X-Men: Hellfire Gala -- The Red Carpet Edition HC
I am nothing if not consistent when it comes to putting big “X-Men” events here. That said, the “Hellfire Gala” is a bit different from the likes of “X of Swords.” Where that storyline sprawled through multiple titles and one-shots, the spine of this one is the one-shot “Planet-Sized X-Men” with all of the satellite titles showing the Gala from their own perspective. So if you really wanted to see how the cast of “Hellions” was going to raise some hell during the Gala, then you’d just have to read issue #12 of their series.
Another thing that’s different about this event is how it’s being collected. The “Red Carpet Edition” in the title of this hardcover isn’t for show as it collects “Planet-Sized” and ALL of the relevant tie-in issues. This is opposed to the “Hellfire Gala” paperback which is arriving at the same time and collecting just the main issue, “Marauders” #21, “X-Men” #21, and “S.W.O.R.D.” #6. Interestingly, material from “Classic X-Men” #7 is also noted to be collected here, but isn’t mentioned in the “Red Carpet Edition.” A little extra for this collection or a solicitation mistake? My money is on the latter, but this event, which marks the changing of the guard from Jonathan Hickman to Gerry Duggan as the public face of the series should still make for some great reading.
Black Panther #1: T’Challa gets a new series with a new creative team -- Academy Award-winning writer and writer of “The Next Batman” John Ridley and artist Juann Cabal. It’s an A-list team coming in the wake of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ run, and one that I’m willing to bet will hit the ground running given Ridley’s previous experience in comics. As for the direction of this new series, Ridley and Cabal look to be starting small as T’Challa has to rescue a Wakandan secret agent. While it’s nice that the King would go so far for one of his agents, it’s implied here that he’s got a secret agenda and it may be exposed if this agent talks. Color me intrigued by this setup and the creative team.
Kang the Conqueror #1 (of 5): Kang is a character of many incarnations who exist all at once thanks to the magic of time travel. In addition to being Kang, he’s also been Rama-Tut, the Scarlet Centurion, Immortus and Scion all at different points in his life, and most of them will be attacking the “Fantastic Four” in their anniversary issue this month. The question remains, though, how did he get this way in the first place? That’s the question writers Collin Kelley and Jackson Lanzig, and artist Carlos Magno are looking to answer with this series, and they’re starting at the end. With an Old Kang meddling in the past of his younger self. Best of luck to Kelley and Lanzig for trying to un-knot the villain’s history. Though, I have to admit that I’m a bit disappointed not to see Christopher Cantwell writing this as his eccentric take on the character was a highlight of his “Doctor Doom” series.
X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #1 (of 5): If you’re seeing this and thinking, “Oh, so Hickman stopped writing ‘X-Men’ so he could do this, right?” Well, no. This is being written by “X-Factor’s” Leah Williams with art by Lucas Werneck. That’s not a bad thing as I’ve liked what Williams has done on that (sadly cancelled) title. So it’ll be interesting to see how she handles this X-event as the Master of Magnetism is put on trial -- for murder. Of a human, almost certainly. Knowing Magneto, he most likely had a very good reason for doing this, which should mean the title is set to deliver some quality drama as the mutant community debates the ethics of his actions. Unless… (and I’m spitballing here), Mystique finally figured out that he and Professor X were stringing her along about Destiny’s resurrection and finally called them out for it. At which point tempers flared, powers erupted, and the shifty shapeshifter wound up dead. To which I can only say that Magneto is simply guilty of not taking her out before things got to this point.
Warhammer 40,000: Sisters of Battle #1 (of 5): An elite squad of female warriors have arrived on the planet Sisica to put down a heretical uprising and retrieve an Inquisitorial acolyte. I imagine this is a typical Tuesday for them in the Warhammer Universe. What’s untypical is the unknown force underneath the city that erupts when they’re taking care of business. This comes to us from Torunn Gronbekk and artist Edgar Salazar, two creators I’ve heard of but have not actually seen in action. Which makes picking up this new miniseries much less of a priority after Kieron Gillen failed to sell me on the strength of the Warhammer Universe when he was the one doing the writing.
Deadpool: Black, White & Blood #1 (of 5): Given that we’ve already had “Wolverine” and “Carnage” miniseries with this subtitle, you should know what you’re getting here by now. What those two miniseries didn’t have was Jamese Stokoe, who’s writing and illustrating a story here. Even if I don’t pick up the collected edition, I’ll be sure to read the first issue of this when it hits on Marvel Unlimited since the thought of seeing what the man who gave us “Orc Stain” does to the Merc With a Mouth is too good of an idea to ignore.
