This is it. As our new column covering the big happenings and changes in the X-Men line continues, Inferno hits. And just from this one issue, it’s a big one. So join Comicon.com’s X-Men experts Scott Redmond and Tony Thornley as they dive into Inferno.
Coming from Jonathan Hickman, Valerio Schiti, David Curiel and Clayton Cowles, Inferno sets up the future of the X-Men line like House of X/Powers of X did two years ago. And Krakoa may not survive it.
Naturally, SPOILERS AHEAD
Tony Thornley: Scott! There was just so much here, I don’t think we can really give this an intro without getting into the meat of the issue. This issue just feels like a big deal right away.
Right off the bat we get an interesting prelude. The series opens just like House of X #1 did. A figure in a chamber that we now know is the home of the Five. Several mutants pop out of the Five’s eggs (which thanks to this week’s Wolverine we now know are called Proteus eggs). But instead of Charles Xavier standing over them dancing to Harry Belfonte’s “Jump In The Line” we see Emma Frost with a smug smile, and the revelation that at least one of two figures we see is Charles himself.
So what did you think was going on here? Was this from a recent incident that preceded this issue? Is it imaginary? Or are we seeing the future?
Scott Redmond: Definitely a whole lot presented in this issue, that’s for sure. As far as the Emma thing, I’m going to go with the thought that this is the future. The fall of Xavier and Magneto (and even Moira perhaps in some sense) seems all but certain and them being reborn into a Krakoa perhaps that has moved past them and their deceits could be the destination. I’m assuming the future because, as you mentioned, this riffs on the moment from House of X that we saw, and this, of course, is not the only return to/reference to that series and its companion that we have in this first issue.
Tony: This issue just had a ton of plot threads. Before I get into them I have to applaud Schiti and Curiel. This issue has so many call backs to House of X (interestingly not so much to Powers) that I can’t imagine that it was easy to handle on the art side. However, Curiel is able to do exactly what he did with the closing issue of HOX, and prove that he’s an equal to Marte Gracia’s color work in the series. And Schiti is doing career best work here, both in the callbacks to HOX and in the new threads we’re picking up.
And holy crap… After that cold open, we get X-Force versus Nimrod, Moira’s death in life III is replayed but different, we see Orchis discover Moira’s gates, Charles and Xavier defer to Moira as they begin to fail, the Captains of Krakoa reorganize … and then there’s that council meeting.
My hell, we could go on for hours about this issue, couldn’t we?
Scott: We certainly could. I highly agree about the gorgeous and amazing artwork being presented here as it recaptures moments and feelings from the previous event, but with it’s own flavors as well. Comic books have had a vast number of amazing artists and eras with some top tier talent, but I have to say this truly feels like a golden age when it comes to the artistic talents and evolutions and experiments we’re seeing across all of comics.
With the overall story, I do find it interesting how this works similar but in a contrast to the currently running other X-event story, The Trial of Magneto. While that story is a murder mystery that drops crumbs for you to follow and speculate about, this is more of a extended recapping and evolving of things we knew were coming done in a truly fascinating and engaging way. It just puts the facts there and doesn’t fully leave a ton of speculation room because that’s not the point of this. I mean there is a whole section that is a redone House of X Moira/Destiny encounter in Moira’s third life (with some very notable interesting alterations). Yet, it doesn’t feel repetitive or pull you out of the story. Repetition and reminding, of course, already having been a big part of the House of X/Powers of X storylines.
That’s not even getting into the whole tense ‘conversation’ between Moira and Xavier/Magneto or the whole Captains thing or the big expected but still so good cliffhanger revelation. So much stuff!
Tony: Totally. There’s a couple things that I don’t think are worth talking about much right now besides a mention, because it’s clearly just a set-up for later in the series or after. I’m looking specifically at Bishop’s new role as the Captain Commander, Orchis discovering Moira’s Paris gate, and Doug’s conversation with Warlock. All interesting plots, but I don’t think any of them are relevant to right now.
But the big stuff that’s left…
So the X-Force versus Orchis scene did two things for me. The first: Nimrod is TERRIFYING. He tore apart one of the most skilled and powerful teams they could have sent in minutes, and — as the data page revealed — they weren’t the first. And then, we seem to be inching closer and closer to the reveal of the resurrection protocols. Did anything else stick out to you?
Scott: Nimrod is truly a force to be reckoned with. The data page showcasing the failed attempts was interesting, but strangely enough I did find myself slightly disappointed with this plot point in one specific way. Essentially, the Krakoans through X-Force and other means have been off panel throwing stuff at Nimrod/Orchis while the latter apparently just continues to sit off in space not doing a ton. I think this is tied to the fact that overall Nimrod/Orchis hasn’t been as looming of a threat as we’re meant to see them, I would say possibly because of all the books doing their own thing and Hickman only having touched them here or there when he had a title.
