Hellfire Gala Week Two: X-Men #21 Ends Jonathan Hickman’s Run In the Most Jonathan Hickman Way
Is this the end of Hickman’s time with the franchise? With Inferno coming up, it feels like it is. But that’s coming up soon after the Hellfire Gala, and since we’re only at week two of the event, it’s hard to tell if X-Men #21 will really be the last X-book he writes. After all, there are plenty of X-titles they can revive or create. What about that Moira MacTaggart series? How about something focusing on the Quiet Council? Where’s Apocalypse? Or, there was this really small X-Men title that ran for a few years: UNCANNY X-MEN! We haven’t had an Uncanny X-Men book for two years now. So, is this it?
Well, if the way-too-early released solicitation for the hardcover for Inferno, this is just the start of Hickman’s next X-Men saga. But for now, back to Hellfire Gala week two, and X-Men #21
All Good Comics…Lead to Other Good Comics
They aren’t going to wear those outfits in the field, right? Although Cyclops probably could. (Image: X-Men #21, Marvel Comics)
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Sara Pichelli, Nick Dragotta, Russell Dauterman, and Lucas Werneck
Colorists: Nolan Woodard, Frank Martin, Frank Martin, and Matt Wilson
For his final issue of X-Men, tying into Hellfire Gala week two, Jonathan Hickman did quite a lot to setup the Gerry Duggan’s upcoming series This includes introducing the new X-Men team. Oddly enough, there hasn’t been an X-Men team during the Age of Krakoa. And no one really noticed either. Sure, there are teams, but they all have specific directives. X-Force handles the security and protection of Krakoa. X-Factor is once again an investigation team, but instead of private, they’re more like the FBI. The Hellions are a black ops team. Excalibur deals with all the magical threats, which, as we saw in Excalibur #21, is about to get much worse. And the Marauders handle trade, the black market, and refugee assistance. But there wasn’t an X-Men team. In fact, Professor X proclaimed the team done since Krakoa formed.
However, after X of Swords, Cyclops and Jean saw the need for mutant superheroes. To make it work for Krakoan society, they changed one thing: they left the members (aside from them) up to the people – er – mutants. So, the centerpiece of Hickman’s Hellfire Gala week two contribution centers on the new team. But that’s not all he’s up to. In fact, there’s one very Hickman-style moment.
Hellfire Gala Week Two Introduces a New X-Men Team – With a Few Surprising Members
Patton Oswalt and his wife Meredith join the X-Men! …for the evening. (Image: X-Men #21, Marvel Comics)
Of course, Marvel revealed the Reign of X X-Men team several weeks ago, and we already dove into the team. But there are three members worth talking about a little more, especially for how one of them reacts to the announcement. But first, the way the vote goes down is the most Krakoan thing yet. Jean Grey telepathically links every mutant in the world, and in just moments, they campaign, discuss it with their friends and cast their votes. They even let some humans witness the moment, such as Doctor Strange, who calls the process “elegant.” Actually, let’s let him explain it:
Ohhh, I see. Okay. I’m still slightly confused but okay. (Image: X-Men #21, Marvel Comics)
Now, let’s take a look at the three best/most surprising reactions.
Despite Krakoans choosing him for the X-Men, Sunfire Looks Completely Bored in Hellfire Gala Week Two
He’s just doing this as a favor…to the world. (Image: X-Men #21, Marvel Comics)
Sunfire has always had a strong confidence, and it shows here. Even with a mask on, he exudes coolness. He’s not jumping up and down, being hugged, or clapped at. In fact, it looks like he purposely snuck away to the back of the room just to lean against that wall and look like “yeah, this doesn’t surprise me at all.”
However, Sunfire’s inclusion is surprising for us as readers. Marvel hasn’t featured him in many stories over the past decade. The last time he really had prominence was during Rick Remender’s Uncanny Avengers. He’s a great, fan-loved character, but so are many others. It is great to see an Asian character featured on the team, but so is Surge, Psylocke, Jubilee, Silver Samurai, Armor, Karma, and more. Maybe what’s surprising is that he’s the only Asian team member. Even for Krakoans, Sunfire is a surprising choice. Of the list above, Silver Samurai would seem more popular given his role in the crucible.
But it’s still awesome to see him on the team. He’s a great character and deserves more prominence.
Synch Rises Out of Obscurity to Join the New Team
Wait a minute! Skin was there and he wasn’t voted into the X-Men? I think they need a recount. (Image: X-Men #21, Marvel Comics)
It’s always wonderful to see a hardly-used character given a higher profile. A couple of months ago, most readers barely knew who Synch was. He appeared early in Hickman’s run as one of the three mutants who entered the Vault. But through X-Men #19 and #20, Hickman turned him into a superstar character. By the time he escapes the vault to tell Professor X about the dangers approaching, everyone loved him. Including, it seems, the rest of Krakoa. His exploits must have been known around the island too, as we see in Hellfire Gala week two.
