Inferno #1 Review: The X-Men Versus Hell


Inferno #1
Writer: Hopeless, Dennis
Artist: Garron, Javi
Cover Artist: Garron, Javi

It has been years since I followed any of Marvel’s crossover events. Plots had become too convoluted for my tastes, and the cost of following mediocre stories that in a lot of cases went hand in hand with mediocre art was just too much. So I stopped. Over the years, I would listen to my friends or the comic shop owner talk about this or that crossover and I would roll my eyes. “Suckers!” I thought. And when chatter started up months ago regarding Marvel’s newest crossover event, Secret Wars, I let it flow over me, confident this was just another poorly devised cash grab by the corporate types at Marvel.

I could not have been more wrong.

Magic (and Magik!) still exists in the X-universe.

Given, I have not read all of the comics Marvel has released as part of this thing. For one, pricing makes solitary collecting prohibitive for me (at $3.99 a pop, we are already approaching the $100 mark for titles already released, let alone yet to come). Another reason is that I am fortunate to hear the reviews of some of the not-so-great titles that have been released. I am staying away from those. Yet despite the obstacles I faced in getting close to the crossovers, Marvel, amazingly, made those obstacles fall one by one. I do not have to follow all the titles to get complete stories. Much like their approach to their cinematic universe, they have created titles to fill different niches. Each title, so far as I can tell, has a unique tone and presentation compared to the others. And it feels fresh.

Now having said that, I would be a liar if I did not say I had some trepidation as I dove into Inferno #1. I was there when the original crossover came out, a pimply teenager following the exploits of his beloved X-Men. The original crossover was not terribly good though. The stories and art were uneven, the focus of the plot blurry and unwieldy. It even centered on a clone. Regardless, I have fond memories of that summer and following all the titles involved with that crossover. Walt Simonson was doing some of his best work on X-Factor, and the creative team behind X-Men was one of the best in the title’s history. So when I included Inferno #1 in my pull list this week, it may have been out of a sense of nostalgia more than anything else. I was curious as to whether this particular brand of magic had an expiration date. Happily, I have found that it appears that it does not. Magic (and Magik!) still exists in the X-universe.

From the first page, it was clear that the team responsible for this new iteration of Inferno understood the formula for a successful story: action, action and more action. Beautifully rendered by Javier Garron, the action sequences buzzed with energy. Mr. Garron put a lot of time and effort into this project, it would seem, and I for one appreciate the heck out of him for doing so. And the writer, Dennis Hopeless, has created what might be the best depiction of Colossus we have ever seen. Not only that, I am comfortable in saying Mr. Hopeless has put together one of the better world-building efforts we have seen in the Marvel universe in quite awhile.

Instead of the 25 years or so that have passed in the real world since the original Inferno event (yikes, I feel old!), the 2015 version picks up four years after demons invaded New York City. Unlike the source material, however, our heroes failed in defeating the demons, and Manhattan has now become a quarantined and isolated island, infested by demons, encapsulated by a magical dome. X-Men watch the island to make sure no one enters or leaves. We see all of this through the eyes of Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin, a.k.a. Colossus. When his sister, Illyana, was lost to the forces of darkness, Piotr chose not to give up on her, once a year leading a team of X-Men into Manhattan, attempting to find and free Illyana. Every year, he fails. Now in the present, we get to see his most current attempt unfold, and boy, is it fun.

I won’t unload any spoilers, but it is safe to say the raid does not go exactly as planned. Colossus and his team — Domino, Boom Boom (Boom Boom!) and Nightcrawler — do, however, make it further than any of the previous raids. Whether that will be far enough remains to be seen, but if this issue is any indicator of how the miniseries will play out, I am as excited as a teenage comic fan at the comic shop to find out what happens next.

From the publisher:

"Spinning out of the universe-shattering events of Secret Wars comes a new twist on the X-Men classic that’s a whole hell of a lot hotter than you remember. 5 years ago a band of demons rose up out of the fiery depths and turned Manhattan into Hell on Earth. The X-Men fought to vanquish the demon horde and… The X-Men failed. Welcome back to the Inferno. On this the fifth anniversary of Manhattan’s fall, Piotr Rasputin is leading a small band of mutants back into the Inferno. Colossus doesn’t know what they’ll find on the other side of those flames but he knows for certain… They’re not coming back without his sister."

Next: More Secret Wars Reviews: Planet Hulk #1

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