Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Way Or The Highway


Dissension In The Ranks


When resentments and disagreements boil over,
even allies can turn against each other in fierce battle that can bring the house down.

(And often does!)


FEATURING:


The Illuminati


It's often been touch-and-go for the Illuminati, the clandestine group formed by Tony Stark (as Iron Man) consisting of key players in the Marvel universe: Stark himself, Reed Richards, Dr. Strange, Charles Xavier, Black Bolt, and the Sub-Mariner. At times, their meetings would involve controversy and/or sharp exchanges (and in some instances, coming to blows), and their decisions would have been questionable in forums other than their own. It was certainly a sandbox for Tony Stark and his proactive mindset--and never more so than when he called the group together to propose consensus on upcoming legislation that was being dusted off and revived:




Sixteen years prior, Congressional hearings were held to explore the registration of super-beings with the government; but given Iron Man's demeanor here, we can assume that this new bill has teeth, and that whatever misgivings lawmakers had before have been wiped away.

Iron Man has clearly called this meeting to ramrod support for this legislation through the group, having already formed a "you need to go along to get along" opinion on the matter--though you could argue that Stark also seems to be exhibiting a bit of paranoia on the subject. As if to underscore the point, Stark provides a worst case scenario to convince his comrades of the gravity of the situation:




Stark is being something of an alarmist here with these men, no doubt--yet, looking at Stark's pitch on paper, what comes across as alarming is the fact that he's phrasing his last sentence as "That is what will happen," rather than a far less alarming "That is what could happen." It's the difference between expressing a cause for concern and possibly having an agenda.

With Xavier missing from the group as a result of the events of House Of M, Strange, Richards and the other two men are deprived of his valuable input on Stark's initiative--not only in terms of his perspective on the Mutant Control Act which is directly relevant here, but also his experience in dealing with humanity's fears with a calm and objective eye. Xavier would have been one of two people who could have defused Stark's push for support here; the other we'll get to in a moment.

When it comes time for everyone to be counted, Namor's reaction comes as little surprise to anyone:



Namor is still feeling the sting of the group's decision, over his strong objections, to banish the Hulk off-world--and he can't help but see Iron Man's move here as further evidence of Stark's disturbing shift toward taking matters into his own hands. Strange also is against giving his support to Stark--though the real surprise comes with Reed's about-face on the issue, given his strong feelings he expressed in his testimony during the prior hearings:



I can't help but wonder how Stan Lee would write Reed Richards as part of this group, as well as how Lee would have him react to Stark's proposal. Reed Richards, under Lee, is one of the most forthright characters in Marvel's stable--assertive, decisive, and not one to withhold his opinion, while advocating taking the higher ground when making a difficult choice. Yet, in the Illuminati, Reed often blends into the background--raising no objection whatsoever to the Illuminati's method of operation, nor in this particular decision which demands deliberative discussion. Reed Richards, meekly waiting his turn to speak here? Stan Lee's Reed Richards would be practically hijacking this debate, with thoughtful and considered counters to Stark's bottom-line calls to fall in line. Richards would normally insist on drawing a new line--and the Illuminati, I think, would be a much different entity if he were free to be himself.

As it is, the Illuminati is effectively disbanded with the dissension on this issue, which Black Bolt, giving his own position on the matter, punctuates as only he can:



I'm glad Iron Man is up on his gestural language. I'm no Medusa in interpreting Black Bolt's wishes, but he seems to be implying something along the lines of Strange's parting words, only with an additional "Or else." tacked on. Reed, however, has cheerfully signed on Stark's dotted line, without so much as an arm twist. Which strikes me as anything but fantastic.

3 comments:

Colin Jones said...

All I know about the Illuminati is that they exiled the Hulk into deep space which was a lowdown, rotten thing to do - couldn't they have tried to cure him and didn't they care about poor Bruce Banner ? Boo, hiss to the Illuminati :)

Anonymous said...

Was this before or after Namor clocked Stark for mouthing off to him, knocked him into the ocean and tore his face-plate off?
Heh. I enjoyed that scene. mp

Comicsfan said...

Colin, it's funny you mention that--Namor broached that very subject, and received a lengthy dressing-down from Reed on just why a cure wasn't feasible. Frankly, Namor had it coming.

mp, the scene you mention is in the same issue, though it takes place prior to Iron Man's meeting here.

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