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New Avengers: Illuminati #5: Review

Nov 2007
Brian Michael Bendis, Jim Cheung

Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

New Avengers: Illuminati #5 Review by (July 5, 2016)
Funtime Inc was previously seen as a meeting place for the Illuminati in New Avengers #7 and the Illuminati 1-shot. It obviously isn't completely destroyed here as Tony Stark will use it as a hideout in Dark Reign in Iron Man (2008) #8-10, and the Illumati will meet here again in Av (2010) #8 and NAv(2010)#29. Nick Fury will even hold a meet here in Secret Av (2013) #9.

IM has just completed the 1st arc (#1-7) of his new 2008 series fighting Ezekiel Stane.

Namor was last seen in Hulk (2008) #5-6 helping IM and some others deal with the rampaging Red Hulk. And before that he was in Avengers/Invaders #3-4 dealing with his younger WWII version.

The conversation here between IM and Subby about Atlantis is a bit strange. Namor sarcastically says he would have called the team for help when his realm was collapsing if he'd known they were all still pals. But IM was intimately involved in that SM: Revolution mini-series and some say he caused it.

Charles Xavier has repeatedly lost the use of his legs and then been cured. The last time he was cured by M-Day, but he also lost his mental powers then. He regained those powers in Uncanny X-Men #486. But the team can be forgiven for not knowing any of this because Prof X has been keeping a low profile, and even spent much of the time away in space.
Xavier has just been through the Original Sin event (the 2008 X-Men one) reliving how Wolverine was originally sent to assassinate him.

Mr Fantastic has been cameoing a lot since Fantastic Four #563, including the earlier mentioned Hu(2008)#4, the 2nd story in IM:Iron Protocols, and IM(2008)#4.

Dr Strange featured last in the Av/Inv series, and before that was in FF#562.

The real Black Bolt was replaced by a Skrull sometime after the Silent War mini-series. Thus it was this Skrull impersonator who was defeated and captured by the Hulk in World War Hulk.

Elektra was replaced (to be shown in NAv#40) after the Agent of SHIELD arc ending in Wolverine (2003) #32. Mighty Av #16 will explain that this Skrull Siri is immediately replaced by a 2nd Pagon who has made all the apps since then in Daredevil and NAv. Spider-Woman is actually the Skrull Empress Veranke, and her motive in taking Elektra's body from the NAv to IM and the MAv was to spread the confusion and suspicion.

Luke Cage in NAv#30 similarly proposed a list of recent events possibly caused by Skrulls, but the only bits he had in common with Stark's list were Nick Fury and Civil War. His extra things were specific events in earlier NAv issues.

The Crimson Bands of Cyttorak spell has been often used by DrS since Strange Tales #124. Cyttorak himself was 1st seen in DrS(1988)#44, but of course he'd been connected to Juggernaut in XM#12.

Prof X ignores Secret Invasion and continues in XM:Legacy #219-225 to explore his past to regain his memories and make amends for his mistakes.
DrS almost skips it too, turning up possibly just for 1 panel in SI#8.
SM goes even further and just appears at the end of SI#8 to join Norman Osborn's cabal for Dark Reign.
That leaves just IM and MrF to wade through the whole event. MrF dives straight in to SI#1, but IM will 1st review the history of the Skrulls in SI Saga and then take the news about BB to the Inhumans in SI:Inh#1.

(This issue was actually 1 of the 1st published under the Infiltration banner, soon after Skrull Elektra was unmasked in NAv#31. The Marvel Chronology Project was faced with a decision here. If they placed it that early then why was there a long period before the Skrulls openly began the War? Instead they chose to place the issue late in the build-up. Presumably Stark was keeping quiet hoping that he was wrong about a widespread invasion. But more incidents occurred and he finally decided to call in the disbanded Illuminati.)

