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Jul 13

X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, July 13, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

“Time Flies When You’re a Mutant.”
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artists: Kris Anka, Russell Dauterman, Matteo Lolli & CF Villa
Colourists: Rain Beredo, Frank Martin, Matt Milla & Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Cory Petit
Design: Tom Muller with Jay Bowen
Associate editor: Lauren Amaro
Senior editor: Jordan D White

Although it’s billed as a one-shot, this is basically an extra issue of X-Men, with the new team roster being announced. It’s roughly equivalent to last year’s Planet-Size X-Men #1 but without the planet.

COVER / PAGE 1. Various X-Men in their Gala costumes for this year, with the picture burning up. Unusually, Scott is shown with Emma rather than Jean. Emma is holding what seems to be a dying Krakoan flower.

PAGE 2. Memorial page for Dijjo Lima (1988-2022).

PAGE 3. Flashback: Scott and Jean decide to call for a vote for the X-Men.

They’re in the Summer House, discussing the decision that we saw in X-Men #16 (2020). This is an original scene, and it’s rather more explicit about the fact that the X-Men were being set up as a competing power base for the Quiet Council, with the ultimate goal of turning Krakoa into a democracy. The whole notion of having an election for membership of the X-Men is a tacit challenge to the Quiet Council’s legitimacy.

PAGES 4-5. Scott and Jean discuss the upcoming vote.

They’re now in the Treehouse in New York, but the parallels are made obvious.

The Bugle story is the one we saw in X-Men #12, revealing mutant resurrection to the world. A couple of points are clarified here. First, Orchis’ plan was to push the X-Men into lying about resurrection before revealing it anyway, in order to damage the mutants’ reputation. But, as we see later on, Dr Stasis isn’t that bothered by Cyclops revealing it himself – he figures the mere fact of resurrection will be dangerous enough in itself. There’s a bit of hair splitting going on here in asserting that the X-Men haven’t lied about resurrection – it may be true if you mean literally the X-Men team, but the Krakoans as a whole have certainly given false explanations for the return of public figures like Harry Leland and Jumbo Carnation.

Second, the fact that Scott gave the story to Ben Urich is apparently public knowledge on Krakoa. Presumably this is because Scott is identified as a source in the story itself.

Gambit has been hanging around in the supporting cast without actually being on the team because he’s married to Rogue. Presumably, word of his death in Knights of X hasn’t reached Jean yet – or he just gets better. Most likely both.

Jean removing Scott’s visor to kiss him echoes the flashback in X-Men #132 (1980) where Scott and Jean/Phoenix established their psychic bond.

PAGES 6-8. Bishop and Magik train the kids.

That’s Surge being trained to stop an incursion by the Avengers (and not, say, Orchis). The four attackers with (presumably) holographic disguises are Glob Herman as Captain America, Gentle as the Hulk, Armor as Iron Man, and someone unspecified as Black Widow.

PAGE 9. Emma learns sees the article.

In print, no less. How quaint. It’s the same front page that we saw in X-Men #12.

That’s Jumbo Carnation doing her hair, and presumably wishing there was more than one fashion-based mutant on the island so that he didn’t have to do literally everything himself.

PAGE 10. Recap and credits.

The title, “Time Flies When You’re a Mutant”, is probably a nod to the fact that the idea of this being the second annual Hellfire Gala simply doesn’t work in terms of Marvel time. Strictly speaking, I’m not sure this issue ever actually calls it an annual Gala, but there are plenty of references to “this year” and so forth.

PAGE 11. Data page. An internal Orchis memo from Dr Stasis on the legal implications of resurrection. He might actually be right that it would be legally impossible to murder a mutant during the Krakoan era. Death is an essential ingredient of the offence, after all. However, the idea that the only offence would be “destruction of property” is obvious nonsense – it could still be attempted murder, and would at the very least be assault.

PAGE 12. Assorted heroes react to the news.

Clea Strange is the current Sorceress Supreme, following the death of Doctor Strange in, er, Death of Doctor Strange. Over in her own book, Strange, she’s generally preoccupied with trying to resurrect him.

The others surely need no identification, but that’s the Invisible Woman, Mr Fantastic, Iron Man and Captain America. Iron Man is talking to B.O.S.S., the personal assistant software from his own book.

PAGES 13-15. Orchis discuss plans.

Moira is indeed Greek for “destiny”, in a personal sense. She evidently hasn’t told Orchis about her past lives.

Mary Jane Watson was kidnapped (and her involvement in promoting Krakoan medicines was set up) in Free Comic Book Day: Judgment Day #1. Precisely what Moira is doing to her is not entirely clear to me but I assume it’s meant to be mind control in some form, based on the robot arm that’s been reshaped into her necklace. The severed arm seems to call back to X Deaths of Wolverine but I suspect that might just be coincidence.

