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Illuminati (Earth-616)

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Illuminati
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Unknown
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Origin
Information-silk Origin
Covert think-tank formed after the Kree-Skrull War, in order to prevent such events from happening again.
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Last appearance

Quote1 You're used to dealing with heroes... But what you don't have much experience with is kings. And that's your problem here. You can't think of them as normal men. You can't even think of them as behaving human--that's thinking too small... They are larger than that, bigger than that... They exist above other men because they were born that way. Authority began at the cradle, you see. Their very idea of morality is different than what you are used to. The people--their people--expect them to do violence to ensure a certain amount of peace and prosperity. And like gods, they are also expected to commit murder... So the people can sleep at night knowing they are protected. Quote2
--Maximus[src]

The Illuminati were a covert think-tank originally consisting of Mister Fantastic, Iron Man, Professor X, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, and Namor. They met in secret for a number of years sharing information and strategy, operating relatively successfully initially, despite their unique traits and considerable differences in nearly every way.

Illuminati (Earth-616) first appearance chronologically

Each of the original members represented a portion of the Earth's superhuman community, and also had great personal power and/or influence. Namor was king of the highly advanced underwater civilisation of Atlantis, as well as a powerful mutant; Doctor Strange was the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth, representing mystics and outsider heroes; Reed Richards was the leader of the well-respected Fantastic Four, as well as one of the world's foremost scientists and a superhuman; Black Panther was king of the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda, and a some-time Avenger; Professor Xavier was the leader of the mutant superhero X-Men, a preeminent figure in the mutant community, and a world-class telepath; Black Bolt was king of the superhuman Inhumans, and was himself one of the Earth's most powerful superhumans; and finally, Tony Stark was the leader of the Avengers as Iron Man, representing establishment heroes acting in the U.S. and was also one of the world's greatest minds. They all brought with them a view point and perspective unique to themselves.

Beginnings

The group was formed during a meeting called by Iron Man within a week after the Kree-Skrull War. Iron Man had come to realise that all the individuals present had known about the threat, and that they could have collectively stopped it from ever happening. He argued that since alien races viewed the Earth's heroes as its law enforcement, they should start acting like it, and proposed a unified super-group of Earth's superhumans. This idea however was poorly received by those present. Namor argued that those present couldn't even control their current groups, and would thus be wholly incapable of running a larger group. Reed Richards and Doctor Strange echoed this argument. Namor also pointed out that all of them had too many secrets and shady goings-on within their groups for them to shine a light on it all and reveal everything to the public.[1]

Reed points out however that Iron Man is right in that all of the individuals present did have some useful intel on the alien invaders, and that it could have been of use if they had met and shared it. Along this line, they agreed that they would all meet to discuss great threats and problems, and on Namor's insistence, they would keep their meetings secret. The group would be moderated by Xavier, who would use his telepathy to make sure no one betrayed the group's confidence. The vote was unanimous, with the exception of Black Panther, who told them that the reason the Skrulls had an easy time turning the people of the Earth against its heroes was because deep down, everyone feared what had just happened; superhumans deciding to take the Earth's affairs solely in their own hands. He asked them what would happen when they were faced with an Earth-changing moment, and all disagreed entirely on how to handle it, before walking away.

The others were undeterred by Black Panther's speech, and Xavier raised the newly christened group's first point of discussion; the island of Krakoa.[1]

Iron Man Legacy Vol 1 10 page 21 Illuminati (Earth-616)

Skrull Empire

The Illuminati traveled to the homeworld of the Skrulls, who were still reeling from their defeat during the Kree-Skrull War on Earth. The group made a show of force and appeared before the Skrulls to warn them from interfering in Earth's affairs again. The plan went awry however, and the group was captured. The Skrulls analysed their captives (physiology, genetics, technology, etc) and gleaned information from their behaviour, until Iron Man was able to lead an escape. The Illuminati recognized that another attack was inevitable, while the Skrull Empire began to make use of the data they compiled.[2] By using a clone of Reed Richards, the Skrulls were able to be undetected by superheroes.[3]

Infinity Gauntlet

Mr. Fantastic revealed to the group that he had been collecting the Infinity Gems, and hoped to collect them all with the help of the Illuminati. Despite a general apprehension, the group managed to acquire all six gems. Upon doing so, Mr. Fantastic attempted to will the Gems out of existence using the Infinity Gauntlet, but he was unable to do so. Faced with this failure, and a reprimand from The Watcher he made the controversial decision to give each Illuminati member one gem to hide so that they would never be combined and used again.[4]

The Beyonder

The Illuminati, minus Tony Stark, whose role as Iron Man was being filled by Jim Rhodes, confronted the Beyonder. The Beyonder was an Inhuman who was a mutant before he was exposed to the Terrigen Mists. Black Bolt, under the guise as the Beyonder's "king", convinced him to go into another dimension in exile.[5] The Illuminati's effectiveness in this matter appears to have been close to nothing, as it was later revealed that the Beyonder was indeed the child of an all-powerful, extra-dimensional species, not an Inhuman mutant. [6]

