Inferno (Marvel Comics)

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"Inferno"
Cover of The Uncanny X-Men 240 (Jan, 1989).The initial issue in the arc, cover art Marc Silvestri.
Publisher Marvel Comics
Publication date October 1988 – August 1989
Genre
Main character(s) Madelyne Pryor, N'Astirh, X-Men, X-Factor, New Mutants, X-Terminators, S'ym
Collected editions
X-Men: Inferno ISBN 0-7851-0222-1

Inferno was a Marvel Comics company-wide crossover in 1989 that mainly involved the mutant titles, namely The Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, X-Terminators, Excalibur, and The New Mutants. The story concerned the corruption of Madelyne Pryor into the Goblin Queen, the final transformation of Illyana Rasputin into the Darkchylde, the demonic transformation of Hobgoblin, and a demonic invasion of New York City. The series was written by Louise Simonson, Chris Claremont, Steve Engelhart, Gerry Conway, David Michelinie, Ann Nocenti, Walter Simonson, Jon Bogdanove, Terry Austin, and Julianna Jones.

Plot[edit]

Two demons from Limbo, S'ym and N'astirh, plan a demonic invasion of Earth. Their plan revolves around Illyana Rasputin of the New Mutants, as her mutant power allows her to open passages between Limbo and Earth. During one of the New Mutants' routine stopovers in Limbo, N'astirh casts a spell blocking Illyana's teleportation power, thus trapping the New Mutants in Limbo with S'ym, who has taken control of Limbo's hordes and is eager to kill the New Mutants in order to solidify his claim to Limbo. Illyana assumes that the entrapment spell was cast by S'ym, and so sees no reason to distrust N'astirh when he advises her that she can return to Earth by embracing her demonic power. She does so and opens a gateway to Manhattan. N'astirh had kidnapped Wiz Kid of the X-Terminators and coerced him into building a spell-casting computer; once Illyana opened the gateway, he uses this computer to cast a spell holding it open.

The city of Manhattan falls under siege, and the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Power Pack, and Spider-Man fend off numerous demons, as well as Hobgoblin, now possessed by a demon, and the mutant-hating Boogeyman, transformed into a monster by N'astirh. Inanimate objects become demonically possessed and begin attacking and devouring people. As shown in Daredevil and X-Men, most residents of Manhattan treat the demonic invasion as a part of normal life in the city. Buses still run, under an all-volunteer force since the drivers had either been eaten or transformed into demons themselves. Subways function, and people ride them willingly, even though some only go into Hell. Stores still sell products. Helicopter tours run.

Meanwhile, N'astirh had made a bargain with Madelyne Pryor, agreeing to locate her son Nathan and manipulate the X-Men into killing the Marauders in exchange for her casting a spell that would make a permanent bridge between Earth and Limbo. To keep his end, N'astirh alters the X-Men's computer systems so that they can use them to locate the Marauders. Driven to bloodthirstiness by N'astirh's Inferno spell, the X-Men attack the Marauders' headquarters, gleefully killing most of them in the ensuing battle. Colossus remains unaffected by this spell, due to the protection of his organic steel armor. However, when he learns what happened to his sister Illyana, he concludes that he can only free his fellow X-Men from Inferno's influence by saving her. In fulfillment of his other half of the bargain, N'astirh liberates Nathan from Mister Sinister's laboratory, where Madelyne learns that she is in fact a clone of Jean Grey created by Sinister.

With their plan fulfilled, N'astirh and S'ym begin fighting each other for leadership of Limbo's hordes (and by extension, rule of both Limbo and Earth). With S'ym gaining the upper hand, N'astirh makes a desperate bid for victory by letting himself be infected with the Transmode Virus. He then merges with Wiz Kid's spell-casting computer, increasing his magical powers exponentially and thus allowing him to make a permanent bridge between Limbo and Earth without Madelyne Pryor's help. However, Wiz Kid destroys the computer before N'astirh can make use of this power. The explosion reduces N'astirh to ashes, but he is immediately reconstituted by the Transmode Virus.

