The Xavier Institute: Inferno Ends…For Now
by Tony Thornley
In 2009, Jonathan Hickman started writing a massive story in the pages of Fantastic Four that didn’t pay off until 2015. This massive story became known as Secret Wars, about a literal war on a patchwork planet called Battleworld. As part of the story, the ENTIRE Marvel line was cancelled and placed on hiatus. In the gap between the cancellation and relaunch, Marvel published multiple miniseries that chronicled the events taking place in different areas of Battleworld.
Many of those miniseries used the titles of famous Marvel storylines from the company’s history. In some cases, the only connection was the central character (such as Planet Hulk and Armor Wars). In others, they were sequels to the original storyline, and from that side of things came Inferno by Dennis Hopeless, Javier Garron, Chris Sotomayor, and Joe Sabino.
Inferno is a tale of Colossus. Five years before, the demons won and had taken New York City, and with it millions of souls were lost. Piotr Rasputin only cared about one of those souls – his dearest sister, Illyana. Every year, Piotr leads a team of X-Men into the possessed city to try to stop the possession, defeat the Goblyn Queen and rescue Illyana.
But this year is different. The X-Men has faced too many losses in years past. This will be the last year, and Piotr will get no support (outside a few volunteers). They teleport into the city, and things immediately go bad.
The forces of the Inferno have hatched a plan to break out of the dome and encircles the city. Piotr is an essential part of the plan, and the X-Men are cannon fodder. They bring down the dome, and unleash the demons on the world, leaving Piotr racing to stop it and save the world.
Hopeless streamlines Inferno down to its base pieces in this story. I’ve read a lot of the Secret Wars minis, and in my opinion this might be the best one. On one hand, it feels like a crucial piece of the Secret Wars landscape. Even though in the main story we really only see the Goblyn Queen show up, we get a deep connection to her, and the heroes trying to stop her.
He’s also able to tell a solid sequel story to the original Inferno. The basis of this story is a simple twist- what if the X-Men lost in the first Inferno? There’s a lot of world building beyond what we see. We can tell that the X-Men have done so much more than just fought demons, policing the city and protecting it from ANY threat.
And lastly, this is an emotionally resonant story. Hopeless gets the character of Piotr Rasputin. He understand the tragedy that fuels him, but doesn’t make him a sad sack or depressing character. Instead this is a tragically heroic figure.
Piotr isn’t the only interesting character though. Domino has a great arc (continuing Hopeless’s great work with her). Goblyn Queen is a fascinating antagonist. Her 6 year old son Cable is great comic relief. This story is just good, taking all the elements of Inferno, shaving off the warts, and giving us a worthy sequel.
Marvel has recently named Garron one of their latest “Young Gun” artists. This series is the first series that Garron made a big impact. He has a smooth style that is very expressive with a wonderful sense of design. He also has a great grasp of action, keeping it thrilling, and a little scary.
Sotomayor’s work on the color art gives the series a lot of life. It’s actually very bright and light, but doesn’t draw away from the darkness in these pages. Sabino’s work compliments this as well, and plays with keeping the series cinematic.
So here we are. Like I say in the headline, this is the end for now, but we see the effects of Inferno still pop up. Hell, just in the last year, New Mutants: Dead Souls by Matthew Rosenberg had multiple moments heavily influenced by the events of the series. Even characters from this actual mini series pop up again before too long.
So is digging into Inferno worth it? Absolutely. New Mutants is great, as is X-Men/X-Factor. The spin offs often are even better than the original stories that spawned them. But if you just want to hop in and dig into it? Be ready for a LOT of reading.
After all, Inferno never ends.