Appearing in "In Secret, They Rule"
- Black Panther (T'Challa) (Main story and flashback)
- Dora Milaje (Only in flashback)
- Black Swan (Only in flashback)
- Manifold (Mentioned)
- Black Priests (First appearance) (Vision)
- Unnamed monsters (Vision)
- Unnamed costumed-heroes (Vision)
- Mapmakers (First appearance) (Vision)
- Queen Shuri (Mentioned)
- Charles Xavier (Mentioned) (Deceased)
- Fantastic Four (Mentioned)
- Earth-1331 (Only in flashback) (Cameo)
- Earth (Only in flashback) (Cameo)
- Cloak of Levitation
- Eye of Agamotto
- Captain America's Shield
- Infinity Gauntlet (As hologram)
Synopsis for "In Secret, They Rule"
Three hours before the meeting of the new Illuminati, Reed Richards interrogates the Black Swan, held in a cell in the Necropolis at Wakanda. She is coolly composed during his questioning, maintaining that she does what is necessary. She hints that she offered up the other Earth as a sacrifice to the Great Destroyer, in accordance to the demands of another force she calls the "Wheel." But when Reed asks her why she was crying in her sleep the previous night, she bursts into angry tears. "It breaks hope -- it crushes what makes us decent and steals what little honor remains. You have... no idea what is coming."
One hour before the meeting, the Black Panther confronts Namor in a 'guest room' locked and guarded by Dora Milaje. Their conversation is brief but tense, with the King of Atlantis unbowed before T'Challa's tightly-controlled rage. The Black Panther informs Namor that, as soon as the current crisis is settled, he will kill him.
Speaking to the assembled Illuminati, Reed Richards shows them what he learned from the Black Swan. The universe is a multiverse, with infinite parallel realities existing between its beginning and its ending. However, somewhere in this multiverse, a universe died prematurely, beginning with its Earth. This caused the whole multiverse to contract slightly, bringing more universes into collision. As universes come into contact, starting with their Earth, the planets are destroyed, taking both universes with them. The result is a chain reaction of colliding universes, with each collision and destruction causing the multiverse to contract just a bit more.
On the other hand, if one Earth is destroyed before the planets collide (in the eight-hour window of 'incursion' when the universes overlap), both universes are spared and the multiverse does not contract, which is what T'Challa witnessed the previous day.
The Illuminati agree that this is a severe crisis. Tony Stark broaches the uncomfortable subject that no option should remain off the table, only to be interrupted by Steve Rogers. Rogers insists that they can never cross the line into necessary evil and suggests instead that they deploy their greatest weapon -- the Infinity Gauntlet. Doctor Strange objects that the location of the Mind Gem is lost to them with the death of Charles Xavier, but Namor replies that their five gems together will summon the sixth.
They put together the beginnings of a plan. The science-minded Reed, Tony, and T'Challa will work on an early-warning system while the others leave to assemble the remaining Infinity Gems. Rogers gives a brief speech about how they must believe in themselves and their causes, but under it we see panels of Illuminati (alternate-universe or maybe their future selves) fighting within incursions -- and losing.
Afterward, Reed Richards and T'Challa consider their chances of success. The Panther speculates that the contraction of the multiverse might not be accidental at all -- it is natural to the multiverse, or some agent is causing it. Reed replies that they need to steel themselves for any eventuality: up to and including destroying a world.
• The Illuminati gather to plan for the death of Everything.
• Infinity gems, old wounds, lies, agendas and universal incursions.
• "It breaks hope -- it crushes what makes us decent and steals what little honor remains." --Black Swan
- When the gems are gathered, each is named in a separate panel. However, the names do not match the gems shown in each panel.