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Take the initiative: Read 'Avengers'

While the "Iron Man" movie has made the hero recognizable to the masses, Tony Stark is, unquestionably, the most important and influential character in the post-"Civil War" Marvel Universe.

While the "

Iron Man

" movie has made the hero recognizable to the masses, Tony Stark is, unquestionably, the most important and influential character in the post-"Civil War" Marvel Universe.

Nowhere is this more evident than in "Avengers: The Initiative." Whereas Stark's solo titles and books like "New Avengers" and "Mighty Avengers" were dramatically affected by "Civil War," "Avengers: The Initiative" was a result of it.

For the uninitiated, a deadly tragedy blamed on young superheroes led to the passage of the Superhuman Registration Act, which required all individuals with paranormal abilities to register with the government. Stark led the fight for the law and against those who opposed it (including the now-deceased Captain America) and won.

In the aftermath, Iron Man set in motion the Initiative, a plan for training and policing superheroes with a goal of having a superhero team in each of the 50 states.

Of course, as with a lot of things run by the government, a good idea gets bogged down by secrets, lies and cover-ups. This brazen political tone makes the book unique.

While writer Dan Slott did OK at first, some flaws were evident, namely characters who were either unlikable or not fully fleshed out. And the book needed a writer to give it the gravitas its concept demanded.

Enter Christos Gage as co-writer. That Gage is a perfect complement to Slott's lighter touch and humor is most evident in the pulse-pounding, thought-provoking issue No. 12, in which Stark heads a tribunal looking into the mysterious circumstances behind the death of MVP.

Seems that in order to cover up MVP's death, it was decided that he would be cloned. Unfortunately, the clone turned into the murderous KIA, who killed and injured several trainees and staff members before being stopped.

The issue also includes an unofficial "Secret Invasion" tie-in, bringing a major decision by many former New Warriors.

However, the most memorable scene is the final confrontation between Stark and a political opponent — a longtime Marvel governmental nemesis, Secretary Henry Peter Gyrich.

By issue's end, there is a clear winner. Just like "Avengers: The Initiative" itself.

'Die! Jedi! Die!'

The Associated Press reported that in Holyhead, Wales, a man who dressed up as Darth Vader, wore a black garbage bag as a cape and assaulted the founders of Britain's first Jedi Church, was given a suspended sentence last week.

Arwel Wynne Hughes, 27, attacked Jedi Church founder Barney Jones (aka Master Jomba Hehol) with a metal crutch and also whacked Jones' 18-year-old cousin, Michael Jones (aka Master Mormi Hehol).

"Darth Vader! Jedis!" Hughes shouted as he approached. Hughes claimed he couldn't remember the incident, having drunk the better part of a 2 gallon box of wine beforehand.

Unfortunately for Hughes, the incident was recorded on a video camera that the cousins had set up to film themselves in a light-saber battle.

"He knows his behavior was wrong and didn't want it to happen but he has no recollection of it," said Hughes' lawyer, Frances Jones.

District Judge Andrew Shaw sentenced Hughes to two months in jail but suspended the sentence for one year. He also ordered Hughes to pay 100 pounds ($195) to each of his victims and 60 pounds ($117) in court costs.

Barney Jones, his brother Daniel and cousin Michael set up the Church of Jediism, Anglesey Order, last year. It boasts about 30 members.

In the 2001 United Kingdom census, 390,000 people listed Jedi as their religion.