This week, writer Jonathan Hickman begins the end of his historic X-Men run with the debut issue of Inferno! The four-issue series promises to pay off long-lingering story threads from the early days of Hickman’s run. How well does it begin the story that could bring Krakoa to the ground?
We’ve got a full review of Inferno #1, plus your regular Rapid Rundown of other noteworthy new Marvel titles, all ahead in this week’s installment of The Marvel Rundown!
(Note: the following review contains spoilers for the issue being discussed. For a spoiler-free verdict on the comic, scroll down to the bottom of the review.)
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Color Artist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Design Work: Tom Muller
Cover Artists: Pepe Larraz & Marte Gracia
After the absolute frenzy of new ideas and plotlines to explore introduced by the twelve-issue House of X and Powers of X series, it feels safe to say writer Jonathan Hickman’s time on Marvel’s main X-Men title was, at least comparatively, a slow burn. There were a lot of corners of the new mutant status quo to explore, and a lot of new series in which to explore them, which meant X-Men could continue the work of HoX/PoX, expanding on the foundation created by the event series and seeding new stories and cultivating them over a period of time. Now, as Hickman’s time on the X-books nears its end, it’s time for the writer to settle family business. Inferno #1 picks up on loose HoX/PoX threads, pulls in seeds from Hickman’s X-Men series, and ties it all together for an intriguing kickoff to the series.
The Hickman-written X-books have tended to be very plot-driven, and there’s certainly plenty of plot in Inferno #1. Still, the issue balances the plot-heavy structure with some really great character moments. A showdown between Xavier, Magneto, and Moira X, finally back in the picture after the end of HoX/PoX, is wonderfully executed, verbal shots brimming with personality and steeped in the history of the three characters. Likewise, a scene in which Cyclops steps down as Captain Commander of Krakoa and new War Captains are named features some nice interactions between Scott and Xavier, and displays the camaraderie between the captains in an entertaining way. Sometimes Hickman’s books can feel overly methodical if not downright cold, and those scenes provided a nice contrast to that.
It also helps that one of the primary conflicts of Inferno is entirely character-driven. Mystique’s desire for the resurrection of her wife, Destiny, is wholly relatable, as is her rage in the face of Xavier & Magneto’s refusal to do it. It’s hard not to root for her to bring the whole Krakoan experiment down on their heads over this, and the reveal in the final pages of the issue was wildly satisfying. After two years where it’s seemed like everything’s coming up Krakoa, the worst-case scenario that was promised by HoX/PoX, not just with Mystique and Destiny but also with Nimrod having come online towards the end of Hickman’s X-Men run, is finally coming to pass, and I couldn’t be happier.
Artist Valerio Schiti joins the festivities for this four-issue series. The artist is no stranger to either the X-books, having worked on S.W.O.R.D.’s initial launch, or to event books, with last year’s Empyre event under his belt. Colorist David Curiel teams with Schiti on this series, and their work on the first issue is pretty stellar. An action sequence aboard an Orchis station brims with chaotic energy, while extended sequences in which characters are talking are presented in a visually-interesting manner that conveys motion even as the characters themselves are, for example, sitting at tables in the Quiet Council chamber. An interesting sequence also sees Schiti & Curiel recreate, nearly beat-for-beat, a scene originally illustrated by this issue’s cover artists, Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia, in House of X #2. A side-by-side comparison of the two sequences reveals nearly-identical pages, with only the slightest of differences in facial expressions. Whether that’s a reflection of Schiti and Curiel’s skills as mimics, or of how intensely detailed Hickman’s scripting is, is anyone’s guess, but the art team pulls it off well.
That whole sequence, represented from HoX #2, is fascinating, and feels like more than just catch-up for readers who may have forgotten about the original version of it. The importance of events playing out in a specific way was a key to Moira’s experiences in HoX #2, and it seems like that should carry forward now that she’s back in the picture more prominently. So the differences between the original sequence and the one presented in Inferno #1 jump out more than they might have otherwise. Aside from the small things like character expressions, there are lines of dialogue that are easy enough to miss as having been changed, but that are extremely revealing about the characters. An entirely new page is also added to the sequence that was not included in HoX #2. Hickman has a history of remixing sequences and their original artwork on X-Men, so if this was just a straightforward retelling it seems like using the original work would’ve made more sense. It all adds up to make one wonder if this is indeed a flashback to what’s been seen previously, or if it’s actually an entirely new scene from later on in the series.
As a launch for an event book, Inferno #1 is an effective start to the series. This is a book that rewards readers who’ve been along for the ride since the beginning, so those who haven’t been following along for the past two years may be a bit confused by some elements, but for the most part things are recapped and explained well enough. I don’t think this book will change anyone’s mind if they’ve not been a fan of Hickman in the past, but for those who have enjoyed his work on the X-books, there’s nothing at all to complain about here.
Final Verdict: Buy.
- Darkhold: Alpha
- Grimoire alert! Do you want a story that builds upon the spookier side of Marvel continuity while centering none other than Ms. Chaos Magic herself, Wanda Maximoff? Well, then the long wait is over (and I do mean long wait – this book was initially announced back in early March 2020, before COVID lockdown threw a monkey wrench in everyone’s best-laid plans). But the good news is that this story was well worth the wait. Writer Steve Orlando once again proves he has the goods when it comes to Magic Marvel, with artist Cian Tormey and colorist Jesus Aburtov delivering truly awesome splash pages, expressive characters, and horrifying glimpses into a nightmare dimension. Like Heroes Reborn or Extreme Carnage, this Darkhold story heralds the arrival of another crossover event for Marvel Comics… but with the promise of multiple one-shots centering the Darkhold Defiled superheroes, this crossover promises to be uniquely memorable. PLUS: Victorious calling Wasp a “shrinking jacket vendor.” Don’t miss this one! —AJK
- Extreme Carnage: Omega
- I was initially reading this weekly event just for the sake of it, mostly because of Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s name, but I’ve been more and more engrossed with it week-by-week that I’ve only just realised how much I’ve enjoyed this story. Sure, it ends in a very “see ya next time” place that was a tad unsatisfying, but there were some twists and turns and some surprisingly violent moments that kind of made my stomach turn. I’m not a big symbiote guy and I don’t think that’s changed after reading this, mostly because of the vast mythology of symbiote hosts that I still can’t wrap my head around. Still: when good creators get their hands on them, symbiotes are readable. See the recent Venom run. —HW
- Miles Morales: Spider-Man #30
- This oversized issue is a celebration of Miles Morales being on our pull list for the past 10 years. Unfortunately only one of his creators was able to join in the celebration, stupid exclusivity contracts, but this is still a nice start to what I hope is a full year of celebrating Miles, and leading off regular writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Carmen Carnero craft a great “day in the life” story of our young hero. Starting with some exposition of his new costume, we get action and heart as Miles does his Spider thing on the way to his movie date with Starling, ah young love. The second story is another slice of life story written by the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse team of Phil Lord, Chris Miller, and Kemp Powers, with art by one of Miles co-creators, Sara Pichelli. Without spoiling, this is another warm and funny showcase of what Miles means to New York and New Yorkers. The last story by Cody Ziglar and Anthony Piper has the essence of what being a Spider-Man means, as future Miles stops a bunch of kids from breaking into a local corner store. After he talks to the friend that wanted to stop them but felt powerless to do anything. A novel twist on the great power and responsibility theme, but is stunted by the dialog, for a story set 10 years in the future they have him speaking like a kid would 10-15 years ago. That aside, it still speaks to the core of what makes him a hero for all ages. All in all, a sweet tribute to this young hero. —GC3
Next week: Spider-Man Beyond!