This is my first time reading Illuminati, and while not entirely without promise, this issue didn’t do much to pique my interest. Although the art was well done, the story is essentially a rehash of an earlier tie-in issue. Spoilers begin after the jump.

Like the tie-in issue for The Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D., this issue is concerned with the false life that is bestowed upon a member of a certain team, and that team’s rescue of said member. Like Orrgo’s story, we see the person the prisoner believes they were, and just like Orrgo, the Absorbing Man has cause to wonder whether or not he would have been happier had he simply remained within Pleasant Hill.

While the idea of former inmates having to deal with psychological issues after being imprinted with false identities and memories is promising, this issue doesn’t really deliver any new insight on the situation. While the Absorbing Man is confused by the implanted attraction to one of his enemies – an attraction that may put his actual marriage at risk – even the outcome of the issue is essentially the same in both cases: the released inmate vowing renewed fealty to the original group.

However, this issue does set itself apart with some excellent art. Overall, the art style suits the series well, with a stylish but understated flair. An arresting two-page splash in the middle contrasts Harold and Eva dancing with Creel and Elektra fighting is especially affecting.

The most interesting and exceptional elements of the team seem to be alluded to but not explored – the exciting recap page, narrated by The Hood, suggests the Illuminati are a villainous organization forged by a common avarice – but the issue was too preoccupied with the Absorbing Man’s trauma to have too much fun with its super villain premise. What a shame.

Next Up: The Avengers Standoff continues with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4!

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