Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
Well, I guess it’s actually X-Men Wednesday. But releasing this spoiler-heavy installment before you had a chance to read X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1 just wouldn’t have been right.
I know you’ll forgive me for the two-day delay, though, because below you’ll find in-depth commentary on this eXtra-sized one-shot’s biggest moments — straight from X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White!
Before you read any further, be aware that heavy spoilers for this year’s Hellfire Gala lie ahead. If you haven’t read X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1, please do that first.
Seriously, X-Fans, this is your final warning. I better not see any complaints about having this issue spoiled by X-Men Monday.
OK, here come the spoilers — hold fast!
That intimate — and steamy — opening scene featuring Scott and Jean.
Jordan: Scott and Jean are a married couple and they are extremely close. I think this is a really interesting and telling look into their extremely personal, intimate life. They’re not just colleagues. They work on the X-Men together, so a lot of times we see them just talking as they punch someone or whatnot. But they are a husband and wife and they love each other and they help each other through hardships, difficult decisions, and difficult moments in time. There is a real intimate closeness that entails. And, you know, sometimes it’s in the privacy of their bedroom. So yeah, Gerry [Duggan] wanted to reflect that and Kris Anka is a great artist to depict that kind of scene. He nailed it.
Bishop Takes [Captain] Command
Bishop has replaced Cyclops as Krakoa’s Captain Commander — let the war games begin!
Jordan: I think even before now, we’ve heard rumblings of Bishop talking about wanting to start his war college and training volunteers to protect Krakoa and to be ready for anything. And so this is the first time we get to see it in action. And hopefully not the last, he said knowingly.
[In terms of how Bishop differs from Cyclops], they are very different guys. Scott is definitely — as we’ve seen a lot recently — a guy who likes to be prepared for anything. But his preparations are a little different. Despite what some said about him in the Utopia era, he’s not the most militaristic X-Man. I think Bishop has a little bit more of that kind of regimental military style to the way that he wants to prepare for certain things. Thankfully, it’s not conscripted. None of these people are doing this without choosing. But it’s still a fun scene. And like I said, hopefully, we’ll see more.
Moira Jane Watson
So Moira MacTaggart didn’t end up wearing Mary Jane’s skin to the Gala.
Jordan: If we’re getting technical about it, Mary Jane sort of wore Moira, in that Moira made herself into a piece of jewelry and then also sometimes overwrote her with a hologram. But we never intended, obviously, to skin Mary Jane. I think at the very beginning, we went back and forth between whether Moira would literally just disguise herself as MJ in a hologram or whether she would do something close to what she ended up doing. I think the version we ended up with is much cooler. The design that was cooked up for the hand-wrapped-around-her-neck necklace is pretty great.
I think it worked out really well, and it was a fun way to get Spider-Man involved. Moira has no idea that Mary Jane has this close connection to Spider-Man. She just picks her because she’s convenient for plans. And the fact that Spider-Man gets so involved is pretty great. And the fact that our old pal Zeb Wells was enthusiastic about the idea and interested in working with us on the story means that you will get to continue that story into Amazing Spider-Man, which is pretty awesome.
Old Man Synch
Everett, you’re looking a bit… older.
Jordan: In regard to how old Synch is now, I would say it’s always better not to say. That said, there’s a lot of weirdness in that anyway, because what age did they bring him back at? Did they bring him back at the exact age that he died? Did they bring him back earlier? Did they bring him back later? Well, not the exact age he died because he was hundreds of years old when he died. But that’s all very unclear.
It’s clear that when he uses these powers, it drains on him. That said, some of the powers that he uses are healing factor powers. So that probably can dampen that sometimes as well. And he shaves his head and beard regularly. So you don’t actually get to see what color his hair is most of the time, but I think if he continues to use his power in that way, it will be something that he has to reckon with. And, of course, when told only do it in life or death — with the X-Men, it’s always life or death. So I don’t know that he can stop. If there’s something he can do, it sounds like he will.
