The Desert Stars is the Arizona based team of the Initiative. These members are from the first wave of graduates from Camp Hammond and have been assigned to protect the state of Arizona and settle into their new roles as the country's protectors. The team consist of the Two-Gun Kid who acts as the leader of the group, Komodo, Johnny Cool and SuperMax. They had a fifth member named Blacksmith but it turned out he was a Skrull imposter.
The Skrulls had an imposter on each Initiative team and the Skrull Kill Krew started eliminating the imposters every time they detected one. The new 3-D Man discovered that Blacksmith was a Skrull with his special goggles while the Desert Stars were helping clear an accident in Phoenix. Ryder from the Skrull Kill Krew started shooting at Blacksmith and he transformed to reveal his true form. The Blacksmith Super Skrull battled the Desert Stars and the Skrull Kill Krew. Blacksmith took down most of the Desert Stars during the fight and even sliced off Komodo's arm with his shield. Blacksmith was finally taken down when a powerful laser blast went through Komodo and into the Skrull. Komodo survived and was able to heal quickly because of her ability to regenerate. The rest of the Desert Stars were out of the fight but they survived.
The Desert Stars were created by Dan Slott, Christos N. Gage and Stefano Caselli in 2008 and first appeared in Avengers: The Initiative # 16.
The Desert Stars would run into American Eagle after the criminal known as Cottonmouth entered an Indian reservation in Arizona. Cottonmouth just robbed a bank in Phoenix and the Desert Stars were in close pursuit. Cottonmouth escaped and was hiding on Indian territory after kidnapping a young girl and killing some dogs. The Desert Stars no longer had jurisdiction in Navajo Nation and the authorities had their own hero to deal with the craziness. The Desert Stars wanted to help American Eagle but Mr. Strongbow told them to get the hell off his land and tell Stark to kiss his ass.
The Desert Stars would team up with another Initiative team called the Heavy Hitters when Zzzax escaped from SHIELD custody after their
systems were sabotaged. Zzzax was going after the generators in Hoover Dam in order to feed on the electromagnetic energy. Both teams responded to the red alert emergency since Hoover Dam is on the Arizona and Nevada border. Johnny Cool used his cold powers to plug up a hole in the dam while the hot-headed Supermax rushed into battle with Zzzax. Supermax tried to knock Zzzax into the river but was zapped with an electric bolt when that maneuver failed. Zzzax was defeated when Hardball (Komodo's boyfriend) placed an energy ball into Zzzax's stomach and expanded it, causing him to explode (Komodo kept Zzzax distracted). Johnny Cool was able to contain Zzzax by freezing his scattered pieces. Supermax was more embarrassed after the encounter because he acted like a total rookie but the Two-Gun Kid told him he was a rookie and was entitled to make mistakes. Two-Gun was more embarrassed because both teams were not in synch and got in each others way. Komodo, however, was congratulated on doing such a good job.
Komodo discovered Hardball was tied to HYDRA executive Congressman Woodsman and had stolen (and modified) Lizard serum. Along with rest
of the Desert Stars and the Heavy Hitters she tried to arrest Woodsman. Woodsman took the serum (which had caused another agent to die) but he transformed into a giant reptilian monster. Hardball, however, killed him. Komodo told him they could stay together because Hardball had killed Woodsman and the serum Hardball had stolen was used up, but Hardball instead took Woodsman's spot in HYDRA and escaped, leaving Komodo in one of his force fields. Komodo then joined the Shadow Initiative to hunt down Hardball in Madripoor, but she didn't leave the Desert Stars.
The Shadow Initiative was overpowered by HYDRA (which's agents included Scorpion ( Carmilla Black), Bloodscream, and Rough-house). They pretended to surrender after learning that SHIELD had folded and they might be abandoned in Madripoor, but then double-crossed HYDRA and escaped (with the exception of Komodo whom Hardball had depowered). Mutant Zero lost control of herself and ran into the Madripoor jungle, but the rest were able to hold of the enemy long enough for HAMMER troops with Ant-Man (Eric O'Grady) to arrive. Bloodscream, Rough-house, and several HYDRA agents were captured, but Scorpion escaped with the only remaining SPIN tech gun of HYDRA's. Hardball let himself be captured, but first made sure Komodo was safe by bringing Constrictor to the room she was in. He asked Constrictor not to tell Komodo he still cared about her because he thought it would make it harder for her to move on. Constrictor agreed after Hardball reminded him that he had a son whom his identity was a secret to for the same reason.
After Taskmaster was appointed head of the Initiative, he reformed the Shadow Initiative to use as cannon fodder for an invasion of the Negative Zone Prison named 42. Komodo stayed on the team in order to recapture Hardball, who was incarcerated in the prison when Blaastar's aliens invaded it. Hardball turned on Blaastar's aliens and Taskmaster (who let the recruits do villainous activities secretly) allowed him back in. Komodo argued with him so much that Taskmaster felt he had to kick her out of the Initiative. He did so, but first he depowered her, leaving her legless and miserable. The Desert Stars now only had 3 members. However, due to their location and the fact that they did not participate in larger politics and events, they have not yet been very affected by Norman Osborn and Taskmaster's Dark Reign, so they continue their activities without criminal actions like many of the other teams (possibly they are unaware what the rest of the Initiative has become). Taskmaster chose not to send them after the Heavy Hitters when they seceded because he was afraid they wouldn't take down a team that was really rebelling only because of the Initiative's criminal activity.
Komodo approached the Avengers Resistance despite being depowered. The team, composed of former Initiative members and New Warriors who had formed to fight Osborn's Dark Reign, welcomed her into their ranks. When most of the Initiative was busy invading Asgard, the Resistance attacked Camp HAMMER. Komodo entered Baron Von Blitzschlag's lab in a wheel chair and pointed a gun at him telling him to do everything she said. Cloud 9 and Hardball, two supers who were still part of the Initiative, entered the room. Hardball began to restrain Komodo when she tried to shoot at him so she yelled to Cloud 9 for help. Cloud 9 said to calm down and Hardball then stabbed Komodo with a syringe. The syringe had SPIN-negating technology and Komodo was repowered. Komodo then turned to attack Hardball, but Cloud 9 pointed out how he had always been looking out for her and the first class of the Initiative (which they were part of) should remember what they had learned. The trio then turned on Blitzchlag, but he traded information on many of Osborn's Initiative's crimes in return for their help in keeping him from prison.
After Osborn was thrown from power, Komodo returned to the Desert Stars.
Commander Steve Rogers informs Prodigy of the unknown meteors that have fallen from the heavens and mass panic is on the horizon. Rogers asks Prodigy to gather heroes on a volunteer basis to help keep the peace and lead a new Initiative where there is no forced conscription or registration. Prodigy agrees to become the leader of the new Initiative and most of the former Initiative teams gather in Washington DC including the Desert Stars. The team prevents some armed, masked men from robbing the National Bank.
Johnny Cool - Cold/Ice Generation
Komodo - Regeneration; super strength; enhanced agility, claws and fangs
Supermax - Can Increase Size and Strength
Two-Gun Kid - Expert Marksman
Blacksmith (secretly a Skrull)