Friday Flashback: X-Men: Inferno

Friday Flashback: X-Men: Inferno

C.B. Cebulski has shown an affinity to Magik in recent past, as has Marvel in general. No, Cebulski hasn’t taken to long incantations, dusty books and artifacts, and eyes of newt; he is focused on Magik the girl, the mutant, the teleporter, the little sister, the casualty, the demon, the DarkChilde. The X-Men are looking to have their world turned upside down all over again in Inferno 2: X-Infernus (the title may be some or all of that, by the way), but as obviously stated by that little “2” in the title, this is not the first time. There was a time that a clone, a confused tortured girl, a cheating husband, a confused manipulated brother, a bunch of demons, and of course a man called simply “Sinister” had an adventure that saw the whole world burn in the flames of hell. It was an Inferno, and it was one hell of a story.

The original Inferno crossed over into several books around the Marvel Universe, from the obvious (every X-book) to books that don’t typically get included in crossovers, even today (Daredevil). For the sake of simplicity, we’ll journey using the trade paperback, which only includes the mutant side of the story.

The setup is the stuff of comic books. Jean Grey had apparently died (twice at this point), when the Phoenix allowed herself to be killed on the moon for the safety of the universe. Mr. Sinister had planned to hook up Jean with Scott Summers, to create the ultimate mutant from their prime genetic stock. Initially, and during this story, it’s alluded that he wants to use the child to take over the world; later the real reason comes, and involves the oldest mutant, Apocalypse, getting taken down a peg.

Now that Jean had died, Sinister’s plan was unraveled before it began! Not so fast for the master geneticist. He used the fiery redhead’s DNA to create a clone named Madelyne Pryor. She was thrust into Scott’s life, they fell in love, married, and had little baby Nathan Christopher Charles Summers Dayspring Askani’son. Don’t worry, they only gave him the first four names at first, the others came in the future when a super-aged time lost alternate reality sister of his raised him. But I digress. Since Jean’s DNA held the X-gene, so did Madelyne’s. When Jean resurfaced (literally- she’d been in a cocoon on the ocean floor), Scott immediately went to her, leaving his wife and child in the dust, and establishing himself as a dick towards women (to be fair, he thought Madelyne died with the X-Men in a massive explosion; they actually relocated to Australia. It’s just more fun to look at Cyke as the scourge of the fairer sex). Maddie went maddie and hooked up with some baddies to take over the Earth and make it a demon realm.

The battle was fought on three fronts. Darkchilde and the New Mutants battled it out in Limbo, The X-Men fought off the Marauders, and X-Factor (then comprised of the original X-Men) took the battle to Madelyne, but had to fight the very city of New York to get to her.

As the connection between Limbo and New York grew stronger, thanks to the machinations of the demon N’Astirh and Madelyne “The Goblin Queen” Summers, the buildings, busses, mailboxes, and some of the citizens were transformed into demons. Busses ate their drivers, buildings like the Empire State Building grew to twice their size, and Jean’s own parents became Madelyne’s right-hand demons.

The battle in Limbo was the first to end, as the youngest mutant team managed to fight off Sym, N’Astirh, and the rest of the demon hordes. Eventually, it came down to Illyana making a choice, seemingly sacrificing herself and casting away her soulsword. As she cast the weapon away, so were the demons cast away from Earth and back into Limbo (all those save the base of power and those Maddie had personally transformed, of course). When the Darkchylde armor was torn away Piotr Nikolivich found his sister, once again as young as she had been when lost to the dark demon world, alive and well inside.

Back in Manhattan, X-Factor fought the Goblin Queen, and got their tails kicked. She revealed her ultimate plan- to sacrifice baby Nathan as a punishment to Scott, and to destroy Jean Grey and everything she ever stood for. X-Factor and the X-Men clash, as the X-Men think their old teammates are now mutant bounty hunters. N’Astirh, now transformed by the transmode virus (yup, think Warlock, the Phalanx, and even Cable himself) comes to force Scott into a choice between saving Madelyne and Nathan or saving Jean. He blasts the demon on top of Jean Grey, and N’Astirh takes off with Maddie and Nathan, with Havok (now thoroughly in love with his brother’s wife) in tow. The X-Men fight X-Factor again, this time because of the Goblin Queen’s influence. And poor Alex is seduced into being the Goblin Prince, a servant of Madelyne.