But it’s more than that. He makes perfect sense for this team. His ability, synching up with other mutants’ abilities and even able to mix them if only temporarily, is a massive power when you have teammates like Polaris, Rogue, Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Sunfire. With Sunfire, the X-Men are bringing back a legendary character. However, with Synch, they are making one. Also, it doesn’t hurt that he’s in love with our next surprising member. Or, not so much surprising as they were surprised.
Wolverine – X-23 – Didn’t Think She Would Be Chosen for the X-Men During the Hellfire Gala
Hero to mutants. Sadist to shellfish. (Image: X-Men #21, Marvel Comics)
The look on Laura’s face when Jean calls her name is wonderful. Have you ever applied for a job you know you aren’t qualified for, but then get an offer? That just happened to Wolverine. Now, for publishing and sales, the team had to have a Wolverine, but Marvel’s been careful in recent years not to overexpose any characters. Wolverine (Logan) is currently in his own book and X-Force. And readers love X23. That doesn’t hurt either.
It will be fun to see her dynamic on the team. She’s a very skilled fighter, but she is also young and has a lot of trauma. All of them do. But as the youngest member on the team, she couldn’t have better mentors. Trouble getting close to others? Talk to Rogue. Need to process PTSD from when she was a violent, killing machine? Jean Grey killed a planet when she was Dark Phoenix, go to her. The pressure of having to be an icon for your people? Cyclops has had to be that since he was 16. Daddy issues with your father, who you are actually a clone of but not quite? Polaris’s father is Magneto – she has all the daddy issues.
And, honestly, I’m rooting for Wolverine and Synch. Synch remembers their 1000-year relationship in the Vault, but Wolverine doesn’t. That makes a very interesting romantic arc.
The One Kind of Member Missing from the Hellfire Week Two X-Men Announcement
Why couldn’t the Mad King of Avalon join the X-Men? (Image: X-Men #21, Marvel Comics)
Of the team, there’s just one problem…no villains. An important part of Krakoan society is that former mutant villains are now forgiven. And the rehabilitation works. So far, Pyro represents this change the most. At the beginning of Marauders, he was just on the boat and kind of accidentally joined the team. But over time, he’s become a legitimate hero, developing a close friendship (or maybe more?) with Iceman. And even Pyro recognizes how far he’s come, saying that the team is bringing out the best in him.
We needed just one villain, a classic one, looking for redemption. Silver Samurai, Mesmero, Cyber, Avalanche. And with so many villains on the island, it’s odd that we didn’t see one join the team in Hellfire Gala week two. But the team is still a good selection, and it will be fun to see what Gerry Duggan does with them.
Jonathan Hickman’s Hellfire Gala Week Two X-Men Ending is Perfectly Hickman
Something awesome is about to happen…next week. (Image: X-Men #21, Marvel Comics)
Hickman’s known for big, weird moments. Some of his ideas are so esoteric, they needed data pages to explain them – and now, those data pages are an X-Franchise tradition. But he always starts with just a hint of what’s to come. A small image that makes you go “what exactly am I looking at?” Something that feels ominous even if the good guys are doing whatever it is he has them doing. Above, Emma Frost is starting the telepathic fireworks display. Behind her we see a red orb, either the sun or mars. As we zoom in, we see something odd. But it’s the last panel that has that Hickman touch:
That’s not…no, it can’t be…I mean…they wouldn’t…(Image: X-Men #21, Marvel Comics)
What? Who are they? Why are they floating on rocks? Where exactly are they coming from?
We’ll have to wait for Hellfire Gala Week Three, Planet-Sized X-Men #1 to find out.
Until then, like Kevin Feige, Patton Oswalt, and the many other celebrities who are at the Gala, let’s just sit back and let it unfold. Save our tinfoil hats for our Loki podcasts. At least we know it isn’t Mephisto…or is it???
Seriously though, Kevin Feige is there. The producer famous for producing the Marvel Studios movies is in the Marvel Universe. So, in the Marvel Universe, is there an awesome DC Comics Studios he runs?
Me? Well, I’m the lost child of Sophia Loren and Gimli Son of Gloin…(image: X-Men #21
(Featured Image: X-Men #21, Marvel Comics)
Roman Colombo finished his MFA in 2010 and now teaches writing and graphic novel literature at various Philadelphia colleges. His first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, was published in 2014. He's currently working on his next novel and hoping to find an agent soon.