This Year’s Hellfire Gala Shakes Things Up for the X-Men

Just like last year, things are once again shaken up by the X-Men’s Hellfire Gala, writes Terrence Sage in their review of the one-shot.

The Second Annual Hellfire Gala is wrought with drama. Party Crashers, exciting news, and growing tensions from across the board as the future of mutant-kind steps into the line of fire in the wake of some startling news. This time around the Hellfire Gala is an oversized one-shot written by Gerry Duggan with a slew of artists including Kris Anka, Russell Dauterman, Matteo Lolli, and C.F. Villa with colors from Rain Beredo, Frank Martin, Matt Milla, and Matthew Wilson. 

This one-shot has the job of sewing up seeds that have been populating the X-Men corner of books over the past year and ushering in future storylines that’ll take shape sooner than later with the second year of X-Men announcing their team here and the Marvel Summer Event Judgment Day right around the corner. The issue opens with a loving embrace between Scott and Jean as the story of the X-Men’s secret of resurrection becomes front-page news as seen in Duggan’s X-Men series. 

Hellfire Gala

The two hold each other as they telepathically discuss the event and what life is about to become for not only themselves but for Krakoa. Duggan has been writing Cyclops for a long while now through X-Men and Cable. Cyclops’ recent actions in X-Men hang over the entire issue and Duggan makes sure we see the effects across the board. We’re presented with some action as we bounce to Krakoa during a drill. Anka has a few pages to deliver on a showcase of Captain Commander Bishop’s war games, illustrating the approaching dangers and state of mind most Mutants are in, just in case their enemies make a move. Little things like getting a message from Professor Xavier light up Bishop’s eyes as he gets wind of more pressing matters, with shadows drawing over a majority of his body to give the grim nature. 

Duggan captures a number of voices as we’re shown what the Superhero Community at large and enemies make of the news the X-Men are essentially…Immortal. C.F. Villa and Matteo Lolli dominate the majority of the issue here. Preparations are being made as the Gala gets ready and far, far, away the enemies are plotting. Duggan has been writing the various members of ORCHIS in his X-Men title and they continue to be present and are gaining traction on the mutants. The surroundings on Phobos feature the cold and stainless science fiction we’ve come to know from ORCHIS as we discover the Gala is going to have a party crasher in their midst. The Gala is more concerned with the larger world this year, leaving the meat of the issue focused on everyone’s interactions and plenty of machinations as the news of Mutants and Immortality has everyone buzzing. The Avengers, Fantastic Four, and more are all in attendance with Duggan tugging on threads going back to before last year’s Gala came into play. 

Hellfire Gala

The writing is crackling as we see characters like Emma Frost making her way through talking business with Steve Rogers or Tony Stark. During last year’s Gala, Duggan had the pleasure of writing a pivotal chapter with Planet-Sized X-Men. This year with this Gala he’s writing the Marvel Universe at a slightly larger scale as the Mutants are starting to feel the heat from several spots. The news has everyone from The Five to members of the Quiet Council worried and attempting to maintain the pushback. Villa and Lolli create a very tight-knit flow between the two of them as we travel around the party. It’s a balancing act to be sure, from a glimpse into the strange with Clea, the Sorcerer Supreme to the tables with some gambling fun, Lolli packs in pages with plenty of characters and gives the book a sense of liveliness even though danger is afoot. Using the Gala as an extension or continuation of stories that have been happening as of late gives the book some urgency and relevancy outside of just being the second year of the Mutants throwing a party, where it’s light on action, it’s heavy on dialogue from plenty of Marvel Heroes that’ll make you raise your eyebrows on the plans that are forming. 

The clear and present danger makes itself known during a balcony reunion that gives the Gala some action away from the discussions that make no secret of both good and bad guys moving pieces for later. Duggan is guiding the nation of Krakoa into its next gear. It’s a segment that seeks to unite two forces in the MU for some fun later in their own book. The Gala being packed into one book gives us the grace of hitting on the major beats and little time for cameos and celebrity segments (there’s a particularly funny one towards the end!) But overall, Duggan keeps the focus on Cyclops and his new predicament as the heart of the book and Gala proceedings. As we prepare to end the Gala, Dauterman gives us a dazzling set of pages to close the book on one lineup of X-Men and welcome another. It’s a glorious display full of reactions and some surprising picks for Year Two of the Krakoa X-Men all rendered with his usual flair for fashion and characters. 

The Hellfire Gala of 2022 is a much tighter and more streamlined effort, utilizing the major in-universe as a linchpin for the festivities, making the book a pivotal chapter for what’s happening in the X-Men Universe of Books. Duggan not only hits on all of the notes that have blossomed from his series but makes exciting leaps that would make even the most nervous partygoers interested in what’s to come for the Krakoa Era.

By Terrence Sage

Black pop culture writer that has a way with words, reads comics (a lot), watches movies, and digests music like food.

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