Jump to navigation
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Alex Maleev (pencils), Dave Stewart (colors), VC’s Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Molly Lazer & Aubrey Sitterson (assistant editors), Andy Schmidt (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)
Many years ago, Iron Man had an idea. He gathered Professor Xavier, Black Bolt, Mr. Fantastic, Dr. Strange and the Sub-Mariner to Wakanda, where they shared a meeting hosted by the Black Panther. Tony wants to propose a delegation of all the super-hero groups, so they can work as one big group and share information to prevent disasters, such like the Kree-Skrull War that happened not too long ago. Nobody actually likes the idea of one big group, especially not the Panther and Namor. The Professor proposes to do share information, though, as he thinks that could be useful, and agree to only meet up with each other to discuss big disasters. After the meeting is over, the Professor wants to discuss something about an island called Krakoa. One month ago, years later after the first meeting of the Illuminati, the Thing is summoned to battle an out-of-control Hulk in Las Vegas. With the battle destroying numerous buildings, and ending up with 26 dead people and a dog, SHIELD isn’t pleased at how the heroes handle their battles anymore. They think that the bad guys can come back any time they want to haunt their adversaries, and still the heroes don’t deal with them like they should. Iron Man gathers the Illuminati again at the Avengers former Hydrobase and wants to discuss the fate of the Hulk. Most of the group agrees to send the Hulk away to a peaceful alien planet where he can’t harm anyone anymore. Namor strongly disagrees and fights Iron Man over it, but calms down after Dr. Strange takes care of him. The Illuminati go along with their plan, and the Hulk is banished into outer space, with the group hoping Banner can forgive them one day. Some time later, Iron Man gathers the Illuminati to discuss another threat. Professor X couldn’t join them, because he’s still missing. The meeting continues, and Iron Man reveals that the politicians want to propose a bill which requires all of the heroes, everyone who wears a costume, mutant or not, to reveal their secret identities. Everyone who refuses will be haunted down. Tony and Reed think they should go along with it before the situation escalates and perhaps they can prevent it. Namor, Black Bolt and Dr. Strange disagree and angrily leave, telling Stark and Richards to never call upon them again. Tony promises Reed that he’ll call him the moment he hears something new. Reed thinks that’s fine and takes off, adding that being a hero was fun while it lasted.
Wakanda, Africa, many years ago…The Black Panther and his servants welcome their friends, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Professor Charles Xavier, Reed Richard, Black Bolt and Namor, into his palace. They are proud that the heroes have gathered in the house of Wakanda. Strange mentions to T’Challa that this is the first time that he has visited Wakanda, and compliments on how beautiful the land is. T’Challa smiles that Strange can stay for as long as he likes, and mentions that some of his high priests were hoping to break bread with him privately. Strange would love to do that. Iron Man thanks T’Challa for hosting this meeting. T’Challa can’t imagine what such a gathering is for, though.
They all are seated at a large table, and the Panther inquires what this is all about. Tony wanted to discuss what happened to them last week, when the Earth was almost decimated in an interplanetary battle between two alien, warrior races, known as the Kree and the Skrulls. They both used the Earth as their battleground for their centuries-old war, and Tony can’t help but think all that happened was their fault. Reed doesn’t understand. Tony explains that they knew who the players were. They knew what they were capable of. They knew that these two aliens have been at war with themselves for centuries. And, they knew that key members of both races had set up shop right there on planet Earth. Of course, it would come to this!
Namor becomes upset, and demands to know how the war was their fault. Tony wonders whether, if they had a more unified structure among themselves, the aliens would have thought twice about using Earth as a battleground. Stephen wants to know who these “we” people are Tony is talking about. Tony believes that, if the Earth is attacked again, they will be the ones defending it. There will be nobody else, because no Earth army is ready for it. They will form the law-enforcement of the planet. Tony believes that they should just gather around in one group and do that. Namor gets even more impatient, and wants to know who the “we” are.
Tony is talking about them. The heroes. All of them. The X-Men, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four… everyone you can think of. He believes that everybody should gather in one, big group. They should make their own delegation. He explains that, instead of these little factions of heroes and mutants they have concocted, and who are running around doing the best they can, he thinks that maybe they should pool all of their resources of information together and do it right.