So this will probably continue to be an issue for him. But who knows how much of an issue, because we have resurrection. Maybe it’ll all be OK.
Hamm of X
The X-Men-Mad Men crossover you never thought you’d see!
Jordan: So, obviously, last year we had a number of celebrities at the Hellfire Gala. This year, we had far fewer. But Jon Hamm is actually a terrific guy who is friends with Gerry Duggan. So Gerry was able to reach out to him directly and go, “Would you be interested in doing this?”
And, of course, everyone knows why right? He made the connection that we have to have it with Emma because Jon and Emma Frost have a relationship in the past, as a reference to the films, obviously, and Mad Men.
But in general, it’s just a great, fun bit. The “Jonathan, how I’ve missed you” was a hilarious misdirect and it was delightful. He was very keen to be in the book, he was very keen on Gerry’s bit that he wrote for it, and he was just a delight to work with. He seemed to be very happy about it and we’re very happy to have him.
This Serious Doomlight
Doctor Doom… David Bowie fan?
Jordan: I mean, you wouldn’t think so, right? He’d only be interested in military marches — that’s what Spider-Man thinks. But you know, some people have taste.
[In terms of Doom’s favorite Bowie song], since I’m literally just flying by the seat of my pants, I’m just going to throw out “Ashes to Ashes” because I like that song and I don’t think it gets enough attention. So imagine Doom rocking out to “Ashes to Ashes” as he builds his giant device to save his mom. He was in that college room listening to “Ashes to Ashes.”
I’m a Firestar-ter
The X-Men’s controversial new member and Captain America’s pep talk to X-Fans — errr Emma.
Jordan: So Firestar, obviously, is on the team because you chose her — like you literally voted for her. But I know a lot of fans are very angry that she was in the running.
Listen, I know there are skeptics out there who think we rig the votes or that we know who it’s going to be before it happens. We really don’t. Part of the reason we do it so far in advance is that Gerry plans who he wants on the team, generally speaking, and then we go, “OK, who else would you be willing to have on the team?” And we came up with the list and Firestar was on the list. And so she’s on the team because you demanded it, because this is the character you chose. If you had chosen Armor, it would’ve been Armor, and Gerry would’ve come up with some good material for Armor as a character.
I personally think it worked out really great for Polaris on the previous one, which was completely unplanned. It wasn’t who I voted for — I voted for Tempo at the time, but I think it turned out great. Polaris got to shine over that year. So hopefully people were happy with it. I think the same will be true for Firestar. I’m really excited about what’s going to happen with her. I believe today, we’re revealing the design variant for X-Men #13, which will feature Pepe Larraz’s new Firestar costume design that he did for us. I think we’ll see it being used starting with X-Men #15. It’s great and she’s going to be a great addition to the team.
As for the pep talk that Captain America gave, yeah, I think to a large degree that was Gerry reckoning with making this decision make sense in-world. Because based on what we’ve seen of Firestar, we haven’t seen her actively hostile to Krakoa really until we started seeding it here. We’ve seen though that Krakoa existed and welcomed all mutants and she took no part in that. She was involved with Kamala’s Law over in Champions and Champions-related books, which on some level shows she made a decision to stay out of Krakoa. So in-world, Gerry was faced with, how do I get her onto the team? Because she’s not going to come in and go, “Hey, put me on the team.” That wouldn’t make sense. So wrestling with her past with Emma seemed like a really great way to do it and to get her into a position where she would be elected and into a place where she might accept that.
The Actual Election
How did the second-annual X-Men Vote go down in real life?
Jordan: Firestar was the clear winner, which teaches me things. With the first election, I did not think Polaris was going to win. I thought it would be much closer, but then in thinking about it and looking at it after the fact, it was like, well, Polaris is the oldest character. She was just in a TV show. So the combination of those two things, her having the longest opportunity to have garnered fans, and also the fact that she has new fans who know her from other media was like, “OK, that makes sense.”
