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Old 11-07-2005, 04:00 PM   #1

Most recently, they played a major role in the fate of The Sentry in the pages of New Avengers: Reed Richards, Black Bolt, Namor, Professor Xavier, and Dr. Strange. Together, the five are known as the Illuminati, and in March, Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev will show their history in New Avengers Special: The Illuminati.

We caught up with Bendis to talk secrets, cabals, how it starts to come apart, and similarities.

First off, the special was originally planned out to be an arc of New Avengers but moved into its own special as circumstances called for it to be something more than an arc. Rather than a multi-part story in an ongoing series, the special will now serve as a prelude to 2006�s major storyline that will run through the Marvel Universe.

Key in this stage-setting: explain the history of the Illuminati.

As revealed in the special, the five first joined forces after the Kree-Skrull War (Avengers #89-#97), and have had a hand in many of the major events that have rocked the Marvel Universe over the years. �We�re going to unfold their history in the special � how it happened that they got together in the first place, why it was these guys rather than other guys, say, why Black Panther isn�t in there, which is actually a very good point for the story, and we�re going to take it from there,� Bendis said.

Backing up, it�s easy to see that the five represent five larger groups within the Marvel Universe, Bendis acknowledged. �They each represent a certain something that is very special to the Marvel Universe � Namor, of course, is the king of 75% of the planet and represents a certain mindset; Tony Stark represents a certain type of hero � the Avenger type of hero, one who understands and appreciates that heroes can work with the government, rather than outside of it; Reed is the �science� side of the heroes; Black Bolt represents the Inhumans, which are an important part of Marvel history and an important part of things that are to come, as was hinted at in House of M; Dr. Strange speaks for the mystical side of the Marvel universe, and Professor Xavier is there for the mutants. They all bring with them a unique viewpoint and perspective that isn�t shard by the others.�

The Sentry�s reappearance in New Avengers #7-#10 was the perfect example of why the five would gather, Bendis said. After the confusion concerning the Sentry was cleared up, the five discussed the fate of the hero, much in the same way the fate of Wanda Maximoff was discussed at the beginning of House of M #1 by the assembled heroes.

Secret meetings held by key power players to decide the fate of the world?

�The inspirations for the Illuminati came from things like the UN Security Council, as well as the closed-door meetings in the White House and other organizations and countries that are off the books � the ones that you only find out about in history books years later when things have been declassified and cleared for public consumption,� Bendis said. �We�re still learning stuff about Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson�s respective presidential terms that happened behind closed doors that was much more interesting than what made the newspapers, and better explains why history moved in a particular direction at, say, a crisis point, rather than moving directly towards the crisis. I�m trying to create that Marvel history that we didn�t know about here.

�As with any alliance like this, it�s a stressful one. They�re not getting together to play cards. Whenever they get together, something really bad is happening, and one of them is probably to blame.�

Case in point, Tony Stark lying to Reed Richards � who said he�d heard rumblings about the Avengers in the Savage Land � telling the leader of the Fantastic Four that nothing is going on.

�No matter how good the intentions of a group like this is, when something that bad happens � something like what happened to the Avengers in the Savage Land, where they were attacked by SHIELD and saw SHEILD committing atrocious acts against the natives of the Savage Land while stockpiling condemned weapons � from Tony�s point of view, who can he trust?�

And hence the other part of the special � along with showing how the Illuminati came together, the story in the special will show how it all falls apart. And that doesn�t bode well for the larger Marvel Universe. Is this related to the �Whose side are you on?� slides Marvel has shown at panels over the past few months?

�Yes,� Bendis said. �I don�t know if I�m supposed to say that, but I�m going to say yes.�

The schisms shown in The Illuminati spread through the entire Marvel Universe, Bendis said, with the special serving as a prelude to Marvel�s 2006, which Bendis isn�t writing (smart money is on Mark Millar, who�s said he�s tied up with lots of research for his next big Marvel project).

