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Published July 24, 2023

Everything to Know Ahead of This Year’s X-Men Hellfire Gala

Catch up on the biggest storylines in current X-Men comics!

X-MEN: HELLFIRE GALA (2023) #1 hits comic shops on July 26, and the third annual gathering of the mutants’ global diplomatic event is setting the stage for the FALL OF X. In a huge way. Coming on the heels of numerous hard-hitting revelations, FALL OF X will once again change life for Marvel’s mutants, and there are several key storylines worth reading ahead of this year’s Hellfire Gala. Here’s what you need to know from the past year of X-Men comics to get caught up:

[RELATEDKrakoa No More? 'Fall of X' Executes Orchis' Plan for Krakoa's Downfall]

Cover to X-MEN: HELLFIRE GALA (2023) #1.
Cover to X-MEN: HELLFIRE GALA (2023) #1.

THE SINISTER CLONES, EXPLAINED

Much of mutant island Krakoa’s latest drama has centered around Nathaniel Essex, AKA Mister Sinister. As readers learned, the original version of Essex died, though not before creating four clones of himself, each meant to find a different way of stopping artificial intelligence from taking over the universe as predestined in POWERS OF X (2019). This also inspired in them a desire to achieve “Dominionhood,” a sort of all-powerful status outside of time and space.

[RELATEDMeet the Clones: A Suit of Sinisters]

Debuting in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #221, the first of these Essex clones, generally just called Mister Sinister, looks to find humanity’s future through mutation. Recently, IMMORTAL X-MEN (2022) #1-8 explored how Mister Sinister used clones of Moira MacTaggert to manipulate the timeline, eventually resulting in the 2023 event SINS OF SINISTER. This crossover revealed a future in which Mister Sinister successfully corrupted the inhabitants of Earth and bent them to his will. However, in the aftermath of the event, Mister Sinister found himself imprisoned in Krakoa’s Pit.

The four Sinister clones: Cover to X-MEN: BEFORE THE FALL - SINISTER FOUR (2023) #1.
The four Sinister clones: Cover to X-MEN: BEFORE THE FALL - SINISTER FOUR (2023) #1.

Another important Essex clone is Orbis Stellaris. Debuting in S.W.O.R.D. (2020) #6, Stellaris is a version of Essex who went to space and eventually took over the World Farm and the Progenitors, a powerful alien civilization. In S.W.O.R.D. and X-MEN RED (2022), Stellaris served as an antagonist, fighting mutantkind on Arakko, AKA Mars.  

Next, Doctor Stasis, who debuted in X-MEN (2021) #1, is a high-ranking member of Orchis, an anti-mutant organization that is a catalyst to the FALL OF X. Doctor Stasis’ particular goal is to find a post-human solution to the threat of machine supremacy. As a member of Orchis, he’s frequently found himself on the wrong side of the X-Men. Recently, X-MEN: BEFORE THE FALL – SINISTER FOUR (2023) revealed Doctor Stasis has allied himself with both Stellaris and the final Essex clone: Mother Righteous.

This key Essex clone is one of the oddest. Mother Righteous is modeled on Essex’s wife, Rebecca, and is meant to use magic to stop machine domination. She debuted in LEGION OF X (2022) #1 and has remained a major figure in that book. Initially acting as an ally to mutantkind, Mother Righteous has become much more clearly a villain in recent issues. Now also working alongside Orchis, Mother Righteous took advantage of SINS OF SINISTER to ingratiate herself to Krakoa’s leaders.

Mother Righteous’ first appearance in LEGION OF X (2022) #1.
Mother Righteous’ first appearance in LEGION OF X (2022) #1.

WHO IS ORCHIS?

During the Krakoan Era, Marvel’s mutants have faced no foe quite like Orchis. Introduced in HOUSE OF X (2019) #1 and founded by the Omega Sentinel, Orchis is an anti-mutant organization that’s taken direct action against Krakoa while simultaneously working to undermine the way the rest of the world sees the island nation. And the group has had some stunning successes as of late. Among other things, Orchis built the powerful, advanced Sentinel known as Nimrod and won several major propaganda victories against Krakoa.

[RELATEDMeet Orchis, the X-Men's Greatest Threat Yet]

Orchis’ first appearance in HOUSE OF X (2019) #1.
Orchis’ first appearance in HOUSE OF X (2019) #1.

