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New Avengers #29: Review

Aug 2012
Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Deodato Jr.

Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

New Avengers #29 Review by (August 12, 2012)
I'm not sure the Illuminati group ever refer to themselves by that name. The name of course is taken from the 18th Century Bavarian Illuminati secret society, which was brought into the wider consciousness in the Illuminatus trilogy by Shea and Wilson. In Marvel time they date back to after the Kree-Skrull War in 1972, where Black Bolt of the Inhumans, Black Panther, Dr Strange, Iron Man, Mr Fantastic, Prof X and Sub-Mariner got together to form a cabal to protect the Earth from such dangers. Except Black Panther didn't want to be part of such a secret group. But we didn't actually see the group until New Avengers #7 in 2005. Right from this point we find them holding meetings in Stark Enterprises abandoned subsidiary FunTime, Inc. In 2006 the Illuminati 1-shot described their formation, and showed them behind exiling Hulk to Planet Hulk. Namor quit over this. The rest of the group said this was the end too. But they keep coming back for just one more crisis. The Illuminati mini-series detailed some of their actions in between those 2 events. This included in #2 taking charge of the Infinity Gems and each of them (including Sub-Mariner) hiding one. Their latest appearance was in #7-12 of the current Avengers series, which again involved the Infinity Gems. Medusa stood in for her husband Black Bolt, who was thought dead at the time. And Sub-Mariner reluctantly rejoined them. Captain America uncovered the Illuminati during that story, and replaced Black Bolt in #12 as an Illuminatus and a Gem holder. No-one mentions here that Namor still has an Infinity Gem. FunTime, Inc. also featured in Iron Man's World's Most Wanted storyline where he hid out there in #9-10. Except Maria Hill is supposed to have blown the place up after that.

This issue must take place before Sub-Mariner loses the Phoenix Force in Avengers vs X-Men #8 (and therefore also before the end of AvX#7). The meeting referred to between Prof X and Cyclops happened at the start of AvX#6. This provides the timeframe for this story. The Invaders are of course the WWII supergroup Roy Thomas retroactively invented in 1975. The Infinity Gems are nearly as old publication-wise, first appearing as a group in the hands of Thanos in 1977 in Avengers Annual #7. But some of them had shown up individually beforehand. The first to be mentioned was Warlock's Soul Gem in 1972. But the Collector probably had the Reality Gem as far back as his first appearance in 1966 in Avengers #28.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

New Avengers #29 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This issue starts with one of those flashbacks to World War II. This time the Invaders are taking part in the Anzio landing in Italy 22nd January 1944. Red Skull is there with a giant mechanical amphibious octopus (actually I think it has more than 8 tentacles). Sub-Mariner destroys the octopus before it can swat Captain America. (Human Torch and Bucky are on the team. Toro isn't with them this time.)

Steve Rogers remembers how close an ally Namor was in those days, as he waits in the deserted FunTime Inc. building for Sub-Mariner to show up for an Illuminati meeting.

Iron Man arrives, protesting that the Illuminati have stopped having meetings. Cap responds that Tony should never have started the group in the first place (Steve wasn't involved). Rogers doesn't like the idea of a secret group making decisions that will affect the world. Stark snaps back that Steve called this meeting.

Cap is hoping that they can talk Namor out of his course of action in the Phoenix 5, and then he will help them to convince the other X-Men. Iron Man thinks he won't show up. Steve believes his old ally will turn up. Tony says that Cap wouldn't have predicted that Sub-Mariner would one day be using a shared cosmic entity (the Phoenix Force) to rule the world, but that he himself always knew Namor was capable of something like this.

Dr Strange breaks up the squabble. He too thinks Namor won't show, but it's worth a shot.

Next to arrive is Prof X. Iron Man blames him for what his ex-students are doing. Xavier says he's tried to reason with Cyclops, but can't get through to him. Tony suggests that Xavier could use his telepathic powers to switch Cyclops' mind off. Charles counters with the suggestion that they could use their Infinity Gems to get rid of the Phoenix Force.

Cap is horrified by that. As is Mr Fantastic who joins them now. Everyone assures him that they have their Gem well-hidden.

There follows an exchange where Tony Stark points out that everyone one calls Richards and Strange Doctor, but no-one calls him Doctor even though he has 3 PhD's. This is another example of the irritability Stark displays throughout, which he says is due to tiredness (itself due to spending long hours trying to find a way to defeat the Phoenix 5).

Now that the gathering is complete (apart from Namor) it immediately starts to disintegrate. Xavier can tell they all think the Phoenix situation is his fault, and he admits that he blames himself. But everything he ever worked for has fallen apart, and his 'son' Scott Summers has betrayed his beliefs. Charles flees from the room.

The remaining 4 discuss what to do about the X-Men. But Reed Richards suggests that maybe Cyclops and friends are right. He has been monitoring the results of their actions, and the world is a better place, including much-reduced crime. He wonders if the Avengers are not so much worried about the X-Men running the world as they are about their own role becoming irrelevant. Maybe when Stark accidentally spelt the Phoenix Force into 5 pieces, which took over the 5 mutants (all in Avengers vs X-Men #5), it was the best accident since the discovery of penicillin.

Mr Fantastic leaves the meeting with that thought. And Dr Strange goes too, tired of waiting for Sub-Mariner. Iron Man also prepares to leave, but Cap elects to stay. He admits that he thinks the Phoenix 5 are unbeatable. So Namor is his only hope.

When Steve is alone again, Namor does appear. Cap states his case, but Sub-Mariner still believes in what he is doing. However he appreciates the fact that Cap didn't try to trap him, as he expects of his honourable ex-comrade. The same sense of honour is why Namor hasn't told the X-Men about the Illuminati. And why he now lets Steve leave alive and free.

Mike Deodato Jr.
Mike Deodato Jr.
Rainier Beredo
Ron Garney (Cover Penciler)
Ron Garney (Cover Inker)
Jason Keith (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Joe Caramagna.
Editor: Tom Brevoort.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Scott Summers)
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: Book info and issue index

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