Marvel Boy

The Illuminati approached Noh-Varr, a Kree warrior from another universe who had tried to take over the Earth, in his prison. They demonstrated the Kree connection to the Inhumans, and their desire to protect the Earth. They demonstrated the primitive nature of humanity, but also the potential of the race to evolve and better itself. Ultimately, using Captain Marvel (a deceased, Kree-born superhero) as an example, they tried to convince Noh-Varr to use his powers to protect the Earth and guide humans to better themselves.[7]

The Sentry

Iron Man informed the Illuminati of the formation of a new Avengers team in light of the breakout from the Raft. All but Namor wished him well in his endeavour, and Iron Man moved on to the issue of the Sentry. Although none of the Illuminati had any recollection of him, Mr. Fantastic discovered that he had files on the Sentry and Professor Xavier discovered that his mind had been tampered with. Mr. Fantastic was able to use the files to get through to Robert Reynolds, aka the Sentry, and help him reverse what has been done to him. Iron Man told the group that the Avengers took full responsibility for the Sentry, should he ever lose control, but dodged their questions about other recent Avengers inquiries.[8]

Hulk

Maria Hill, Director of SHIELD, approached Iron Man concerning the Hulk, who had recently destroyed Las Vegas. Hill essentially told Iron Man that, although he and the other heroes had only ever tried to help him, they were ultimately to blame for the Hulk's rampages, since they had the power to stop him, but chose not to because of their friendship with him. Iron Man presented a solution to the problem of the Hulk to the Illuminati (excluding a missing Professor Xavier), suggesting that they shoot him into space, sending him to an uninhabited planet where he could live out the rest of his days alone, as he had seemingly always wanted. Namor, alone, dissented to the plan. He believed that they had no right to banish their ally from Earth and accused them of not doing enough to cure Banner. The other four members voted in favour of the plan, and Namor angrily departed. While leaving, he said that the Black Panther had been correct, and predicted that the Hulk would return to seek justified revenge.

Civil War

Despite deciding not to meet again after their last meeting, Iron Man called together the Illuminati (excluding Professor Xavier, who was in exile in Scotland after the Decimation) to introduce them to the Superhuman Registration Act. He illustrated the fact that recent events had raised suspicion of all super-powered individuals and groups, and that one wrong move on the part of a hero would trigger disaster.

If the Act passed, a war amongst heroes would result and cause untold damage. In order to avoid it, Iron Man reiterated his idea of a representative body of superheroes, and urged the group to come out in favour of registration in order to prevent a disaster. Namor dismissed the issue as none of Atlantis' business, Dr. Strange and Black Bolt disagreed on principle, with only Mr. Fantastic agreeing with Tony. As Black Panther had predicted, the Illuminati had now been torn apart in a moment of crises, because they could not agree on a solution[2]

Although the Illuminati never met or operated as a group during Civil War, their actions in the conflict reflected their reactions at the last meeting. Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic became two of the leading members of the pro-registration side, and worked closely with the United States government and S.H.I.E.L.D. Dr. Strange stayed out of the conflict, meditating and fasting,[9] though he later admitted, after joining the New Avengers and finding new love, that he regretted his lack of involvement. Afterwards, he joined the New Avengers, who continued to operate underground without registering. Black Bolt and the Inhumans stayed out of the conflict, but began their own Cold War with the United States as a result of a different conflict. Namor was involved only so far as it served his interests. This included avenging the death of his cousin in the Stamford tragedy, and coming to the aid of his friend Captain America's forces in the final battle.[10] Professor Xavier was not on Earth during the conflict.

World War Hulk

During Civil War, Reed was contacted by Amadeus Cho, who informed him that Hulk did not land on the intended planet. When the Hulk ultimately returned to Earth, he sought revenge on the Illuminati as Namor had warned, both for shooting him into space and for destroying his newfound home and killing his wife and unborn child when the ship he had arrived in suddenly detonated. His first act was to attack and defeat Black Bolt at the Inhuman settlement on the Moon. After providing New York with a twenty-four-hour time limit to hand the other three Illuminati over to him, the Hulk approached Xavier at his mansion to determine whether he would have supported the Illuminati's plan had he been present. He battled the X-Men, eventually beating every single member in Xavier's school. Xavier told Hulk that had he been there, he would have voted yes, and offered himself to the Hulk in exchange for the safety of the X-Men. However, after learning of the mutant population's recent severe losses as a result of M-Day, and the deaths of several of Xavier's students, the Hulk decided that the X-Men had suffered enough and departed and that forcing Xavier to live with the fact that he was at least partially responsible for the deaths of his students was punishment enough.