SI: Inhumans #1(p4-13) Iron Man takes the body of 'Black Bolt' to the Inhumans. They don't know that Black Bolt & Medusa's son Ahura has also been replaced.
She-Hulk v4 #30-31 & X-Factor v3 #33-34 She-Hulk's bounty hunting partner Jazinda the Skrull detects the presence of the 'Talisman' in Detroit. On the way there Jaz explains that he is the holy Skrull Nogor who is sent to bless invasions This means Earth is about to be invaded, but if they kill him the invasion will be routed. X-Factor in Detroit are hired to find the mutant Darwin who they find with Nogor. There's the usual fight between heroes until Darwin's ability evolves to unmask the Skrull. Then everyone fights Nogor until Jaz subdues him with a nullifier. Shulk and Jaz decide not to take him to Tony Stark because they suspect *he* might be a Skrull.
MAv#18(p10-20) NF sends his Secret Warriors to kidnap SHIELD Deputy Director Maria Hill, claiming she's a Skrull. It's actually another training exercise. And also to check whether MH has followed his advice and used LMD's of herself - she has, and this is 1 of them.
SI:FF#1(p1-5) Invisible Woman is captured during a lecture tour by a Skrull posing as MrF.
Av: Initiative #14(p7-22)-15(p1-4:3) Triathlon is now 3-D Man and has the original's costume and Skrull-detecting goggles. He goes to Hawaii to lead the Point Men team, but uncovers the Skrull plant there - Magnitude who severely wounds team-mates Paydirt and Star Sign and wrecks the local Negative Zone portal before 3-D Man defeats him. The other Point Man Devil-Slayer uses his cloak to send 3-D Man back to Camp Hammond to warn them. When he tells them about the Skrull he detected, Crusader worries about himself being exposed. He uses the Freedom Ring to change the goggles so they see humans as Skrulls, and Skrulls as humans, so 3-D Man thinks the base is all Skrull except for Crusader. Crusader persuades him to take a plane to get help from the old 3-D Man.

NAv#43(p20-22) The Skrulls who were conditioned to believe that they are superheroes who have been Skrull captives for years are now allowed to 'escape' and take over the Skrull spaceship until it crashlands in the Savage land.
SI:Thor#1-3 Skrulls have captured Beta Ray Bill and they send him (sans Stormbreaker) to warn the Asgardians to leave Earth. Thor gives Mjolnir to BRB transforming him to Beta Ray Thor, to fight the Skrulls while Dr Blake delivers a baby in Broxton. The Skrulls attack and the Asgardians defend Asgard. BRT is defeated by a Super-Skrull with Stormbreaker. Blake returns and takes back Mjolnir to become Thor. He retrieves Stormbreaker and gives it back to Bill. Thor drops Asgard on the Super-Skrull, then he and BRT raise it back into the sky. BRT heads back to space and Thor heads off to fight Skrulls elsewhere on Earth.
SI: Who Do You Trust #1/1 Captain Marvel pretends to join his fellow Skrulls, but only to attack the Thunderbolts who he views as government-backed supervillains.
SI:WDYT#1/4 Kree Marvel Boy finds a Skrull has infiltrated the Cube prison that he has secretly taken over. He decides to fight the Invasion.
SI: Home Invasion #1(p1-14) Teen Mackenzie Walden has been worried about her older brother Hank who has been writing stuff in a strange language and keeping maps of Manhattan under his bed. Then she saw him with green skin and now she's frightened and locked herself in the bathroom. He talks her out but she spots a strange weapon in his bag. He turns green again and attacks her but she hits him with it and runs out of the house with the gun to her friend Ali's. Hank follows Kinsey but Ali's mom won't let him in. He zaps mom and breaks in, but is attacked by their dog. Kinsey and Ali escape in Ali's car to the local prom where they find Kinsey's boyfriend Ethan. All 3 leave in Ali's car pursued by Hank driving the school bus. Kinsey zaps the bus with the alien gun, and both vehicles crash.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

New Avengers: Illuminati #5 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In deserted Funtime Inc Iron Man waits with a bodybag. His AI detects the astral arrival of Dr Strange and verifies his identity. Stephen Strange is curious why Stark has called the Illuminati together again after their disagreements over the Hulk and the Civil War (as described in the 1-shot that preceded this series). Given that DrS is now an outlaw he thought it wise to attend in disembodied form.

