Not too long ago several of Marvel’s smartest and most influential heroes decided to come together in secret. One man refused their invitation to join, but now with a new threat on the horizon Black Panther seeks out the help of the Illuminati. Since he’s a man of very strong convictions, he has to consider this threat pretty severe to seek out this group. Especially when Hickman lays out the “prayer” Black Panther has towards the end of the issue that rings of nothing but regret for what he’s about to do.
Much like in his recent Avengers run, Hickman has introduced new villains that have come from nowhere and answer to some mysterious higher entity yet to be revealed. This makes for an interesting beginning that gives us a break from the usual rogues gallery of villains that plague the Avengers. Though it’s too early to tell if they’re just as interesting, Hickman does show that the Black Panther is quite capable of putting up quite the fight. There’s also a very human feel to the story, as T’Challa is in the middle of testing the next generation of Wakandans when everything goes wrong. Hickman captures a great part of what makes T’Challa more down to Earth than the others who make up the Illuminati.
The artwork of Epting is just great from start to finish. It’s always a good step in the right direction when an artist effectively mixes the traditional style with the advanced tech of Wakanda. There’s a fight scene with the Black Panther that is just dazzling and shows off some new abilities. What helps to put the visuals over the top are the colors of Frank D’Armata, which do wonders during the portal sequence and cloaking the suit of the Black Panther.
These characters coming together in a title seems like something Hickman can turn into a story that’s worth reading on a regular basis. The heroes that make up the Illuminati are some of the best (my personal feelings about Doctor Strange aside), so we’ll see if Hickman can give us stories that meet the expectations when you have a king, a super soldier, the sorcerer supreme, and three of the smartest men in the Marvel Universe all on one team.