Having then taken over Manhattan Island, the Hulk was attacked by Iron Man in a new Hulkbuster armour, but just when it seemed that Tony had triumphed, the Hulk became enraged allowing him to destroy Starks new armour along with Stark Tower. Despite the aid of the other members of the Fantastic Four, including temporary members Black Panther and Storm, the same fate befell Mr. Fantastic. Dr. Strange tried to enter the Hulk's mind, but Hulk tricked Strange into presenting himself in a physical form that he then attacked, crushing Stephen's hands. Strange later invoked and is possessed by the demon spirit of Zom, hoping that he could stop the Hulk before it was too late. However, he lost control of his newfound power, and almost caused civilians to die during his battle with the Hulk. Although the Hulk saved them, this action made Strange lose confidence in his powers and made him weak enough for the Hulk to defeat.

Hulk then implanted the Illuminati members with obedience discs and forced them to fight each other in his makeshift gladiatorial ring in Madison Square Garden. The Hulk spared them from killing each other, claiming that he had proved his point to the world, and would now raze New York before leaving. They survived the encounter by the timely intervention of the Sentry, who battled the Hulk, but ultimately lost as the two reverted to their human forms and Banner knocked him out with a blow to the head. Hulk then returned, but Stark used prototype defence satellites to negate the Hulk's powers. The Illuminati was also cleared from the responsibility of Sakaar's destruction when Miek admitted he saw the Red King's forces breach the ship's warp core and kept quiet to initiate what Miek felt was Hulk's destiny as the "Worldbreaker".[11] Namor, being the only Illuminati member opposed to shooting Hulk into space from the beginning, was spared by the Hulk for that reason, and remained uninvolved throughout the conflict.

Secret Invasion

Iron Man called the Illuminati together one more time to show them the body of the Skrull that was posing as Elektra. He felt that the Skrull represented a secret invasion of Earth, and that the group was responsible (after traveling to the Skrull home-world years before). His suspicions were proved correct when Black Bolt revealed himself to be a disguised Skrull. The five remaining members were able to barely defeat it, and its two compatriots, and began making plans to detect and defeat the remaining Skrulls. They soon realised, however, that this was pointless, as they couldn't trust each other anymore.[12]

Iron Man and Mister Fantastic were the two chief fighters of the Secret Invasion, taking central roles in the main battles, and key to the ultimate failure of the Invasion, though not surviving unscathed at all. Iron Man brought the Skrull corpse to the world's top minds, and summoned Hank Pym (actually a Skrull in disguise) and Mister Fantastic to examine and dissect the body. Stark was soon, as planned by the Skrulls, called in, along with his Mighty Avengers to the Savage Land, where one of the first and most significant of battles of the invasion took place, starting when a spaceship crashed there, several dozen superheroes came out, and the New Avengers, too, arrived on the scene. Just as Mister Fantastic ingeniously discovered the method of concealment the Skrulls had been utilizing to become virtually undetectable, Criti Noll acted, using a special, Skrull-designed gun to subdue Reed Richards and prevent him from maintaining solidity; the remaining members of the Fantastic Four were also swiftly taken out elsewhere for most of the invasion, though all survived, if but barely. Agent Abigail Brand of S.W.O.R.D. freed Mister Fantastic and took control over the Skrull ship he was held in to the Savage Land, but sadly not before the Skrulls managed to infect Iron Man with an alien virus disabling himself, his armor, and S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. Veranke, disguised as Spider-Woman, also attempted to crush and destabilize what remained of Stark's morale, will and faith by trying to convince him he was actually a Skrull sleeper agent, but the Black Widow convinced him otherwise. Richards and Brand arrived, with Reed using a self-designed machine to reveal the Skrulls in the midst of the Savage Land battle, which were quickly disposed of by the heroes. Reed and Tony led the other heroes back to the now chaotic New York for the final battle, in which Reed exposed the Skrulls and which he was a prime target in, but Reed survived, and Tony, though his secondhand and relatively crude armor he had quickly constructed suffer enough damage to force him to initially retreat from the battle, used a spare old Iron Man armor to enable him to aid the struggle against the Skrulls, freeing the prisoners, including Pym and Jarvis. The blame for the invasion was placed on Stark, who lost S.H.I.E.L.D., a great deal of public support and popularity, and much of his pride and hope, becoming, essentially, a fugitive from the now-powerful Norman Osborn.

The Fantastic Four were hit hard when Osborn, knowing Reed Richards' intellect well exceeded his own, attacked the Baxter Building when the Four were in another time and another place. Richards was more shaken by his own internal conflicts than any outside threats; nevertheless, Norman Osborn's H.A.M.M.E.R. agents nearly succeeded in capturing the Four. Richards, after taking a long, hard look at the life, was inspired to construct a machine that was capable of bending reality itself. H.A.M.M.E.R. arrived just as Reed activated the machine, interfacing with the Baxter Building's power supply and resulting in an energy fluctuation that sent Sue, Ben and Johnny back to the prehistoric era. Reed searched for answers which could only be found in alternate timelines as the three found themselves in a super hero Hyborian-age civil war. The Richards children, Franklin and Valeria, were the only ones available to confront the agents Osborn had sent. Richards studied other parallel Earths to see if any found a peaceful solution to the Civil War, which resulted from the Superhuman Registration Act. Reed peered into different worlds, some more bizarre than our own, to see what they did differently. Reed met with the other five Illuminati to handle the problem.

