In mainstream superhero comics, summer is usually the time for big events. Usually this means a big crossover and an even bigger fight. In X-Men comics, however, this summer’s event is a big party — perhaps the biggest party. They’re calling it the Hellfire Gala, and much like real-life red carpet events like the Met Gala, it’s all about who can serve the best look. And the competition is tight.
Spearheaded by Marauders cover artist and style genius Russell Dauterman, every X-attendee will debut a high-fashion look at the Gala. The sneak peeks, per Marvel’s Twitter account, are jaw-dropping: Ostentatious and eye-grabbing, the sort of outfits you can write essays about.
Just look at how much fun you can have with fashion when style can function as an expression of superpowers, like this Emma Frost coat paired with a crown and heels that nod to her power to turn into a walking diamond, or Storm using her powers to make a cape of actual storm clouds.
Part of what makes these so good is the way that superhero costumes are already kind of over-the-top fashion statements, so a good artist can do incredible things by taking classic looks and reworking them away from battle gear into pure fashion statements, like these stellar costumes for Cyclops and Jean Grey.
Of course, no high-fashion event is complete without someone yelling who are you wearing, so naturally there’s an in-universe answer for that: Jumbo Carnation, the mutant fashion guru that has become an indispensable fixture in the Krakoa era of X-Men comics. And, like every comics event, the Hellfire Gala will have a significant impact on the future of X-Men stories — namely, the debut of the first proper team of X-Men since their 2019 reboot in House of X/Powers of X, democratically elected by the mutants of Krakoa.
As far as comic book hype goes, this about as good as it gets. A gala is the sort of big event that mainstream superhero events can do extraordinarily well — they’re conspicuous, opulent events about staging jaw-dropping imagery; fertile ground for the sorts of behind-the-scenes drama that fuels the soap opera of superhero comics, and much more interesting than a big fight. Although sure, fights will probably happen, in addition to more abstract ones like “who wore it better?”
The Hellfire Gala is the next logical step in this era of X-Men maximalism where no one can die and a nation-state is finding its footing. Fashion isn’t just expression, it’s culture, and watching the team of creators running the X-Men line of comics create that culture has been some of the most fun superhero comics have had in years.
The Hellfire Gala kicks off June 2, 2021, with Marauders #21 and will crossover into nearly all the X-books all month long — take a peek at the covers below, which are full of even more costume reveals.