When Namor doesn’t think so, Tony sarcastically thanks Namor for at least taking the time to think about it. Namor angrily defends that the heroes present can’t even control the groups they are currently in, so he wants to know how Stark can possibly hope to control a larger body. Tony admits that’s what he wanted to discuss here today. Namor still doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Reed doesn’t agree with the rude way Namor says his thoughts, though he has to agree with them. He believes it would be too hard to decide who would be in this coalition, and even to appoint a person who’s going to decide that very thing. He doesn’t see who would run the organization and who people would absolutely listen to.
Dr. Strange also agrees with both Reed and Namor. He reminds everyone to look at how much the United Nations actually get done versus how much time they spend by just running their country. Stephen believes that the best super-heroes in the world would be spending all of their time dealing with bureaucracy, and he doesn’t see that happening.
Professor Xavier reminds Iron Man that the Skrulls tried to turn the public against the heroes, and actually came pretty close in achieving that goal. The Professor wants to know if he’s right when he thinks this feeling is completely new to Tony. He admits that. Charles explains that, as mutants, he and the X-Men experience the feeling Tony is having now every moment from every day. He knows exactly how Tony feels right now. And, he finds it noble that Tony wants to turn that feeling into something positive again. But he isn’t sure about this idea he is having. Tony defends that a unified grouping of heroes that included mutants could smash down those racist barriers, and instill people all over the world to trust mutantkind. They could champion the X-Men’s cause.
The Panther, however, believes that it would actually do the opposite. He believes that the people would lump in with the humans and have an excuse to even hate the human heroes once again. He apologizes to the Professor, in case he feels offended now. Luckily, Charles isn’t. T’Challa believes that, like it now is, not the heroes like the Fantastic Four, but that most other heroes like Spider-Man and Daredevil, they would continue to be rebels. He realizes that they aren’t anti-establishment, but just plain establishment. Dr. Strange believes that they are counter-establishment. Tony just feels that it’s worth a try. He believes that they can make the world better than it now is. They can do more than what they are doing right now. And Tony wants to do more.
Namor calls Stark a fool, and wants to explain why. He asks Tony how many convicted criminals and supposed “ex-mutant terrorists” are on-board of the Avengers right now. He is referring to Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, and who knows who might follow in the future. He asks Tony how many questionable characters the Avengers have had on their team already. He wants to know how exactly the Professor screens the mutant students at his school. Namor reveals that he’s even hearing rumors about a mutant assassin who is now working for the Canadian services. He wants to know whether Xavier would allow a guy like that on his team. He reminds everyone that it was Black Bolt’s own brother who was an architect of the Kree invasion on Earth. He asks Black Bolt if he has killed the responsible villain for his actions, or if he instead locked him up at his castle.
The Sub-Mariner doesn’t think that putting a spotlight on all of this is a good idea. He tells the gathered heroes that they can’t possibly think to put up the other heroes as role models and delegates for the entire planet Earth. He thinks it’s completely deluded. The group isn’t sure what to say to that. Reed does agree with one thing Tony says, namely about the information. Everyone here has pieces of information, like little pieces of the Kree-Skrull situation before it escalated. They could have dealt with it before it began. A meeting just like this could have saved the lives of many people. Dr. Strange thinks they should meet with each other in secret, for big purposes only. Namor admits he could see himself trusting the people present in this meeting room. But, he wants to clarify that nobody can ever know about their group.
Iron Man jokes that everybody gets the idea that Namor doesn’t trust his own teammates. Namor also mentions to Reed that he can’t involve his family or wife into this. Reed doesn’t like that idea, but doesn’t say anything about it. Namor confirms that nobody can know about this. He states that, if anyone shared a secret of his Atlantis that came back to harm anyone in his kingdom, he would bring hell on the surface world. Tony wants to know why Namor is always ready to attack them. Stark realizes that Namor would team with Magneto if it would suit him, and can’t have a civil conversation with them without threatening the group. Namor defends that it wasn’t a threat.
