The Hellfire Gala draws to a close this week in X-Factor #10 — a complicated finale for a series that was cut short well before its time.
On an initial read, this is a bittersweet finale with a few strange plot points. At the same time, it’s much more complicated than that, including some ways that are deeply uncomfortable. It comes from Leah Williams, David Baldeon, David Messina, Lucas Werneck, Israel Silva and Joe Caramagna.
Finally, it’s X-Factor’s turn to attend the Gala. While some members of the team experience new beginnings, others have to deal with loose ends. But it all comes crashing down when the team discovers another body, one with repercussions for all of Krakoa.
This is a story of two plotlines. When the story is focusing on the Gala, it’s the same strong story we’ve seen for the past year. The character writing is sharp, the dialogue is very natural, and it’s incredibly engrossing. Sadly, however, Williams takes one of her plotlines — one that obviously would have been a big part of the story had the series continued — and stumbles badly.
Throughout the series, The Prodigy storyline has been an interesting if extremely minor subplot. It is pushed to the fore here, and it turns out that pre-X-Factor, David Allyene had been murdered by a serial killer who preyed on young, black, queer men. Now, I’m not a young, black, queer man, and the specifics of how this could have been handled better have been discussed by others who are much more qualified to speak on it than I am. Nevertheless, it’s glaring even without the full context, and makes an obvious case for sensitivity readers prior to publishing stories like this one.
The artist jam in the issue is jarring. Each of the three pencillers are skilled and do a good job with their pages, but the jarring transitions between each of them — with no rhyme or reason as to how they’re dividing up the work — took me out of the story multiple times. Silva as the unifying factor helped, but it still made for a tough read.
It’s disappointing to see such a great series end on such a low note. I know the early cancellation was a huge factor in that, but it still could have been much better than it was regardless. I hope it’s a story that helps the creators learn and grow from.
X-Factor #10 is available now from Marvel Comics.
A finale made necessary by a sudden cancellation makes for a complicated and overstuffed issue. The artist jam is jarring and the story and script fumbles a plotline that requires a lot more sensitivity.