And yes, large groups of heroes seeing schisms between them and splitting off into factions � it does sound familiar. DC is playing along the same themes in Infinite Crisis. Is this an answer? The Marvel version?

�I can only speak for us,� Bendis said. �I don�t know what inspired the stories DC is telling, and I don�t know how that story is going to end � it could be all happy at the end of it. In this instance though, I see the themes of what�s going on in the world being reflected in what we�re doing. The Marvel Universe is much more real-world than any other superhero or comic book universe, and has always represented a certain kind of culture and view that was shaped by the real world. This isn�t anything new; most of Marvel�s main heroes were products of the Cold War or nuclear paranoia, and look at the �70s when Captain America was railing against the world when society was angry.

�I�m not saying that the real world is about the split in half, but you can definitely feel ideological chasms between groups. It feels that people are ready to stand their ground at a moment�s notice anymore, and the differences run deeper. That�s the kind of real world feeling that you�re going to see expressed. I�m not looking to preach or anything � it�s something that you�re not even aware that you�re doing when you�re writing until you�re done, and you see just how much the world has affected you through your story.

�It�s always story first. It�s not like anyone is sitting down and saying, �Let�s tell a story that relates to our society,� and then map it out so that this character equals this real world person or viewpoint. That�s not how it goes. If you sit down and decide that you�re going to change eth world with a song, you never do. After the story was done, I was able to look back on this and realize that I wasn�t untouched by the world, or something like that. It happens on its own, and you can�t shoehorn it in, otherwise, it looks and feels clunky.�

So � wrapping things up, where do the tendrils of this story with a real-world feel spread?

�What you�re going to see is something coming for people who crave deep continuity within the books � you�re definitely going to see payoff,� Bendis said. �Secret War, House of M, stuff from Joss� X-Men stories, stuff from Mark�s Wolverine story, stuff from the Hulk � a lot of it is building and building. You can enjoy every story on your own, but if you�ve been paying attention, you�re going to really get something major out of it all.�

The tendrils of The Illuminati will be met by the changed tenor of the Marvel Universe as a whole, Bendis concluded. �Not only did House of M happen, the world knows something happened. There�s still tension around the world. The anti-mutant people are now furiously anti-mutant, because they think the mutants did this. The pro-mutant people think they�ve been screwed with. Something happens in the Secret War � it�s coming, and yeah, there�s something major. Things have been cooking and cooking and cooking. This book will consolidate everything that�s happening, show how it affects all the big players, and starts the divide.

�All the threads are pulled together and it then goes out from there across the entire Marvel Universe. It�s going to touch nearly everyone in the Marvel Universe � and it�s going to start with the Illuminati.�

Old 11-07-2005, 04:18 PM   #2
I'm interested to see how the Kree/Skrull War brought this group together, especially Black Bolt. Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee showed me the light.

I am glad to see that another writer will be taking on the '06 event, nothing against Bendis, but I like his stories much more when they're self contained. House of M was pretty average to me, it just felt like means to an end first and story second (although I really like the fallout). Here's hoping it's either Ed Brubaker or Dan Slott, but I definitely wouldn't mind seeing it be Millar (get well soon Mark).
Old 11-07-2005, 04:35 PM   #3
Bakema NL
The Illuminati doesn't sound very interesting to me I must a group that is. But who knows, maybe I will be surprised by this special.
Old 11-07-2005, 04:38 PM   #4
Schisms? Illuminati? Heroes taking sides? I know the title of the mini already:

