“Welcome to the X-Men. Hope you survive the experience.” That has been said quite a lot over the years. So much that it’s become a joke. It’s a joke based on a truth. The X-Men have a high body count among its members where massacres, genocide, mass killings, mass murder, are all regular events. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that this year’s X-Men: The Hellfire Gala treads that rather overused “shock” to the extreme.
Each years’ X-Men: The Hellfire Gala has been a flag planted in the ground. The one-shot not only introduces a new team of X-Men but also sets up the year to come. It has done that with over the top moments that take the X-Men on an even grander scale. One re-introduced them to the world. Another terraformed a planet. Now, in 2023 we get a new “mutant massacre.”
Written by Gerry Duggan, X-Men: The Hellfire Gala crumbles the excess and grand concepts that were started years ago in House of X/Powers of X. I had problems with those concepts. They took what were a minority group that any minority could see themselves in and instead had themselves declaring they’re the “new gods” with a sovereign nation, acting benevolent while manipulating history, and overall flirting with nationalism. The X-Men have been torn asunder, forced back to their roots, hated, hunted, and a fraction of their population.
And when I say fraction, I mean fraction. While what has happened is sure to be undone to some level in the future, the sprawling cast is now but a handful and that is part of the problem with the issue. We’ve seen this all before. Many times. So, the only way to go is bigger. WAY BIGGER. It’s been done before so much “mutant massacre” is used in the comic. That’s just a bit of the stilted and at times dodgy dialogue from Duggan.
The comic features an X-Men squad worth of artists (maybe two squads). Adam Kubert, Luciano Vecchio, Matteo Lolli, Russell Dauterman, Javier Pina, R.B. Silva, Joshua Cassara, Kris Anka, and Pepe Larraz all contribute. Rain Beredo, Ceci De La Cruz, Matthew Wilson, Erick Arciniega, and Marte Gracia all provide color. The art is pretty solid with some muddled moments and a few panels that don’t quite work (what’s up with Cyclops’ hair in the beginning). It delivers the shock the story sets up and visuals that almost have the impact intended. Maybe if I wasn’t so jaded in this direction, the art would feel grander. But the art in some ways feels reserved, eschewing too many multi page spreads for packed pages and panels.
X-Men: The Hellfire Gala is entertaining in its own ways, but its shock at this point has little emotional impact. It’s been there. Done that. X-Men: The Hellfire Gala sets up an intriguing new direction for the X-Men to come. The idea of Wilson Fisk aiding the X-Men is intriguing. Nightcrawler’s teased direction has potential. The direction for Ms. Marvel is far too clear (the comic isn’t subtle in its foreshadowing). It returns the X-Men to their roots shifting them away from the benevolent gods of the past few years. Like Orchis, the comic delivers a swift brutal attack on the status quo for the line, leaving it in shatters and leaving lots of potential.
Story: Gerry Duggan Art: Adam Kubert, Luciano Vecchio, Matteo Lolli, Russell Dauterman, Javier Pina, R.B. Silva, Joshua Cassara, Kris Anka, Pepe Larraz
Color: Rain Beredo, Ceci De La Cruz, Matthew Wilson, Erick Arciniega, Marte Gracia
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy,Design: Tom Muller, Jay Bowen
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read
Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Purchase: Zeus Comics – Kindle