Finding Illyana, Colossus is horrified to see that she has so completely given in to her demonic side that she is totally covered by her eldritch armor and has demonic horns, legs, and a tail. Ashamed at her brother's reaction, she flees into Limbo, and decides to end the demonic invasion by assuming rule of Limbo. However, her teammate Rahne Sinclair persuades her against this, and she instead gives up her demonic powers by creating a massive stepping disc that banishes most of the demons back to Limbo, including S'ym, then throwing her Soulsword in after them to seal the portal shut. Afterwards the New Mutants find a seven-year-old Illyana inside the husk of her eldritch armor.

However, while Illyana's actions banished all demons native to Limbo except for N'astirh, people and objects who had been demonically possessed remain uncured. N'astirh is destroyed by the combined efforts of the X-Men and X-Factor, but Madelyne Pryor maintains the Inferno spell and threatens to kill her son Nathan as a demonic sacrifice to open the gate between Earth and Limbo. She forcibly links herself to Jean Grey's mind and shows her her entire life, including what she learned in Mister Sinister's laboratory. Meanwhile, the X-Men and X-Factor break through her defenses and rescue Nathan. In a fatal bid for revenge, Madelyne wills herself to die, attempting to take Jean with her. However, as Madelyne dies, the fragment of the Phoenix Force that first gave her life emerges and bids Jean to use its power to save herself. Jean does so, thus breaking Madelyne's mental hold on her. New York returns to normal.

However, due to their mind link, part of Madelyne's personality was transferred to Jean, and she becomes determined to get revenge on Mister Sinister, now seeing him as responsible for all her sufferings. The X-Men and X-Factor learn that he took over Professor Xavier's School while its headmaster, Magneto, was occupied with the demonic invasion. Aware of their coming, Mister Sinister waits until they are inside the school and then sets off explosives which demolish the building. However, none of the X-Men or X-Factor are killed or injured by the explosion, and some are not even rendered unconscious. Cyclops blasts Sinister to a smolder.

Despite all of the destruction and death, many human Inferno survivors are convinced it was all a shared hallucination.

Significant issues[edit]

Chronologically, this is roughly the order they occur:

  • X-Terminators #1-2
  • The 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
  • The Avengers #299
  • Fantastic Four #322
  • Power Pack #43
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man #146
  • The Uncanny X-Men #241
  • X-Factor #36
  • X-Terminators #3
  • The Avengers #300
  • X-Terminators #4 and The New Mutants #72 (highly intertwined)
  • Daredevil #263
  • Web of Spider-Man #47
  • The Amazing Spider-Man #312
  • Fantastic Four #323
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man #147
  • X-Factor #37
  • Web of Spider-Man #48
  • The Amazing Spider-Man #313
  • 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

The chronology is imperfect because of the many different points of view (of the same events) presented, so an exact chronology would break individual issues into parts. However, it is more accurate than the chronology given in Wizard in 1992, particularly when it comes to N'Astirh's physical change and the placement of Power Pack #44, which is stated in the issue to occur after Cloak and Dagger (vol. 3) #4, but was published a month earlier, and thus appears earlier in Wizard's chronology. When collected into a trade paperback, only the portions from The Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, and The New Mutants were included, and the latter story line was presented separately from the first two. Starting with Excalibur #6, the story moves into aftermath phase, and most of the subsequent issues show the demons leaving New York.

