I’m finally getting caught up on the reviews of issues with the “Secret Invasion” cover tag. Background reviews will also follow.
Title: New Avengers: Illuminati #1-5
Author: Brian Reed and Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrator(s): Jim Cheung (pencils), Mark Morales (inks) and Justin Ponsor (colours). Additional ink on issue 4 by Dave Meikis and John Dell.
Original Publication Date: Cover dates range from February 2007 to January 2008
Cover Price: Each issue $2.99 US
Detailed coverage of all applicable issues of all Secret Invasion related titles can be found at this address.
In the wake of the Kree-Skrull war, Iron Man assembles a group of trusted heroes to coordinate efforts in the superhuman community to protect the Earth. Threats dealt with are the Kree-Skrull war (issue 1, believed to be a major background piece to the Secret Invasion), the Inifinity Gauntlet/War/Crusade (issue 2), the original Secret Wars (issue 3), Noh-Varr’s emergence (issue 4) and the Secret Invasion (issue 5).
In the chronology of the Marvel universe, that means the reading order would be 1, 3, 2, 4, “Road to Civil War” one shot, 5.
The Skrull reveal in issue 5. Up to that point, the issues fit into history in ways that are nice for characterization, but rarely go anywhere since they need to fit into established history. The last issue takes place “now,” and has some other big implications.
This was supposed to be an “inside the cracks” story, inserting things into continuity without altering it. The Beyonder interpretation here doesn’t work that way, especially given Reed’s “later” interaction with the character in Fantastic Four. It’s entirely inconsistent with Fantastic Four #319, revealing an entirely different origin for the Beyonder.
The originality is good. It’s a nice concept, not new to fiction in general, but new to the Marvel universe. I give it 4 out of 6.
The artwork by Cheung and company is solid, though not spectacular. I give it 4 out of 6.
The story is generally good. I don’t like the Beyonder issue, as I think continuity gaffes like that in a series of this nature are serious problems, but otherwise, the series works very well. I give it 5 out of 6.
The characterization is excellent. Bendis and Reed have these characters down cold, particularly Namor. I give it 6 out of 6.
The emotional response is good. It’s a fun look at several of Marvel’s major events over the years. New fans may get confused, but long time fans (or those who have dug up the back issues and trades to match) will be happy. I give it 5 out of 6.
The flow is very smooth within each issue. It gets a bit choppy between issues, given the time jumping nature of the project, especially if you aren’t familiar with the events being events. I give it 4 out of 6.
Overall, it’s a fun series, worth getting even if you aren’t interested in the Secret Invasion. I give it 4 out of 6.
In total, New Avengers: Illuminati #1-5 receive 32 out of 42.
Additional Notes and Comments
The above linked file will be updated as soon as I finish sorting out the background issues revealed in this week’s “Secret Invasion Saga.” There will also be reviews of Mighty Avengers #7 and Anvengers: The Initiative Annual #1.