It’s not an overall major downside, it just stood out to me a bit. Since AI is being pitched as a big threat when actually as it stands the X-folks are the ones showing up to wreck stuff while the big bad machine and company are just chilling at home (they, of course, though are the worst since they are anti-mutant and such). Just one of those threads that got a little lost in the overall Krakoan shuffle.
Tony: I think you’re right, especially when the only book that’s really done anything with the AI threat (aside from Hickman’s single Nimrod issue) in the last two and half years was the worst book of the relaunch by far. That’s a glaring problem.
The biggest meat of the issue was interesting to me — we get Moira’s flashback and the conversation with Charles and Erik. I feel like this might be the most significant sequence we’ve gotten since House of X #2. In the flashback, we get a little more Mystique, a little more Destiny, and some very interesting dialogue changes. Moira asking “How can I die?” kind of shook me. She wants out of this cycle and she’s only just entered it.
What stood out to you?
Scott: The dialogue changes definitely stood out. I’m curious if it’s just a case of Hickman getting a chance to revisit his previous work and not liking it fully, thus changes, or if it’s going to be revealed that what we saw of Moira’s lives wasn’t the full truth previously. I’m guessing more the former than latter.
Oh, yes, that conversation in No-Space. Right away I’ll just say, it for sure made me overall not like Xavier, Magneto and Moira a whole lot more. So we got the revelation that the two men spiked Moira’s tea with trackers all the way back at the end of House of X, because she became “too important” to risk any longer. And then Moira turns the anti-Destiny sentiment on full blast, demanding that they erase her from existence by wiping out her DNA and Cerebro recordings.
Overall I’m intrigued by what Moira isn’t telling them (and therefore us) because ratcheting up this striking out at Destiny feels like something more than just their previous encounter in her past life. Tied with the fact that she would not respond to Xavier or Magneto’s queries about whether she had ever tried to break bread with the machines rather than attack, since that seems to lead nowhere fast. What did you think about all of this?
Tony: I understand why Erik and Charles did what they did, but beyond that, Moira’s venom for Destiny … I get that Destiny murdered her, but beyond that, is there anything she’s not telling Charles or Erik (and thus us)? Are there encounters in her other VI lives that we don’t know about yet? Or is she just holding the multiverse’s oldest grudge?
Scott: With how sketchy this whole life of hers has been with what we know now, and the holes in her past lives still, I’m leaning towards “there is something more.” Something that Moira has planned in the long run, perhaps, that she can’t risk Destiny revealing. Though, it would be funny if it turns out she was just that petty centuries (for her) later.
Tony: Apparently Scottish women are better at holding grudges than anyone else in the universe.
Then holy shit … The closing council meeting? Where we finally get to see who’s replacing Apocalypse and Jean Grey? I realized what was about to happen about two pages beforehand and I was floored when Hickman pulled it off.
As Erik and Charles walk into the Quiet Council chambers, they’re fully expecting to initiate a vote of no confidence against Mystique. Yet Raven Darkholme is ten steps ahead of them and nominates a new council member. Kate and Nightcrawler are shocked. Emma smiles smugly. Sinister is giggling like the messy bitch he is.
Destiny is back.
And you can see it wonderfully as Curiel has the color from Charles’ face, and Schiti drapes Erik’s face in shadow. They’re just thinking “Oh $%^&.”
Holy crap, what did you think?
Scott: Sometimes the greatest reveals/cliffhangers are the ones you 100% expected to happen, but still feel giddy and excited about. It was almost certain that Destiny, in some way, would be back to play a part in this story, but seeing those pages and the slow reveal was “insert a chef’s kiss gif” worthy.
The how of it all should prove to be quite interesting, especially since we know that Mystique has been essentially planning this for what amounts to weeks or maybe months in universe (the timeline got a bit messy before and after the Gala). Seeing her get to remind them that she’s not just a spy or assassin, but one of the most dangerous mutants around is fantastic. It is funny that fandom was quite curious about the council seats that have been empty since X of Swords, only to now find out it was left that way to reach this point. Hickman’s long game is a thing of wonder.
Tony: Absolutely. I mean, we’re realistically maybe only two weeks after X of Swords, and we can see now why the line had to tread water like they did for a couple months. But this is a quantum shift for the line. I think a lot of folks expected Inferno to be a fight to bring Destiny back. Now that’s just been taken out of the equation and I don’t think anyone will be able to guess what’s coming.
Except it’s probably all about to burn down.