Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

X-Men Inferno Volume 2 Review


It’s been a long time since I reviewed the first Inferno comic, but it’s finally time to wrap up the saga. It definitely feels like one of the grandest X-Men story arcs in scope even if it never seems to be brought up nowadays. Pretty much all of the big players are here and there’s definitely a lot of action. You probably will wonder where the Avengers and FF are at times, but they are referenced and I believe they were on a mission somewhere at the time. It’s a pretty enjoyable story arc, some parts can get a little dark and others not as exciting, but on the whole it’s definitely an intense arc.

There are a lot of plots going on at once here. For the main plot, the Goblin Queen has decided to embrace her dark powers and take control of the planet. To that end she has teamed up with demons to transform the entire city. Some of them have plans of their own as well though. Cyclops, Jean Grey, and the rest of the X Factor head out to stop her, but their team isn’t as united as usual. Cyclops blames himself for the Goblin Queen’s transformation since he did rebound after marrying her pretty quick.

Another plot is that the X-Men are doing battle against an anti mutant faction and in the process they are becoming demons as well. As they lose more and more of their minds they start to barely even resemble heroes anymore. This leads them to start attacking all of the sides. Then you’ve got the Power Pack who are being forced to deal with the fact that their parents now know who they are thanks to the events with the Orphan Maker from volume 1. The parents are having a real hard time coping.

Then the New Mutants are also flying around trying to save Magik. Magik took control of Limbo but now the villains are starting to wrestle control back from her. Magik can destroy them, but doing so will eliminate the last of her light so she has a tough choice to make. Meanwhile Colossus is also trying to find her, but going from world to world is tricky and the villains are content to mock rather than help him. Finally, Sinister is also in the mix and naturally he also wants to mess things up for the heroes.

Those are just the main plots and there are even more subplots running around. I imagine that this was definitely the ultimate X faction arc back in the day. Pretty much every X group was here and I forgot to mention that this even includes Excalibur. If the heroes were all in one place this would probably be an easy win for them, but naturally the demons won’t let that be an option. Even as this trade ends there are already a lot of plotlines set up for the next arc.

I think one of the best aspects of this saga is the subtle craziness of the situation. In the background you’ll see the animated objects making a lot of jokes at the humans as they crush them. For example one mail box reminds one guy that he should have used a stamp before eating him. There are a lot of fatalities here as by the time the heroes arrive the humans are long gone or no longer human. The villainous appliances all have a pretty good sense of humor though. It’s definitely pretty grim humor, but it works well.

As for the characters, this is definitely gonna be a rough showing for Havok fans. Regardless of all his justifications, he seems to be going for the Goblin Queen to one up Cyclops. He had no problem with cheating with her even while she was with Cyclops so you doubt his motivations from the start. I usually like Havok, but definitely not in this comic.

Another character who looks really bad here is Rachel Summers. Keep in mind that during this saga she is a host of the Phoenix Force and yet she can’t win a single fight here. There’s gotta be some reason why her Phoenix Form was so weak, but I definitely would have liked that to have been elaborated here. She gets mind controlled and one shotted early on and as such has nothing to do for the whole volume. I couldn’t believe it when she was taken out so easy.

Cyclops naturally gets a big role here as well. It’s not his best appearance, but he is doing his best to handle the situation. It’s just gotten past the point of merely being “personal” since his kid is being hostage and his ex-wife is trying to murder everyone. Cyclops did have a pretty fishy set of decisions that led to this moment like ditching his wife and getting back with Jean, but that’s all events that happened before this volume. In this one he is trying to pick up the pieces, but it’s been awfully difficult. So I wouldn’t say that he looked bad per say, but I’ll be glad for him to have this drama past the bend.

Ice Man and Psylocke don’t do a whole lot in comparison to the other characters, but they are around for the full saga. They look really good as they focus on an objective and support the team the whole time. Ice Man’s powers are definitely at the point in the series where they are steadily becoming a top tier threat. Psylocke still seems to be quite a bit weaker than the other main telepaths, but at the same time she does contribute. I don’t think she’ll ever be seen as one of the strongest telepaths, but as long as she is strong enough to help out that’s good enough.

The Goblin Queen naturally gets a really big role here as well. Her emotions are all over the place as she constantly switches between acting as the victim and embracing her role as the evil empress. I can’t really say that she’s my kind of villain, but her motivations for revenge are definitely pretty reasonable considering what a bad hand she’s been dealt. She has to live with the fact that everyone considers her to be a fake and she’s being manipulated by quite a few parties. At times it can be a bit iffy to see her being led around so much though. She’s a villain who was thrown into the role and as such isn’t prepared for it. You kind of want her to have a happy ending even though from the start you don’t really think this will be possible. She simply went too far down the rabbit hole into darkness.

We get cameos from some characters like Magneto, but sadly he doesn’t get to do much. It was nice to see him, but there was almost no point to be honest. I’m sure his scene probably continued in a spinoff though. The Power Pack’s plot is probably the most annoying in some ways as the parents just do a terrible job of handling the situation. The plot was going for realism, but I dare say that their reactions were so poor that it wasn’t realistic at that point. They basically fell into depression instantly which was a bit iffy. Surely they could find some silver lining to the kids being superheroes right?

