“Hellfire Gala (2023)”: An excellent way to launch into “Fall of X”
Since I started getting more into comic books two summers ago, I haven't been more excited for anything more than what is to come in “Fall of X,” one of the current ongoing phases from Marvel that focuses on the future of X-Men.
“Fall of X” is a limited phase that will only span four-to-five issues for each involved series (for comparison, “Destiny of X,” the phase preceding “Fall of X,” had series lasting 10-13 comics over the span of a year). But the real thing I want to focus on is “X-Men: Hellfire Gala” (2023), the real launch of “Fall of X.” I’m warning you now, there will be spoilers about it here.
“Hellfire Gala” starts off with Cyclops and Emma Frost discussing Ms. Marvel (mutants talking about an inhuman?), and we quickly find out that Ms. Marvel is the first person to be both an inhuman and mutant. I will say I’m not thrilled about this decision to make her both; while I imagine her mutant powers will be expanded upon in “Ms. Marvel: The New Mutant” (co-written Iman Vellani, the actress who plays Ms. Marvel in the Disney+ series).
This reeked of Disney meddling. In the last episode of “Ms. Marvel,” Bruno tells Kamala (Ms. Marvel) that she has a genetic mutation that the rest of her family lacks: she’s a mutant. It had never before been established in the comics that Ms. Marvel was anything other than an inhuman, so of course, you can’t tell me that Disney had nothing to do with this reveal.
The next section of “Hellfire Gala” focuses on typical Hellfire Gala stuff: character interactions and choosing the next team of X-Men. For anyone who’s even been vaguely following the X-Men comics, the inevitable fight that follows between Orchis (anti-mutant organization) and the Krakoan mutants isn’t surprising. What surprised me, though, is how many characters are killed off and the twist: the life-saving drugs that mutants have been sending out to the world had a kill switch that was implanted by Dr. Stasis, one of the leaders of Orchis.
I really have to shout out the artists for this issue. There are too many to list here, but they all did a phenomenal job. The panels of Iceman melting away and Jean Gray getting stabbed through the throat were excellent and made me gasp when reading them. The pure hatred and malicious satisfaction on Moira’s face as she gloats to Charles Xavier was fantastic and conveyed all the right emotions. The page as Xavier kneels, defeated, with all the mutants under his mind control was a powerful image, and I honestly wouldn’t expect anything less with how good the story had been so far.
I must say the scenes as Xavier sends all of the Earth’s mutants who he can control through blood-red portals while others who were trained against telepathy just stood by, resisting him, were some of my favorites. I really don’t know what I was expecting when I picked this comic up, but it was certainly not this.
Skipping ahead a bit, my absolute favorite page is the very last one. There is nothing more powerful than Charles Xavier, one of the most powerful mutants to ever exist, sitting on the shores of a defeated Krakoa, weeping, as he can no longer reach the mutants he sent through the portal: “I pushed them into a meat grinder. They’re all dead.” I don’t think there’s a better way to kick off an event like “Fall of X” than killing a quarter million mutants.
At this point, find some way to read “Hellfire Gala.” You won’t regret it. Even if you don’t know the several-years long story behind Orchis or who a lot of the characters are, it’s really easy to see just how good the story is and how much passion went into making it. But the last two lines of “Hellfire Gala” make me excited for what’s to come: “All good things must end, and the Fall Of the House of X has begun. Pacific archipelago of Krakoa. Population: One.”