Feeling compromised by his use of dark magic, Doctor Strange left the New Avengers during the late stage of the infiltration and departed to parts unknown. He eventually resurfaced, alive but having lost nearly everything, from his house to his position as Sorcerer Supreme. What he did retain were the enmities of the Hood and Dormammu, both of whom wanted to slay Strange more desperately than ever, and a sense of duty to find the new Sorcerer Supreme and hand over the artifacts of the office. Feeling a desperate lack of power, he fled to the New Avengers for help.

Black Bolt (along with his son Ahura) was captured before the World War Hulk and did not even know about the invasion. His voice was intended by the Skrulls to be used as a powerful weapon of mass destruction, but the Inhumans, aided by the renowned Kree, Ronan the Accuser, found their former king, rescued him and returned to Attilan, with Black Bolt and Maximus sharing power, only for the Inhumans and Attilan, shaken by the invasion, angered by the Skrulls, and tiring of humanity's treatment, themselves to depart from the Sol system, destroy the fleeing Skrull ship along the way, took control over the Kree Empire from Ronan, and realized their ultimate destiny in a conflict shaking the cosmos.[13]

Namor, along with his new ally Doctor Doom, were struck at least somewhat less hard, though certainly affected. Neither was successfully replaced by Skrulls, and it was unknown whether their forces were assaulted, either covertly or openly. Doom was at first unaware of even the Skrull invasion, before it outright exploded, though Veranke named him one of the "bigger guns" to be taken down. Doom was released from The Raft by the Skrull virus that infected Stark's armor in the Savage Land and rendered StarkTech inoperable (it was unknown whether Doom was considered as part of the release). Namor and Atlantis were affected to an uncertain extent, with Namor, too, one of the "bigger guns" Veranke wanted removed and acknowledged as one of the Illuminati. Both separately arrived to the first Cabal meeting after the invasion, held by Osborn and attended by three others, though it was revealed afterwards they had been concocting secret plans that even Osborn was unaware of. Namor's allegiance afterwards was unclear, from helping other heroes defend New York from the menace of the Red Hulk and aiding the new Captain America in searching for the first Human Torch's body, to hunting down Tony Stark and insisting T'challa join the Cabal.[14] However, most recently, when an Atlantean sleeper cell launched a terrorist attack on California, Osborn ordered Namor to publicly denounce the rogues and execute them, leaving one alive to parade before the media. Namor vehemently refused and walked out on the Cabal.[15]

Even the Black Panther, T'Challa, after successfully fighting off a Skrull fleet attacking Wakanda with his wife Storm, forewarned by the discovery of the Brother Voodoo Skrull, was taken down, due to the cunning and might of Doctor Doom, an ambushing force of Doombots, and the Cabal, with a new female Black Panther (his sister) active, and Wakanda's spirit shaken.

Dark Reign

During Dark Reign, the Illuminati mostly ceased operations, with its membership divided and scattered. Black Bolt and the Inhumans had left the Earth and taken up rulership of the Kree Empire, Doctor Strange was no longer Sorcerer Supreme and was living as a fugitive from the authorities, Iron Man was mistrusted by the public and living on the run from the authorities, Namor had joined Osborn's version of the Illuminati, the Cabal, Xavier no longer led the X-Men and had gone on a journey of self-discovery after the failed attempt on his life, and Reed Richards was preoccupied with keeping the Fantastic Four together and his own troubles with Osborn.

The Illuminati

The Hood's search for the Infinity Gems

Parker Robbins, aka The Hood, escaped prison and started a search for the Infinity Gauntlet. While at the Raft, he had received a tip from an imprisoned Inhuman which led him to the Reality Gem at Attilan. Then he teleported himself to the Baxter Building, where he used the first Gem's power to bypass security and take the Power Gem. The two Gems sent him unwittingly to the desert, where he found Red Hulk and defeated him. Red Hulk managed to get to Avengers Tower and bring news of what had happened. Realizing that the Gems were back in circulation, Iron Man quickly gathered the Illuminati, with Medusa in the place of her then-deceased husband Black Bolt.

The team went to Atillan to investigate but were discovered by three teams of Avengers, revealing the continued existence of the Illuminati to the superhero world. Their teammates were visibly hurt that these men had been operating secretly and considered it a breach of trust -- the wound between Iron Man and Steve Rogers was particularly deep. However, the Avengers teams united to search for the Gems before Robbins could obtain them. Namor, Thor, and Red Hulk recovered the Time Gem at the bottom of the sea. Xavier, along with the Secret Avengers, Wolverine, Spider-Woman and Maria Hill went to the ruins of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, where the Mind Gem was guarded by the Danger Room. The Space Gem was hidden at Area 51 in New Mexico, but when Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Doctor Strange, and some of the New Avengers arrived, Robbins already had it in his possession. The Space Gem brought Hood to the Time Gem, which was being protected by the Red Hulk, Thor, and Namor. Red Hulk managed to take the Power Gem from Hood when he was distracted by the presence of Uatu, the Watcher. The combatants were teleported to New Mexico again, where Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers woke up from being knocked out by Robbins previously.