Cable: Reloaded #1: This is a one-shot tying into Al Ewing’s “The Last Annihilation” event which will be running through “S.W.O.R.D.” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It also looks to re-establish Old Man Cable as the current version of the character after the ending of his younger incarnation’s solo title. As this is the version of the character I grew up with, I’m fine with that. Still, the real appeal here will be seeing what Ewing does with him as he’s a writer I’m prepared to follow just about anywhere. On that note…
Defenders #1 (of 5): Ewing and artist Javier Rodriguez tackle Marvel’s most mis-matched team. Which… is even more mis-matched than usual as stalwart members Doctor Strange and the Silver Surfer are joined by the Masked Raider, a still-Gamma-irradiated Betty Banner, and a cosmic character that I can’t identify on the cover. It’s up to them to dive through the literal underbelly of the Marvel Universe to find it’s oldest villain and preserve this iteration of it. I already sang Ewing’s praises, but Rodriguez has done some great work over the years on titles like “Daredevil” and “The History of the Marvel Universe.” Seeing what he does with the craziness the writer will likely be asking him to draw should be a treat.
X-Men by Jonathan Hickman Omnibus HC: This is an odd thing to see in these solicitations. Mainly because there’s no “vol. 1” next to the title to imply that there’s more coming. So does that mean that this is all we’ll be getting from Hickman on the main title? If so, it’s a mix of quality storytelling along with a whole lot of setup. Most of which has yet to be paid off on. As it is, this is hard to recommend to people who aren’t already onboard with Hickman’s run. Who are likely the primary audience for something like this since people like me have (or will have) already bought all the issues in other collected volumes by the time this is released.
Wolverine & the X-Men by Jason Aaron Omnibus HC: This was the rare “X-Men” series that leaned as far as it could go into the silliness of comics and still turned out all right in the end. It’s Wolverine and some of his closest friends running the new Jean Grey School and they’re trying to teach their charges about more than survival, but how to have fun as well. At least, I imagine that’s the lesson I’m meant to take away from storylines that involve Ol’ Canucklehead taking Quentin Quire along with him on a mission to cheat an intergalactic casino out of enough funds to keep the school running. Aaron wrote the whole thing and while Chris Bachalo provided some great art to kick off the series, it was really defined by Nick Bradshaw’s excellently cartoonish work that truly sold what the writer was offering here.
S.W.O.R.D. vol. 1: Haven’t I already said enough good things about Al Ewing in these solicitations? Yes, I’m very much looking forward to picking this up. Onto the next thing!
Eternals vol. 1: Only Death is Eternal: Kieron Gillen and Esad Ribic take a stab at making one of Jack Kirby’s more esoteric creations work in advance of the movie. The concept of immortal beings who have been present since the beginning of life on Earth locked in a struggle with their demonic opposites, the Deviants, is something that a lot of creators have expressed interest and admiration for over the years. However, no set of creators, not even Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr., have really been able to make them work as well as Kirby did. Now it’s Gillen and Ribic’s turn and I’m certainly up for seeing how they do based on their creative histories. If nothing else, we’ll get more of Gillen writing a certain megalomaniacal cosmic villain, which should be great fun.
Alien vol. 1: Bloodlines: Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Salvador Larroca try to convince me if it was worth taking the “Alien” license away from Dark Horse after a couple decades. I’m not expecting much since their comics explored the franchise’s concepts pretty thoroughly after all that time. To the point where they were down to turning the concept over to creators with a specific vision to tell their own stories. Johnson and Larroca don’t strike me as that kind of team, so I’m going to keep my expectations low for this one in the hope that I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade: This is “Eternals”-adjacent since the character will also be showing up in the movie. Simon Spurrier and Sergio Davilla take a stab, literally and figuratively, at reinventing a character who has pretty much just existed for the majority of his publication history. Yes, he has his struggle against the evil impulses of the Ebony Blade to define him, but if you can name a memorable storyline that he was a central part of, then you’re a better man than I. Still, after reading his “King in Black” one-shot, I already know the new spin that Spurrier has in mind for the character, and it’s a good one. Which is why it’s disappointing to see that it’s not being collected here alongside the miniseries. Oh well. It at least lets me know that my decision to check out this miniseries based on Spurrier’s involvement isn’t misplaced.