Avengers Initiative has been Marvel's showcase of new, lesser known and B-list characters. For the most part this title has existed to respond to the events of the marvel universe outside of the actions of Spider-man and the X-Men. It began out of the ramifications of Civil War, moved into World War Hulk, integrated into Secret Invasion, and this and the last volume have dealt with the Dark Reign. It has been fun to follow the ride of these lesser known characters as they find heroism in these circumstances.
I have been continuously impressed with how Gage has responded to the overall shifts in editorial focus. Other titles feel forced into participating in the larger events, but Gage has managed to create a title that is focused around responses to these events and the continuation of character growth as a result of these new challenges. This volume introduces quite the status quo change with the villains taking over the Initiative Training facility; ultimately this change comes with some good and bad aspects. The good is that the story, while a bit more single issue focused than past volumes, engages the reader. This volume, just like all preceding volumes puts the character at the forefront. If you enjoy stories that are more based on character moments, and appreciate writers who are able and willing to take risks with characters I would recommend checking this volume out. Ultimately these characters are extremely disposable to Marvel, and Gage constantly reminds the reader that the fate of any character is unclear by the stories end, which makes for a completely engaging and unexpected turn of events at times.
However the aspect that I liked the least about this volume is that it has moved too much away from its beginning state. This title has become less about new heroes learning the ropes and more a conglomeration of early 90s characters that are trying to reclaim their place in this universe. While characters like cloud 9 and trauma are still present, the focus has turned into more of a new New Warriors book. Not knowing these characters prior to picking up Avengers Initiative, there is much exposition and confusion as to the pasts of some of these characters which draws you out of the story a bit.
This story continues what began in Avengers Initiative Disassembled, Avengers: The Initiative, Vol. 4: Disassembled so if you have not been reading this title already, I would recommend picking up that title at least. If you are interested in Dark Reign and seeing how the side-characters of the marvel universe respond, I would recommend this volume.