Sunday, July 5, 2015

Inferno #1 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

I was more than a little skeptical of all these "Battleworld" tie-in issues, since it seemed impossible that the authors were going to be able to replicate the magic of the original events.  But, Hopeless really delivers here.

First, the premise is great.  In this world, the X-Men failed to stop N'astirh from invading Earth, and Limbo successfully took over Manhattan.  The X-Men patrol the outer boroughs to keep out the demonic hordes, but Colossus has extracted from Scott a promise to allow him and a team of X-Men to storm the Empire State Building every year in an attempt to save Illyana (since she's "trapped" in Limbo).

But, unlike a lot of premises, Hopeless really manages to fulfill its potential.  He uses it to remind us of Colossus' persistently single-minded focus on white-knighting Illyana.  Hopeless makes it clear that Colossus waits all year for the day when he's allowed to try to save her and that he would sacrifice virtually anyone to achieve this goal.  For example, he essentially ignored Domino all year long as she tried to develop a strategy with him for the fifth invasion and he barely blinks when N'astirh paralyzes Scott during the fourth one.  Moreover, Hopeless reminds us of Colossus' inability to see Illyana for who she truly is.  When he finally makes his way into Limbo in that fourth invasion, Colossus discovers that Illyana has completely surrendered herself to her Darkchilde persona.  She corrupts his arm into an unusable appendage and seemingly traps him in his steel form.  However, he refuses to accept that and remains focused on the fifth invasion.

However, it all begins to break into pieces for Colossus in this fifth invasion.  Scott, now using Professor X's hoverchair, refuses to allow Colossus a team this year.  Colossus demands permission to go, despite Scott pointing out the obvious costs that the two of them paid.  Boomer, Domino, and Nightcrawler agree to go with him, acknowledging that it's the last attempt.  In short order, a demon kills Boomer and Nightcrawler gets captured.  Domino is saved only by the timely intervention of the Goblin Queen and Prince.  I have to say, their appearance is really exhilarating.  If you're reading the main title, you know that Alex eventually takes over Inferno from Madeleine, and so I was waiting for them to appear all issue.  (That said, Scott calls himself the baron of this domain earlier in the issue, so it seems like we may be dealing in the distant past here, before Madeleine took over the domain from Scott.) The mind boggles at what Colossus and the two of them will do as a team, given how mentally unstable they all are.

All that said, we're still left with some larger questions about "Secret Wars," such as why Doom's construction of Battleworld summoned up alternate histories based on past events.  Moreover, this issue raises an entirely new question.  We see Dr. Strange as one of the magicians working to help Colossus in preparation for the fifth invasion, but it's unclear if it's the same Dr. Strange that serves as Battleworld's de facto ruler, as we've seen in the main series.  But, it seems clear that Marvel will eventually answer these questions.  In the meantime, I'm pleasantly surprised to be enjoying the opportunity to explore these alternate realities, a promise that DC's "Convergence" made but never fulfilled.  So far, so good for Marvel.

*** (three of five stars)

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