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New Avengers #29 - Illuminati Assemble Review

4

Captain America calls upon the members of the Illuminati to a meeting -- but will Namor show up?

The Good

This is a heartwarming story about two men who have worked together for over half a century (technically). The story opens with a flash back to WWII where Captain America and Namor team up to fight against the Red Skull and Nazi soldiers. The issue ends with everything coming full circle with both characters in the present: two friends who are now fighting against one another on opposing sides of the Avengers Vs. X-Men event. I really thought it was a great moment to see these two working together, and to witness Captain America's fervent belief in his history and friendship with Namor, and that their relationship and brotherly love might be enough to change his alliance. The great thing about Captain America is his sense of hope that he has that really permeates through his character in this issue. As the reader, you begin to understand and appreciate the long history that these two men have had with one another. I felt it was really beautifully captured in the moments, the layout and the dialogue of this issue.

The pacing of this issue was absolutely perfect -- and it needed to be in order to impact the reader the way that it does. It is also coupled with the gorgeous art of Mike Deodato who captures the emotions of these characters really, really well.

I loved the banter between Reed Richards and Captain America -- particularly the moment where Reed states there are two sides to this issue and that Rogers is only looking at one. The implication that Reed is looking at the situation from an outsiders perspective is accurate since the Fantastic Four have been relatively absent from the AVENGERS VS X-MEN story; but it's also one that I felt was appropriate. It makes sense that Reed -- the scientist -- is able to look at the situation from above; stepping out of it and looking at all the possible outcomes and reasons. It also makes just as much sense that Captain America would take this sort of hard-lined perspective.

As usual, Tony Stark is present to lighten the mood -- a character that Bendis knows how to write very well. His conversation with Charles Xavier was an interesting one; and it was nice to see Charles' perspective laid out the way that it was -- his feelings about Scott and Scott's decisions really coming to light.

The Bad

I'm totally nitpicking here but I don't recall Captain America ever having been a founding member of Marvel's Illuminati. The roster for the group consisted of Black Bolt, Charles Xavier, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic and Namor -- but not Captain America. Granted, the existence of the Illuminati was recently revealed so maybe that changed, but I don't remember it ever being specifically stated that Steve Rogers was a member. And I certainly wasn't expecting him to play leader of the group.

Reed Richard's dialogue was great here, save for that moment where it just didn't sound like Reed. As a scientist, I think Reed would have followed up his argument with Captain America with a list of facts as proof and evidence of what he believed, and that simply didn't happen. Overall the interaction and the discussion between the two characters was great, but it would have been even better if Reed were given the opportunity to back up some of his statements with evidence.

The Verdict

Bendis put a lot of thought into depicting the staring on Captain America and Namor's relationship, and it was good of him to address the fact that Namor is both a mutant and a member of the Avengers. There was never a moment where I felt Namor would have said "OK, I'll fight for the Avengers," but I still thought it was interesting to see the way he reacts to Captain America. It was also good to see that there is a mutual level of respect the two characters have for one another -- a sort of brotherly love -- and that even that is stronger than their opposing perspectives; or at least strong enough to keep them from killing one another for a minute.

Althpugh it's not vital to your AVENGERS VS. X-MEN reading experience, I did find that it was a valuable read and I'm glad they addressed some of the things we see in this issue. I would even go so far as to say that it is one of my favorite issues to come out of the AVENGERS VS. X-MEN story line; so if you're looking for a good, self-contained book that relates to that event, then this will not disappoint you.

34 Comments
Posted by TheHood

Nice review! I do want to clarify Captain America's involvement in the Illuminati though...

At the end of the last arc to deal with them in Avengers, the one with The Hood gathering all the Infinity Gems, Captain America forces the team to disband. Then on the last page, its revealed that he has actually joined the Illuminati.

Posted by -The Renegade-

It wasn't officially said in the comic, but in issue 12 (i think) of the avengers, Captain america seems to join the illuminati.

Posted by Pwok21

Rogers being a part of the Illuminati isn't even an issue here, it was already addressed in the arc where Iron Man got eh Infinity Gauntlet.

