The Hellfire Gala has begun and this issue does a lot of the work to get all the pieces into place for the next eleven issues and the event story as a whole. While there are a lot of plots and moments and feelings left somewhat dangling, there are also a lot of great character moments and the art team knocks it out of the park juggling such a huge undertaking/cast.
After months of setup and teasing the doors have been opened and the Hellfire Gala has officially begun. It’s of course fitting that Marauders is the title to kick the twelve-issue storyline off. Since this is the first issue there is more setup and party mingling to be found than any hint of the big reveals set to be dropped during the event (save a flashforward epilogue of the issue that shows reactions to the big reveal without mentioning it).
That’s more than okay though. This whole event is really Emma Frost’s baby and it shows as she plays the consummate host, providing most of the issues point of view in regard to many of the various characters shown at the party and the forward momentum of the issue.
While a lot of the recent issues felt like they were treading water in many ways, they have at last reached their destination and there is some forward momentum. Some of the Marauders still feel like they are just attached to do action things and drop some lines at times (Iceman and Pyro chief among them) it’s not as glaring here just because there are a lot of characters to juggle and not enough real estate to touch on them all.
Above there was mention about how it’s more than okay that this issue is a lot of build-ups and character moments that is saving the bigger reveals for later. On the other hand, there are quite a few moments that tease at things that clearly Gerry Duggan or someone else plans to address later that are left just a little too vague at the moment. Such as some references to some revelation about Wilhelmina from Verendi, a group that has been mostly used as cackling bad guys through the last twenty issues.
On another hand, this means they are somewhat doing their job as it leaves the audience wanting more which is often a good thing. This series and the line overall have had an issue with both dragging out and living up to the teased revelations/plot points at times, so only time will tell how all of this goes in the long run.
Matteo Lolli and Edgar Delgado do a fantastic job bringing the party to life and handling the massive assemblage while making sure to not skimp on the details and colorful nature surrounding everyone. There truly is a lot to juggle here from the variety of mutant characters and their stunning party outfits to the large cast of Marvel characters and humans/aliens in attendance to things like a gorgeous musical performance. Despite that, they nail it all and really bring the festive atmosphere to life. This is a party that pretty much any of us would love to be able to go to, it just looks like a pretty great time.
Cory Petit also expertly pulls off the heavy load that was presented with this issue, as there is a ton of dialogue. And not just a ton of dialogue but a ton of a variety of styles of dialogue. There is both the telepathic dialogue to be put in and the regular speech bubbles but also adding certain flares and styles to dialogue from some of the bigger party guests.
Overall, this is a solid character issue that gives everyone in the issue and reading the issue a chance to ease into this large party. It’s really great seeing some of these characters interact better after a lot of tense encounters since the time of House of X/Powers of X, and great seeing some faces we haven’t seen in quite some time.
Oh and as a bonus, the issue features a backup story from Christ Claremont, John Bolton, Glynis Oliver, and Tom Orzechowski featuring the first Hellfire Gala that was seen in the comics. This story originally ran in Classic X-Men #7. It of course ties into the recent mention of Lourdes Chantel, a mutant teleporter who loved Sebastian Shaw that died at the hands of Sentinels that Shaw helped to develop. It’s definitely quite a look into a very different time in the world of the X-Men/mutants at Marvel.
Marauders #21 is now on sale from Marvel Comics in print and digitally.