Tony Stark doesn't want to say who's in the bag until the others join them. But they don't have to wait long as the AI announces and checks the other 4:- Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans. Reed Richards, leader of the Fantastic Four. Prince Namor of Atlantis. Prof X, leader of the X-Men.

Sub-Mariner is even more unhappy than he was when he quit the team in the 1-shot. Since then his kingdom has been destroyed (Sub-Mariner: Revolution limited series). The team are amazed to see Charles Xavier walking. But that's enough chit-chat - they all want to know who the body is - Subby thinks it's Captain America. But IM unveils a Skrull dressed as Elektra.

Strange knows about this. The New Avengers were there when the Skrull was killed and exposed (NAv#31). They didn't trust Stark enough to bring the body to him because they feared he was a Skrull too, which would explain the Superhero Registration Act and Civil War. But Spider-Woman decided to switch teams and take the corpse with her (NAv#32 and Mighty Avengers #6).

Iron Man is worried because the real Elektra is missing and the substitution was undetectable by science, sorcery or enhanced senses. No-one knows how long the Skrull has been Elektra. Or how many other humans may have been replaced.

Tony suspects that Earth has been invaded by Skrulls. And he believes that it's because of what happened when the Illuminati invaded their homeworld. (In #1 they went in retaliation for the Kree/Skrull War that involved Earth. But the Skrulls captured them and studied them.) He also thinks that the Skrulls may have caused all their recent troubles:- The Avengers disassembling. M-Day depowering most mutants. Nick Fury disgraced. Civil War splitting the Avengers. Captain America's death. The destruction of Atlantis. (He especially wants Cap's death to be the Skrulls' fault - not his own.)

Mr Fantastic suggests they dissect the body and work out how to detect the aliens. But Black Bolt has a better suggestion - he'll take the body and his people will kill them. The others are shocked because BB's voice should cause a massive explosion. Such a blast does occur, but the figure that strides out of it is a Skrull.

This Skrull does have vocal powers but he's in control of them, as he demonstrates with a roar that repels Namor. However he has other powers too, as his flexible body allows him to dodge Iron Man's blasts. He outdoes Prof X in mental force and treats MrF's equally malleable body like taffy. Dr Strange imprisons him in the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak but he breaks free (because Stephen's mystic strength is decreased because of his tainting by Zom in World War Hulk).

Sub-Mariner has been revived by water from a broken pipe. He attempts to break the Skrull's neck, but this won't work against a shape-shifter. However this was just a distraction so Namor could impale him on a piece of debris, killing the alien.

Subby doesn't get the thanks he thinks he deserves - Shellhead would have preferred a prisoner to interrogate. But they're going to get another chance as 2 more enhanced Skrulls burst through the wall. 1 carries a hammer and is dressed somewhat like Thor. The other has metal skin like Colossus and a vaguely similar uniform.

Tony Stark gets in mental contact with Charles Xavier and gets him to relay a plan - Dr Strange should teleport the others out of there on IM's signal. The Golden Avenger connects to 3 nearby nuclear power stations and siphons their energy for 1 big blast. The 4 other heroes escape as Funtime is destroyed.

When they re-enter the zone they discover that a small circle surrounding Elektra/Skrull, Iron Man and a chair is unscathed.

Prof X confirms that Black Bolt was Black Bolt even in his thoughts, so they really can't tell who's a Skrull. Iron Man tries to rally them to defend the world now that they've survived this assassination attempt. But Mr Fantastic thinks the real objective today was to sow distrust among them. Sub-Mariner flies away because he never trusted any of them anyway. And the other 3 reluctantly leave Stark alone because they can never be sure of each other.

Jim Cheung
Mark Morales
Justin Ponsor
Jim Cheung (Cover Penciler)
Mark Morales (Cover Inker)
Justin Ponsor (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Piotr Rasputin)
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)


Plus: Zom.

> New Avengers: Illuminati: Book info and issue index

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