Posted by: Graeme McMillan on November 8, 2007
You’ve got to love the lack of subtlety in the cover of NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI #5. All it needs to be complete is a banner that reads “One of the Illuminati is a Skrull! But which one? Could it be the one member of the team whose face is in shadow, and who has a Skrull face floating above his head?” He’s also the one character who’s also not appearing in any other series right now, so, you know, that choice? Not the hardest one in the world.
Oh, yeah; for those who care – Spoilers for that last paragraph if you didn’t want to know it was Black Bolt.
Illuminati has tried its best, all series, to be a throwback to good old-fashioned Marvel action even as it kind of fucks around with Marvel history (“Did Secret Wars II even happen? We’re not saying! But look! Our superheroes participated in genocide so that we have a basis for our next summer crossover!”), and this final issue is no exception – There’s a big fight scene that’s pretty much solved by a Deus Ex I-Have-No-Idea-How-To-End-This which even the characters comment on in the book (It doesn’t even really make sense – Iron Man seems to wirelessly connect to, and suck the power from, nuclear power plants to make a big explosion. But how the hell do you wirelessly get power from a nuclear power plant? Reed Richards, afterwards, says “I didn’t know you could do that,” when he should really be saying is, “Are you seriously telling me that you uploaded nuclear energy to a satellite and then downloaded it to yourself? That’s retarded.”) – but it’s a pointless fight scene, and one that accomplishes only cool visuals for Jim Cheung to admittedly draw the shit out’ve. I mean, if the Skrull plan is make everyone paranoid, why not let everyone be paranoid instead of melodramatically blowing them up and saying “Ha! You’ve guessed our amazing plan, which I will now confirm for you!”?
The point of the issue, really, is setting up next year’s big summer event, as you can tell by the brand new “Secret Invasion: The Infiltration” banner along the top of the cover (Or, as the banner actually reads “TShecIrneftiIlntvraastiioonn,” with the design overpowering legibility; good job, Marvel), which it actually does too well – for the event not to kick into high gear in both the Avengers books, as well as Iron Man’s and the Fantastic Four books, after the close of this issue is poor planning; the downbeat ending where the heroes realize that they can’t tell who’s a Skrull and who to trust, and decide therefore to more or less give up and go their seperate ways, breaks story logic for the sake of delaying the crossover – Okay, so your telepath makes a point of explaining that he can’t read the aliens’ minds, but didn’t Doctor Strange have a magic spell that exposed whether everyone was a Skrull or not a few months ago in New Avengers – written by one of the co-writers of this book? Couldn’t he at least mention that here?
(The worst part is that I can already guess the justification for lazy, out of character writing for the next year or so at Marvel – “Maybe it’s meant to read weirdly, because maybe they’re a Skrull.” No, it’s just bad writing.)
It’s not the worst issue – in fact, it may be the best issue of the series – but it’s still pretty Meh; if you want punching and explosions and Bendis dialogue where everyone – – where everyone sounds like this and exactly the same with weird intonations to make you aware of the important things, all drawn really nicely, then this is the book for you. But if you’re looking for something that makes sense and doesn’t play its hand too quickly in order to go out with a bang? You might want to look elsewhere.