HOPELESS Promises 'Hell On Earth' For INFERNO, Talks MADELYNE PRYOR Costume Change

Inferno #2
Inferno #2
Credit: Marvel
Inferno #2
Inferno #2
Credit: Marvel

Marvel and the X-Men have experienced hell on Earth before, but this summer it's become permanent.

In the new Secret Wars series Inferno, Dennis Hopeless and Javier Garron showcase the Battleworld domain of Limbo, where the late 1980s "Inferno" crossover event never ended and only got worse.

Believing that there is still some hope to rescue his sister Illyana, Colossus leads a team of mutants into the Manhattan hellscape to bring her back after five years of captivity. Newsarama recently spoke with Hopeless to find out what awaits Colossus and his team in Limbo when the series launches on May 27, and also spoke about the story’s main players, the way he writes young characters, and his thoughts on the now somewhat infamous costume change for Madelyne Pryor.

Newsarama: Dennis, Inferno takes place in the Battleworld territory of Limbo, which is a version of New York that never went back to normal after the original "Inferno" crossover from the late 1980s. How does this compare to the Limbo we’ve seen in other Marvel comics?

Dennis Hopeless: Well, it’s very much growing out of what we saw in the original event. So the island of Manhattan is basically Hell on Earth. It’s been possessed by demons and twisted into this dark and evil thing. At the start of our book, four years ago, the X-Men fought the battle with the demons and tried to free New York from this Hell on Earth, and they failed, so they left.

The outer boroughs are actually clean and safe and normal and being run by Cyclops and the X-Men, and there is a big dome force field that covers the island of Manhattan that keeps things from spilling out. So inside that, everything has gotten darker and crazier and more like hell on Earth. We’ll find out that a lot of the demon characters and some of the X-characters from the original event have been living inside there and have all been twisted in an infernal image. So unlike the Limbo that we’ve seen that Illyana goes back and forth to, this is more like a twisted, dark, Hell version of Manhattan.

Nrama: We’ve seen some twisted Limbo versions of characters like Nightcrawler already. Are we going to see other versions of characters like that?

Hopeless: Yeah, Havok is pretty different from what we remember. In the original story, Havok was Madelyne Pryor’s Goblin Prince, and he’s had that role for four or five years now. So he’s sort of twisted and crazy. And then Colossus has a run-in with his sister early on in the story so he’s a little bit twisted. He’s not evil, he’s not totally possessed, but he has a little bit of darkness in him, too.

Nrama: Speaking of Illyana, we know that the plot of Inferno centers around Colossus leading a team of mutants to rescue his sister. But readers also know that the original "Inferno" story-arc was a turning point for Illyana as a character. Where is she in that journey when Inferno begins?

Inferno #2
Inferno #2
Credit: Marvel

Hopeless: Everyone but Colossus believes Illyana to be lost. She is straight up Darkchilde, living and ruling here. Colossus believes that his sister’s still in there and can be saved. So by the time this story takes place, most everyone has kind of given up on her, but it’s this thing that they put up with because Colossus won’t let it go, and it’s his personal obsession. So Illyana’s in a very, very dark place from the perspective of everyone but her brother.

Nrama: Now, you mentioned Cyclops a minute ago. Do he and Jean Grey play a big part in the story? I know we’ve seen Jean in some of the previews for Inferno #1.

Hopeless: They do play a role. It’s Colossus’s story. Colossus, Domino, Nightcrawler, and the characters that are in this land are the primary cast. Cyclops plays a large role in the domain of Limbo, the section of Battleworld, and he has his role in the story, but he’s not the primary character. And Jean as well.  You see their role in the larger world, but they’re not primary characters.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: So does Cyclops rule Limbo for Doom, or does someone else fill that role?

Hopeless: The story sort of pays with that a little bit. It’s different at the beginning than it is at the end, so some of that is up in the air, because you have a domain that is partially Hell on Earth, and partially the outer boroughs of New York being run by the X-Men. So there’s a power struggle going on there, so at different points in the story, the answer might be different.

Nrama: You mentioned that Colossus, Domino, and Nightcrawler are kind of the big characters of the story. Is there anyone else on Colossus’s team of mutants?

