Wednesday, December 20, 2017

For Safekeeping

New Avengers: Illuminati #1-3 and 5 (Marvel, February-July 2007 and January 2008, $2.99)
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Reed, Penciler: Jim Cheung, Inker: Mark Morales, Colorist: Justin Ponsor, Letterer: VC's Cory Petit, Production: Kate Levin and Irene Lee, Assistant editors: Molly Lazer and Aubrey Sitterson, Editor: Tom Brevoort, Editor in Chief: Joe Quesada, Publisher: Dan Buckley.

I quite like the idea of the Marvel take on the Illuminati: some of the smartest heroes banding together to develop a unified point of view and strategy on issues beyond the pay grade of lesser heroes.

After the Kree-Skrull War, Dr. Strange, Reed Richards, Iron Man, Professor X, Prince Namor, and Black Bolt warn the Skrull to leave Earth alone—but are then captured. An unarmored Tony Stark, trained in hand-to-hand combat by no less than Captain America, escapes and proceeds to free the others.

At times, the artwork of Jim Cheung reminds me of a younger John Romita, Jr. The last page of #1 is downright sinister: "Did we get what we needed from them? Then it was worth it."

In #2, Mr. Fantastic reveals to the others that he's started collecting Infinity Gems, you know, for safekeeping. He shows them how the Infinity Gauntlet works, as well as how the gems communicate with each other. Several of the Illuminati travel to the collective unconscious of humanity, and the others help Black Bolt make a hole in reality. Neither task is as easy as it might be, and once five gems are gathered, the sixth arrives. As does the Watcher (gosh, I love the Watcher), prompting the Illuminati to distribute the gems, to hide them, and to protect them.

#3 ties in the Secret Wars and the Beyonder, a mutant Inhuman, who were created by the Kree. Because Black Bolt doesn't remember the Beyonder as a subject, they go to look for him, finding him on a recreated island of Manhattan in the middle of an asteroid belt.

In #5, Iron Man reveals that Skrull have been hiding among heroes—without being detected—for some time. After an attack by Super Skrulls, and once the Illuminati no longer trust themselves, the seeds are sown for Secret Invasion, which I've never read. Based on this wonderful miniseries, I think it might be worth reading!

This series had it all: Skrull, the Infinity Gauntlet, the Watcher. A secret organization with a master plan for superheroes? Why wasn't more made of this? Wow.

Availability: The miniseries was collected in New Avengers: IlluminatiSecret Invasion has also been collected.

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