As the X-Men break free, the team up with X-Factor to take the fight to N’Astirh and Madelyne. This marks one of the first times Bobby Drake cuts loose, freezing the entire Empire State Building. The energy wielders then rapidly super-heat N’Astirh until he explodes, sending his essence back to Limbo. Thus, the final battle begins as Clone takes on Original.

Through magic, telepathy, and seduction, Madelyne once again turns the teams against each other. Archangel, Longshot, Dazzler, and Havok take on most of the other X-Men, with Havok and Cyclops going toe-to-toe brawler style, as their powers don’t harm one another. Meanwhile, Jean and Madelyne enter a battle of willpower. We find out Madelyne has truly been corrupted by the Phoenix. When the Phoenix killed its Jean-shell, it tried to return the part of her it had borrowed to her sleeping body, along with all the memories Phoenix had experienced. These included destroying a planet and killing several others along the way. When Jean’s body rejected the Phoenix’s give-back, it went to the next best thing, Madelyne Pryor, awakening her instead. In the battle, Jean takes back what was lost, and Madelyne falls.

Alas, it wasn’t quiiiiite over yet. A bit of Madelyne rides the Phoenix into Jean’s mind. The battle moves to the Astral Plane, with Sinister finally entering the foray personally. After he is defeated, they take the fight to his body and his Marauders at their old home, the Xavier estate. The battle seems to go well, until Sinister takes down every last mutant, save Malice/Polaris. Longshot, however, also remains conscious, and alone and depowered, tries to take the two on himself. As the other X-Men gradually recover, Sinister reveals that he ran the orphanage Scott and Alex grew up in. He tells Cyclops how he brought him to this point, manipulating him all along. The fight raged on, and in the end, it was Havok that saved the day. He super-charged Scott’s powers by focusing all of his remaining strength into a plasma blast at his brother, all the while enraging him so he could truly cut loose. Scott’s first full-powered blast vaporized Mr. Sinister, ending the saga once and for…well, not all, but hey, it wouldn’t be comics if people didn’t come back from the dead, right?

Both Madelyne and Sinister showed up again- a few times each, in fact. It doesn’t sound like either have a big role in Inferno 2, as it will focus more on Magik and her return. You see, after being super-aged and de-aged, she died, only to be reborn, and now she’s coming back. I never said the X-universe was simple, did I?

X-Men: Inferno (which ocvers the high points of the storyline which occurred in the X-titles) is available as a trade paperback wherever they are sold, and the individual issues roughly (as per Wikipedia) the story runs through include...

  • X-Terminators 1 & 2
  • Avengers #298
  • Power Pack #42
  • The Uncanny X-Men #239
  • The Uncanny X-Men #240
  • X-Factor #35
  • Daredevil #262
  • The New Mutants #71
  • The Amazing Spider-Man #311
  • Avengers #299
  • The Fantastic Four #322
  • Power Pack #43
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man #146
  • The Uncanny X-Men #241
  • X-Factor #36
  • X-Terminators # 3
  • Avengers #300
  • X-Terminators #4 and The New Mutants #72 (highly intertwined)
  • Daredevil #263
  • Web of Spider-Man #47
  • The Amazing Spider-Man #312
  • The Fantastic Four #323
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man #147
  • X-Factor #37
  • Web of Spider-Man #48
  • The Amazing Spider-Man #313
  • The Fantastic Four #324
  • The New Mutants #73
  • The Uncanny X-Men #242
  • X-Factor #38
  • Excalibur #6
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man #148
  • Daredevil #265
  • Excalibur #7
  • Cloak and Dagger Vol. 3, #4
  • Power Pack #44
  • Uncanny X-Men #243
  • X-Factor #39
  • X-Factor Annual #4 (backup story)
  • Damage Control #4

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