New Avengers Vol 2 29 Textless

Faced with a cavalry charge of angry Avengers, Robbins escaped to Professor Xavier's school and obtained the Mind Gem, with which he defeated Xavier in a telepathic fight. After knocking him out along the rest of the heroes there, Robbins teleported to the location of the Soul Gem on the Astral Plane; there, Strange met Robbins under the illusion of the mad titan Thanos. He attempted to talk Robbins into giving over the other Gems, but when that failed he took them both out of the Astral Plane and into the middle of a group of other heroes. Red Hulk attacked Robbins with the Power Gem, allowing Namor and Ms. Marvel to take the Mind and the Space Gems. Parker was unaware of these losses until Reality Gem was taken from him by the other Gems, which were in the Infinity Gauntlet held by Iron Man, making him the first human to wield this artifact.

Iron Man used the Gauntlet to send Robbins back to prison and then seemingly willed it out of existence. In reality he sent it to a secret location, where he reconvened the Illuminati. Now counting Steve Rogers among their number, they divided the Infinity Gems again and took them to new hiding places. The re-formation of the group was kept a secret.

Avengers vs. X-Men

When the Phoenix Force returned to Earth and created a war between the Avengers and the X-Men, Captain America re-convened the Illuminati to convince Namor, who was possessed by the Phoenix, to cease his activities and convince the rest of the Phoenix Five to do the same. The meeting proved to be unproductive as most of the members were split in opinions on the conflict, and all of them left, thinking Namor wouldn't come. Namor arrived in the room after the others had left and Captain America asked him to stand down, but Namor refused, although he acknowledged that he still respected Captain America as a friend, an ally and even a brother, which was why he wouldn't capture him or reveal any of their secrets to the other Phoenixes.

Colliding Universes

After witnessing first-hand an incursion, an event wherein two universes collide with each universe's Earth as the point of impact, Black Panther realised the need for the Illuminati. Having captured the Black Swan, a mysterious super-powered individual responsible for destroying one of the Earths in the incursion Black Panther witnessed, the Illuminati set to work finding a solution to the phenomena. [16] Beast later joined the team, after receiving Professor Xavier's infinity gem through his last will and testament.

With intel from the Black Swan, the Illuminati came to understand that the only way to save their universe, and the one colliding with theirs, was to either destroy the other Earth colliding with their own, or destroy their own world. They resolved however to find a peaceful way of averting the crisis.[17]

The group attempted to use the power of the Infinity Gauntlet to avert an incursion. While wielding the gauntlet, Captain America succeeded in pushing away the other Earth, but in the process the Gauntlet broke and the gems shattered. Despite having failed, and lacking any other method to avert an incursion without destroying the other Earth, Captain America vehemently refused to go along with the idea of building weapons to destroy other planets, even if such weapons would only be used as a last resort. Finding themselves at an impasse, the rest of the Illuminati agreed to remove Captain America from the group, wiping his memory of their existence.[18]

Illuminati (Earth-616) from Infinity Vol 1 1 001

The members of the Illuminati began working on solutions to destroy other worlds. Iron Man began working on a partial Dyson Sphere to power a weapon Reed Richards named "Sol's Hammer". Doctor Strange retrieved a forbidden tome, with a spell that could destroy a world at an immense cost. T'Challa and Reed developed a large armoury of world-killing devices reverse engineered from technology the Black Swan used to destroy a planet. When another incursion occurred, the Illuminati were unwilling to use their arsenal, resolving to at least try and save the other Earth's population. Before they could attempt to put any plans into place however, they were confronted by Terrax the Truly Enlightened, herald of Galaktus, who had led his master to the Earth in order to destroy it so that their universe would be spared any future incursions. He told the Illuminati to leave, but they engaged him in battle, managing to knock him out, and took him back to their hideout in the Necropolis while Galaktus consumed the other Earth, averting the incursion.[19]

While interrogating Black Swan, who revealed that the Incursions began with the "birth" of the Great Destroyer, another Incursion struck, this time in Latveria.[20] This incursion was different from the others, as the colour of the sky was blue rather than red, which Black Swan told them meant the arrival of the Mapmakers, beings which wait for an incursion in order to spread to other universes, consuming Earths in the process. After realising the colliding Earth was already dead and bereft of all life, Black Panther detonated the trigger of the Antimatter Injection System, destroying the other Earth and saving theirs.[21]

