I wouldn’t say that it was a must read but given that it prefigures into the reason behind the Secret Invasion, I say that that alone was price of admission.
This edition collects Illuminati 1-5 and shows the collective force of Dr. Strange, Mr. Fantastic, Iron man, Namor, Professor X and Black Bolt of the Inhumans and how they operate along the sidelines, if not, behind the scenes at some of the cataclysmic Marvel events and how they were able to do some damage control thereby proving to be a worthy force to be reckoned with. And reckon with and deal with extraterrestrial events this secret group sure did; from handling the Infinity Gems of the Gauntlet (love that the Gauntlet resurfaces albeit briefly), the encounter with the Beyonder during the Secret Wars saga of the 80’s, to the “reforming” of Captain Mar-vell and more recently, the discovery of the Skrull presence on Earth.
But as such with power come both the responsibility in wielding it and the line that one has to draw to prevent such wanton misuse and thereby blurring that same line and changes the hero from champion into a walking power hungry ego with legs and superhuman ability.
The Civil War penned Bendis storyline has shown that our heroes aren’t perfect and are subject to the same flaws and judgement-error phases that ordinary people go through and this compilation is no different. Is that credit to Bendis’ writing? Perhaps. Or is it the natural progression of heroes nowdays in Comics to embody their real life reader counterparts and be given angst, pride, distrust and all other emotional facets that make us tick.
So did the compilation do its trick or job to clue me in? It didn’t exactly tick me off and made me conclude that it would be a useless gesture to read this because it doesn’t supplement or create more depth to the Secret Invasion. But what it did show me that this Marvel crisis was something that was painstakingly planned well. The foundations were certainly laid down well and justified the progression of the Skrull crisis.
For an added history lesson into that crisis and ties to the Skrul-Kree dynamic and how they relate to Earth, then yes read it. But if you don’t really want to know the laying-in of bricks and mortar to the whole scene and would just want to stroll into the building itself and get to the heart of the conflict, then by all means, walk along and go straight to Secret Invasion.
But then again a little more knowledge never hurt anyone. So still try it out. Who knows you may like it and appreciate Secret Invasion. I know I did. Only after reading it a second time. I may even have appreciated it the first time, had I read this first.