Now that Jonathan Hickman’s Inferno miniseries has come to an end, X-readers have been going back to read choice bits from the last few years to see how all the narrative fragments were aligned. While this collection does include some important moments leading up to the dramatic conclusion in issue #4 of the aforementioned series, this trade also includes a worthy smattering of pleasant, yet unrelated plots across the X-line.
Reign of X Vol. 8 includes Cable #10, Children of the Atom #3, Excalibur #20, X-Men #20, and Hellions #9-10. Reading the issues in this order is an interesting, although jarring narrative process. Every issue is strong, with quality artwork, scripting, and character development — it’s simply that most of these issues are so deep into their individual storylines that you’d be hard-pressed to make sense of the core conflicts if not already kept abreast of previous issues. I still recommend the book, even if not an X-Men completist, as the creative work throughout is stellar. The data pages throughout this era of books becomes even more necessary in providing the context needed to grasp the stakes at hand.
Ironically, the trade starts with Cable and Children of the Atom, two books that look beautiful (thanks to Phil Noto and Paco Medina) and read well but are understandably footnotes to this time. By this point, Cable’s plot centers around bringing the older mainstay back into the fold and ending the younger incarnation’s journey. Vita Ayala gives a whole issue to developing the character Gimmick, and it’s a well-done introduction to the hero, but the book is dropped just a few issues later, leaving many of these plot elements unfulfilled. One hopes Ayala gets a chance to work with these characters at a future point, as there is a lot of promise to be had in this book.
Excalibur is getting a spiritual sequel with Knights of X, so the resurrection of Malice at the end of issue #20 is likely a storyline that will see development in the future. While the Otherworld storyline felt like it dragged, Tini Howard’s love for her characters is clear in every interaction on the page, with Marcus To’s art looking quite pretty and expressive throughout.
Hellions #9-10 by Zeb Wells and Stephen Segovia continues the creator’s stellar run confronting the outcast group of mutants as they navigate their precarious placer on Krakoa under the leadership of Mr. Sinister. These issues are shadowy yet amusing and show off why this series has been a fan favorite.
The standout issue (at least when it comes to narrative importance) is X-Men #20 by Jonathan Hickman and Francesco Mobili, which sees Mystique taking on a mission from Magneto and Professor X to destroy the Orchis Forge and Nimrod, with the promise that Destiny will be resurrected when she is successful. There are moments that foreshadow events to come (especially between Mystique and Forge), which were a joy to read with fresh eyes. It’s a stellar issue overall, and one of the most important in the run to understanding the events of Inferno.
Overall, this is an eclectic set of issues, with some key moments directly connected to the end of the Hickman era and the Destiny of X arc to come. Not every issue is required reading, but all the work collected is noteworthy for its quality and distinctiveness. As for supplementals, we get just two variant covers presented at the end, and the Nimrod cover from X-Men #20 rightfully plastered on the front of this trade, giving the book a striking visual introduction to the issues inside.
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