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New Avengers: Illuminati #1: Review

Dec 2006
Brian Reed, Jim Cheung

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Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

New Avengers: Illuminati #1 Review by (June 5, 2013)
The Skrull prophecy will be expanded in some more detail in New Avengers #40. Essentially it predicted the destruction of the Skrull homeworld by Galactus in Fantastic Four #257, but then that the Skrulls would take Earth as a new homeworld, which they will try in Secret Invasion. The Emperor here is Dorrek VII who's been on the throne thus far in the Marvel Age. He'll be assassinated by his wife before Galactus arrives. NAv#40 will explain that the Skrulls used DNA samples taken from the heroes captured here to generate their own super-powered beings. They also develop improved indetectable impersonation techniques. One of the early published examples may be the Warskrulls who impersonate Prof X and the Starjammers in Uncanny X-Men #275-277. But the X-Men go back in time to the Galactus incident and find a group of Skrulls being trained to impersonate human superheroes in XM#89/UXM#370/XM#90. NAv#40 says that previously the Skrulls couldn't duplicate super-powers. It quotes the example of the Super-Skrull in FF#18 whose powers were externally-powered. But it seems to me that Super-Skrull's powers became innate, and long before the Kree/Skrull War. The Skrulls' negative attitude to their own mutants was featured in storyline starting in XM#95. It seems a tad unlikely that Captain America has given Tony Stark combat training at this point, as the Big 3 Avengers hadn't revealed their identities to one another yet.

The Illuminati's origin was told in a flashback in the single-issue Volume 1. The Marvel Chronology Project and the Official Index put that flashback immediately after the Kree/Skrull War. The Index doesn't list this issue but the MCP provisionally puts it immediately following the flashback origin. And I think that makes sense. The sequence of the Illuminati stories isn't straightforward. After these Kree/Skrull War issues their next appearance is in #3 of this volume. They are discussing the Beyonder's 1st Secret Wars, and go off to find him engaged in his 2nd Secret Wars. Tony Stark isn't with the Illuminati here, as he's seen in this issue during his drunk phase. It is suggested here that Secret Wars 2 didn't really happen, it was just Beyonder playing with 'action toys'. I don't know how this actually squares with the relevant comic issues. MCP seem unsure too, as they haven't even made this issue a provisional placing. Next is #4 where the Illuminati discuss their wives/girlfriends. MCO provisionally places this during Iron Man vol 3. Then we have #2, provisionally placed between the Extremis story and the start of New Avengers, where the Illuminati get hold of the Infinity Gems. In NAv#7-10, their 1st published appearance, the Illuminati react to the creation of the New Avengers and the mystery of the Sentry. Then in the 1-shot 1st volume they send Hulk to Planet Hulk, and Sub-Mariner quits. And then Secret Invasion kicks off in #5, where Black Bolt is revealed as a Skrull imposter. Appearances of the Illuminati after that are as sequential as anybody's is these days.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

New Avengers: Illuminati #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The Avengers have just defeated both the Kree and the Skrulls in the Kree/Skrull War saga in Av#89-97. The Skrull Emperor is holding an inquest aboard his flagship into why they lost, especially why the human teen Rick Jones was able to mentally paralyse them all. All this despite a prophecy that Skrulls would take the planet Earth (and also that the Skrull throneworld would be destroyed). A trembling military leader offers the excuse that Earth has a rising population of super-heroes, some of them mutants which would be killed at birth if they were Skrulls.

He's saved from further grovelling by the arrival via mystic spell of the Illuminati (Black Bolt, Dr Strange, Iron Man, Mr Fantastic, Prof X and Sub-Mariner). They have come to warn the Skrulls never to try to invade Earth again, or they will bring the war back to the Skrulls. As a sample Black Bolt uses his voice to destroy the flagship and some surrounding buildings, while Dr Strange brings the Illuminati back to their own small spaceship.

Namor exults in their vengeance, but the others are not so happy. And as they fly off their success is short-lived. They are attacked by multiple Skrull ships, their own ship destroyed and they are left floating unconscious in space.

They awake to find themselves trapped in individually-designed restraints, and being studied to destruction by their captors. Tony Stark is left alone because the Skrulls know his only power is the armour they have removed. But they do send Skrulls imitating other Avengers to pretend to rescue him, hoping to lull him into giving away secrets. However Stark sees through this ploy straight away. Unfortunately this allows the Skrulls to deduce that he knew the Avengers wouldn't come for him because they don't know he's here. And they correctly guess that nobody else knows about the mission.

But Tony uses the combat training that Captain America gave him to defeat all the fake Avengers. He grabs a gun and finds where Prof X is being held. Shooting his way in he frees Xavier, who uses his mind to subdue his captors/torturers. Next they release Sub-Mariner from his hot dry cell, and Dr Strange and Black Bolt. Stark at last collapses because his damaged heart isn't protected by his armour. But Strange uses a spell to keep him going. And somewhere along the way the sorcerer retrieves his Cloak of Levitation and Eye of Agamotto. Lastly they rescue Reed Richards, who is being test-stretched to find his limits.

The assembled Illuminati steal a Skrull spaceship and flee from the Skrull armada. Black Bolt wants to shout at the chasing fleet, but Dr Strange creates an image of Galactus, while Prof X bolsters the fear this induces.

The Illuminati make it back to the Solar System, trying to tell themselves that they've given the Skrulls reason to pick on somebody weaker. But they know that in reality the aliens will be back. Meanwhile on the Skrull throneworld the Emperor (who somehow survived his exploding spaceship) gloats that they've got the DNA of the various super-heroes, and his scientists will get to work on it.

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Jim Cheung
Mark Morales
Justin Ponsor
Jim Cheung (Cover Penciler)
Mark Morales (Cover Inker)
Justin Ponsor (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Tom Brevoort.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)
Professor X
Professor X

(Charles Xavier)

> New Avengers: Illuminati: Book info and issue index

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