Background and creation[edit]

To avoid losing track of individual characters and plot threads in the story's large cast, editor Bob Harras maintained roughly 20 pages of timelines for how each character would develop over the course of "Inferno".[1]

Sequel[edit]

A sequel has been made called X-Infernus starring Magik. It is a four-issue mini-series written by C. B. Cebulski.[2][3][4]

A second sequel, Fall of the New Mutants, centers around Project Purgatory, a government operation that took the mutant babies used to make the portal to Limbo, who were recovered alive and well, to make an Army controlled base in Limbo, as well as trying to figure out how to activate the powers of the mutant babies. Four years later (though due to a time dilation effect between Earth and Limbo, 26 years passed for them), Project Purgatory's surviving soldiers, led by General Ulysses, along with the new fully grown and powered surviving Inferno babies, both groups of which are battle scarred, and some of each having what appear to be grafted on demon body parts, have returned to Earth, apparently out to capture Illyana Rasputin.[5]

Project Purgatory/ Inferno Babies Members[edit]

  • General Ulysses: A Marine Veteran, he is the commanding officer of Project Purgatory. A top-notch commander, with great battlefield and command skills that allowed him to lead his forces to survive stranded on their own in Hell for 2 decades. Notably also appears to have no cybernetic or demonic parts attached to his body, unlike nearly all of the non-mutant members of Project Purgatory. (Killed by Elder Gods)
  • Doc Noc: Grafted demonic right arm, possessing increased strength. The arm responds to ambient anger and can act against Doc Noc's will. (Implied killed by Cannonball)
  • Face: Weaponized brain stem. Capable of emitting a highly destructive energy blast from face. Due to the nature of his mutation, he is deaf, blind and mute. Bionic cranio-facial plate allows him to control his blasts.
  • Scab: Forms durable armor plating when his blood is exposed to oxygen. (Implied killed by Cannonball)
  • Trista: Speaks backwards, creating a neural trap, allowing her to control those who hear her. (Implied killed by Cypher)
  • Shauna: Induces paralysis and drowsiness through contact with her leech-like hands; can also "taste" those she holds between her hands.
  • Toko: Generates impenetrable and immovable forcefield.
  • Alex: Gelatinous form, capable of engulfing opponents and inhibiting their mutant powers. The composition of his body means he is resistant to injury.
  • Bob: Blue skinned, can create miniature duplicates from his blood cells.
  • Russell: Possesses super speed. Often seen wearing a helmet. (Implied killed by Cannonball)
  • Loca: Possesses demonic and cybernetic body grafts. Adept tracker, capable of sensing and tasting ambient emotional pheromone. (Killed by Danielle Moonstar)
  • Timothy: Capable of generating thermo-chemical energy from organic exhausts on forearms. (Killed by Face)
  • Maw: Multiple mouths, each with razor sharp teeth. (Killed by Face)

Collected editions[edit]

Part of the story has been collected into a trade paperback:

A hardcover collection (ISBN 978-0-7851-3777-1) was announced in December 2008, for publication on May 28, 2009, which would collect X-Factor 33-40, X-Terminators 1-4, X-Men 239-243, New Mutants 71-73 and the backup story from X-Factor Annual #4.[6]

The remaining issues appeared in hardcover as X-Men: Inferno Crossovers (ISBN 978-07851-4671-1) which collects Power Pack (1984) #40 & #42-44, Avengers (1963) #298-300, Fantastic Four (1961) #322-324, Amazing Spider-Man (1962) #311-313, Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #146-148, Web of Spider-Man #47-48, Daredevil (1964) #262-263 &265, Excalibur (1988) #6-7, Cloak & Dagger (1988) #4.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zimmerman, Dwight Jon (November 1988). "Bob Harras". Comics Interview (62) (Fictioneer Books). p. 12. 
  2. ^ SDCC '08 - Cebulski on X-Men: Infernus, Newsarama, July 25, 2008
  3. ^ CCI: Cebulski and Lowe Talk "Ex Infernus", Comic Book Resources, July 25, 2008
  4. ^ SDCC 08: The X-Men Face Another Inferno, IGN, July 25, 2008
  5. ^ New Mutants vol. 3 #9, #15-19
  6. ^ Marvel Comics Solicitations, February 2009