Tony explains to Namor that it wasn’t appropriate during this conversation. He states that this thing is bigger than just the group gathered now. Tony explains to Namor that, if the Kree or Skrull Empires take this planet, they will take him on as well. And, Iron Man also realizes that the only reason why the two armies didn’t win their war this time was by sheer luck. The Avengers didn’t beat them; they just stopped them. And he can’t help but wonder for how long that will take. He believes that a child with a fifth grade history book could figure out that the war is going to happen again, and that the heroes are the only ones who would stand a chance to do something about it. So, he asks Namor to stop puffing up his chest and contribute to the conversation.
Dr. Strange wants to know if they would be on an honor system. Tony denies that, since they have Charles Xavier on board. One can’t hide from the most powerful psychic on the planet, and Xavier would know it if somebody of the group would turn out to be traitor. The Professor defends that he doesn’t feel comfortable with that idea, as that isn’t what he does. Tony doesn’t agree with that. The Professor believes that it would have to be unanimous. Reed wants to know who of the group is in favor of this.
Everybody except T’Challa raises their hand. The Panther angrily stands up, and asks the heroes to stop this conversation right now. He wants them to walk away from this table and go home again. Tony asks him to calm down. T’Challa thinks there is a reason the Skrulls had such an easy time trying to turn the world against its heroes; because deep down, everyone knows that this could happen. And now it has. He explains to the group that they have decided all by themselves to become Earth’s protectors. And that they, and they only, not their friends, family or teammates, are trustworthy enough to include in this meeting. He wants to know what would happen if the group disagrees on a disaster. He wants to know what if one of these Earth-changing moments finds all of them at odds with each other, at another secret meeting such like this one. He wants to know what would happen. Nobody is sure what to say. The Black Panther tells everyone to walk away right now.
Tony asks everyone what they think. Reed admits that he actually thinks this is one of the best ideas he ever heard. Tony promises he’ll talk to T’Challa. Dr. Strange thinks that if this group doesn’t work out, they’ll just walk away. Tony turns to Black Bolt. He knows that if the King of the Inhumans would speak out loud he could bring down Wakanda entirely around their ears, but he still wants to hear from him. Stark asks the Professor if he can perhaps read Black Bolt’s thoughts. The Professor can, and reveals to the group that Black Bolt says that the Inhumans do need the connection to the outside world, but don’t think they can trust a single government. This group is perfect for Black Bolt, as he figures out what the next step for his people will be.
Tony asks everyone if they agree that, when next they meet, everything that is discussed in the group, stays in the group. Strange jokes that he even rarely leaves his house as it is. Tony wants to know if they need to talk about anything else now before T’Challa’s guards have them removed from the building. The Professor has something. He wants to talk about an island named… Krakoa!
One month ago…In Las Vegas, a furious, gray Hulk confronts the Thing and is ready to smash him!
Meanwhile, aboard the SHIELD Helicarrier, which flies over Ohio…Iron Man meets up with Commander Hall, and asks her how many people the Hulk killed this time. Maria explains that the Hulk killed 26 people, including two kids and a dog. Tony defends that the Hulk can’t help himself. Hall asks Tony who he thinks had more control over what happens here: the 26 dead people or the dog. The thing she wants to know is why Iron Man and the other heroes continue to let this happen.
When Tony doesn’t understand that question, Maria explains that Spider-Man is the one who has Norman Osborn by the throat three times a year and still doesn’t do anything to stop it. Sure, Spidey webs his enemy up, hand him over to the police who throw him in jail, but Osborn still manages to escape every time and go on yet another crazy rampage. She wants to know how many times such a thing has to happen before it becomes entirely Spider-Man’s fault. She realizes that it isn’t the webslinger’s fault that Osborn is nuts, even though Osborn claims that.
Right now, she is doing everything she can to stop the Hulk, but isn’t sure if Iron Man is doing the same thing. And, she has to tell Stark, the rumblings she is hearing on Capitol Hill right now, they are looking to blame these disasters on the heroes. Tony doesn’t say another word, and flies away.
