Jonathan Hickman, Stefano Caselli and Valerio Schiti’s Inferno #4 is an action-packed read with high-stakes political drama and explosive action.
Since 2019, Jonathan Hickman’s impact on Marvel’s X-Men has shaken the franchise to its core. Hickman raised the mighty mutants to new heights with bold concepts, exciting enemies, and a unique mix of characters. In Inferno #4, expertly drawn by artists Valerio Schiti and Stefano Caselli, Charles Xavier gets a wake-up call as Orchis gathers their forces to exterminate the X-Men’s founding fathers. It is an explosive issue representing the best elements of the first Krakoan Age of X-Men and establishes the stakes of brewing future troubles.
Marvel’s Inferno #4 opens with Professor X and Magneto surrounded by Orchis, Omega Sentinel, and Nimrod. As the Quiet Council members ask about the location of Moira MacTaggert, Nimrod reveals that they don’t have her in their possession. Nimrod and Omega Sentinel then turn on Orchis, slaughtering the humans in the name of robot superiority. With the playing field leveled, Xavier and Magneto push their powers to the limit in a desperate attempt to escape. Elsewhere, Moira is held captive by Mystique and Destiny, who schemed with Emma Frost to track her down. Destiny and Mystique take away Moira’s mutant powers before being interrupted by Doug Ramsey, who wants to spare MacTaggert’s life. While Moira disappears through a Krakoan Gateway for the last time, Destiny warns that others will come after her when they find out what she has done.
As has been the case since he first took over the X-Men, Hickman does an incredible job interlacing high-concepts with intriguing drama in Inferno #4. Magneto and Xavier’s fight has a raw entertainment value because of their larger-than-life foes, but the sequence gains a much deeper weight because of the emotional beats that have led to the conflict. Xavier and Magneto are two of the most headstrong X-Men in the franchise’s history, so seeing them bite off more than they can chew is a humbling moment that matches the hubris of their scheming over the last few years.
The same thinking applies to the highly-anticipated conflict between Mystique, Destiny, and Moira. All three women have gone to extreme lengths to gain the upper hand against their foes, which paints all of the characters in intriguing shades of grey. Additionally, Hickman wisely uses this issue to elevate Emma and Doug to the forefront of the next Krakoan conflict. After years in the background, seeing these X-Men heroes have their moment in the sun is very rewarding.
Of course, Inferno would be nothing without the talents of Schiti and Caselli, who have dazzled readers with breathtaking runs on S.W.O.R.D. and Marauders, respectively. Schiti handles most of the issue, crafting gripping action as Magneto and Xavier fight for their lives. Schiti uses intricate cross-hatching to make the battle feel real and tangible, even as the heroes perform otherworldly feats. Still, some of the issue’s most enticing visuals come during Mystique and Moira’s talk. The details of Schiti’s tight linework highlight the emotional depths of their conversation, with subtle touches — like Mystique’s devilish smile reflecting the character’s heart. For his part, Caselli gives the X-Men a touch of beauty and grace in the issue’s closing scene. Without any dialogue to guide him, Caselli conveys the reactions of each member of the Quiet Council as they accept their new status quo. This impressive skill simultaneously resolves Inferno’s overall narrative while setting up the heroes’ continued exploits in Immortal X-Men as a must-read book moving forward.
Overall, Inferno #4 is already one of the year’s hottest books. The tension of the series has made it a captivating page-turner and the payoffs for the book’s multiple plot threads are enticing. Hickman, Schiti, Caselli, and the creative team’s hard work makes Inferno rewarding for X-Men fans of all ages as the franchise prepares for a bold new era. If this ends up being Hickman’s last contribution to the X-Men mythos, it is one hell of a final statement to make.
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