Jan 13, 2022


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When the first announcements came out about the House/Powers of X and the monumental transformation to the X-Men franchise, Head of X Jonathan Hickman made a comment that I couldn’t miss. A reference to the fact that while this would feel like a massive overhaul there would be a sense of reverence paid to past stories. If this were the case, I tweeted, would the legendary Inferno find a place in this new era?

My wait would last until the fall of 2021, though the match had been lit since the earliest days of Krakoa. Now as Inferno # 4 hits stands did Hickman’s finale as Head of X leave a light burning for Marvels mutants? Or did he go scorched earth on the island nation?

Inferno # 4 (of 4)
“To Embers”

Marvel Comics

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Valerio Schiti & Stefano Casseli
Color Artist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

Rarely do you see a remake/revisit to a story go in such a different direction yet carry a tone that works as well if not better than the original. Civil War 2, Onslaught Returns…most times the reasons for the event run parallel. Hickman kidnaps no babies during this story. Nor is there a single trip to Limbo. Although at least one member of the Quiet Council caught hell by the end of this issue.

To The City of Woe

The trail of Moira that Magneto and Xavier follow is a masterfully set trap courtesy of Mystique. Mystique has led the two mutant leaders straight into an Orchis facility, with soldiers already alerted to their presence. Hell hath no fury. This portion of the comic didn’t impress me. Considering it was these two most responsible for the mess going on it fits this is the most messy portion of this comic in both plot and art. While the colors from Curiel bought the scene to life at times the details were lost in Schiti and Casseli’s work compared to other portions of this book.

It was here the dialogue stretched long without presenting anything new. As Omega Sentinel and Nimrod approach the duo the two machines detail their endgame. It isn’t that big a surprise especially considering how most of the futures shown in Marvel comics present the mutant-mankind-machine struggle. This section seemed more about highlighting how polar opposite yet similiar in resolve (or lack of remorse) these two tandems are.

The turn of events for Moira are disappointing yet surprisingly coincidental . It actually fits with her involvement in the affairs of mutants for decades. Muir Island was once a crucial component of the Xavier organization and Moira was the head of it. Still she spent most of her time locked away. And now having been so instrumental in the creation of Krakoa she has had little contact since it’s earliest inception. A scientist who is all theory and no application.

And Once More Saw the Stars

Meanwhile, Hickman does a fantastic job bringing Destiny back to life. She stands facing the woman who’s lab she died protecting and who denied her resurrection. A woman who now threatens the creation she championed, as well as all who are a part of it. Reading Hickman’s Destiny as a long time X-Men fan I can’t help but recall her speaking during the Fall of Mutants. Her precognitive ability on full display now as it was during that event. If her conversation with the Stepford Cuckoos in Inferno # 3 didn’t impress upon you what she brings to the Quiet Council this issue will. She speaks with a wisdom and wit that is filled with certainty and authority while playing it all so coy.

Douglas Ramsey has certainly flourished most during these early days of the Krakoa era and this issue shows that. For one once viewed as either having the weakest power or being powerless that is no longer the case. His alliances, old and new, and his unique ability to interpret allowed him to show who is in control of Krakoa affairs. If Inferno is about lighting a match, then this issue proves a fire may have been lit under Cypher. Valerio Schiti and Stefano Casseli made full use of deep facial expressions and defined body language to produce Doug’s story stealing scenes. David Curiel bought just the right blend of tones to provide rich accents helping make characters and details eye catching.

And In the End

At the end of the initial Inferno the X teams parted ways though their bond had been somewhat restored. The flames that had sprung up had been used to forge a renewed union. However as Hickman departs the X-Offices I fear this Inferno has instead caused many fissures. Already at the end of this issue you can see how these new vulnerabilities are being exploited. The Queen has been plotting for some time, have these events moved the pieces on the board to her advantage. Also, Mr. Man didn’t have a role to play in the remake of this production, despite their role in the original. I wonder though if the embers have been fully extinguished in this Inferno or could we face future a root fire?

Inferno # 4 does a fabulous job bookending this chapter of Krakoa. It positions Xavier and Magneto for their next roles in the history of mutantdom. Meanwhile it portrays an interesting look at the Irene-Moira-Douglas dynamic. Despite their different powers each one had the ability to see the future in a sense. Moira and a research based approach. Irene and her ability operating as a telescopic lens looking at the timeline. Meanwhile, Douglas proved that being able to decipher, to read between the lines may be the only hope he and his fellow mutants have left.

With unpredictable factions and unions among mutant leaders forming constantly, new threats (and probably a few old ones we haven’t seen again, yet!) the safety that seemed certain on Krakoa is gone. The mutants only hope may rest on whether Douglas Ramsey can repeat what Professor Xavier asked of him when he first arrived on Krakoa. Can he figure this one out?

Score: 9.5

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