Chris Claremont’s run on Uncanny X-Men is heralded as the definitive run for the franchise, having run for 15 years and nearly 200 issues of Uncanny X-Men. It introduced countless characters and concepts that continue to be major parts of the X-line to this day. Inferno was the first proper crossover between the X-line, introducing the concept of the linewide crossover event as well as introducing Mr. Sinister and his connection to the Summers family, alongside countless other concepts. Inferno was the culmination of plot threads from the Mutant Massacre, and even earlier, back to Magik’s original miniseries. As a culmination of all these plot threads and character arcs it is an incredible tale, and as a standalone story it is bizarre and grotesquely humorous from beginning to end.
This trade paperback collects the X-Terminators miniseries, as well as the Uncanny X-Men, New Mutants, and X-Factor tie-ins to Inferno. These essentially form 2-3 separate stories that all take place during the events of Inferno and all loosely connect by the end. X-Terminators takes place first, written by Louise Simonson with art by John Bogdanove. It’s a delightfully fun tale of a group of kids, who came together while being raised by X-Factor, being off on their own and saving their own from the demons of limbo. Introducing a new character in Takeshi Matsuya, Simonson and Bogdanove do an excellent job telling these children’s story, keeping the tone lighter than the rest of the crossover but still depicting some of the more horrific elements of Limbo and the demons. Artie and Leech are especially delightful, with near every panel with the two of them showing how lovable they both are.
The final issue of X-Terminators ties into the New Mutants issues of the crossover, which mostly form their own story within the larger event. The New Mutants’ story is entirely about Illyana Rasputin, Colossus’ younger sister Magik. Throughout her entire time in the New Mutants, Magik had been growing more and more dark, falling further and further into the Darkchilde persona defined by her former master Belasco. A major part of Inferno involves her realm of Limbo revolting against her, under the new leadership of the demon S’ym, who was also infected by the transmode virus. The story is about the fall of Magik. Her story was never one that would end happily, and the tragedy in her downfall is incredibly apparent throughout the event. The loss the New Mutants feel at the end of the story is palpable, as is Colossus’s sorrow at the end. This is the most emotional part of Inferno, and the conclusion of a story over 5 years in the making. While Simonson was mostly closing out plot threads set up by Claremont during his tenure on the title, she does an excellent job providing the emotional closure this story required. Bret Blevins’ art in the New Mutants issues is good, with great expressiveness for all the characters to really sell the emotion.
The main story of Inferno is an issue-by-issue crossover between Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont, and X-Factor by Louise Simonson. This story finally tied up threads set up from the Mutant Massacre and even the first issue of X-Factor, and features the first meeting between the X-Men and X-Factor. Most importantly, this main part of the event finally introduces Mister Sinister as the mastermind behind so many of the X-Men’s and X-Factor’s woes over the past years, making his machinations clear – both the recent ones as well as the plans he’s been working towards for decades. The art by Marc Silvestri, Terry Shoemaker, and Walt Simonson is also a major part of what makes this crossover so engaging. Beyond characters and body language, their work on designing the monstrous, haunted city of New York and all the horrors that reside within is absolutely incredible, and sells how twisted and warped everything has become by this increasing invasion from Limbo. There’s scenes of a mailbox eating someone trying to deposit their mail, an elevator killing everyone inside, and the Empire State Building continuing to grow taller and taller in the sky. Claremont and Simonson write some of their best work on the X-Franchise in this crossover, but Silvestri and Simonson draw it better than anyone else could.
Inferno is one of the most satisfying conclusions to multi-year running storylines through multiple books in comics. Claremont and Simonson do an incredible job making this story as tight as possible and providing closure to so many different arcs. While the story may be less compelling for readers unfamiliar with these long-running stories, the main plot of Inferno is still incredibly enjoyable as X-Men, X-Factor, the New Mutants, and the X-Terminators all do their best to navigate the monstrous New York City of Inferno. This is a must-read story for anyone looking for classic X-Men stories or the highlights of the Claremont era, and still a compelling read for newcomers to the franchise.
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