Infinity

When Thanos and his Black Order arrived on Earth and demanded a "tribute" in exchange for the survival of its inhabitants, Black Bolt revealed to the Illuminati that the Mad Titan was in fact searching for his son, born to an inhuman woman.[22] Using the Terrigen Codex, the Illuminati embarked on the search for Thanos' son, but were interrupted by the occurrence of a new incursion in Australia.[23]

Before reaching a decision about what to do about the other Earth, the Illuminati were greeted by an Aleph arriving from the other Earth. The Aleph led them to the Builders of that universe who explained that the early death of the multiverse had led to the collapse of the Superflow, the space between universes, that they used to traverse different universes. In order to avert disaster and ensure the existence of the Multiverse, the Builders across the Multiverse had decided to destroy all Earths, thus hopefully stopping the Incursions. Since the Builders of Earth-616 had failed in their mission, these builders urged the Illuminati to destroy their own world for the sake of the Multiverse, before detonating the Earth of their universe, averting the incursion.[24]

Upon returning to Earth, the Illuminati discovered that Thanos had invaded Wakanda and gained access to the Illuminati's antimatter bombs by capturing Black Bolt. The Illuminati managed to fight back.[25] When the Illumianti arrived in the room where the bombs were kept, they found themselves facing Thanos' general Supergiant, who defeated them by mentally controlling Black Bolt. When Supergiant activated one of the bombs, Maximus appeared with the trigger. He triggered the bombs, but also used Lockjaw to transport the antimatter bomb along with Supergiant to a distant uninhabited planet where she died in the explosion.

The Illuminati travelled to Greenland in order to help the Avengers defeat Thanos, but arrived after the battle had ended when Thane trapped the Mad Titan and his two generals Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight in an amber construct which left them in a state of "living death." Iron Man convinced the Avengers to let him keep Thanos, as he would supposedly "take care" of him, and secretly placed him in the Necropolis, where he and the rest of the Illuminati went about planning for the multiverse's coming end.[26]

Incursion of Earth-4290001

New Avengers Vol 3 19 page 23

The Illuminati vs. the Great Society

Black Swan prompted them to build a "mirror" that would allow them to look into other universes. Reed Richards realized however that he had already built such a device, The Bridge.[27]

The next Incursion pitted the Illuminati against the Great Society of Earth-4290001, a group of noble heroes who had been able to prevent the destruction of their Earth without bloodshed. However, the Society no longer had the means to prevent this Incursion as they had the others. The Illuminati tried to convince the Society to work together with them, but the Society doubted that the Illuminati had any intentions of allowing their own world to be destroyed, and knew that they had the means to destroy the Society's Earth. Knowing that it would come to bloodshed in the end and unwilling to waste anymore time, Namor struck the first blow, starting a battle for the fate of their respective worlds.[28]

Even though the Great Society quickly took the upper hand, Doctor Strange ended the battle by unleashing an eldritch being that killed most of the Great Society and fatally injured their leader Sun God. Terrified of the creature that Strange had unleashed, the Illuminati knocked him out, ending the spell. As the Illuminati were leaving this Earth, having set the antimatter injector, Sun God begged them not to destroy his Earth. Black Panther offered him the chance to return with them, but he refused, preferring to die with his own Earth alongside his friends.

Back on their own Earth, and with only ten minutes before impact, the Illuminati debated who would activate the antimatter injector. Beast, Black Bolt and Doctor Strange all refused. Both Mister Fantastic and Black Panther tried to will themselves to do it, but failed. Namor was disgusted by their weakness, remarking that their own personal beliefs weren't worth the countless lives that would end if the two universes collided, and pulled the trigger.[29] Following this course of action, the Illuminati confronted Namor for taking the decision out of their hands. The friction between Namor and T'Challa escalated, and after revealing that he was the one who tricked the Black Order into assaulting Wakanda, Namor left.[30]

Time Runs Out

Due to the exposure to the explosion of the Watcher's eye, which revealed deep secrets related to them to those in its blast radius,[31] Captain America remembered the mindwipe the Illuminati submitted him to, and confronted Iron Man about it.[32] He decided that the Illuminati's actions shouldn't be tolerated, and charged the Avengers with hunting them down.[33] At the same time, another incursion occurred, immediately after the last one. The Illuminati found themselves unwilling to destroy another Earth, and resolved to die with their own world, each enjoying their last day of life. Namor however refused to allow the universe to die, and together with Maximus, he freed the Illuminati's prisoners in the Necropolis, asking them to help him stop the incursions. This would lead to the formation of the Cabal.[34]

Eight months into the future, the Illuminati had gone into hiding, and added to their ranks Captain Britain, Amadeus Cho and Yellowjacket.[35] Because of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s improvement on ways to track them down, the Illuminati had to periodically move from base to base. After Cho infiltrated the Avengers Tower, now the S.H.I.E.L.D. Station: Golgotha, the team recovered the files of Tony Stark, who had gone into hiding and was yet to be found.[36]

While on the run, the Illuminati repeatedly attempted to find a way to solve the problem of Incursions, from trying to create a new Earth with a Cosmic Cube and then with Franklin Richards' powers, to asking the Celestials and Galactus for help, but all these plans failed.[37]

With a new incursion on the horizon, the Illuminati devised a plan to get rid of Namor's Cabal.[38] They let themselves be found by Steve Rogers' Avengers, and set a trap to subdue them with the help of Sunspot's Avengers.[39] Even though the help of the Invisible Woman was needed to make this possible, as Rogers' Avengers had brought their own reinforcements,[40] the Illuminati were able to claim victory and shared their plan with Steve.