Later, at the ruins of Avengers Hydrobase… Iron Man defends to Black Bolt, Dr. Strange, Namor and Reed that the Hulk continues to kill people. Reed states that people die every day, but Tony doesn’t think that makes the Hulk’s behavior appropriate. Reed says he wasn’t saying that, however before he can elaborate Namor cuts in. He finds it hard to believe that one moment, Bruce Banner is an alley to the heroes, and the next he is their enemy. Dr. Strange doesn’t think that’s fair. Iron Man explains that’s because, one moment, Banner is in control of his body and considered as a hero, and in a later year, Las Vegas ends up destroyed! Banner simply can’t control himself.
Namor reminds Stark that he used to have quite a drinking problem, so perhaps they should throw him into the sun as well. Tony doesn’t think that’s the same thing, as he never killed anyone. Namor doesn’t see how Tony can know that for sure, because alcoholics have these “blackouts.” Tony still believes that the Hulk is a problem and that they have a situation going on. Namor angrily believes that, if Stark and Richards would perhaps stop “talking” and take some time to find a cure for Banner’s transformed state, perhaps they can solve the problem.
Reed angrily rises, and shouts at Namor how dare he say that. He has spent countless of hours trying to crack the genetic code that keeps Banner changing into the Hulk. It wasn’t just an attempt to cure Banner, but also to transform Ben back into a man. Reed doesn’t understand what Namor has done now that he comes here and speaks like that. He explains that, if Namor knew the first thing about genetic science, he would know that it would take a million scientists with a million computers and a thousand years to crack every genetic sequence that makes this planet work, and Banner’s isn’t even one of them. Reed has met with every great mind on Earth to try and find a cure, or at least some sort of thing that could dampen the effect.
Dr. Strange mentions that he has even traveled the entire Astral Plane looking for anything that could help Bruce out. Strange confirms that, and mentions that he even tried to banish the Hulk once to the Crossroads, but it wasn’t as safe as their current solution is. Tony adds that they also had Banner sit down with Xavier, and they only learned that Banner couldn’t even kill himself even if he wanted. And, Tony still isn’t thinking about killing Banner. He’s just thinking about sending him away. Namor doesn’t think that this is about Banner. This is about Wanda Maximoff; the Scarlet Witch. The group wants to punish Banner for what Wanda did to the Avengers. They couldn’t control that woman, so they are going to punish Banner for it.
Tony defends otherwise, but Namor warns them not to continue this conversation. Reed asks who’s in favor of the solution. Everyone except Namor raises their hand. Namor warns the group that, if they are going to raise one hand on Banner, they’ll have him to deal with. Tony believes that the problem Namor has is that he thinks he’s the only one willing to fight for what he believes in. But that isn’t true. Everyone here is willing, because they are warriors. Namor doesn’t think so. Perhaps Stark is a warrior, but he is a King! Tony mocks that Namor isn’t a king on the surface world. Namor gets furious and punches Namor out of the building!
Namor wants to fight Iron Man and jumps out of the base. Reed quickly stretches himself in an attempt to stop Namor, but it’s no use. Iron Man fires his blasters at the Sub-Mariner, but he instead punches Stark into the ocean below them, where he rips his helmet off! Namor grabs Stark’s throat and starts killing him, but Dr. Strange lifts them both up using his magic powers. Stephen warns Namor to stop resisting his powers, as he knows better than that.
Reed finds it amazing to see how Namor never changes. Namor calls all of the gathered heroes incredible fools. Strange defends that the group has voted. Namor shouts at Strange that he has known Banner for his entire life, so how can he do this to a friend? Strange explains that he wants Bruce to be happy. Namor is confident that Banner will come back from whatever place the Illuminati will send him to, and will kill them for it. Tony tells Strange to let Namor go, and he does so. Namor angrily dives back into the ocean, but not without mentioning that he believes king T’Challa was right as well.
Later, Iron Man explains his plan. He doesn’t believe that Banner could know that Nick Fury has gone underground, so he will listen to someone who looks like him. SHIELD has been using Life Model Decoys to stand in for Fury, so they could cover up his disappearance. The new models are staggeringly lifelike. The LMD coaxes Banner to go up to a satellite that has gone haywire. After all, SHIELD really is having trouble with the AI on this specific satellite, and it is something that needs to be addressed. However, if they do this right, as far as Bruce will be concerned, it’ll be a job only the Hulk can do. He just needs to go inside the satellite. From there, the AI can distract him where the group will send him to a planet where no one can hurt him.
