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Inferno #4
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Inferno’ #4 beautifully sets up Krakoa’s next phase

Inferno sticks the landing in a big way, delivering top-tier interpersonal drama and setting the stage for future books.

When Johnathan Hickman started House of X/Powers of X, he set up the most interesting dynamic of the Krakoan era: Mystique and Destiny vs. Moira MacTaggert. It was clear from the start that Moira wasn’t really trustworthy and Hickman deliberately kept her out of his X-Men title to build that ominous tension around her. We weren’t supposed to know what Moira was up to any more than the characters in Hickman’s title did.

SPOILERS AHEAD for Inferno #4!

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What Hickman did to Moira MacTaggert in HoX/PoX was radical for a lot of reasons, but in Inferno, he proves once again just how thoroughly he’s reinvented this character and made her his own. The big confrontation between Mystique and Destiny and Moira is excellent — and Emma Frost’s part in it is also amazing. It’s big, it’s dramatic, it’s borderline Shakesperean in its tale of lies and betrayal. This is the conflict that’s been building since Hickman’s tenure on the book started, and to see it end is bittersweet.

There’s still so much we don’t know, like the excerpts of the journals Moira had that were blacked out in House of X/Powers of X. We still don’t have that fabled Moira comic, which would have been excellent to see before this event fired off. We still don’t know what’s going on with the Phalanx, who were teased to be a huge threat. We know Krakoa can’t stay around forever, and the end of it is practically based on the premise. Moira’s exit makes it feel like the House of X/Powers of X story is finally over, but it still feels sad to see Hickman go before the Krakoa era itself has ended. It feels like a big piece of the story he set up in House of X/Powers of X won’t be realized for a while.

I always imagined Krakoa ending in this big, Secret Wars level of an event, but instead, Inferno is just so contained. Sure, one day in the future when Krakoa does end that could still happen, but it doesn’t feel the same without Hickman being the one to bring that vision to life. Moira’s removal feels premature in some ways, and Inferno doesn’t really do enough to set up just what her removal means. What is she going to do with the cure she’s made? Is she going to help Orchis now? What will she do with the knowledge of the Phalanx she has and how will that come into play in the future? Inferno pretty much sets up Moira MacTaggert as one of the greatest villains the X-Men have ever known, but it doesn’t secure her place in future stories like it does with other plots.

Inferno #4

Image: Marvel Comics

It would suck to see that potential not used in future comics. Her swan song in this story is so juicy, declaring that she not only wants to cure mutants and always has, but that she doesn’t even believe in Krakoa’s survival.

But does all that make Inferno bad? Not at all. Emma is finally recognized as the cunning master and power player she is, working with Mystique and Destiny to take down Moira and secure Krakoa’s future. We finally found out just why she had to resurrect Charles and Erik in issue #1 and, most importantly, she sets up Immortal X-Men quite beautifully. She spills Moira’s secrets to the rest of the Council, declaring this as their burden to share. This adds a dark edge to the Council and it makes Immortal X-Men one of the most fascinating titles on the table off the bat. Secrets will weigh heavy, and the Council has ties to some pretty important people which would create some excellent character drama.

Let’s think about it: Emma’s dating Scott, who is the leader of the X-Men and could probably benefit from knowing some of these secrets since he’s Krakoa’s defender in a way (not to mention Dark X-Men secured their relationship as being one with no secrets between them). What’s that gonna be like for her to keep those secrets from him? Piotr’s being branded as “the trustworthy” because he’s kind of historically the good “brother” figure — how hard is it gonna be for him to keep these secrets from his own sister? The burden of leadership is its secrets — and Inferno sets up quite the juicy premise for Immortal X-Men with this. Let’s hope it takes the bait and gives us some of this drama not just between the Council and its own members, but how these secrets affect their relationships with their loved ones.

One thing Hickman has toyed with a few times in his run is paralleling the humans, machines, and mutants with each other. In the Nimrod issue of X-Men, the villains quote some of the same lines that were said by mutants in House of X/Powers of X. In Inferno, he does the same thing once again with Omega Sentinel and it’s kind of harrowing.

Inferno #4

Image: Marvel Comics

In House of X/Powers of X, Cyclops asks Sue Storm, “did you honestly think we were going to sit around forever and just take it?” This is what Omega Sentinel says to Charles and Erik in Inferno as well. It’s clear with how much he’s been mirroring dialogue that Hickman is highlighting some parallel narrative between mutants and their villains, but Inferno doesn’t really do enough to explore that idea in full. Its plate is too full with the Moira X plot to get too deep into this, but it’s an idea I admittedly don’t fully understand where Hickman is going with but would like to see explained in future runs. After all, what is Inferno if not a new beginning? Starting off as many plotlines as its wrapping up.

I don’t think this “mutants and their villains aren’t so different after all” idea is quite so simple — after all, there are clear differences between people trying to survive and people trying to wipe out another’s existence. But Inferno doesn’t explain Hickman’s vision with this idea as much as reiterates it. Inferno doesn’t end Omega Sentinel and Nimrod’s story; it just gives it a new beginning. As Magneto said, he will “see [them] again.”

It’s clear Hickman has a fondness for Cypher and he uses that to make him a big player in Inferno at the last second. Doug pulls a power play on Mystique and Destiny, forcing them to leave Moira alive. There’s a lot of fun in these scenes, given a slightly dark edge with the subject matter, but it’s nice to see characters like Doug get a big role in a story like this. After all, when was the last time Doug Ramsey was an instrumental part of a big X-Men event aside from House of X/Powers of X? His inclusion is just another way Hickman weaves this dramatic web between his characters, all bound by secrets and mistrust in each other.

Schiti and Caselli are two of the best artists in Marvel’s arsenal right now and their work really shines in Inferno. Every page is gorgeous and delivers the feelings it needs to get across.

Inferno sticks the landing in a big way, delivering top-tier interpersonal drama and setting the stage for future books. Hickman ties up as many loose ends as he creates and it would be a shame if future X-titles didn’t take advantage of some of these ideas, like Moira as a villain and the return of Nimrod/Omega Sentinel. It feels more like Hickman wrapped up one small plotline, but left the X-office with a whole bunch of goodies to work with in the future. How they will handle it has yet to be seen, but one thing’s for certain: Inferno sets the stage for some good character drama in a big way.

Inferno #4
‘Inferno’ #4 beautifully sets up Krakoa’s next phase
Inferno #4
Inferno's sticks the landing in a big way, delivering top-tier interpersonal drama and setting the stage for future books.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
The art is great
Moira and the machines are set up as amazing villains for the future of Krakoa, leaving some great stakes on the table
Moira vs Mystique and Destiny was great to see unfold
The secrets between the Council set up a really interesting future for Immortal X-Men to play on
It's sad to see Hickman leave before a lot of the plots he set up are fully realized
Ideas like the similarities between mutants and their villains aren't really explained or explored but they're reiterated
9.5
Great

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