Review: ‘X-Men: Hellfire Gala’ Is A Lot Of Set-Up, Not Much Story
by Tony Thornley
It may turn out to be the most anticipated event of the year. However, the second annual Hellfire Gala arrived this week, and it’s quite the mixed bag.
The one-shot, which is one part X-Men annual, part set-up for the line for the next year, was written by Gerry Duggan, drawn by Kris Anka, Russell Dauterman, Mateo Lolli, and CF Villa, colors by Rain Beredo, Frank Martin, Matt Milla, and Matt Wilson, and letters by Cory Petit.
The Gala has arrived, and the entirety of Krakoa is reeling from the revelation of the island nation’s greatest secret- mutantkind is immortal. The eyes of the world are once again on Krakoa, and this time they seem to know what to expect. A new team will be chosen, secrets will be revealed, and it seems Krakoa and the X-Men may never be the same.
For this truly giant-sized issue, there’s no doubt that the art is fantastic. This is one of the best looking single issues Marvel has put out in a long time. Anka’s return to interiors is welcome, Dauterman’s pages are a highlight, and Lolli and Villa do great work to show how they’re growing as artists. It would have been great to have had one color artist to give the pages a stronger throughline visually, but overall, it’s a strong art issue.
On the story side, the issue is quite a mixed bag. A lot of the new plot points revealed here are interesting, and make me look forward to Duggan’s next year of stories. The new team is a bit underwhelming, especially with the team being made up of the same familiar faces that we often see rather than some of the more fresh faces seen elsewhere in the Krakoan era. The Moira plot fell completely flat, and didn’t really provide any payoff, setting up at least three different future stories.
It’s not an issue I would say is entirely successful, partially hitting the same notes as last year’s Gala. It doesn’t spend time with the more interesting plots, which needed time to breathe and develop. Considering it reads better if you read this week’s Immortal X-Men immediately afterwards, the story may have benefitted from a tie-in issue of X-Men or X-Men Red that fleshed out some of the elements we saw here. As it is, it’s a lot of set-up and not much story- an X-Men annual that’s mostly for Duggan’s series, but also for most of the line.
That said, it’s worth picking up for any current X-Men fan- the art is fantastic, and the interesting elements and plot set-up is enough for anyone who is following the line.
X-Men: Hellfire Gala is available now from Marvel Comics.
A triple sized issue with interesting plot points and great art doesn’t completely save this mega annual for the entire X-Men line. There’s a lot to like that makes it worth picking up, but it’s also a weak story that’s more of a collection of plot points and set-up than it is a story of its own.