Namor, who had become disgusted with the Cabal's needless slaughtering of the people of worlds they could destroy painlessly, was ready to turn himself in, but also set a trap to destroy the Cabal. For this next Incursion, the incursive world had been ravaged by the Sidera Maris. Namor would lead the Cabal to said world, activate the antimatter injector without their knowledge, and leave them to die with said Earth, preventing them from escaping with the use of an A.I.M. platform capable of creating an impenetrable barrier between the two colliding Earths. However, as Namor had left the incursive Earth and prepared to activate the platform, Black Panther and Black Bolt appeared before him. They incapacitated Namor and threw him off the platform to the soon-to-be-destroyed Earth in order to make him personally pay for his crimes. As the antimatter injector began to destroy the Earth, T'Challa and Blackagar returned to theirs, informing the Avengers that not only the Cabal had been destroyed, but Namor was also not going to come back.[38]

With the Cabal seemingly dealt with (even though they had actually survived and escaped to Earth-1610), the Illuminati and S.H.I.E.L.D. reached a truce and started working together.[37] Inspired by Valeria Richards, the Illuminati stopped working on a way to stop the incursions, as they "couldn't win," but started planning the creation of a "lifeboat" to survive the destruction of the multiverse, in order "not to lose." Meanwhile, the Shi'ar empire discovered the link between the decay of the Multiverse and the Earth, realising that if the universe was to survive, the Earth needed to be destroyed. Even though they planned a sneak attack on the Earth, the Guardians of the Galaxy managed to discover the Shi'ar's plans and warned the Avengers.[41]

While approaching Earth, the Shi'ar alerted humanity that they had two hours left to live until Earth was destroyed by their fleet. Using a super-weapon capable of channeling the Earth's power, Sunspot and A.I.M. retaliated against the Shi'ar from the front, while S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Avengers used a Planetkiller, seized from the Builders, to attack from behind. However, A.I.M.'s weapon overheated and exploded, and the Planetkiller was destroyed by the Annihilation Wave. With no options left, the Avengers prepared to meet their end. However, Iron Man had flown to Sol's Hammer, and activated it.[42]

The plan worked, and the Shi'ar fleet, not expecting such weaponry from Earth, was destroyed. However, the final incursion was still on the horizon. The Avengers and the Illuminati began deciding which people would be allowed onto a "lifeboat" they had created, which could theoretically survive the destruction of the multiverse. Meanwhile, as the final incursion happened, Steve finally confronted Tony for having betrayed his trust. The two fought to the death, while the great battle between Earths raged around them.[43]

Secret Wars

The final incursion drew near, which pitted the last two remaining universes against each other, Earth-616 and Earth-1610. While the heroes of Earth-616 managed to take the due to their larger population of superhumans, and the intervention of the Phoenix, the two world still collided. The only members of the Illuminati to survive the destruction of the Multiverse were Mister Fantastic and Black Panther who were aboard the life raft created to survive the multiverse's. They were joined by several other heroes, teleported onto the raft by Manifold.[44] After the Multiverse was no more, the life raft found its way onto Battleworld, a patchwork planet created from the remnants of destroyed universes by Doctor Doom[45] using the omnipotent power he obtained from the Beyonders.[46]

The survivors of Earth-616 remained in a state of suspended animation for eight years until they were finally awoken by former Illuminati Dr. Strange, who had become God Emperor Doom's right hand and the sheriff of Battleworld.[47] Strange had found the life raft three years earlier but didn't open it and kept it a secret, fearing its contents would've disturbed the order of Battleworld, where none of its inhabitants remembered what existed before the world they lived in.[45] Strange had finally decided to open the raft up because of another one which had been found and opened, that contained the Cabal, the survivors of Earth-1610. Among the Cabal was its founder and former Illuminati member Namor.[47]

Strange was later killed by Emperor Doom after defying him by using his power to teleport and scatter the interlopers throughout Battleworld, in order to save them from Doom's wrath.[46] Black Panther and Namor found themselves in the Battleworld domain of Egyptia,[48] and formed an uneasy alliance to travel to Doctor Strange's Isle of Agamotto. After arriving at the isle and getting past the security measures, Namor and Black Panther were given by a recording of Strange two objects with enough power to defy Doom. The first was the Siege Courageous, a means of instant teleportation anywhere in the world. The second was an Infinity Gauntlet which granted the wearer unlimited power, but only in one area: the capital domain of Doomstadt.