"A Series of Infinite Unfortunate Events with Da Vinci Code Crisis"!
Old 11-07-2005, 04:38 PM   #5
render man
I like the Bendis/Maleev team, so I will check this out.
Old 11-07-2005, 04:41 PM   #6
What an awful idea. Are they gonna retcon everything that has ever happened in the MARVEL universe? That's the only way the group would make any sense. On top of that, if they've had their hand in everything they would be a complete failure.
Old 11-07-2005, 04:42 PM   #7
Will we ever see the end of Secret War? And when was it set? I hate delays in books and stories set ahead of current stories (like House of M and New Avengers was at one point)
Old 11-07-2005, 04:43 PM   #8
Jim Dangle
some of my favorite marvel characters are in this unofficial group. sounds interesting to me, plus i wanna see how black bolt contributes since medusa isnt there.
Old 11-07-2005, 04:44 PM   #9
While I always wait and see before passing judgement over whether or not I like a story or not, in general I do not like it when writer's insert major plot threads into the past. Its a delicate thing to get away with which if not careful could tarnish good continuity.

I'm not a fan of the Sentry and really didn't like the idea of having a hero of Superman proportions inserted into Marvel history.

I'm not particularly fond of Jessica Jones; a character who is supposed to have a rich history with the super hero crowd and yet I can't pick up a single issue and enjoy that history because it never really happened.

I'm hoping that this Illuminati special will be able to sell the idea. However putting Namor on any sort panel will be a tough sell for me. Namor is a very volitile guy whom I can't see sitting next to Reed during certain eras. My first impression is that this reeks of grub like Marvel: The Lost Generation.
Old 11-07-2005, 04:46 PM   #10
Be nice if Marvel actually finished Secret War.

Where was the Inhumans importance hinted at in HOM.

Last edited by Layters : 11-07-2005 at 04:48 PM.
Old 11-07-2005, 04:48 PM   #11
This sounds great to me. I'm a bit distressed it will hinge so much on the perenially late Secret War, but whatever. With Bendis doing the "big thinking" and another writer handling the details, I'm sure it'll be worth picking up. And for the record, I'm a huge Bendis fan but I agree with the point made above and elsewhere that HoM was a good concept that could've been handled more adeptly.

It's also a nice contrast to the New Avengers, on a certain level. Even if it were only Reed, Dr. Strange and Xavier it would be intense.

Last edited by Bevbos : 11-07-2005 at 04:53 PM.
Old 11-07-2005, 04:48 PM   #12
Could be fun. Curious though how Xavier's current status after HOM is gonna affect this group.
Old 11-07-2005, 04:49 PM   #13
Originally posted by Jim Dangle
s plus i wanna see how black bolt contributes since medusa isnt there.

He probably walks around with a little chalk board around his neck like Awesome Andy.

Namor: "Anything you wanna say about this Black Bolt"

Black Bolt: (writing on the chalk board) "HAHA very funny Namor, you ass"
Old 11-07-2005, 04:51 PM   #14
Originally posted by algertman
What an awful idea. Are they gonna retcon everything that has ever happened in the MARVEL universe? That's the only way the group would make any sense. On top of that, if they've had their hand in everything they would be a complete failure.

I totally agree. I could 100% buy into the need for this group if they formed after House of M. I could just see Reed or Namor saying: "ok, we didn't handle the Wanda situation well at all. In fact, why am I saying "we"? Neither you (points to avengers representitive Iron Man) nor you (Xavier) bothered to let us in on your decision at all. We need much more of a global leadership group for these types of situations, one where all factions are spoken for!" Voila - Bendis cops a catchy name from a best seller, and the Illuminati be born. But to shoehorn this secret club into past continuity is sloppy, and just asking for a beat down from the continuity cops. I think the HoM and the fallout from those events are plenty enough for an Illuminati origin; no need to play behind-the-scenes connect the dots through the past 20 years of Marvel history...

I mean, hell, does this meen teen Iron Man had a vote ?
Old 11-07-2005, 04:52 PM   #15

Originally posted by MattBrady

�I�m not saying that the real world is about to split in half...

How about the Internet, Brian?

Ooh wait, that joke's been done...sorry...

