For the second year in a row, Marvel Comics has outdone itself with the X-Men’s annual Hellfire Gala, with 2022’s fashion-forward and drama-filled event perfectly setting the stage for the acclaimed Judgment Day event. The X-Men: Hellfire Gala – Immortal trade paperback collects Free Comic Book Day 2022: Avengers/X-Men, X-Men: Hellfire Gala (2022), Amazing Spider-Man #9 (2022), X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #50-55, and The Secret X-Men (2022), presenting a cohesive and exciting vision of Krakoa’s 2nd annual Hellfire Gala as Judgment Day looms closer. With stories from beloved and acclaimed writers like Gerry Duggan, Tini Howard, and Steve Foxe and stunning art from talented creators like Russell Dauterman, Kris Anka, and Patrick Gleason, this collection of comics is a truly gorgeous glimpse into the world of Marvel’s X-Men.
All of the separate issues within the X-Men: Hellfire Gala – Immortal trade paperback are enjoyable as one-shot comics, but the real joy of this collection comes from the cohesive nature of each issue playing into each other. They are not all from the same series, so there is of course some summarizing and disjointed plot connectors, but in general the book successfully encapsulates the essence and importance of the X-Men’s 2022 Hellfire Gala. Part of this is the gorgeous design of the collection – most X-Men trade paperbacks during the Krakoan Era have been designed by the talented Tom Muller, and this one is no exception, with each issue reading like a catalogued piece of a larger whole. One thing that would have enhanced this collection even further were if it collected Kieron Gillen’s Immortal X-Men #4, which was a Hellfire Gala tie-in focusing on Emma Frost’s intensely political preparation for the event, but I am assuming this issue will be in a future Immortal X-Men collection, hence it being left out of this one.
Starting off with the “Let’s Talk About Krakoa” story from the Free Comic Book Day 2022: Avengers/X-Men issue is a perfect jumping off point for the Hellfire Gala, utilizing the truly horrifying inner dialogue of Krakoa’s greatest betrayer Moira X to establish the at times dark and serious tone of the collection. While the X-Men are always under threat, this era has even higher stakes with the grand successes of establishing a recognized sovereign mutant nation, and Moira/Orchis’ machination to destroy Krakoa and all of mutantkind is the disturbing through line that carries throughout much of this collection. Plus, the short story shows you Moira’s kidnapping of Mary Jane Watson, and integral part of the Gala and the Amazing Spider-Man issue included.
The X-Men: Hellfire Gala (2022) issue itself is a simply marvelous character-driven story, written by Gerry Duggan with diverse and stunning art by Russell Dauterman, Kris Anka, C.F. Villa, and Matteo Lolli. With 2021s Hellfire Gala establishing Krakoa’s terraforming of Mars, it was hard to imagine how any future Gala could live up to it, but 2022’s focused on the reveal of Krakoan immortality to the entire world. Told to Ben Ulrich by Scott Summers, the news of mutant immortality gave Orchis fire power to antagonize anti-mutant sentiments, caused great concern to the Avengers, gave Clea Strange a reason to visit the Gala, and made a whole lot of drama between Cyclops, Emma Frost, and other mutants. This issue also had amazing references to Firestar’s past, included a horrifying interaction between Moira and her son Proteus, had a guest starring appearance by Jon Hamm, and included a nice moment of recognition towards the Scarlet Witch and Wanda’s gift of the mutants “Waiting Room” in Trial of Magneto. Plus, Bishop teaching several young mutants how to fight the Avengers on Krakoa’s beach is the perfect setup for the upcoming Bishop: War College series!
On top of all of those amazing moments, which played on past reveals and moments from X-Men history that would delight any longtime fan (like Emma Frost wanting to talk to Firestar about Krakoan stables, obviously referencing that time she literally murdered Angelica’s horse, Butter Rum), the gorgeous fashion of the Gala was a true highlight, with many of the characters’ costumes being lovingly designed by the impeccable Russell Dauterman. Plus the new X-Men roster was selected for Duggan’s X-Men title, including Forge, Havok, Firestar (the fans’ vote), Magik, and Iceman. Truly and issue chock-full of exciting moments!
After the Hellfire Gala comes Steve Foxe’s X-Men Unlimited #50-55 – with art by Alan Robinson and Carlos Lopez – and follows 2022s “Secret X-Men,” or the “losers” of the X-Men vote, as they battle against Hydra’s Typhon Group to rescue the mutant Gorgon. While Marvel Unlimited’s Infinity scrolling comics always feel a little disjointed transitioning to the printed page, this story is an absolute blast, focusing on beloved but less mainstream mutants like Monet St. Croix, Gentle, Siryn, and Armor.
Following the Hellfire Gala Secret X-Men story with Amazing Spider-Man #9 – written by Zeb Wells with haunting art by Patrick Gleason and Marcio Menyz – was the perfect move for this collection, featuring an action-packed and emotional battle by Forge, Wolverine, and Spider-Man to save the life of Mary Jane and attempt to take down Moira. This story is perfectly set up in the pages of Hellfire Gala and plays out in terrifying fight scenes, with brutal assaults against the heroes by the truly deranged and evil Moira, and ending in an emotional and dramatic scene between Peter and Mary Jane. This story wraps up this year’s Hellfire Gala, creating the perfect setup for Marvel’s Judgment Day event, which starts as an attack against Krakoa by Orchis and the Eternals, but is quickly derailed by the Celestial Progenitor.
X-Men: Hellfire Gala – Immortal includes two major bonuses for readers: the super fun The Secret X-Men #1 issue – written by Tini Howard with downright gorgeous art by Francesco Mobili and Jesus Aburtov – and a stunning collection of Hellfire Gala variant fashion covers by a diverse group of immensely talented artists (like Mahmus Asrar, Iban Coello, Adam Hughes, and Peach Momoko). The Secret X-Men follows all the “losers” of 2021’s X-Men Vote, as Sunspot collects a team of mutants to deal with a major threat facing the Shi’ar Empress Xandra out in space, and while it is a very disconnected story from the rest of the collection, it is a truly fun one-shot adventure, and a lovely companion to the book overall.
X-Men: Hellfire Gala – Immortal is a worthy addition to anyone’s collection of trade paperbacks, serving as the exciting starting off point for 2022’s massive Judgment Day event, setting up the following year’s X-Men title, and including stories and art by a variety of talented creators. All of the separate issues work great as standalone comics, but they blend together into a cohesive story of intense drama, character-driven scenes, exciting action, and truly gorgeous fashion, making this collection a must-have for fans of the X-Men.
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