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Joshua Williamson and Shawn Crystal Bring on the Bad Guys at Marvel in ILLUMINATI

Isn't it about time the villains got the spotlight?

This week you can check out the first issue of ILLUMINATI from Joshua Williamson and Shawn Crystal. We've been seeing how the Marvel Universe has turned out eight months after the events from Secret Wars. With ILLUMINATI, we'll see a group of villains brought together by the Hood.

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It's not often a series focuses on the bad guys. We took the chance to ask Josh and Shawn some questions to find out more.

COMIC VINE: Is the team being formed in the current “8 months later” time or has the Hood been up to stuff during that time?

JOSHUA WILLIAMSON: The Hood has been up to no good for a while now. Building the new Illuminati is his big master plan. So we for sure open up after the 8 months. Which you know in comic book time is a LONG TIME. But we’ll get to see the Villain’s POV on this new Marvel Universe.

Something to remember about this book and the Hood. He is NOT the leader. He’s just the guy with an offer who is spreading a message…

CV: Will the team be immediately brought together or will the gather take place over a couple issues?

WILLIAMSON: The mass amount of the new Illuminati army has already been formed by the time issue one starts. We’re just seeing a small bit of it with a focus on Titania’s introduction to the group. There is a bit of team building, but y’know they all know each other already. They are not strangers. They’ve been in the thick of it before together and it’s one of the things that will bring conflict to the group.

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CV: Shawn, did you come up with the new looks for some of the members?

SHAWN CRYSTAL: Partially. Riley [Rossmo] was the lead designer. When I came on, I made a few tweaks here and there, just to fit my style a little more.

CV: Which character or characters are you most looking forward to drawing and fleshing out?

CRYSTAL: Black Ant. I love the design we came up with on him. Plus, Josh has written him as the wild card. I love that.

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CV: Will the team just consist of the six characters we see on the cover or might there be others coming and going?

WILLIAMSON: Wait and see? Haha. Lots are coming for this group of bad guys. If everyone makes it out of the first few issues alive.

CV: How did you go about in choosing the villains for the team? Did you have a list of available characters or just include your choices in your pitch?

WILLIAMSON: It was a bit of both? I knew who I wanted and made a list of my own. Some worked and some didn’t. From the start I knew I wanted Titania and the Hood. And that worked out. After that it was a bit of who was available that I thought was cool. I didn’t want to have people on the team just because… I wanted a good mix of characters I thought could bounce off each other to create new dynamics, and be fun to write together. Black Ant I wanted because of his darker sense of humor, Enchantress… is a bit of a mystery to the group which we dig in, but she is there for a reason. Also she’s a bad ass. Thunderball… I liked the idea of this guy who knows he’s a genius but never gets respect for it. And then the Mad Thinker… he’s our resident builder who thinks everyone is less than him…but knows he needs to use people to get what he wants. All of them working together for a common goal is a bit insane and they clash, which I love.

CV: Will we find out what the Hood and team’s goal is? Do they want to just get rich? Take over the world? Get revenge against their enemies?

WILLIAMSON: All of the above? Level up? Increase their reps?

But also build better lives for the villains of the Marvel Universe. To find a way to work together so they finally win. That is their primary goal. At least that’s what they signed up for…

CV: How big the action get?

CRYSTAL: The action gets HUGE, especially in issue 4.

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CV: Power Man (Luke Cage) and Iron Fist show up in the first issue. Will the team be clashing with other heroes or try more stealthy missions of villainy?

WILLIAMSON: One of their main goals is to work in the shadows and to avoid the heroes of the Marvel Universe. But that’s a very difficult thing to do when you think about how many heroes there are out there. But it’s on the Illuminati’s minds… if only they could avoid the heroes. They really are the number hurdle in their path to success…

CV: You probably had a favorite character when forming the idea and story. Now that you’ve written a few issues, has your favorite changed?

WILLIAMSON: Ehhhh… yeah. I’ve grown to love Titania way more than before.

Oh and Absorbing Man. The two of them are a blast to write. I wrote a very emotional scene with Absorbing Man recently that was surprising. Caught me off guard a bit. But I think it’s one of my favorite issues I’ve written with Marvel.

When I first started my favorite was the Hood for sure. I felt like he was the character to write that was closest to my sensibilities. I like jerk characters who think they have a heart of gold. You look at GHOSTED and NAILBITER… or even go back as far as the Damian and Supergirl story I did in SUPERMAN/BATMAN #77… I enjoy writing the characters that are a bit of the edge with black humor and sort of full of themselves.

But from there I hold a soft spot for all of them.

CV: Shawn, have you found yourself liking any particular character’s new look the more and more as you draw them?

CRYSTAL: The Hood. I’m getting a feel for him the more and more i draw him. I’m learning how i can play with the hood and cape as an acting and character developing device.

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CV: Will the villains wear proper uniforms or whatever suits them when they're about to go out?

CRYSTAL: The team has uniforms for their missions…well it’s more like their gear. They each have different uniforms, but I’ve added some consistent visual themes across the designs to give them a team feel, while all being individuals.

CV: What can we look forward to in the series?

WILLIAMSON: DRAMA! DANGER! HEART BREAK! And some black humor along the way. And some pretty crazy fight scenes. It’s going to be a very different book from what I think people will expect so I hope that they give it a try and stay with us to see the crazy story we’re building with the villains of the Marvel Universe.


ILLUMINATI #1 is on sale this week, November 11. Be sure to pick it up to support the villains. Why let the heroes get all the fun and excitement?