The whole point was that they thought that Black Bolt was dead so they had an opening, so they invited Steve who is the current Marvel U's top cop. Which makes sense as to why he is there, and the leader.

I agree with the Reed thing though.

Posted by Deadcool

That cover is awesome...

Posted by Dernman

It was a good issue. I enjoyed it ignoring a few nitpicks that are not worth mentioning.

Posted by Apothecary2

I find richards perspective weird here. The captured his best friend Ben Grimm yet he talks as if they had done nothing to him.

Posted by Lokheit

I liked the issue. Love the art. Love the dialogues.

Would have liked this one released before AvX 8 (specially seeing how the previous NAv issues occured AFTER AvX 8, remaking the order would've made more sense to follow this event).

I think Charles Xavier quote, that he's waiting for Scott to be himself again, is what's going to happen indeed. If you read the whole series, it has been pretty obvious that they're making him the most noble of the five to work on him ending as the good phoenix against Emma being corrupted by it (but I hope neither of them dies in this arc...).

Reed has a point. He's the scientist and he sees the logics of what the P5 are doing. Remember this issue is happening before the first of them start to get mad, so there wasn't still any sign of corruption.

And he has another point on the avengers "pocking them with a stick". The P5 started to be mad and lost control when the avengers took Hope from their home. Before that they were under control and it would've been necessary many years and some big enough conflict to make them dark phoenixes. But by then the world would be free of war and terrorism, and access to infinite resources for everyone.

And he has another good point on the avengers feeling that the world will be better WITHOUT their help, and uses a logic premise to show them how in case everythign goes well, it would be thanks to them so they feel a bit better about it.

Dr Strange was a bit of a filler here. He's on the avengers side and didn't had an opinion, he just mentioned he needed to go.

Overal very good issue.

Posted by feargalr

It's nice that the lines are getting a bit blurred. An improvement on Civil War. I just wish every issue of AvX was this good.

Posted by mgrman5

@Lokheit: I agree this issue was a great tie in and you were really able to see this event through different perspectives through the scientist like Reed who sees all possible outcomes and motivation for why the X-men and Avengers are doing what they are doing, to the hurt Teacher and father to Scott;Professor X who feels guilty and sadden for what the X-men are doing and really wants things to turn out good. Its really a more emotional tie than what the others have obviously because Professor X was the one that raised the X-men its understandable he would be the most emotionally invested in what the P5 are going to do.

Then you have Iron Man and Cap who are both against the P5 but with different ways of expressing themselves and different history. One thing I didn't like about this issue was that Doctor Strange had nothing to say on the matter. I would have like to see his insights on the whole debacle but I guess its because the writers thought that since he has sided with Avengers that we already know his take. Or maybe it was Doctor Strange's lack of communication that really iterates how his relationship with the Illuminati is.

I mean he was the Scorer Supreme and being a mystic holds a lot of responsibility to the ways of magic and most people don't really understand how magic works even Reed or Tony.

Doctor Strange as a mystic user doesn't really fit in with the rest of the team because he is so other worldly and so much tied into the mystics. Similar to how Reed is so analytical and observe looking at every possible scenario, using facts and not letting emotion cloud his judgement. Doctor Strange on the other hand looks at everything in sort of cosmic way seeing things that are not usually seen by most people and even some of the Illuminati. He takes these sort of situation very detached and distant because he has more important matters to attend to. Or I could be just over thinking all of this and the writers just really didn't care about Doctor Strange.

It is a great issue though a definitely good read and a tie in wish most of the other books in this event were as good and well thought out as some of the other tiles in this event especially the main AvX book.

Also I found Tony's banter too Doctor Strange and Reed to be hilarious, when Reed walked in Tony said that they just love calling themselves doctor and Tony have actual doctorates not calling himself Doctor Stark or even Professor X calling himself Doctor X because I'm pretty sure he has a doctorate in psychology, it was just super true what Stark said.

Posted by rawr

I loved this issue and I never read New Avengers before AvX. (Secret Avengers & Avengers Academy were more my style) It was a lot of talking. It was talking that needed to be talked. A lot of moments in AvX you are just kind of like "why is no one talking and just jumping to conclusions and beating each other up?" I wish this issue had come out before Namor vs Wakanda because it would have made the Cap make a little more sense to me. He is really blind when it comes to Namor which is why he is putting so much of this on Scott.

Also, what up Xavier? You are Super Cranky and putting way too much of this on Scott. Why is Cyclops the magical scapegoat of eeeeevil when throughout AvX we tend to see him being the least murderous and most level headed of the bunch.

Reed was awesome. This issue reminded me that Bendis CAN write and addresses a lot of my criticism over the way the Avengers have been acting throughout AvX. A little less frightened about All New X-Men now though I am still pretty terrified for the end of AvX.

Edited by DATNIGGA

I have been saying what reed has said in this issue for the longest... its true they started this.. not saying the x men are completely blameless but if not for the avengers rash actions they wouldnt be getting hunted down & thrown in jail.

Posted by sparty-dbq
Posted by JamDamage

this issue was just great. I love side issues that are like this. It's the reaso I say "Make Mine Marvel"

Posted by cobra88king8

these kinds of event tie-ins make all of these events worth it

Posted by Kyle_Dornez

That was a good issue indeed, especially compared to the rest of AvX. I liked how Xavier brought up Infinity Gems. It would be quite tempting to, I don't know, abort Phoenix from time or something...

Posted by Calix

I agree with this was one of the best bits of the AvX event.

BMB sure delivered with this one as did the artist. Kind of a reminder why they have their creds.

I will go back and re-read it for I don't think I enjoyed a comic as much as I did. Then again The Marvel books I've read so far this week have been hitting it out of the park.

Posted by BannanaBoatJim

After reading all the comments, and G-Man's review, I'm going to go buy this comic now.

Posted by Zeeguy91

Do I have to be reading the rest of Avengers vs X-Men to even understand this? It looks interesting, but I don't even want to get involved in that mess.

Posted by stormphoenix

WOW I think I need to buy this.

Posted by Owie

Yeah, it was solid, nice dialog. Sometimes I think Bendis gets a little weird in how they relate to one another, like for instance in this Cap and Stark seemed closer to Xavier (with whom they've never had a very close relationship) than Reed...it comes through in the little things, like Cap called him "Richards" instead of "Reed."  Cap has known and trusted him forever, he's definitely on a "Reed" basis with him, not "Richards."  But this is nitpicky.  It was a nice story.  The only real issue I have is with how Xavier talks here (and elsewhere) about stopping Cyke; how is he going to do it?  I just don't believe Prof. X is powerful enough to turn off his Phoenix-enhanced mind on his own.

Posted by pmaclaughlin1974

This issue is far and away my fav in a v x. The whole event seems overwhelming to me...but this issue was well written, made sense, and you can see the conflict(s) set up for the future. Excellent!

Edited by imperial90

The whole issue made sense except for Xavier's contribution to it...... I really have no idea why he blames Scott for everything despite the fact Scott's doing everything his dream entailed. I don't remember Xavier ever telling Scott not to end world hunger, poverty and provide the world with free infinite energy even if you have the power to do so, while only asking people not to kill each other in return. I must have missed that issue......

Posted by somatics

I loved this interaction between each character. It was fantastically written and well paced. My only problem is with Xavier and Doctor Strange.

Xavier came in basically expecting all the blame, read everyone's mind, realized they were all blaming him, and left. If you're going to go to a meeting to discuss the P5 and the state of mutant kind, while holding the title of former leader... there's going to be some blame. Xavier really wasn't written well or they wanted to make him come off as he's torturing himself with the burden of Scott. It only bugged me because he was the only player at the table who had the birth right to defend mutantkind/P5.

Doctor Strange was in the initial fight to gain Hope. He fought against Magik... so I find it a tad odd that he was so disconnected from the conversation when he was roped in at the start of this fight.

Other then that, great issue! I like when any of these table talks happen when you have truly empathetic characters written in.

Posted by XsPectre28

reed richards is also siding with the x-men on certain levels because his son is a mutant & a very powerful one at that 7 if mutants are to be hunted & imprisoned it would put him in a bad position

Edited by Osiris1428

Didn't Namor lose his part of the Phoenix Force in A VS. X when Wakanda was destroyed??

Posted by somatics

@Osiris1428: This is before the fall of Wakanda!

Edited by ThanosofAtlanta

I let the Bendis Avengers books go. They just got boring to me and very sloppy. Its like he knows its coming to a close and does not seem to care. A waste of Dedatos talent. I am only following the main AVX series because I invested money in it and I want to see how it ends (Kill Cyclops Please) and with MARVEL NOW coming up I cut a lot of titles that I invested money in. I am fatigued by this whole event. Its a strain on the pockets. I wish they would have made it a self-contained series with one artist and then we see the fallout later. The Childrens Crusade worked. They did not have 10 other books devoted to Scarlet Witch sightings. Marvel would have lost me a long time ago if not for Ultimate Spider-Man and Wolverine and the X-men and my baby Uncanny X-Force. I admit I am intrigued by Uncanny Avengers and Jason Aaron on Thor but outside of that, I dont know. I am ignoring all the outside issues of AVX. My wallet and my sanity from all the editorial incohension could no longer take it.

Posted by ThanosofAtlanta

Captain America joined the Illuminati early on in the post Heroic Age Avengers book by bendis during that whole the Hood gets the Infinity Gems story and he kicks the crap out of Red Hulk. An awful story by the way. I am really mad at Bendis and his Avengers run. At least the latter half of it. The post Avengers Disassembled runs were cool but the more recent Avengers stuff has been so so bad. Im sorry.

Posted by Lokheit

@Owie said:

The only real issue I have is with how Xavier talks here (and elsewhere) about stopping Cyke; how is he going to do it? I just don't believe Prof. X is powerful enough to turn off his Phoenix-enhanced mind on his own.

During the original Dark Phoenix Saga, it was Charlie who stopped Jean (right before the Shi'Ar abducted them to judge her).

It's true that Jean was trying to resist the Dark Phoenix inside, while Scott isn't really a Dark Phoenix (it looks like Emma is, and like Jean, she doesn't want it but can't avoid it) and he wants this power to use it to fix the world.

But then, on the other hand, Jean was an omega level telepath empowered by the phoenix force and Xavier was able to defeat her on a psychic battle.

I guess in the case of Scott it will be harder because he doesn't want to give up, but Charlie could at least present a good challenge.

In fact, while I've always though Scott will be the one who ends up seeing the light (they're obviously making him the noble one since that infinite issue), now discussing this, I think it might be Xavier who manages to convince him of what's going wrong so he ends up trying to stop Dark Phoenixed Emma.

PS: And I hope that battle doesn't kill any of them, I love the Scott-Emma couple and it would be very lame for Scott (probably surviving because of Marvel NOW teasers) to lose another great love of him due to the Phoenix.

Posted by Owie

@Lokheit said:

@Owie said:

The only real issue I have is with how Xavier talks here (and elsewhere) about stopping Cyke; how is he going to do it? I just don't believe Prof. X is powerful enough to turn off his Phoenix-enhanced mind on his own.

During the original Dark Phoenix Saga, it was Charlie who stopped Jean (right before the Shi'Ar abducted them to judge her).

It's true that Jean was trying to resist the Dark Phoenix inside, while Scott isn't really a Dark Phoenix (it looks like Emma is, and like Jean, she doesn't want it but can't avoid it) and he wants this power to use it to fix the world.

But then, on the other hand, Jean was an omega level telepath empowered by the phoenix force and Xavier was able to defeat her on a psychic battle.

I guess in the case of Scott it will be harder because he doesn't want to give up, but Charlie could at least present a good challenge.

In fact, while I've always though Scott will be the one who ends up seeing the light (they're obviously making him the noble one since that infinite issue), now discussing this, I think it might be Xavier who manages to convince him of what's going wrong so he ends up trying to stop Dark Phoenixed Emma.

PS: And I hope that battle doesn't kill any of them, I love the Scott-Emma couple and it would be very lame for Scott (probably surviving because of Marvel NOW teasers) to lose another great love of him due to the Phoenix.

Interesting. I've read the issues where they are under Shi'ar control, but not the one before that. I don't think Jean was really omega-level herself at that point, her own (non-Phoenix) psychic powers were fairly remedial at that point, when compared to many psychics in today's comics. But nonetheless if Charley beat her with the Phoenix powers, I'm impressed.

I honestly hadn't been thinking about Emma as the new Dark Phoenix, but now that you say it, it seems like a pretty sensible way of looking at it. In which case I wouldn't be surprised if your predicted outcome of a dead Emma comes about. As someone who's never liked them as a couple, that's OK with me, but I know I'm probably in the minority on that at this point.

I do hope Scott works his own way out of it, or with Prof. X's help. Captain America needs some serious psychological/ethical re-evaluation himself. Maybe the Scott and Steve can get together, have a little "leadership seminar weekend," and get back to their original moral roots.

Posted by Lokheit

@Owie: Well, in fact, at least for what I understood, that Jean wasn't really Jean, but a form made by the Phoenix using Jean body and mind as a template. The "real" Jean was later found underwater, I think by the fantastic four, not sure about that.

So it was a body created by the Phoenix (while having Jean's psyche, that's the reason why she resisted it) so it probably had unlocked all of her potential (Dark Phoenix killed a complete solar system before returning to earth).

About Emma and Scott, I really hope neither dies. There are 2 covers that I love, one is the alternate cover of AvX 11, and the other one the cover of the Uncanny X-Men tie-in to that issue. In both they're fighting but crying at the same time, and in uncanny x-men cover they're nearly kissing while fighting. Very representative of how that's a fight they don't want because they truly love each other. Marvel killed one of my top3 characters (Nightcrawler), they can't kill the other 2 (Scott and Emma) ;( Please Marvel don't kill them!

Posted by Owie

@Lokheit said:

@Owie: Well, in fact, at least for what I understood, that Jean wasn't really Jean, but a form made by the Phoenix using Jean body and mind as a template. The "real" Jean was later found underwater, I think by the fantastic four, not sure about that.

So it was a body created by the Phoenix (while having Jean's psyche, that's the reason why she resisted it) so it probably had unlocked all of her potential (Dark Phoenix killed a complete solar system before returning to earth).

About Emma and Scott, I really hope neither dies. There are 2 covers that I love, one is the alternate cover of AvX 11, and the other one the cover of the Uncanny X-Men tie-in to that issue. In both they're fighting but crying at the same time, and in uncanny x-men cover they're nearly kissing while fighting. Very representative of how that's a fight they don't want because they truly love each other. Marvel killed one of my top3 characters (Nightcrawler), they can't kill the other 2 (Scott and Emma) ;( Please Marvel don't kill them!

Yes, it's true: the Phoenix copied Jean's body and mind and stuck her real body in the ocean, where the Avengers later found it. They gave it to the FF until she woke up soon after. It's a little arguable whether it gave Jean her full potential powers (since the writers at the time didn't even really have a sense that she was so powerful on her own then), but it is at least conceivable.

I was a big Nightcrawler fan too, so I am definitely with you on that.

Posted by Mrfuzzynutz

I wish all the tie-ins where like this. The gave us some insight into the characters thought process and where they stand in this affair. Not a action packed issue, but it really did a nice job telling us What Cap is thinking, and Reed's point of view, the quilt and burden of Prof X and the unwavering belief in a old friend Captain America has in Namor.

I really wish we could have seen more interaction between namer and Cap. Again if all tie-ins were like this I wouldn't mind this storyline as much.

I would also like to see a AvsX style of the Wakanda Battle again, The Red Hulk needed more of a beat down lol

Posted by tim_mik

This was the best issue of this title in a long time. I enjoyed seeing the behind the scenes of AvX and I appreciate that even Phoenix Namor held to some honor and that it wasn't just about the fighting.