Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, Doctor Strange, Professor X, Namor and Black Bolt are some of the greatest rulers and thinkers in the Marvel Universe. They’re famous for their adventures as part of the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Avengers and other groups of heroes, but they’re also a part of the Marvel Universes Illuminati!
Together, these men toy with the world from behind the scenes, and today’s comic shines a light on the events that brought them together, and the fallout from their meddling!
Published by: Marvel
Written by: Brian Bendis & Brian Reed
Art by: Jim Cheung & Alex Maleev
Collects: New Avengers: Illuminati & New Avengers: Illuminati #1 – 5
Real Name: Blackagar Boltagon
Affiliation: The Inhumans
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #45 (December 1965)
The silent king of the Inhumans, Blackagar Boltagon – the son of two of Attilan’s top geneticists – was exposed to the Terrigen mists that grant Inhumans their powers while he was still an embryo. As a result, Black Bolt’s was granted abilities far beyond his kind, showing greater strength, speed than his brethren, as well as the ability to fly and a voice with such destructive capability that even his mere whispers could shatter whole buildings.
Despite being cut off from society until he learned to control his powers and given a special suit to allow him to harness the immense energy that resided within him, Black Bolt was eventually forced to take on the role of Inhuman leader when his parents passed away. As King, Black Bolt married the Inhuman Medusa, with whom he found a way to communicate without talking so that she could be his voice.
Eventually, the Inhuman’s existence was discovered by the Fantastic Four, forcing Black Bolt and his followers to begin interacting with humanity unlike they ever had before. In this new period of change, Black Bolt’s tumultuous rule has seen attacks from his mad brother Maximus, revolts and attacks by humanity, but throughout it all, Black Bolt has remained a stoic leader and spread Terrigen across the planet to usher in a new age of Inhumanity.
PLOT: For years, a cabal consisting of Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, Doctor Strange, Professor X, Namor and Black Bolt have gathered in secret to influence events in the Marvel Universe.
Now, as part of the Illuminati, this group must preemptively face the greatest threats to Earth – taming the cosmic powered Beyonder, negotiating with the Skrulls, rehabilitating the Kree warrior Marvel Boy and recovering the Infinity Gems!
Of course, for all their good intentions, playing with such powerful forces invites never ends well.
And looking at this initial comic – the story that kicked all of that off. It makes sense.
Here, Brian Bendis and Brian Reed pen an enticing narrative that spans the history of the Marvel universe, tackling some of the biggest comic events the publishers put out; from ensuring the Skrulls don’t attempt to invade again, to finally ‘solving’ the problem of the Hulk’s rage-fueled rampages.
I think the concept is perhaps at it’s best in the first issue, disconnected from the series as a whole. This one-shot, that introduces the concept and the major players (plus one player who will step up down the line) is excellently written, successfully capturing the different characters and their reasoning for why they might join such a cabal and with a dour art style that perfectly reflects the nature of the series’ events.
The follow-up five-issue series continues strong for the most part, but it does waver from time to time. Some of Bendis’ dialogue occasionally comes across as overwritten, and while the story itself is fascinating, some of the choices do, with more thought applied to them, seem questionable. The art by Jim Cheung is still incredibly strong but perhaps doesn’t capture the right tone in the same way that Maleev’s did in the one-shot starting issue.
However, while this comic may be somewhat meaningless to those without prior knowledge of the big events of the Marvel Universe such as the Kree/Skrull War, original Secret Wars, Civil War and the Infinity Gauntlet storylines to contextualise what’s happening, it still remains a fun insight into the secret lives of some of Marvel’s biggest characters.
As the series nears its end, it does start to feel like the series was just a lead-up to a bigger event, Secret Invasion, to give said event more gravitas. It kind of comes to a stop in a way that will leave you lacking without reading the ensuing event book, but the nice circular nature of the story does allow for an appropriate end to the overarching story of the Illuminati.
Plus, as I said before, they’re assembly leads to some great stories down the line, so for that reason, I give New Avengers: Illuminati a…
Thanks for reading! What do you think of the Illuminati? Should they get more page-time? Let me know in the comments below!
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