Taskmaster. Good story, good artwork, what more could I really ask for? For a score, I'll give this comic an 8 out of 10. If you want to read a good Avengers title and are tired of the BENDIS-ization of the Avengers books, I'd highly recommend giving this series a shot before it's too late.