With Firestar, honestly, the question was raised, is she too popular? Will she automatically win? And my original thinking was, I don’t think it’ll be a sure thing. She’s barely an X-character. Mostly, she’s known as an Avengers character, or even as a Spider-Man character from other media. And the fact that she was on a Spider-Man TV show many, many, many years ago, I didn’t think would be that big of a thing.
There were possibilities. There were a couple of characters who came a little bit closer and you could see the effect of some of the campaigning that people were doing. I think Armor was the number two.
But we would’ve been happy with the results no matter what they were. We are happy to have her on the team. It’s going to be a good story. And we take the lessons and we will apply them to the next one.
Where Do Forge’s Loyalties Lie?
Is Forge Team Cyclops… or Team Xavier?
Jordan: I don’t want to make it sound too sinister, really. I don’t think it’s like Forge is secretly a bad guy or anything like that, but I think, yeah, Forge has a longer relationship with Xavier and has been working more closely with him. And Cyclops is coming in and going, “Hey, tell me all your secrets.” And he’s like, “Pfft, get outta here.”
And Project Blackbox will continue to be relevant, for sure. The teases that have been put in there are all to set up things that are going to happen this year. That said, Forge is a team player too. He’s been on the X-Men before and he will be again — it’s not like you can’t trust, Forge. He’s not just going to spill the beans on everything because he signed up on the team.
X-Men vs. the Marvel Universe?
Probably best not to tick off Mister Fantastic and Iron Man.
That thing that they did to Reed a while back was pretty messed up. Charles and Erik — not the X-Men team. I think a lot of the X-Men team, if not all of them, would be like, “That should not have happened.” Or it would at the very least be a debate. The Quiet Council operates in very different ways than the X-Men do. As you can see in the Immortal X-Men that’s out today, it shows a different side of the Gala and a different part of the reaction to the news that breaks on resurrections. The way that the Council looks at it and thinks about it is very different than the way the team does.
So are they making enemies? I think the answer depends on who you mean, but yes, of course. Tony I think is starting to sit up and take notice of what’s going on in the X-world in a way he hasn’t for a while. And that’s interesting because I think Iron Man and the X-Men don’t have a huge history together. I mean, of course, they’re in the Marvel Universe, and they’ve all interacted, but they don’t have a super-rich history. So it’s interesting to see what kind of combinations you can get out of Iron Man and X-Men stuff. Hopefully, we can see more of that.
I’m Not Like a Regular Mom, I’m a Cruel Mom
Not quite the reunion Proteus was eXpecting.
Jordan: I think that Moira’s plan there is to ruin resurrection by messing with Proteus. And I think what he gleans from that is 100% true. She was never a real mother to him. She never really cared about him in the way she should have. And the fact that she is willing to just blow him up, to turn him into an obstacle for mutantkind for her own gain just proves it. So thankfully it didn’t work, but I think if this had gone as she hoped, I mean, you probably would’ve had a rampaging Proteus in the middle of the Gala turning everybody into spaghetti or whatever.
And resurrection would be off the table, which would be great for Orchis and not so great for mutantkind. Like I said, thankfully, he was able to see through her and the fact that so much of X-Men is about the family you choose. The truth is Proteus has been able to find a new family in the Five and they do really care about each other and have shared goals and sense of purpose. I think it’s really great that he was able to stand up to her and be like, “Get outta here, mom. Stay outta my room!”
Jean, Scott, and Emma — a new alliance?
Jordan: I think that despite some rough times between Scott and Emma, there remains a deep connection and a deep trust. And I think that, like I said about the beginning of the issue, the deep trust and intimacy between Scott and Jean means that if he feels that strongly about Emma, Jean’s on board and she believes in her and trusts her too. Is that trust 100% earned? That remains to be seen. Emma has done some questionable things and my guess would be she will continue to do so, but they generally seem to be on the side of good and mutantkind in many ways. So that is why Scott feels comfortable trusting her, and the same in reverse.
