We end the Hellfire Gala this week with X-Factor #10, which is also the final issue of that run. Two conclusions for the price of one.
Earlier in the evening, X-Factor gets ready for the Hellfire Gala at the Boneyard. Aurora expresses nervousness about the event to Northstar (who empathizes). “None of us could have known how all of our lives would change in one night,” she says ominously, foreshadowing what’s to come.
When they arrive at the Gala, Prodigy tells the group he forgot something at the Boneyard and slips away. We follow Prodigy to a nightclub in Los Angeles, where he retrieves a lost cell phone with his name on it. It reads: For Prodigy. With love, Prodigy. The barkeep tells Prodigy he didn’t expect to see him again, “just like the rest of them.” When he confronts a wealthy film producer in his mansion, we learn the reason for this trip to LA: Prodigy was murdered by him some time ago, and he’s here to exact revenge (this was previously alluded to in X-Factor #7).
Back at the Gala, Northstar congratulates Polaris for being elected to Krakoa’s first X-Men team. After their public debut as a couple, Daken tells Aurora he knows that her prior death was a cover for the murder of an anti-mutant bigot at her hands, but that he will keep the secret for her.
Eye-Boy traces Prodigy to the LA mansion and shows him a video on the cell phone that he left to himself. Making a long story short, David was investigating a serial killer who targeted queer black men and ended up a victim himself, but not before making contingencies that would help solve the murders. With Prodigy unable to finish him off, Eye-Boy helps disable the killer with his new power of astral energy projection, and the two are then escorted back to the Gala by Daken and Aurora. Prodigy is surprised to see his (non-mutant in current canon) boyfriend Speed at the Gala, who was invited there by Eye-Boy. Their fun night is brought to a swift and tragic end when they discover a dead body belonging to none other than the Pretender herself—and Speed’s sort-of mother—Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch.
EVENT IN REVIEW
I probably should have known that last week’s sweet coda between Wanda and Erik wouldn’t end well, but in hindsight it makes perfect sense for her to be the much-hyped murder victim of this event. Wanda has been a punching bag for mutants all throughout the Krakoa era—harsh, but understandable—so her apparent death immediately upon stepping foot on the island is the logical extreme of that subplot (I personally expected Xavier to be the victim, which would have also made for some interesting aftermath, but alas). Poor Tommy for having to see his sort-of mother like that. I wonder how Wiccan is gonna find out about what happened…
While I think this cliffhanger has exciting implications for what’s to come next, I’m kind of dreading the backlash it’ll inspire within the Scarlet Witch fandom, who are known to be—and I’m putting this politely—passionate about their fave. And guess what? Marvel knows exactly what they’re doing here. They want Wanda fans to get mad about her death, because anger equals engagement, which equals publicity. Is it cheap? Maybe. But if you can’t foresee this plot ending with yet another retcon that re-establishes Wanda as a mutant who can be reborn on Krakoa, then I don’t know what to tell you. I can’t say for certain that this will happen, but I’m pretty good at seeing through Marvel’s trickery while others take the bait at face value, so I’m inclined to trust my instincts here (seriously, did everybody except me fall for that Evan Peters “twist” in WandaVision…?).
In any event, this issue ends the first Hellfire Gala with a bang, and that’s coming after a planet-sized revelation on Mars. As the final issue of Leah Williams’s X-Factor run, however, I did find it to be a little unsatisfying. Reinventing X-Factor as CSI: Krakoa was such a great hook for this title, and even if we know the team will continue to exist in the broader universe, it’s still a bummer that it won’t get the long run I feel it deserved. We know that The Trial of Magneto will likely wrap things up to some extent, which is better than nothing, but I’ll miss the vibe established by Williams and David Baldeon, who at least leaves us with some great visuals in this issue before departing.
Eye-Boy’s outfit is by far one of my favorites of the whole event. We love a transformation, so watching him go from shaggy normie to eye-studded glamazon is quite something. I also love Speed serving regal realness with his look, sort of paying homage to his mother and grandfather in a draped tunic. I don’t totally get Prodigy’s gold butterfly fantasy, but hey, it’s still cute.
As for worst-dressed, I am once again asking Steve Rogers to make an effort. Please. Step up your game next year, Cap.
That’s it for the Hellfire Gala! The party may be over, but The Trial of Magneto is sure to be one nasty little hangover for Krakoa. Until then!