The much-anticipated second annual Hellfire Gala is finally here which means we get plenty of drama and a new X-Men team lineup. It’s a great concept that has been compressed this year into an extra-sized one-shot after last year’s month-long crossover event.
As the preview shows, a lot is going on in X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1. This is a spoiler-free review, but Cyclops and Jean communing, Emma going off, and the Avengers showing up on Krakoa are all elements of this entertaining issue. There’s a reason it was my most anticipated comic of the week on the AIPT Comics podcast!
What makes this one-shot so entertaining is how writer Gerry Duggan progresses the plot while delivering entertaining moments at the Gala between X-Men, Avengers, and Spidey too. We know there’s an Amazing Spider-Man spinoff tie-in on the way, and that is just one of a few plots being juggled in the issue that maximize entertainment.
As Duggan pointed out in X-Men Monday, Cyclops is a key factor in this issue, along with Emma Frost who also takes a central role. Ultimately Emma feels like the leader of the X-Men in some sense, and it’s interesting to see how she dotes on and worries for her fellow X-Men during the gala. In a sense, X-Men: Hellfire Gala allows Duggan to give the temperature on the X-Men from checking in with impending threats to giving readers a sense of the dynamics of the characters that’ll likely play out over the next few months.
Are all scenes as groundbreaking as the last, or as game-changing? Not really, but there’s some of the colorful character work and entertaining superhero writing that makes the X-Men so entertaining. There’s also a lack of action scenes, but again, that’s not really what the X-Men are about. It’s also worth noting the teases involving Moira pay off and aren’t subdued. This issue is progressing story and matters.
Art is spread out across four pencilers and four color artists broken up by specific scenes. There aren’t natural breaks to separate the artists since most of this issue takes place at the Hellfire Gala, but thanks to the incredible talent of Kris Anka, Russell Dauterman, C.F. Villa, and Matteo Lolli, we’re in good hands from cover to cover. The opening is clean and cinematic, the majority of the book gives an attention to detail in backgrounds that doesn’t forget this is a party, and the new X-Men lineup reveal by Dauterman is gorgeous.
Marvel somehow pulled off an even better X-Men: Hellfire Gala this year because it is delivered in an impactful extra-sized one-shot. You get the intrigue, melodrama, and beginning of a new year of X-Men with fashion and celeb cameos too.
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