After luring the Hulk in outer space, the group manages to fulfill their plan. They apologize for it on a video-message, and after the Hulk is send away, they hope that one day he can forgive them for it.
Today, at Funtime Inc., a Stark Enterprise subsidiary…Iron Man has been sitting at the empty facility for a while now, waiting for the rest of the group to show up. He doesn’t think they will, and gives up hope. However, on the moment Tony wants to leave, Black Bolt, Namor, and Reed enter the building. Tony thanks them for coming. Reed mentions that Dr. Strange is on his way here. Namor notices that Xavier is still missing, to which Reed confirms that Xavier has been ever since the House of M.
Namor wants to know if they can assume the worst. Reed thinks it would be naïve not to do it. Namor sarcastically complements the group another disaster well averted. Reed wants to know why Namor is even there. Tony explains that Namor was invited. He knows that they all agreed not to do these meetings anymore, but something larger than any issues they have is on the horizon. Also, Tony defends, if he hadn’t gathered the group he wouldn’t be able to live with himself.
He shows the group a paper, which is an early draft of a bill that will hit the floor of the United States Congress in a month or two. It was supped to him under the table and is actually a super hero registration act. Anyone with powers… anyone wearing a costume – mutant or not – anyone is going to be required by law to reveal themselves to the United States government. In return, the registered hero will be given a job as a guard in the new SHIELD world security force. They will still get to be a super hero, but will have to answer to someone. Refusing to do this will be considered as a federal crime. The feeling is that other countries will follow this proposal, but the United States will be leading the way and this bill will pass.
Dr. Strange arrives, and wants to know what the registration will do to people wearing masks. Tony reveals that SHIELD is developing a special unit to hunt down anyone fragrantly disobeying the law. Stephen finds that disgusting. Tony thinks that they should all voluntarily support and obey this act before it even goes to vote. They should happily come out in favor of it.
Reed, Namor and Strange can’t believe their ears. Tony defends that they should all cooperate now before it gets ugly, and before someone or everyone is made an example of. Namor reminds Tony that, first, he took care of the Hulk, and now he apparently has found away to take care of the rest of the heroes. Tony promises the group that what he is saying right now, is really already happening. He’s talking about the House of M, Nick Fury’s Secret War, the 198 and even the attack on Avengers Mansion. It all came to this: an environment of fear that has been created where this bill not only exists but will pass as well. Namor believes that Tony would gladly roll over for it.
Tony asks Namor to listen to him, as he wants to explain the reason: he’s a futurist. The way his mind works, and Reed’s mind as well, they can both intuit the future. That’s why they are such successful investors. They know what people will need before the people even know it themselves. And now, Tony wants to predict the future. He believes that a hero, probably a young one who could be a member of the Young Avengers or those Runaway kids in Los Angeles, some god-honest kid with the best intentions will do something wrong. He’ll be trying to save someone, do something heroic, but will make a mistake. He will turn to the left instead of the right and people will end up killed because of it.
This will either happen on live TV, or either it will be recorded. Like with Rodney King, the message will play over and over and over again on every network all over the world. It will be repeated until the unrest that is already bubbling will boil over, and every politician looking to make a name for himself will run right on TV and they’ll tell America how they are going to save the world from these “out-of-control costumed characters” who think the law doesn’t apply to them. And a half of the heroes will go along with this new bill, and the other half won’t. And, because of this mini-rebellion, lawmakers will be forced to make an example out of someone. And it will turn out to be someone like their good friend Spider-Man. It will be someone they can make a real spectacle of. It will be someone they can unmask on TV, destroy his marriage and family and pin out a crime or two. And the entire world will get to see it. And the country will rupture. Sides will be taken and people will end up hurt. It will be friend against friend. People who used to be adversaries will find themselves teamed up against a common cause. Friends will be dying at the hands of a former ally or teammate. This is what will happen! But if the heroes come to the politicians now as representatives of the most powerful of all the heroes, and if they corporate and incorporate themselves into the process, they can diffuse it.