As for the X-Men basically turning into demons, it was unfortunate that their will power was not all that good. Most of them fell into the evil instincts very quickly and so the X-Factor definitely ended up doing a much better job. One thing the X-Men comics like doing a lot that I could definitely do without is all the “Surprise!” kisses that occur. The villains seem to love doing that to the heroes which is definitely a dicey power move. There are way better ways to make the villains a threat than by doing that. There aren’t any quality romances to be found here, that’s for sure. Throw in the Cyclops drama and you’ve got a real complicated situation for the heroes.

I would have liked to have seen more of Magik’s plot since hers was probably the most interesting. Limbo seems to have quite a lot of power struggles over there and with her abilities continuing to grow it would be interesting to see how she fares against the bigger X-Men villains. I’m thinking that’s why they always keep her out of Earth. Even the Sinister threat probably would have been a whole lot smaller if she was around since one or two hits would probably take him down for the count.

The art is definitely real solid. It’s pretty consistent across the various titles. The character designs are definitely on point although of course a lot of them look pretty evil most of the time since they slowly start to lose their sanity. The battle scenes are definitely really good and it’s definitely an easy page turner. The pages are never too busy where you have to slow down. This trade also brings a lot of issues so it’s definitely a comic where you get your money’s worth.

Overall, There’s a lot happening in Inferno. It’s definitely very dramatic and the characters get a lot of development here. It’s not quite my favorite X-Men arc, but on the whole it was definitely pretty solid. I could definitely roll with seeing the town go crazy a little longer. I do think the epilogue parts are a bit hard to swallow though as there were too many witnesses for this to be swept under the rug. I mean, the humans in these comics usually aren’t too smart, but I dare say that this is almost pushing it a bit. It’s easy to see why Earth would crumble without the superheroes in these things. If you haven’t read Inferno volume 1 yet then you’ll probably want to do that before jumping into volume 2. It’ll definitely flow a lot better for you that way.

Overall 7/10

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Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

X-Men Inferno Volume 1 Review

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Time for a fairly large comic collection. This bundle brings together a lot of the Inferno arc related comics, but ultimately ends up being more of a prelude than anything else. Most of the X-Men don’t even appear for very long or get any real fights. This one focuses on the New Mutants and the Power Pack. Unfortunately they cannot hold their own this time which makes for a rather lackluster collection. It has its good moments, but ultimately never gets all that exciting.

Where to even start with this plot. It’s a huge collection so a lot happens…and yet there aren’t a lot of stories. It’s all fairly connected in one way or another. The basic premise is that a demonic invasion is approaching. The demons from Limbo want to take over Earth once and for all. Fear feeds them and with all of the fearful humans running around, it makes the army very potent. To ensure that the invasion goes well, they also lure Magik and her New Warriors back to Limbo. We can call this Plot A. In Plot B, the Power Pack are dealing with the effects of the Demons in the human world. It’s tough because they also have to evade Nanny, a robot who kidnaps kids. The villain actually comes in handy and saved some of the kids at one point, but it’s only a temporary reprieve. The X-Men get in on the investigation, but then they get distracted by the Morlock troubles and a bunch of other random circumstances. In Plot C, Sinister is making a move and things are all seemingly going according to plan for him. His Jean Grey clone is starting to head to the dark side and it is revealed in a plot twist that she is actually commanding all of the Demons. It’s all been a part of her plan from the start to get revenge on Cyclops for ditching her. (A truly out of character moment that still boggles my mind)

There are a lot of other things happening in the meantime, like the government being shady again, but you get the gist of it. Most of the horror moments are in the human world, but you can probably imagine that Magik’s plot deals with this as well. It was interesting to see a continuation of her story because it wasn’t all that long ago that I read her original saga. It was very dark, but also interesting. As a small child, she fell into Limbo and so the X-Men attempted a rescue mission. It didn’t go well and they all died. Magik was forced to learn Dark Magic and then she escaped to a parallel universe where the X-Men once again tried to save her. They succeeded…except that she fell back in. At least Magik became Queen and joined up with the X-Men again, but she left Limbo in a state of chaos with her old enemy S’ym in charge. Well, this comic shows how he’s controlled the place with an iron grip and has turned the tables on Magik. She is no longer strong enough to beat him and if the X-Men were powerless last time, you can imagine how outclassed the New Mutants are. They are completely out of their depth here. It’s definitely the most interesting part of the comic.

Lets launch right into why this comic was not a success. The big problem here is that the actual X-Men don’t get to appear almost at all. They show up very briefly to help the Morlocks face off against the Mutant Killers and manage to send the group packing, but then they vanish again. Inferno is one of those large graphic novels that manages to collect all of the tie-ins. Usually this is a good thing, but I believe it is ultimately what weakened it this time around. There were so many tie ins with the Power Pack that they took priority. I’m assuming that volume 2 would probably feature the X-Men more, but it’s hard to say for sure. They can’t appear any less I suppose. Now, that wouldn’t be a problem if the Power Pack and the New Mutants were interesting…but they usually weren’t. It took quite a few issues to get to one that would be fun.