(C'mon, you were all thinking it...)
Old 11-07-2005, 04:52 PM   #16
I like the fact they're trying to create something of a coherent universe again. They just need to make it CONSISTANT. Wolverine's in 18 places at the same time. Make it at least try to make sense. They don't even begin to try now. All I ask for is an attempt, not something that gets in the way of the stories. A throw away line here. Something that reminds us this is one universe. Wolvie's reward for getting brainwashed and going on a killing spree, including offing a teammate is that he gets to join the Avengers while staying on the X-Men. That sort of thing bugs me.

I'm not comfortable with Bendis as the main creative guy in the MU. I'd rather see him doing ground level stories, but I sure as hell don't want to see Mark Millar(who I despise on a creative level) in that role.

There are a lot of great up and coming writers at Marvel: Bedard, Sacasa, Kirkman.

Millar's disbelief in heroism really rubs me the wrong way.

Past that though, I'm more excited for this than I was for House of M.
Old 11-07-2005, 04:54 PM   #17
I am ready for this. It, and the coming events, sound infinitely more interesting than was DC has been doing. With the end of HoM, the Marvel Universe feels far more unpredictible and I like that.
Old 11-07-2005, 04:59 PM   #18
Thutmose V
The Illuminati??

Hahha. Talk about a beaten horse. (and a damn ugly one too)
Old 11-07-2005, 05:00 PM   #19
Fat Spidey
Originally posted by algertman
What an awful idea. Are they gonna retcon everything that has ever happened in the MARVEL universe? That's the only way the group would make any sense. On top of that, if they've had their hand in everything they would be a complete failure.

I don't see anything about retconning anything. Just because its a big event doesn't mean its going to retcon history. It just simply states that there will be conflict and on a massive proportion. Nothing against you personally, but it seems that everything that has big event written on it, at both Marvel and DC, is assumed to be a massive upheaval of a universe when in this case its just to create a new avenue for the universe to dive into without changing history as a whole. Granted change will come but not the retcon change that everybody assumes will happen.
Old 11-07-2005, 05:01 PM   #20
i'm looking forward to this. i like the "whose side are you on?" concept for Marvel because i think it will actually be thought provoking (unlike DC's IC "whose side").
Old 11-07-2005, 05:02 PM   #21
Why isn't Black Panther on this group? I mean he is the king of the most powerful nation in Africa.
Old 11-07-2005, 05:02 PM   #22
the complaints should really start coming in about 10 mins....Guess Marvel no matter what they do can never appease anyone on Newsarama. THey try to tie every part of the universe in so that the neglected areas get some love and the response is??? "this sucks" or "awful idea".
Old 11-07-2005, 05:05 PM   #23
Originally posted by saiyanspider
Why isn't Black Panther on this group? I mean he is the king of the most powerful nation in Africa.

Were the Saudis invited to discuss the future of the post-WW2 world, even though they sat on the world's largest oil reserves?

You betcha bottom NO.
Old 11-07-2005, 05:06 PM   #24
Originally posted by algertman
Are they gonna retcon everything that has ever happened in the MARVEL universe?

Feels like it, sometimes. Remember the abortive 'Trouble' miniseries? Then add in Sins Past, DisAssembled, the whole 'Villains funded by corporations' bull in Millar's Spider-Man etc., and I start to feel that this isn't the same Marvel U that got me into comics in the first place.

I mean, come on, Marvel! If you want to reshape the whole ball o' wax, just start the whole thing from scratch like the Ultimate Universe. Just don't expect me to be you're most avid customer, that's all.

Aww, hell...
Good thing there's quality books like Young Avengers and Gravity to keep me going.
Old 11-07-2005, 05:07 PM   #25
Originally posted by victor_cardi

I'm not particularly fond of Jessica Jones; a character who is supposed to have a rich history with the super hero crowd and yet I can't pick up a single issue and enjoy that history because it never really happened.

I know, it's really cheap that it never really happened. How am I supposed to take Jessica Jones stories, fictional as they are, seriously when put in the context of the true life stories of Hulk, the X-Men, and Captain America?

None of it really happened, man. That's what fiction is.

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