It's Avengers versus X-Men. A few one shot tie ins with the AvX event that are frankly a bit disrespectful to the New Avengers comic line and question its worth. For a larger rant, see my review of New Avengers (Vol. 2) #27!
Also you need to know that the Illuminati (originally formed of Namor, Professor X, Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Dr Strange and Black Bolt) were a clandestine group of Marvel’s big players that got together to exchange information and help shape their Universe. Their secret was revealed in Avengers (Vol. 4) #8 during an arc where the Hood was reassembling the Infinity gauntlet (which the Illuminati had previously split up into its gems and hidden). After this, the Illuminati disbanded.
Except it didn’t, they just did the same thing again with Captain America taking Black Bolt’s place.
|Executive Producer:||Alan Fine|
|Chief Creative Officer:||Joe Quesada|
|Editor In Chief:||Axel Alonso|
|Associate Editor:||Lauren Sankovitch|
|Writer:||Brian Michael Bendis|
|Artist:||Mike Deodato, Jr.|
|Cover Art:||Jason Keith, Ron Garney|
|Lettering:||VC's Joe Caramagna|
This issue starts with a flashback to World War II and the Invaders taking on Red Skull. Basically, it reminds us that Captain America and Namor were once very close and part of the same team.
Present day and Cap has invited all the Illuminati to a meeting with the hopes of being able to talk Namor into backing off from the fight. Each member turns up (except Namor), they agree they shouldn’t reassemble the Infinity gauntlet to deal with this and a few barbs are exchanged, mainly toward Professor X – Cyclops after all was once his student. As the Prof can read minds, he knows they all blame him on some level for Cyke’s behaviour and frankly he blames himself too. As Charles leaves, Reed suggests maybe Cyclops actually is making the world a better place and the only reason people are getting hurt is because Cap and Iron Man are sending them into battle. He acknowledges that one day the Phoenix Five may lose control of their power, but then that’s when they should deal with the problem and not now.
One by one, they leave except Cap who is certain Namor will turn up. He’s right, Namor does appear. They talk but can’t reach an accord: Namor thinks they are changing the world for the better, Steve thinks it’s only a matter of time before things turn bad. Namor still respects Cap, which is why he hasn’t revealed the secrets of the Illuminati to the Phoenixes, which is why he hasn’t destroyed them and which is why he won’t take him prisoner. But he won’t back down and so leaves.
A talking heads issue which allows the characters to vent a little at each other, but like previous issues not much really happens with regard to advancing the AvX storyline. It’s more like a timeout so we can see what each of the big players are thinking, which I suppose is better then nothing and at least it is "done in one".
I find Reed Richard’s standpoint the most valid and so the most interesting. The Fantastic Four pretty much sat out of Avengers vs. X-Men, being neither, so he is the most objective one at the table. Everything he says is true. The Phoenix Five aren’t currently a threat and they are making the world a better place: providing power, food and water for all and outlawing war by destroying weapon stockpiles. They are not being aggressive and if the Avengers didn’t fight, the Phoenix Five wouldn’t retaliate. Reed points out that Tony and Steve were on opposite sides of the Civil War because of their different ideals and he’s surprised they can’t see it from the other side. It’s all a matter of perspective and there is more than one way of looking at things. Well said Reed! If they go “Dark” then by all means fight the Phoenixes but until then why battle a non-aggressive force? I’ve got to say I agree completely with Reed here. Yes, given its history the Phoenix may well turn dark, but until it does how about we give peace a chance?
Another good point from this issue; is that it addresses why the Phoenix Five haven’t just wiped any opposing force from the face of the Earth. Namor has respect for Captain America. It’s a good enough reason, let’s face it this would be a lame and short event if the Phoenixes just destroyed everything with the power they clearly have and at least here they have tried to address why that’s not the case.
Few other things. A shame that once again only one current “New Avenger” turns up in this New Avengers comic (in the form of Dr Strange). Why they haven’t re-badged Avengers and New Avengers as one comic I don’t know. It’s pretty much been the same since the Osborn Dark Avengers crossover arc (if not since Fear Itself). There are a few funny moments provided by Tony Stark, I especially liked his rant at Stephen Strange and Reed Richards how they always call each other Dr but not him even though he has three doctorates! The art is also nice, good use of sepia tones during the flashback scenes and great use of shadows to emphasise the secret nature of the Illuminati meeting.
Not too bad an issue really, leaving aside my ongoing arguments that this is no longer a New Avengers comic and hasn’t been for a while. Nice to have a step back from the action and gain some perspectives on why they are fighting, although ultimately nothing happened to further the AvX storyline.
As we now know during the Marvel NOW reboot, New Avengers effectively became the Illuminati comic. Was this issue done to test the waters?