What other reveals does the Hellfire Gala have in store? For a book called Planet-Size X-Men it better be pretty freaking big. Let’s see just how big in the next installment of the Hellfire Gala crossover.
We pick up with the Hellfire Gala IN SPAAAAAACE!
Okay, the Gala itself is not in the cold vacuum of space but our X-Men are. What are they doing there exactly? Well, terraforming Mars, of course.
Yeah, I’m not kidding. We see the early process of terraforming the planet as Magneto hurls an asteroid towards the planet's surface where it will be used by Vulcan to create a molten iron core. This is followed by Hope Summers helping move everything along a little more smoothly and Iceman creating an ice shelf on the planet, while simultaneously providing more fireworks for the end of the Gala.
So, why are the X-Men terraforming Mars? It's a long story and to explain it all we have to flashback to a few days before the Gala. It all started with the Arakkii. A lot of individual Arakkii citizens had been leaving the island of Arakko and causing trouble across the globe. For example, a few of them had attempted to claim sovereignty of a Japanese prefecture because they took a liking to a whiskey distillery there. Magneto goes to meet with Isca the Unbeaten in Arakko to try to correct this problem as they are mutants and what reflects upon Arakko reflects back on Krakoa. Isca sees no real problem with this as it is just how their people are. If the mutants of Arakko are to be on Earth, then they are expected to leave a mark on it. If that wasn’t enough, the next day the Hellfire Company came to Magneto with more problems. The demand for Krakoan lifesaving / extending drugs has greatly outweighed the supply, leaving the island nation with a shortage due to the loss of their Savage Land facilities (see: X-Corp #1). Fortunately, the Master of Magnetism has a cunning plan.
Magneto isn’t the only one taking meetings though as Cyclops meets with Captain America at the old X-Mansion in Westchester. Cap is there at the behest of the government who is starting to worry about Krakoa ballooning in size with another populated island appearing overnight. Cap’s not there to get every little detail, he just wants to know if it’s permanent, to which Cyclops assures him everything will be explained at the Gala.
We fast forward to the next day, where Magneto goes before the Quiet Council to explain and get approval for his intentions to move Krakoa (and Arakko) beyond the aspirational limits of one planet. We fast forward yet again to the assembly of a team that can make those intentions a reality. Iceman, Jean Grey, Hope Summers, Elixir, Quentin Quire, Proteus, Exodus, and Vulcan are all present and ready, but the team is still missing one omega level mutant. The original plan was to have Franklin Richards on the team but since he is not a mutant anymore, he is not welcome on Krakoa. The team floats the idea of bringing in Legion, but they all know that he can’t be trusted so Magneto decides to bring in the slightly less crazy Jamie Braddock. Also it’s not just the Krakoans needed for the terraforming process, and a small group of Arakkii mutants, specifically from the Great Ring (their own council), join their Krakoan counterparts in making the planet Mars more hospitable.
We pick back up with that process and the aforementioned Arakkii mutants contributing to creating life and atmosphere. Sobunar of the Depths, a mutant whose body contains an entire oceanic ecosystem, pricks his finger and releases said ecosystem into a crater. This gives Storm room to shape the climate and create weather, destroying a Mars rover in the process. Xilo, a mutant caterpillar, passes on all knowledge of Arakko’s being over to Mars while Elixir heals the planet so it can be habitable. Finally, Lactuca, a mutant with the knowledge of all things Arakko including where everything is and should go, helps Jean Grey and Exodus teleport the island, now separated from Krakoa, via inverting the External Gate.
After all that, Arakko is now located on the red planet, but we’re not done yet. Arakko creates a diplomatic center known as the Lake Hellas Diplomatic Ring where all may come to the planet to settle grievances and conflicts before they begin. It’s a sort of neutral zone for the solar system. Xilo creates a Valley of Pharaohs type monument to Apocalypse and Genesis raising the questions of where they are and are they alive?
The two final pieces of this new mutant haven are a second S.W.O.R.D. space station to protect and defend the planet and “Port Prometheus” where all who wish to come to the planet can land with plenty of parking. Both are created by the Mad King Jaime Braddock in a disgustingly funny way where he literally gives birth to the space station.
The comic more or less wraps up shortly after the terraforming process finishes and shoots over in time to where the rest of the mutants of Krakoa (post-Hellfire Gala) can cross over to Planet Arakko and gaze at the splendor of the new capital of the Solar System.
This is a mic drop of a mic drop of a mic drop of an issue for the Hellfire Gala event.
To shortly recap:
1. The X-Men and Krakoa terraformed and colonized Mars in the name of Arakko and all of mutantkind.
2. The X-Men took over any Mars colonization from the humans and both introduce and impose themselves as “in-charge” of the entire solar system as a galactic political entity.
3. They move the entire island nation of Arakko off the planet giving them the challenge of a war-torn nation living a peaceful existence.
What does this all mean for Krakoa? Does the entire planet Earth recognize their claims on Mars? Who is in-charge of Sol? This book brings up so many answers but so many more questions. This is indeed a Planet-Size issue with a much bigger reveal than anything we’ve seen in the X-Men for quite some time. .
Gerry Duggan writes a really great issue with a reveal that’s both gradual yet extremely upfront. The first couple pages reveal that the story is terraforming Mars for mutantkind but we get more and more with every page turn. It’s pretty simple but has a lot of cool moving parts, setting up the elevation of Krakoa / Arakko on not only the world stage but the galactic stage. It’s a great issue all around, and proves that Duggan has the chops to take on the main X-Men title, which I am really looking forward to. Pepe Larraz comes back to X-Men here and draws every single panel spectacularly. It is detailed and epic and just jaw-droppingly gorgeous from the Gala celebration to the actual terraforming process, to Magneto throwing a giant freaking asteroid into Mars. It’s just fantastic. *chef’s kiss*
Planet-Size X-Men lives up to its name and does a great job of making the Hellfire Gala something big and even more memorable. I’m looking forward to Duggan’s new X-Men book coming up as well as everything the rest of the X-Men titles have to offer moving forward.
Also here’s a quick recap of a couple of the tie-in books:
New Mutants #19 continues the trend of great tie-in material that focuses more on what each individual team / group of characters is doing at the Gala. Vita Ayala has been writing some really great stuff since they jumped on the book and this issue was no different. They explore the relationship between the classic New Mutants team at the Gala and give us more on the younger / Newer Mutants of the Sextant. If you’ve been wondering what’s been happening with Gabby Kinney, this is the book to pick up. Alex Lins takes over art duties for the issue and does a pretty good job, especially his take on Warlock.
X-Corps #2 is unfortunately the only book I can’t wholeheartedly recommend. There is a lot to like in the book between the art, corporate intrigue, and “the finger” being given to Fenris, but I'm just not connecting with it. I found the first issue extremely wordy and really hard to penetrate. While it's less so in issue two, I’m still just not gelling with it which is too bad because I love Tini Howard over on Excalibur. It's just not for me but I hope it finds its audience.
Verdict: 8.5 / 10 Planet-Size Reveals