Hopeless: Boom Boom is on the team.

Colossus meets big, cool characters in Inferno once they get inside the dome. So the primary cast, especially early on in the series, is that core team of X-Men that go in, and the people and demons that they meet on the inside. And that includes Madelyne Pryor and Havok. A lot of the demon characters from the original event are in there as well. And then we see Cable, but it’s not a Cable like you’ve ever seen before.

Nrama: Is Cable one of the villains that we’ll see in Inferno?

Hopeless: Well, Cable was a baby in the original "Inferno" story-arc. He was Madelyne Pryor and Scott’s baby who had not yet gone to the future and come back as an older man. So we’re playing with the idea that, if Cable was a baby when the initial battle of Inferno happened, he would now be five years old. So you have a kindergarten Cable, basically. 

Nrama: Speaking of Madelyne Pryor, I have to ask, what are your thoughts on Marvel changing her look on the cover of Inferno?

Credit: Marvel Comics

Hopeless: It’s not just on the cover. Her costume got changed sort of in the middle of the process.  It’s a decision that I understand. That’s what the character looked like in the ‘80’s. That’s her classic costume. That’s what people recognize, what people remember. But at the same time, you’d never get that costume approved now. It’s a very dated look, so I understand. That’s what she’ll look like throughout. And I think she’s still recognizable as Madelyne. It doesn’t really changes the story at all So I don’t have a problem with it. And honestly, cause I was a little kid when I read this stuff for the first time, it didn’t occur to me that that was a weird costume until I saw that cover, and then I was like, “Oh yeah, she’s mostly naked.” So I think it makes sense. It doesn’t bother me.

Nrama: What other villains can we expect to see in Inferno?

Hopeless: Lots of demons, a whole army of goblins. There’s a third big villain that shows up that I don’t want to spoil. There’s a whole power struggle going on both inside and outside the dome, so we’re gonna see lots of big villains butting heads.

Nrama: You’ve written a lot about young characters in tough situations. Does that inform the way you write Illyana at all?

Hopeless: Maybe on a macro scale, like in the end, yes. But like I said, Illyana has aged five years in this very dark role as Darkchilde, so the Illyana that we’re seeing through most of the story is already very much set in her ways and very much an adult demon overlord of Limbo here. I guess the answer is no, that’s not how I see the character, cause by the time we get there, she’s already long gone. She’s lost.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: Tell us about what Javier Garron brings to the table as an artist. What’s it like working with him?

Hopeless: It’s fantastic. He’s the perfect artist for the book. There are lots of big, crazy hell-scapes, and huge splash pages with demons and fire and brimstone coming at you, and he does these amazing, they almost look like renaissance paintings or something, these twisted hell-scapes. So it’s really fun to see. And he’s also fantastic at reimagining the characters in this new version of the outer boroughs, and the Inferno. He’s really good at taking those classic designs and turning them on their head, and playing with what the characters would look like having gone through these different experiences. He’s been a ball to work with.

Nrama: Did Marvel bring the idea of Inferno to you, or is that something you’ve been wanting to explore as a writer?

Hopeless: Marvel asked me if I wanted to pitch it, and I had read it as a kid. And I love Colossus, because I had written Colossus and Cable in Cable & X-Force, and co-created the relationship with Domino, and there were elements there that I saw that I could play with again. Plus, just the idea of having the X-Men going up against demons, they’re like robots. You don’t have to worry about destroying them. You can kill things. So Colossus can punch through demons’ heads, and demons can get cut in half. You can do a lot of really fun, violent, crazy stunts without the moral repercussions. So it just seemed like a really fun opportunity, and it allowed me to re-read some cool stuff I hadn’t read since I was a kid.

Nrama: Bottom line, why should fans pick up Inferno even if they’re not reading the main Secret Wars series?

Hopeless: It’s just a really fun X-Men story. It’s X-Men vs. demons. It’s all of your favorite X-characters dealing with a giant, crazy threat that they can slaughter. It’s a very fun, action-filled book with cool characters being turned upside down in every which way. Honestly, I think the book stands on its own as just a fun X-Men story even if you’re not reading Secret Wars because it’s sort of self-contained and just exciting and fun.

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