Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 03/29/06
week we look through the upcoming releases to offer our two
cents as to what's hot and what's not. You can agree with
us or not, but spend your money wisely.
brought to you by Brian's Books of Santa
New Avengers: Illuminati #1
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Alex Maleev
Many years ago,
or once upon a time, in Wakanda, seven of the most charismatic
(not necessarily most popular) heroes of the Marvel Universe
sat down to break bread and discuss a very real problem.
In the aftermath
of the Kree-Skrull War, it had become apparent to Tony Stark
that every major super team had pieces of information that
could have added up to the war happening. Since nobody communicated,
they could not get the big picture until it was too late.
Ahead of time,
Illuminati sounded like a cool story idea and an
excuse for a major crossover. But in the process of making
it all logical, Bendis has a bedrock of meaning that gives
this issue more depth than any of its follow-ups are likely
Part of that
effect arises out of Alex Maleev's astounding work, a style
far different from his Daredevil days. Though he
delineates the fantastic, Maleev does so in a way that makes
all of them believable. The action is no less powerful,
but we can read recognizable faces as they struggle with
The Black Panther,
T'Challa, feels real without ever taking off his mask. Nor
has Iron Man ever seemed so implacable a shell as he is
with Maleev's art, hiding a Tony Stark that may have a heart
of steel, even if it is in the right place. The road to
Hell just might be paved with his cast-off armor.
In fact, the
side that Tony Stark will clearly take in the upcoming Civil
War is not the one I expected. Yet Bendis has thought out
this character, and the rest of the secret cabal, with great
With a few lines
of dialogue, he exposes all their hypocrisies, but not in
a way that makes these foibles arbitrarily appear for the
sake of the story. He's right, for instance, that Professor
X should really stop protesting that he never reads minds
without permission. Bendis also deftly portrays the icy
nobility of Namor without compromising his problematically
morality shifts here. Like Identity Crisis for DC,
Illuminati gives classic Marvel tales a dark subtext.
It doesn't seem forced; instead, it's chillingly reasonable,
from T'Challa's prophecy about the group's fate to Iron
Man's assessment of himself as a "futurist."
Even the presence
of Black Bolt makes sense, though one might think that he
might have learned to carry around a laptop computer to
communicate, or at least a chalkboard.
leaves some big shoes to fill. This may be the most satisfying
Marvel book of the year. The publisher may be trying to
top it, and they may come close, but this is a rare synergy
of good idea, good writer and good artist that still comes
out greater than the sum of its parts.
2 -- Blue Beetle #1, Captain America 65th Anniversary Special
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