Review: The Gala Gets Tacky In ‘X-Men’ #21

by Tony Thornley

The Hellfire Gala is in full swing, and it’s starting to get late. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean good things for X-Men #21.

Cover by Leinil Yu & Sunny Gho

This issue promised to be one of the big game changers of the Hellfire Gala and it has some incredibly interesting plots and character moments. That said, it doesn’t quite live up to the early promise for many reasons. Thankfully, it’s not all bad thanks to Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta, Russell Dauterman, Lucas Werneck, Sara Pichelli, Frank Martin, Matthew Wilson, Sunny Gho, Nolan Woodard, and Clayton Cowles.

The Gala continues. Xavier and Magneto make Namor an offer. The X-Men are revealed. Cyclops mingles. And something is happening just outside the thermosphere…

Artistically this issue is a triumph. And honestly, it’s almost worth the price of admission just for the opening scene between the three most powerful mutants on the planet. Hickman, Dragotta and Martin work in perfect lockstep to create a vignette that’s engrossing but, frankly, ends too soon. I know Hickman is doing “Inferno” next, but in whatever spins out of that event, I truly hope that it includes this team doing a full length story featuring these three again.

As for the rest of the issue, all three remaining line artists and three color artists do a fantastic job. Dauterman and Wilson’s pages are full of color, and capture the party spirit the best. Werneck and Gho’s scenes are full of celebrity cameos and it generally looks great (even if some of the cameos are a bit excessive) while capturing the likenesses best so far. And Pichelli and Woodard’s closing scenes are stunning, with some very cool POV’s and gorgeous color art.

Hickman’s story struggles, however. Outside of the conversation opening the issue, the story moments are cheesy and over the top. In some cases, it’s building a moment or two around the cameos (such as Marvel CCO Kevin Feige), instead of letting them come naturally. The plots the story sets up are interesting (I’m very excited for the revelation on the last page to bear fruit) but beyond that, it’s an issue that’s half interesting and half set-up for the future — meaning it’s not fully satisfying.

X-Men #21 is available now from Marvel Comics.


This is an issue worth picking up for the art alone. It’s a fun read, but it’s also not a satisfying read, acting more as a tease for next week’s Planet-Size X-Men.

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