You're Cordially Invited To The Hellfire Gala
The Third Time's The Charm
In the wake of House Of X and Powers of X a lot changed for the X-Men very quickly.
Emma Frost has found herself holding almost every position in the soap opera. In the Krakoan age of mutant solidarity she had real power. A telepath, a captain of industry and she was a member of the ruling council of the young mutant nation.
It made good sense that Frost would not hold a typical state dinner for Mutantdom’s coming out party. No, something more fabulous would be in order.
The Hellfire Gala was, I thought an original idea. And we were amazed to find that of course, Chris Claremont and John Bolton had an eight page story in Classic X-Men at a Hellfire Gala. (It was too good to to reprint in Marauders 21)
When we have ideas that we can “blow out” we need to bring them to the editorial retreats. The Hellfire Gala was going to happen in the pages of Marauders, the question was — did it make sense for the rest of the line to stop what they were doing and attend a party.
In February of 2020 the entire X-Office attended C2E2 in Chicago and afterwards we stayed a few days to hold a summit. It was a great summit, and our only summit with an omelette bar.
We cemented a lot of plans, many of which saw print unchanged. Planet Size X-Men and the Hellfire Gala as a line wide “event” were both ratified. Asking our artists to dunk on human fashion was easy to do when you’re working with the best artists. Russell Dauterman took the simplest prompt “Storm wears a weather system?” and then took off from the free-throw line, dunked and took the backboard down.
It was good business for the writers to give our artists the wheel in a fashion-forward event. The designs became covers, those became cosplay, and the rest is X-Men history.
We knew in the room before anything had even been sketched that we had a winning idea. The cosplay actually arrived before the comics, and in the years since Hellfire Gala has become something of a phenomenon.
The Hellfire Gala wasn’t just a chance to let the artists flex, for me it was very effective camouflage for Planet Size X-Men, one of the in-world reasons for the party. Mutants had an announcement to make. Mars was terraformed and claimed. Almost nobody asked what PSX # 1 was because the art for the rest of the books was outrageously good. It was perfect, we hated talking about story anyway. If we’re asking you to pay money, we don’t want to tell you a thing, or we’ll lie to you to make you go away.
The shape of X Of Swords would more or less be remade after the retreat, but that’s because the world was being remade by COVID-19.
X Of Swords was reshaped after the retreat and it remains one of my favorite collaborations. At the end of the event there would be millions more mutants on Earth, and the terraforming of Mars was actually an act of love by the Omega Mutants. Love for their mutant cousins coming home from war, and love of humanity. Adding millions more mutants to Earth would not exactly make the planet more livable.
The Hellfire Gala was also conceived to nourish the other parts of the business that need our sweet comic book R&D. The designs set new land speed records as they made their way into the toys and games. This summer Disney’s even throwing a Hellfire Gala at San Diego Comic Con.
We’re about to solicit the 2023 Hellfire Gala for stores to order. So, what’s this one about?
We’re not saying. But I will threaten you:
You’re going to need to pre-order this comic, and the ones that spin out from it. I think folks will be hard-pressed to pick their most shocking moment. You’re also going to want to add The Invincible Iron Man to your pull-list.
Lots of amazing new designs, too many to load into one post but you can check out some of the Hellfire Gala covers that Marvel announced today.
I’m writing X-Men, Uncanny Avengers and Iron Man as a big Marvel event that prints right in the pages of the books. Fall Of X is our line’s next era, and it’s a wild one. Iron Man, X-Men and Uncanny Avengers may not be on shelves when you go looking this summer, so again - last time I’ll say it — pre-order.
This Hellfire Gala is going to hit different, and the stories that come out of it are our most exciting. Many of the threads will pay off years of storytelling.
I will not talk to you about future story at Arsenal Comics this Saturday, and on Free Comic Book Day both Josh Cassara and myself will be at Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles.
More soon, my next post is about THE DARK ROOM, and where to buy signed copies from yours truly.