It’s all built up to this: the Fall of X begins, as we look at both X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023 #1 and Invincible Iron Man #8 in two SPOILER-LITE reviews. What happens to push the mutants back into a world that hates and fears them? And how does Tony Stark play into all of this? Find out below! And if you’re looking to go in blind, jump on down to the Rapid Rundown for a spoiler-free review of Ultimate Invasion #2!

What did you think of the new Marvel Comics releases? We’re waiting to hear from you! Give us a shout-out, right here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat and let us know what you’re thinking.

X-Men Hellfire Gala #1

X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1

Writer: Gerry Duggan, Jonathan Hickman (G.O.D.S. interlude)
Artists: Adam Kubert, Luciano Vecchio, Valerio Schiti, Russell Dauterman, Javier Pina, R.B. Silva, Joshua Cassara, Kris Anka, Matteo Lolli, and Pepe Larraz
Colorists: Rain Beredo, Marte Gracia, Ceci De La Cruz, Matthew Wilson, and Erick Arciniega
Letterer: Visual Calligraphy
Designer: Tom Mueller w/Jay Bowen
Cover Artist: Phil Noto

The Fall of X kicks off with the resurrection of Ms. Marvel and the revelation of her mutant identity (which makes the recent memorial issue moot) and things only gets crazier from there. I want to point out up top that, for those wondering how Kamala was able to be a mutant during the time when Terrigen Mists were deadly to mutants (and are mid-comment)…. they fix that here.

The Hellfire Gala itself starts off pretty positive, and we get to spend a lot of time with Kamala as she learns about her mutant heritage and comes to term with who she is. It’s great to see her handled in this way and with her own sense of agency, after everything that’s happened to her over the last few months.

She’s back!

There’s a single page teaser for G.O.D.S. by Jonathan Hickman, Duggan, and Valerio Schiti planted at the beginnning that moreso distracts that sets anything concrete up. It’s nice to see Hickman back, albeit for a single page, but not much happens that warrants it’s inclusion in the issue.

After the Avengers leave toward the top of the 80 page issue (in response to the attack on Washington D.C. shown in the Free Comic Book Day prelude), the new team of X-Men is elected and unveiled… when Nimrod immediately attacks, sending everything into overdrive and kicking the issue into high gear. The pace of the issue increases exponentially, and so much happens in rapid succession, that it’s almost hard to keep track of everything that’s gone on so far.

Another inhuman on the island 👀

I don’t want to spoil exactly what happens for those who want to go into this (relatively) fresh, but this issue is a disaster on all fronts, and shifts everything on its head for mutantkind going forward. There’s an incredible level of violence (sometimes rather graphic!), and a lot of pretty ugly moments, especially at the climax of the book, which features a twist I don’t think anyone saw coming. The issue makes you feel like there’s hope almost all the way thru, but the ending leaves me questioning where we can go from here.

The art throughtout the entire issue is fantastic, and each artist does a phenomenal job of capturing the scenes they’re tasked with depicting. It’s such a dour issue, but the artists, colorists, and letterers do a great job of keeping things bright at the same time. Luciano Vecchio tackles much of the first part of this issue, and has both some of the happiest pages and one of the most horrific in the entire issue. 

It gets sooooo much worse than this

Other talented artists from throughout the last few years come back to contribute pages, including Russell Dauterman with his third unveiling of the new X-Men roster, and Matteo Lolli, who provides a great callback to early Marauders shenanigans. R.B. Silva and Pepe Larraz also return to contribute to the era they helped kick off, and it’s crazy to think about all of this beginning four quick years ago. 

All in all, although this is another Mutant Massacre, this doesn’t feel like an ending to the Krakoan era in the slightest. I’ve seen so much chatter online about how disappointing it is that we’re done with Krakoa and this story engine, but nothing in this speaks to any of that ending to me. Yes, the Krakoans have been brought to their knees and I’m not sure how they can come back from any of this, but there is so much potential here to keep pushing this story forward. There are a lot of questions that leave me wondering what’s going to happen with any of this moving forward, (some that I honestly wish they had put in this issue), but it looks like we’re in it for the long haul.

Verdict: BUY. If you buy one X-Men comic this year, this should be it.

Invincible Iron Man #8

Invincible Iron Man #8

Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Colorist: Bryan Valenza
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Kael Ngu

Now, this is a bit of an odd duck, acting as an epilogue to the above events of the Hellfire Gala, while also pushing forward the developments of the already-in-progress story. Luckily, Gerry Duggan is the steward on both titles and keeps things feeling consistent.  

This picks up a bit before the end of the gala, catching us up with the events of last month’s issue, where Tony and Rhodey completely failed to raid Feilong and his new Stark Sentinels, with Rhodey ending up imprisoned and Tony stuck with nowhere to go. Duggan has done a good job integrating Feilong and mutant-hating motives into this book, while also celebrating the history of Iron Man in his 60th year. The story has some similar beats to the original Armor Wars, and it’s been interesting follow the title as it works to honor the past and push the characters forward. 

Buddy is not in a good spot right now

Juan Frigeri and Bryan Valenza are a great pairing, tackling some gorgeous fight scenes throughout the issue, all while keeping the issue dour and moody, in line with the events of the gala issue prior to this. It’s been a bit since we’ve seen Emma Frost fight, so it was cool to see her throw hands (and in a stylish gala fit to boot!). Frigeri makes Tony’s face look wonderfully destroyed after fighting, in a style reminiscent of JRJR when he’s put Spidey thru his paces.

In terms of plot, there really isn’t a lot to this. Tony faces off against the Stark Sentinels with the help of Emma Frost, who signs an unknown deal with the Kingpin, before leaping into the fight herself. It’s already been established that Emma and Tony have gotten friendlier lately, and this issue continues to lay that groundwork going forward, including some strong Hellfire ties and teases for Tony.

Hoo boy…

As the story progresses, there’re a bit more plotting shenanigans, as we’re meant to know that the events of the FCBD issue and the Gala happen concurrently to this one. It’s nitpicky, but the jumping around between the three comics can make the structure of this feel a bit jarring toward the top. 

Verdict: Strong Browse. This is a solid issue that I enjoyed, but it’s not absolutely essential to seeing what happens next. Though, with more context from the next couple of issues, it stands to reason that this might become more impactful that I realize now.

Rapid Rundown!

Ultimate Invasion #2
  • Ultimate Invasion #2
    • Jonathan Hickman is in his bag, that long-form, 3-D chess, dig-in, and hold on bag, and I don’t know how he’s going to squeeze this into 4 issues. Mr. Fantastic’s evil doppelganger from the Ultimate universe, the Maker, has taken over an alternate Earth, using time travel to prune away the heroes that would stand in his way, to create something “better.” This twisted manicured world is rendered in exquisite detail by Bryan Hitch and Andrew Currie, and if Hickman is in his bag these two are in the pocket bringing the heat with the final battle of this issue. Ultimate Invasion could be another Marvel money-grabbing stunt but this story has weight, and I’m all in on wanting to see the end result. —GC3

Next Week: X-Men #25, Scarlet Witch #8 and What If…? Dark: Venom #1!


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