While I won’t admit to being a professional event organizer, I have attended enough functions to notice the success or failure of the party comes down to a simple two part dance; band or dj optional. The first is the planning, preparations and provisions. This is something Emma Frost easily has a mastery over, with all her years in the Hellfire Club. But the other part, the participants and plots, well that’s something no one can anticipate. You’d think Emma would remember this as well with her time in the club. Marvel Comics and the X-Men welcome readers to an exclusive insiders experience at the 2022 Hellfire Gala. The only party where you don’t go dressed to the nines, but to the X.
X-Men Hellfire Gala # 1
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Kris Anka; Russell Dauterman; Matteo Lolli; CF Villa
Color Artists: Rain Beredo; Frank Martin; Matt Milla; Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Now I need to admit something, I’m not an Emma Frost fan. Sorry, wont’ detail it here; you want it let me know and I’ll write it. But at least for this issue, I was amazed by her performance. All the classic elements from Massachusetts to now are there, but there is a level of control and composure that I don’t often notice in Emma. Perhaps it is that she is already poised to pounce. As someone who is also currently planning a rescheduled graduation party, I can relate to the frustrations Emma Frost is feeling. She is already on edge because of the recent revelations from Charles, Erik about Moira and the creation of Krakoa.
Emma was probably okay leaving this matter for later. But while she had the best designers dressing everyone and Gameworld entertainers to perform, she did not anticipate a news article from the Daily Bugle would come out so close to the Hellfire Gala. The topic of the article, from reporter Ben Ulrich, is mutant resurrection and his source is none other than Scott Summers. Ironically, it was Jumbo Carnation’s return during last year’s Hellfire Gala that began the investigation.
Change of Plans
The artistic team that was brought together set out to stun on every level. X-Men Hellfire Gala # 1 opens with a tender moment between Scott and Jean; though it is less moment and more memory. In two full panel pages, first in their home on the moon and then in the X-Men headquarters, these two longtime X-Men deal with why it really sucks to be Scott.
Gerry Duggan spends a good portion of the issue pointing out how everyone feels about this article. And some express how they feel about the mutant who helped write the article. Emma certainly has no desire to spend a moment’s time with him during the gala. One thing the article succeeds in doing is altering the attendance plans for several key Marvel Universe characters. It also seems to set the stage for who will be involving themselves in Krakoan affairs for the next year to come. Friends becoming enemies and friends becoming friends of enemies. Party, party, party.
I am always anxious when an artist draws “someone else’s” character. I know it always sounds weird to me when I say it too, but some artists own a character look for a while and you can tell when someone else is imitating it. Thankfully there was not much of that sensation in this issue. There is the occasional shift; the moment you get the sense one artist passes the pen to another. Standount moments for me from the issue include the Captain Commander owning his role several times and Mary Jane’s once around the room while showing off her design by Moira MacTaggert.
Given the timing of the articles release, most people would probably have canceled their party; Emma Frost isn’t most people and she has too much at stake. Showcasing the success of Krakoan medicine, with Mary Jane as her guest, she intends to continue to improve mutant-human relations. Her comments to the Stepford Cuckoos about running the Hellfire Gala next year confirm she is also still on her crusade to do things right for the “children”. Later in the issue, Gerry Duggan highlights this personal agenda for Emma in a truly historic manner. I was glad that some of this mutant’s oldest “friends” were there to witness the moment.
I am not 100% certain Emma Frost will consider the night a success; maybe a step towards a larger victory. The mutant drugs don’t really compare to terraforming Mars. At least there was no murder or trial this time. Well, then again time will tell on that as well as the other developments from the night. At least two new partnerships were created, the planned 2nd Annual X-Men Team Vote winners being one. But, the X-Men Hellfire Gala # 1 just seems like more annual crossover. It’s just not like the first time, the second time around.