PAGE 16. The Quiet Council discuss the Gala.

Bishop wants to cancel it, but settles for keeping the Five out of the way. And he’ll climb down even on that by the end of the issue. Show some backbone, man!

PAGE 17. Magik guards the Five.

Apparently Bishop has pulled rank to the point of preventing Hope from even attending the Quiet Council meeting, despite her being on it. (Can’t she at least be allowed to participate telepathically…?) Magik too supports this ruling, and again will give up on it by the end of the issue.

PAGES 18-20. Cecilia Reyes talks to Synch.

Apparently Synch’s new power to use the powers of people he’s spent a lot of time with takes years off his lifespan. Oddly, Synch expects this to be kept quiet even though his ageing is very obviously visible. And… well, we’re in the resurrection era. How much does it really matter?

PAGE 21. Data page: the Wasp and Jumbo Carnation discuss superhero fashion. There’s a bit more of Jumbo’s back story here, explaining that he spent some time working security for Dazzler, which may be an attempt to justify why he’s at least passable in a fight despite his non-combatant role. He’s also apparently known Emma for years.

The Hellfire Gala costumes for this year have indeed been extended beyond the X-Men to the guests.

PAGES 22-23. Emma’s opening speech.

I’m … not wild about that first page, where the complete absence of any visible crowd means that Emma appears to be delivering her welcome speech to a couple of puffins.

The Gameworld entertainers were rescued by the X-Men in X-Men #12. Presumably they were a professional entertainers before being forced into working for Gameworld, since otherwise, this seems a bit insensitive.

PAGES 24-29. Emma talks to Scott, Clea and Spider-Man.

Are we doing the celebrity thing again this year? Apparently so. It didn’t work at all last time, but Jonathan Hamm feels like a reasonable fit, if we have to do it.

Evidently Moira can’t read Mary Jane’s mind, since she doesn’t know about MJ’s relationship with Spider-Man.

PAGE 30. Emma talks to Firestar.

Firestar is a mutant, but has mostly been treated as an Avengers or New Warriors character. She does, however, have a back story as a protege of Emma Frost, trained separately from the Hellions, which was covered in the Firestar miniseries from 1986. Firestar’s dislike of Emma (and her interest in horses) come from that book.

She was hanging around with Iceman in his recent Marvel’s Voices Infinity Comic arc, though of course the real reason the two tend to be associated with one another is their appearance in the Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends cartoon.

Firestar’s claim that “the mutants all think I’m a traitor because I didn’t fling myself through the closest Krakoan gate” raises an interesting idea about how the Krakoans feel about mutants who choose to spend their time with humans, but it’s difficult to square with her getting elected to the X-Men later in the story – even with Emma’s endorsement.

Note that Firestar is wearing her regular costume, and not a Gala outfit.

PAGES 31-32. Captain America’s story.

The flashback shown here is part of the same fight which we see the tail end of in Avengers Annual #10 (Rogue’s first appearance). Rogue went on to be an Avenger in Uncanny Avengers.

PAGES 33-34. The Five arrive, and Moira takes Proteus aside.

Apparently the Five simply refuse point blank to obey Magik’s orders and she climbs down – possibly rationalising it to herself as well.

PAGES 35-40. Iron Man arrives.

Feilong claims that he wasn’t invited and simply showed up, but it’s obvious that the mutants have chosen to at least tolerate his presence here.

Reed Richards tells Tony about how Professor X deleted part of his memory in X-Men / Fantastic Four #4.

“The Avengers could have continued to terraform Mars.” Presumably referring to the terraforming of part of Mars by Ex Nihilo, Abyss and Aleph in Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers run.

Iron Man’s basic argument to Emma is that any successful technology is going to wind up becoming more widespread whether its inventors like it or not.

Emma seems to be genuinely unaware of what Tony’s referring to when he mentions Reed’s memories being altered; she tries to ask Reed about it later in the issue on page 48 (but gets interrupted).

PAGES 41-45. Spider-Man breaks up Proteus and Moira’s conversation.

Obviously, Moira is deliberately trying to upset Proteus for some reason – possibly trying to provoke him into killing Mary Jane. It’s not clear how much she tells him, beyond the fact that he was deliberately created as a useful power set. That much appears to be true, and was established by data pages back in House of X / Powers of X.

PAGES 46-47. Wolverine confronts Moira.

Wolverine is wearing the same security outfit he had last year.

Evidently, Spider-Man is going to team up with Wolverine and Greycrow from Hellions to rescue Mary Jane in his tie-in issue, Amazing Spider-Man #9.

