A Review By Jesse Baker
Like a bad penny, the Hellfire Gala returns for a second year. Thankfully it’s scaled down to a single one shot and an upcoming issue of Amazing Spider-Man.
With the “Free Comic Book Day: Judgement Day” special showing Moira was planning evil things, “wearing” Mary Jane Watson-Parker for the purpose of infiltrating Krakoa for evil purposes, a lot of people were terrified that Marvel was planning something horrific for Spider-Man’s bride. Mary Jane spends most of the special being remote controlled by Moria using a mind control collar to control her like a puppet. But thanks to the quick thinking of Mary Jane and Cypher, Spider-Man and Wolverine find out Mary Jane’s being controlled and follow her into a portal (with X-Men villain turn ally Scalphunter in pursuit alongside them). Sadly, we’ll have to wait several months until Amazing Spider-Man #9 to find out what happens next, though Moira reappears at the end of the story with bloody hands having escaped capture. Who’s blood is never stated. But given the randomness of Scalphunter being thrown in with Spider-Man and Wolverine, best case scenario is that Scalphunter will be killed in the ensuing fight.
Moira doesn’t do much at the formal event, outside a requisite villain moment where she tells Proteus (her reality warping son who is now a member of “The Five”, who resurrect dead mutants) she never loved him and that his birth was manipulated/that he wasn’t product of rape like he was led to believe all of his life. Again, this goes towards why Hickman’s retconning of Moira was huge fucking mistake and that key story lines/motives (Proteus being born a murderous monster due to the nature of his conception) are now null and void because of the retcon.
But while Moira’s using Mary Jane as a meat puppet, Doctor Stasis (having been outed to being a Mr. Sinister clone, but with a club on his forehead and not a diamond in a recent issue of X-Men) plants a bunch of bombs (or what looks like bombs) inside of Krakoa for unknown purposes. Given how slow the main plot lines move in Krakoa era X-Men, who knows when we’ll get this plot point followed up on.
As it stands, we see via text piece, that ORCHIS is moving to have any convictions for murder by humans against mutants voided due to the reveal that mutants are now immortal. The X-Men are super pissed that Scott and Synch effectively let the cat out of the bag about mutant resurrection, with Forge and Emma being quite nasty to Scott Summers over it. But when Emma finds out that Xavier and Magneto purposely erased the ability/knowledge of making technology to cloak a mutant’s power from Reed Richards’ mind and then taunted him with the fact that they do it immediately afterwards? Emma makes peace with Scott and catches him up to speed on Xavier’s evil deeds since the Hickman series began. The mindrape of Mr. Fantastic, Moira being an evil mutant, and the reveal that Xavier, Magneto, and Moira allowing everything evil that has happened to mutants to happen are revealed to Scott. Needless to say, Scott’s a bit pissed and points out what a lot of critics have said about the Krakoa era; that Xavier’s gone evil and turned the X-Men into the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
The issue ends with a roster shuffle for Gerry Duggan’s X-Men, with Rogue, Polaris, X-23, and Sunfire being shuffled off the team and replaced with Havok, Iceman, Forge, and Firestar. Duggan does acknowledge that Firestar, like Scarlet Witch (who makes a cameo overseeing the selection process), is not a fan of the fascist faux liberal mutant community and their bullshit. And she’s ESPECIALLY not a fan of Emma Frost or the rest of the mutants on Krakoa; who make it clear to the hero that they see her as a race traitor for working for the Avengers and New Warriors. Luckily, we get a scene with Tony Stark telling Firestar she still has the Avengers help if she happens to stumble upon Xavier and Emma doing something evil and to call her the second she stumbles upon something that requires the Avengers to kick evil mutant ass. But while Tony is right to let Firestar know she has the Avengers watching her back, we see Tony try (and fail) to form an alliance with Feilong, the Chinese millionaire who managed to get ORCHIS one of Mars’ moon under their control so they can monitor mutant activity on Mars.
As it stands, X-Men: Hellfire Club Gala is a much better read than last year’s Planet Sized X-Men and line wide “event”. Moving the Gala into one book means less filler and more concentration of plot points. This includes the cliffhanger, as Moira reveals the names of “The Five” to the Eternals, so they’ll know which mutants to target when they launch their war on Krakoa to wipe out mutantkind. But leaving fans dangling for a couple of months to find out how Mary Jane’s abduction and body hijacking resolves itself, is a bit of a cruel twist for fans.