With the defeat of the Shadow Initiative, Camp Hammond is now wholly in the control of the Skrull invasion force. Only cadet Ant-Man remains at large: he's learned the Skrulls' military plans but has no one with whom to share them. Elsewhere, Delroy "3-D Man" Garrett and other Hammond grads have rendezvoused with the Skrull Kill Krew and are teleporting around the country, killing the Skrulls who have infiltrated the teams of the Fifty State Initiative.
We open in media res, with the Krew taking on the Skrull impersonator who, in the guise of Equinox, has infiltrated Montana's superhero squadron. Despite the Krew's advantage of numbers and powers, Equinox more than holds his own, until he's taken out by a sniper's bullet. In an unsurprising but grim twist, the sniper turns out to be Abby "Cloud 9" Boylen, who used her powers to float into the air and fire from the concealment of a fluffy white cloud.
Man, we knew Abby was shedding her adolescent innocence, but this is a new degree of hardness: shooting people in cold blood. And when Delroy tells her "nice work," she replies "whatever."
Elsewhere, the Skrulls at Camp Hammond are laying a trap for the Kill Krew. They know the Krew depends upon Devilslayer's magical cloak to teleport, and they plan to home in the cloak's energy and send a squad of crack soldiers to take our heroes down. To provoke the Krew into striking, they bring their spies in from the cold, directing all of their Fifty-State infiltrators to reveal themselves and wreak havoc. The order comes too late to save the Revolutionary, the Skrull infilitrator of Pennsylvania's Liberteens (last seen in Avengers: the Initiative Annual #1, as he's taken out by the Krew. But it may save the infiltrator of Georgia's Calvary, where the Krew travels next. The Skrull plan succeeds, and the Skrull strike force arrive at the same time the Krew does.
A big battle ensues. Skrulls attack the Krew. The Krew attacks the Skrulls. Thor Girl and Ultragirl fight: one of these is the infiltrator, but no one (not even the reader) is sure which one. Cloud 9 doesn't know, so she shoots both of them (hardcore!), knocking them both to the ground. Now 3-D Man's special goggles reveal the truth, and with a single hammerblow, he caves in "Thor Girl's" head.
Now we know how she kept her powers after Asgard disappeared, I guess. And how she survived when KIA shot her in the face with the Tactigon.
In the aftermath of the battle, Ant-Man turns up: he hitched a ride with the Skrull strike force. Having rejoined his Initiative teammates, he can tell them what the Skrulls are up to, namely using the technology in the Fifty-State bases to crack the Earth in two... a truly scorched-earth scenario. With time running out, the Krew splits the party, sending smaller teams across the country to take out every Fifty-State base.
As they teleport out, Devilslayer's cloak runs out of juice; or rather Devilslayer runs out of juice, dying from the strain of using his cloak in this fashion. A bit of an anticlimax, really. I'm sorry he's dead, but we hardly spent enough time with him to feel this loss very keenly.
Another solid entry from this title. Action, character moments, plot twists, it really has it all. There are nice nods to continuity, too: we learn the Skrulls have trouble dealing with Devilslayer because all of their mystics are over in Britain, per Captain Britain and MI-13, and that there is no infilitrator in the Order because Tony Stark chose all of their members himself. (I don't see why that should have been a problem, given how many other infiltrators there are, but whatever.) So there's no Skrull subtext in the twelve-issue run of The Order: good to know. Nice to see those folks again, too. Their series deserved more time, I think.
Also: the Skrulls mention that there's another Fifty-State team besides the Order without a Skrull infiltrator. Which one, I wonder? It's not the Mighty Avengers, is it? That team had both Spider-Woman and Hank Pym on it, so I think it's fair to characterize it as featuring infiltrators.
Seeing Abby even more cold and emotionally disengaged than she was in Avengers: the Initiative #12 only heightens the impact of the first twelve issues of the series, I think. Kudos to Slott and Gage for not shying away from the implications of their own work.
Am I right in thinking this book is drawing to a close? Future solicits are vague on this point, and the fact we're seeing Hardball, Komodo, and Cloud 9 return in such a prominent fashion makes my spider-sense tingle.
Up to the standard we've come to expect from this title, but not transcending it. Three webs.