Emma was furious at Scott at the start of this issue and with good reason. I mean, he acted on behalf of all mutantkind, basically without talking to the Quiet Council or consulting anyone. It’s an unelected council, so it’s sort of hard to say if that really makes him any better or worse than them, but there you are. That’s why she was understandably upset, but because of the history they share and because of the closeness that they share, when he actually talked to her about the reason and through a little bit of trickery thanks to Jon Hamm, she was able to understand better. And because she knows that he trusts her, she decided to trust him as well with the biggest secret she was keeping. So now Scott and Jean are in on the Moira secret as well.
Hey look, it’s Jordan D. White and Gwenpool!
Jordan: Matteo Lolli said, “Hey, I’m going to draw you into here, is that OK? Who would you like to be hanging out with?” And I was like, well, Gwenpool [Laughs]. And he designed her Sailor Moon-inspired outfit without me suggesting it [Laughs]. That was not meant to be the focus of the scene either. It wasn’t in the script, he just drew us in there. So I was expecting it to just be, oh look, that’s funny. But then when it came time to do the lettering, Gerry decided to give them some lines, which I thought was delightful. So it wasn’t meant to be as big of a moment as it was, but I think it turned out very cute.
The All-New, All-Different X-Men
Breaking down Krakoa’s newly elected champions.
Jordan: It’s a fun group of characters. I think having Scott, Jean, and Synch from the first year continue on seems like a natural thing. They were the core of the first year and I think they will continue to be for this year. And Firestar was obviously the elected one, so that was terrific.
Having Iceman on there is great because he’s been a character who I think has been leveling up in many ways. I mean, they said he was an omega ages ago and he was on the omega list in House of X. But I feel like he’s grown even since then. I mean, you can’t grow past omega, but he’s grown in his feats. He’s taking that to heart and did some awesome things in Marauders and his Infinity Comic, Marvel’s Voices: Iceman. If you haven’t read his Infinity Comic on Marvel Unlimited, it’s definitely a blast and you should check it out. So it’s great to have him still around and still be able to really rise to be one of the absolute heroes of Krakoa.
Forge is one that Gerry has been eyeing for a while. He loves that dude and he’s very much a wildcard in that, like, what is he capable of? And the answer is a lot, so you never know what direction Forge could spin things. What is Project Backbox? Well, you will find out and I don’t think it’s what you’re expecting, but you never know. Maybe our readers have figured it out already. Probably not. It’s pretty neat.
And then Magik is another character that Gerry has written on and off, and he’s always had a blast writing her. So he just was very keen to have her.
Havok is there for the drama. [Laughs] I mean, again, Havok’s a classic character who’s been around about as long as Polaris. So he goes way back in X-Men lore and he’s super powerful. And his story arc is always about making good. No matter how many times he gets on track, he ends up kind of off track again. [Laughs] In Matthew Rosenberg’s Astonishing X-Men, he started his own team and was getting cease and desisted by Kitty Pryde. [Laughs] He’s a character who has straightened his life out a lot of times but always ends up back in a bad place. So hopefully being on the X-Men will be good for him again.
And the new X-Men are going to be in X-Men #13 and onward throughout the crossover. We intentionally kind of obfuscated who the team would be on the covers and leaned into the returning characters of Cyclops, Jean, and Synch. But absolutely they’re going to be on the ground in A.X.E: Judgment Day fighting some Eternals and various other things.
Whose Blood Is That?
Assuming that’s not pizza sauce on Moira’s hands.
Jordan: That’s a great question. We’ll have to find out what happened to Moira in between those two scenes over in Amazing Spider-Man. Maybe we did skin Mary Jane.
AIPT: The perfect note to end on. Jordan, thanks for taking the time to dig into X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1! Before we go, how about a few eXclusive preview images of that new X-Men team in action, courtesy of artists C.F. Villa and Joshua Cassara?
In the neXt edition of X-Men Monday, writer Victor LaValle returns to discuss his recently wrapped — and highly acclaimed — Sabretooth mini-series, as well as what comes next for Mr. Creed.
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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