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New Avengers #29: Illuminati Reunion

Brian Michael Bendis follows up one of the best issues of the year with a waste of time.

New Avengers #29

New Avengers #28 was one of the best comics I’ve read this year. New Avengers #29 is one of the biggest wastes of time this year. Brian Michael Bendis has brought us a reunion with less impact than if Whitesnake got together and toured with Slaughter. The resounding emotion at the end of New Avengers #29 is “who cares?" I guess when you’re writing every Avengers book and you have to deal with the whole Avengers vs. X-Men event, certain issues just fall through the cracks.

The story opens with the Battle Of Anzio, January 22nd 1944. Captain America, Bucky and Prince Namor are united to attack the Red Skull and defeat his Nazi army. This prologue ends with Namor saving Captain America’s life and, when thanked, simply replying “Of course Captain, we’re brothers.” Jump ahead to today and a lonely Captain America is sitting at a long table in Stark Enterprises warehouse. Turns out the star spangled icon has invited Prince Namor to meet with him.

Once Iron Man walks in, the plot of issue #29 becomes clearer. Bendis is kicking us back to the Illuminati, the group of heroes that got together to make decisions they had no right to make. The original group consisted of Iron Man, Professor X, Prince Namor, Doctor Strange and Reed Richards. It was this group that collectively decided to send Hulk into space, thus launching the entire Planet Hulk and World War Hulk events. At one point, Captain America discovered their actions because a mutant criminal was stealing the jewels of the Infinity Gauntlet from each member of the group. Though Cap originally flipped out, he eventually joined the group to help keep the jewels safe.

Captain America has reconvened the group in order to try and talk the recently Phoenix-possessed Namor to join their side. I’m guessing all of this happens before Namor floods Wakanda and loses his power. One by one, the members of the group get together and start fighting with each other. First, they argue over using the Infinity Gauntlet against the Phoenix. They also think Cap is crazy to reach out to Namor and, lastly, everybody silently blames Professor X for Cyclops and the X-Men’s recent freak out. Problem is, you can’t silently do anything with a master telepath in the room, and Professor X reacts badly to the accusations. Captain maintains that getting Namor’s allegiance is the only way to beat the X-Men, and the others are sure Namor won’t even show up. One by one, frustrated and angry, the Illuminati members leave. Namor shows up when Cap is alone, they talk, he refuses and leaves. That’s it, that’s the whole comic.

First, why would Captain America bring together a group he doesn’t believe in to talk to Namor, especially when the last time the Illuminati got together, Namor beat the piss out of them for suggesting the idea of sending the Hulk into space? If Cap wanted to talk sense into Namor, bringing the rest of the mooks along does not figure. I was also curious when Professor X turned into such a whiny bitch. His denials towards the others makes him sound more like a kid caught with cookies than the most powerful mutant leader ever.

Nothing happens here, nothing is solved, the plot isn’t pushed forward, it’s just a filler issue. Mike Deodato’s helps save the issue with his pencils. The opening two page spread is fantastic, a complete knock out. Deodato loves shading, and the inks weigh heavily in the faces of each character. With such little action, the pencils and inks help convey the emotion of the situation and the depth of desperation the Avengers are feeling. While the story is lackluster, Deodato’s art does a great job of lifting the whole issue above mediocrity.

6

(2 Story, 4 Art)