Elsewhere, Reed had formed uneasy alliance with his Earth-1610 counterpart the Maker. They hid in the domain of Utopolis, and devised a way to defeat Doom. With help from the Spider-Man of Earth-616 and the second Spider-Man of Earth-1610, it was discovered that Doom's power came from the Molecule Man, who was kept in a hidden chamber in Doomstadt.[49]

During a large insurrection whipped up by Maximus, the two Reeds set out to sneak into Emperor Doom's castle and confront the Molecule Man. Meanwhile, the Panther and Namor helped distract Doom by adding to the insurrection and confronting Victor directly.[50]

Namor was quickly killed by Doom, and Panther engaged Doom in battle. Even with the Infinity Gauntlet, Doom proved superior. However, Panther's part of the plan was done, because during the fight, the two Reeds had managed to go to the Molecule Man. After the Molecule Man subdued the Maker, who had tried to betray Mr. Fantastic, Doom arrived to the scene. Molecule Man powered Doom down to make the ensuing fight against Mr. Fantastic fair. During the furious battle, Doom accused Richards of believing he could've done better had he had Doom's power, and when Reed conceded he did, and retorted that deep down, Doom knew this to be true. Doom bitterly admitted the truth of this, and on the grounds that both agreed, Molecule Man gave his power to Reed, destroying Battleworld in the process.[51]

Equipment: The Bridge, Incursion Detection devices, formerly the Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity Gems, Xavier School's Cerebro
Transportation: Lockjaw, Quinjet
Weapons: Each members' arsenal, Sol's Hammer, Antimatter Injection Systems

  • The Black Panther was offered membership, but he declined, believing that working behind other super-heroes' backs was a bad idea and that the Illuminati would never be able to agree on how to solve the world's problems.[1] After discovering the crisis of colliding universes however, he reconvened the Illuminati and joined.[16]
  • An interesting point discovered by Reed Richards during the Dark Reign with the Bridge is that only sixty-seven Earths in other dimensions have succeeded in attaining peace after suffering through the creation of the Illuminati and the Civil War.[52]
  • The existence of the Illuminati was revealed to the general public during World War Hulk, and the full extent of their actions and involvement with the incursions was revealed after the formation of the Cabal.
  • While the name "Illuminati" appears to have begun as an informal name of the group used by Iron Man, the rest of the members have also adapted the name, and it grew into the "official" name of the group.
  • Black Swan was listed as being a member of the Illuminati in Infinity #1 although she was not. This was later rectified by Tom Brevoort.[53]
  • No trivia.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 New Avengers: Illuminati #1
  2. 2.0 2.1 New Avengers: Illuminati Vol 2 #1
  3. New Avengers #44
  4. New Avengers: Illuminati Vol 2 #2
  5. New Avengers: Illuminati Vol 2 #3
  6. New Avengers Vol 3 #30
  7. New Avengers: Illuminati Vol 2 #4
  8. New Avengers #7-10
  9. Civil War #6
  10. Civil War #7
  11. World War Hulk #5
  12. New Avengers: Illuminati Vol 2 #5
  13. War of Kings
  14. Black Panther Vol 5 #1
  15. Dark Avengers #6
  16. 16.0 16.1 New Avengers Vol 3 #1
  17. New Avengers Vol 3 #2
  18. New Avengers Vol 3 #3
  19. New Avengers Vol 3 #4
  20. New Avengers Vol 3 #5
  21. New Avengers Vol 3 #6
  22. New Avengers Vol 3 #9
  23. New Avengers Vol 3 #10
  24. New Avengers Vol 3 #11
  25. Infinity #5
  26. Infinity #6
  27. New Avengers Vol 3 #13.INH
  28. New Avengers Vol 3 #19
  29. New Avengers Vol 3 #21
  30. New Avengers Vol 3 #22
  31. Original Sin #3
  32. Avengers Vol 5 #29
  33. Avengers Vol 5 #34
  34. New Avengers Vol 3 #24
  35. Avengers Vol 5 #35
  36. New Avengers Vol 3 #25
  37. 37.0 37.1 New Avengers Vol 3 #29
  38. 38.0 38.1 Avengers Vol 5 #40
  39. Avengers Vol 5 #39
  40. New Avengers Vol 3 #28
  41. Avengers Vol 5 #42
  42. Avengers Vol 5 #43
  43. Avengers Vol 5 #44
  44. Secret Wars #1
  45. 45.0 45.1 Secret Wars #3
  46. 46.0 46.1 Secret Wars #4
  47. 47.0 47.1 Secret Wars #2
  48. Secret Wars #5
  49. Secret Wars #6
  50. Secret Wars #7-8
  51. Secret Wars #9
  52. Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #2
  53. New Brevoort Formspring -- The recap page for Infinity #1 said Black Swan an Illuminati... Wait, is she?

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