In X-MEN (2021) #22-24, M.O.D.O.K. and Doctor Stasis smuggled a virus into Krakoan drugs, allowing them to control the fight-or-flight responses of those using them. Not only does this allow the group to make Krakoa look dangerous, but the entire endeavor derails the nation’s main way of asserting its legitimacy as a country. X-MEN RED #11-12 also revealed that Orchis has allied itself with Genesis, the powerful wife of Apocalypse and a major antagonist during 2020’s X OF SWORDS event.

SINS OF SINISTER left mutantkind in a particularly vulnerable position, with Krakoa’s Quiet Council unsure if they’ve truly overcome the machinations of Essex, the subject of IMMORTAL X-MEN #11-13. Due to increasing tensions with Krakoa, Storm ceded her seat on the Quiet Council to Piotr Rasputin, AKA Colossus, who himself is under the control of Mikhail Rasputin, his villainous older brother. Making matters worse, Selene, who has returned to the Quiet Council after being removed, is again part of that governing body, and she’s under the influence of Orchis. This new Quiet Council voted to reveal to the world the events of SINS OF SINISTER, greatly damaging Krakoa’s reputation in the process.          

[RELATEDMikhail Rasputin, the Long-Lost Brother of Colossus and Magik]

Storm steps down from the Quiet Council in IMMORTAL X-MEN (2022) #12.
Storm steps down from the Quiet Council in IMMORTAL X-MEN (2022) #12.

WHO IS FEILONG?

While Orchis itself is a significant threat, one of the group’s members, Kelvin Heng, AKA Feilong, poses a particularly large problem ahead of this year’s Hellfire Gala. Introduced in X-MEN (2021) #1, Feilong is a genius industrialist who once had plans to conquer and terraform Mars. However, his ambition was thwarted when Marvel’s mutants turned the planet into Arakko instead, giving him a special grudge against the group.

Feilong’s most important contributions to the upcoming event have taken place in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN (2022). In that series, Feilong acquired Stark Unlimited from Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, who lost his fortune trying to remove black market weapons from circulation. Using that technology, Feilong has been able to create new and incredibly powerful adamantium Sentinels, which he’s aiming to deploy against Marvel’s mutants. In INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #7, Stark destroyed one of his former factories in hopes of stopping Feilong, but his efforts weren’t enough.

Feilong schemes ahead in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN (2022) #7.
Feilong schemes ahead in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN (2022) #7.

X-FORCE’S SHOCKING BETRAYAL

Outside of direct engagements with Orchis, Marvel’s mutants have been mired in conflict from within, especially true in X-FORCE (2019). The first issue of this series introduced a new version of the X-Force team, this time serving as Krakoa’s counterintelligence agency. The burden of responsibility resulted in the group’s leader, Hank McCoy, AKA Beast, to take a dark turn and enter morally dubious ground on behalf of the island nation. X-FORCE #40-42, “The Ghost Calendars” arc, has dealt with X-Force attempting to subdue future versions of Beast. Elsewhere, WOLVERINE (2020) #26-34, which encompasses the “The Beast Agenda” and “Weapons of X” arcs, has seen Logan set his sights on his old ally, with a view to settle the score between them once and for all.

Beast plots his move against Logan in WOLVERINE (2020) #26.
Beast plots his move against Logan in WOLVERINE (2020) #26.

To find out what happens next for mutantkind—and to see the descent into the FALL OF X—pick up X-MEN: HELLFIRE GALA (2023) #1, on sale July 26!

Grab these comics and more at your local comic book shop! Or redeem then read your digital copy on the Marvel Unlimited app by using the code found in your print comic. Find and support your local comic book shop at ComicShopLocator.com.

To read your Marvel comics digitally, download the Marvel Unlimited app for iOS and Android devices. Gain an expansive catalog of 30,000+ comics spanning Marvel Comics history, plus access your entire digital library including comics redeemed from print. 

Sins of Sinister: The Complete Event
Sins of Sinister: The Complete Event
For decades, mutant geneticist Mister Sinister has plotted and schemed, intent on creating a “better” world. Now, his dreams come to fruition—and his darkest nightmares! