The Avengers vs. X-Men crossover storyline from 2012 gets a lot of flak on the internet (perhaps rightly so) for being schizophrenic and other problems you’d expect from having so many writers on it. But two parts of it stood out as being awesome in my book (in no particular order): (1) Kieron Gillen’s AvX tie-in work in Uncanny X-Men (of course, his whole run there is amazing as well), and (2) Brian Bendis’ New Avengers #29 tie-in issue. Today I’m focusing on the latter and its evolution, and will return to the former hopefully soon.
This one issue of The New Avengers that is so good that I had to pick up every other Avengers and New Avengers issue in the AvX line to try to get more of it. But why? It’s because this issue takes a look at the clandestine group known as the Illuminati. Each member possesses an Infinity Gem, which Thanos tells us “with only one you become a god”. So as we know, with great power comes great responsibility, so the idea is that these are the only people in the world that can be trusted with ultimate power. The issue centers around the question of “if we have ultimate power, why not use it to stop the Phoenix from destroying the planet?” It’s full of nuance, as we can see that not everyone even agrees that the world will be destroyed, with Mr. Fantastic and Namor independently arguing that the Phoenix actually will make the world a better place. It’s a great, deep philosophical read, with some solid art from Mike Deodato.
So I tried to find something else like this in the AvX storyline and failed, but luckily, the team at Marvel apparently employs telepaths, so someone there said “what if we make a whole comic with this team and this kind of stuff?” And with that, I saw this tagline teased randomly throughout various Marvel comics:
To prevent the collision of our universe with another, the most powerful and brilliant team in the Marvel Universe – the Black Panther, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Black Bolt, Mr. Fantastic, Namor and the Beast – must assemble to confront an infinite legion of parallel universes.
With that, I was instantly sold and had to check out Jonathan Hickman’s awesome (in progress) run on New Avengers. It’s the foil of Hickman’s also solid run (also in progress) on Avengers, and while we’ll also come back to that series at a later date, it’s sufficient now to say that Avengers embodies the best and brightest of what the Avengers have to offer ideologically, and this essay will focus on how the Illuminati embody their foil: what happens when the best and brightest do when they throw ideology out the window.