Namor wants to hear the part where Tony tells the group that if they would have created this delegation of heroes he fantasized about years ago, none of this would have ever happened. Tony admits that the others should have listened to him back then, and he’s begging the group to listen to him now. Namor thinks that the heroes brought this on by themselves, and that this is a surface situation. Tony believes that the politicians will come to Namor in Atlantis as well. Namor doesn’t think so, as that would be an act of war. He believes that most probably the heroes will destroy themselves before the politicians can even consider coming to Atlantis, and the entire world will be theirs again. Namor takes off, and mentions that either way suits fine by him.
Dr. Strange thinks that this is wrong. When Tony asks Stephen to explain himself, Strange believes that this bill is giving in to other people’s ignorance and fear. And a lot of the heroes’ peers will fight for their rights until death. Stephen hopes that Reed agrees with him. But, actually, Reed actually agrees with Tony! Strange is startled to hear that. Reed thinks that Tony is absolutely right. Dr. Strange has heard enough, and teleports himself away, warning the others to never call upon him again.
Tony feels sorry that Black Bolt can’t communicate with them, as he wants to know what he has to say about this. Black Bolt holds out his fist, and points his finger at Tony. Stark thinks he’s getting the gist. Reed wants to go home and fight over this with his wife for the rest of his life. Tony promises to call Reed the moment he hears anything. Reed thinks it was fun while it lasted, and takes off. Tony is left all alone, and mumbles to himself that it really was fun.
Black Bolt, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Mr. Fantastic (all Illuminati)
One month ago: Iron Man (Avengers)
the Thing (Fantastic Four)the Hulk
Commander Maria Hall (SHIELD agent)Nick Fury (LMD only)various other SHIELD agents (all unnamed)
Years ago: Black Bolt, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Mr. Fantastic, Professor X (all Illuminati)
Black Panther (host to the Illuminati)servants to the Panther (all unnamed)
The story continues in Civil War #1.
The term “Illuminati” is Latin for “enlightened ones” and dates back to as early as the 14th Century. For centuries, conspiracy theorists have spoken of secret cabals of powerful individuals, who control world governments from behind the scenes. In this same mold, this group of heroes have evidently similarly tried to secretly manage events from behind the scenes. At the moment, though their actions are reminiscent of Illuminati-like groups, they have not yet referred to each other as such, making the name an informal description, rather than their stated group name.
The “Kree-Skrull War” story was told throughout Avengers (1st series) #89-97. The opening flashback story takes place one week after those stories. The Hydrobase of the Avengers was once used as a temporarily headquarters from Avengers (1st series) #312 until it ended up destroyed by Proctor in Avengers (1st series) #373.
During the first meeting of the Illuminati (though they never refer to their group as such), there is apparently an empty chair at the meeting room. It’s unclear at this point if there exists a secret member, or if the seat was just reserved for Namor, who doesn’t use it as he continuously stands.
Maximus was revealed to be Black Bolt’s evil brother in Fantastic Four (1st series) #47. Namor teamed-up with Magneto in an attempt to destroy the surface world in Fantastic Four (1st series) #102-104. Dr. Strange banished the Hulk to the Crossroads dimension in Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #300. Nick Fury went underground in Secret War #5. The Thing fought an out-of-control Hulk in Las Vegas throughout Fantastic Four (1st series) #534-535. Realizing what danger the Hulk posed towards the Earth’s safety, the Illuminati sought to send him away to what they believed, but in fact isn’t, a peaceful alien planet as seen in Incredible Hulk (3rd series) #91. Iron Man and Spider-Man eventually confront the politicians about their plan to blame the heroes for disasters in Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #530.
In this one-shot, it is mentioned that the Hulk actually killed people during his many rampages over the years. This revelation caused confusion among the fans, as in She-Hulk (2nd series) #4, it was stated that he never killed anyone.
The X-Men will eventually face the island Krakoa in Giant-Sized X-Men #1. The “mutant assassin” Namor hears about working for the Canadian government is of course Wolverine, who was revealed to be working for his government in Giant-Sized X-Men #1.
Professor Xavier vanished in House of M #1, on the exact moment Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch created their new world. Charles’ fate was left unclear as of House of M #5, where it was established he could have possibly died. When the world was reverted back to normal in House of M #7, the Professor was still missing. His fate remained unknown until X-Men: Deadly Genesis #5, where he finally revealed himself alive.