“Another Berlin situation.” Referring to the Spider-Man vs Wolverine one-shot from 1986, where Spider-Man supporting character Ned Leeds died.

PAGES 48-54. Scott and Emma dance and talk.

Emma tries to ask Reed about the erasure of his memories, but gets interrupted. She’s looking for political allies given that she doesn’t trust Xavier or Erik, but that’s also clearly not the only reason why she wants to re-establish her relationship with Scott here.

Banshee is referring to his long experience of being yelled at by Emma when they were co-headmasters of the Massachusetts Academy in Generation X.

Scott’s video shows his death in X-Men #7, and his fight with Dr Stasis in X-Men #12. He duly recaps that plotline for Emma, and Emma will raise it with the Quiet Council over in Immortal X-Men #4. In return, Emma shares with Scott the revelations which the rest of the Quiet Council learned about in Inferno (plus the mind-wipe of Reed).

The character with the pink speech balloon on page 54 is Gwenpool, who has been on Krakoa for a while after retconning herself into being a mutant. Gwenpool has always been preoccupied with making sure that she appears in stories, because she figures that this is the best route to survival in the Marvel Universe.

PAGE 55. Synch and Jean talk.

Apparently the Synch/Wolverine romance plot is just petering out here, as she leaves the book.

PAGE 56. Emma’s speech.

Emma decides to talk about resurrection after all, and stresses the importance of honesty. She’s clearly aligning herself with Scott.

PAGE 57. Dr Stasis prepares his payload.

PAGES 58-61. The new X-Men are announced.

It feels like we’re paying lip service to the election gimmick here, to be honest – this is more of a discussion among the core characters.

The Scarlet Witch gets to announce the results as a show of reconciliation after she redeemed herself in mutant eyes in Trial of Magneto.

Forge doesn’t want to be on the team at all, and was openly hostile to Scott earlier in the issue. Scott surely has a political agenda in selecting him. Similarly, Forge is surely trying to cause problems by getting Scott and Alex onto the same team – not something that’s actually come up that often, at least in terms of going on missions together.

Iceman fought Fin Fang Foom in Marauders #26 and Frost Giants in Marauders #27.

PAGES 62-63. The aftermath of the election.

Project Blackbox is clearly the secret project that Forge refused to tell Scott about earlier in the issue.

Firestar is decidedly unsure that she wants to be on this team, the heroes of a country she doesn’t particularly identify with, and Iron Man immediately tries to set her up as a potential informant.

“Parties haven’t been my thing in a long time.” Tony has been an alcoholic since the 1980s.

“We can’t keep throwing parties with murders.” The Scarlet Witch was “murdered” (as part of her own scheme) at the last Hellfire Gala; see X-Men: Trial of Magneto.

PAGES 64-65. Moira tells the Eternals about the Five.

Specifically, this is the new Prime Eternal Druig and the mercenary Jack of Knives, both from the current Eternals series. This is leading in to A.X.E.: Eve of Judgment Day #1 (which I won’t be annotating, because it’s basically an Eternals special, and there are tons of other books out this week). Basically, the premise here is that the Eternals are compelled to destroy what they regard as “excess deviation”, which could be interpreted to include mutants – but that Druig also sees a good war as a way to make his mark and cement his position as Prime Eternal.

PAGE 66. Trailers.

Bring on the comments

  1. Jed says:

    Uh… did anybody else find it weird that Kitty and Bishop were around for the Gala considering what is going on in Marauders currently?

  2. Michael says:

    @Jed- it’s not clear when the Gala takes place in respect to the series’ chronologies. In New Mutants, Illyana is currently (a) trapped in Limbo and (b) has her soul sword shattered, but obviously that’s not the case in this issue.

  3. Stuart says:

    “She was hanging around with Iceman in his recent Marvel’s Voices Infinity Comic arc, though of course the real reason the two tend to be associated with one another is their appearance in the Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends cartoon.”

    True, though they’ve established a friendship elsewhere in 616 continuity as well. Amazing X-Men v2 #7 springs to mind, though that story also treats it as not a new friendship.

  4. Nate says:

    Have they explained if they would be able to do the resurrections without the 5… do they have any backups? If they lose one(like Proteus)… are they fucked?

    Also Prof. X said that they have a backup of resurrections… have they said how many more they need to do?

  5. Allan M says:

    The backlog of resurrections is mostly Genosha, though the Waiting Room adds an unknown number of potential mutants to bring back, too. 16.5 million mutants die in Genosha, whereas Krakoa has a population of 200k, per A.X.E. Judgement Day. So there’s a long way to go.

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