Also, a “fun” comic was hard to find since most of the issues were just very dark. It was going for a Poltergeist kind of feel as there is a sinister chill in the air the whole time and the villains can be behind any nook and cranny. The humans could see the demons sometimes and sometimes they couldn’t. It was just like a horror film and I’ll give the comic some credit for actually creating that atmosphere. In a world of superheroes, it can be very hard to create a menacing horror backdrop since a hero can just show up and save the day at any time. It works though because they are all busy dealing with the main alien threat. The Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Defenders (If they’re around) and all of the loners won’t be coming to help. This means that the ordinary humans are left to fend for themselves. This comic probably has more horror undertones than any other comic that I’ve read with the possible exception of some Swamp Thing comics. Those put up a pretty good fight.

However, it’s also a bad thing as the humans have no shot. We have many issues where the demons just show up and start ripping the humans to shreds. It’s never all that violent although some people are literally crushed, but it’s just all so hopeless and sad. There’s no way that the humans can even land any damage on these creatures and for every death that you actually see, there are dozens of others off screen. Most of them go in rather grim circumstances. The whole thing was just so dark and gritty and it went on for far too long if you ask me. We even had some cheating going on as Angel decided to go for a quick one night fling with someone who was technically still married and then decides to continue with this. I never cared all that much for Angel, but this certainly won’t be doing him any favors. In the end, it just didn’t feel like an X-Men comic at all and that was a problem.

One subplot that was handled well was when the Power Pack was finally forced to reveal their true identities to their parents. The parents didn’t overreact, run away, yell, or panic. They took it in stride and said that they wanted to talk about it, but weren’t upset or anything like that. They realized that a demon was still around and that they should finish the fight instead of bickering. Even after that, the parents were okay with the whole thing. This is really how this kind of plot should always play out. Having powers shouldn’t suddenly make the parents back out of a bond that they’ve shared with their kids their whole lives. This also means that the villains can’t blackmail the Power Pack anymore, which is certainly a good thing. The parents even did a good job of dealing with their haunted house.

Yes, there was a haunted house here to further the notion that this was a horror comic in disguise. The demons would take control of all the equipment. They took over the water supply and would make inanimate objects turn to life. Considering that they had no actual hero experience, the parents did all right. They smashed up most of the evil objects and kept on fighting back. They also did their best to protect the kids when they didn’t know about their secret powers. More horror protagonists should be proactive like this. The parents decided to get out ASAP.

As for the rest of the characters, I’m still not much of a fan of the Power Pack or the New Mutants. I like Magik a lot and she’s definitely earned her way into the main X-Men team. Everyone else? I don’t think they’ll be getting past the B ranks anytime soon. They can’t really hold their own issues, at least not in this context. The Power Pack are good for their fun little adventures, but they feel out of place in issues where the whole planet is at stake. The villains aren’t all that interesting either although I’ve always thought S’ym makes for a very intense villain. His super strength and durability are pretty unbelievable. Dark Beast shows up as well, but he’s just annoying and certainly not cool.

Also, the art was solid as expected. The style makes it look a lot older than it actually is, but helps to add that retro effect. Everything is very clear to read and understand. All of the character designs are on point although they aren’t as colorful as the 90’s. I wouldn’t say that the writing is bad either. It works well enough for what the comic is going for. It just should have taken another direction. The comic isn’t quite as engaging as most though. You won’t be on the edge of your seat here and some of the comics actually do drag on quite a bit.

I do think that the next volume will probably be an improvement though. This whole saga was basically the prelude as the fake Jean Grey essentially announces that the Inferno is coming. The X-Men aren’t even at the scene yet. I guess they’ll end up missing most of the demon invasion although I hope it is at least referenced. It was a rather huge deal so the big heroes should still be aware of what happened. While this comic may not have been my favorite, it did do a great job of adding a lot of context to what’s happening. Reading it weekly, I probably would have been more upset about the slow pace, but it does make this saga feel more like an event. Some of the modern day events feel a lot shorter because they’re over so quickly. That’s definitely not an issue that this event will have…for better or worse.

Overall, This is probably the strangest X-Men comic that I’ve ever read. The concept of a demon invasion is definitely interesting and these guys are more menacing than aliens. Demons almost feel a little out of place in Marvel, especially such realistic ones, but they have technically always been around. It just so happens that it’s in an X-Men comic instead of Ghost Rider. Honestly, the comic just needed more action and some bigger heroes to help things out. That would have done wonders since they could have actually saved some of the humans instead of just watching them all die. If not, they could have gone for a total horror angle although that may have been even more risky. If the idea of a horror/action comic sounds good to you than this could be up your alley. It’s probably the closest merge of the two genres that I’ve seen so far. If not, then you should check out the other X-Men comic that I just reviewed. This isn’t a bad comic, it’s just different. You’ll just have to check out for yourself whether it’s different in a good or bad way.

Overall 5/10