New Avengers: Illuminati #5


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New Avengers: Illuminati #5


  • Words: Brian Michael Bendis & Brian Reed
  • Art: Jim Cheung
  • Inks: Mark Morales
  • Colors: Justin Ponsor
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Nov 7, 2007

When Marvel first announced the New Avengers: Illuminati miniseries, many fans groaned. Here we go again. Another retcon adventure through Marvel’s most canonical tales where co-scribes Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Reed show us yet another group of powerful characters actually pulling the strings.

Then the first issue was released and those fans were utterly silenced. Illuminati has consistently been one of the best limited series of 2007. From their disastrous confrontation with the Skrulls in the opening issue, to Reed Richards’ handing out of the Infinity Gems, Bendis and Reed have delivered an absolute roller coaster of a ride so far. And how about that art? Jim Cheung may not have the speed or timing to pump out a monthly title, but give him a project where release dates aren’t an issue and he produces some seriously impressive pencils. Iron Man and the boys have never looked better.

Unsurprisingly, issue five doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it may be the best chapter in the entire series. Not only does it wrap up a few loose ends, but it also serves as the perfect jumping on point for fans new to Illuminati who want to gear up for the 2008 mega event, Secret Invasion. Things on the Skrull front have been fairly quiet since the Elektra reveal in New Avengers #34, but that plot certainly picks up a lot of heat here, starting with Iron Man showing the recovered alien body to his Illuminati cohorts. If there’s any negative at all to this issue it’s this: that it was released before we could actually see Spider-Woman deliver the corpse to Stark in the pages of the eternally late Mighty Avengers. Thanks a lot, Frank Cho.

From the moment the other members of the team arrive, we’re treated to guttural action sequence in which at least one Illuminati turns against the others. Without spoiling much I’ll reveal this, by the time the last page closes a second Skrull is revealed. And if you thought the Elektra twist was shocking, you haven’t seen anything yet. Infecting the Japanese underworld was one thing, but the latest alliance the Skrulls have managed to get their hands into is even more powerful.

Brian Michael Bendis has often talked about wanting his comics to posses a certain amount of re-readability and he certainly accomplishes that goal here. Much like fans analyzed the final panel of New Avengers #34 and then dove into their back issues featuring Luke Cage and the baby, this issue will have fans digging through their collections. How long exactly has this new Skrull been a Skrull? A recent crossover featuring the Sentry- no, not World War Hulk- might hold some clues for the truly dedicated.

It’s no shock that nearly every upcoming title to display the Secret Invasion banner is written by Bendis and Reed. New Avengers, Mighty Avengers, and to a lesser extent, Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel, are going to lead directly into the event. And if you read any of those books or are interested in keeping tabs on the growing Skrull epidemic, Illuminati #5 is absolutely essential reading. However, this miniseries has done more than just hype up the next big crossover from the big two. Bendis and Reed have managed to tell a fantastic story along the way, and even casual fans not interested in the ramifications of Secret Invasion owe it to themselves to check out not only the final issue of Illuminati, but the series in its entirety.

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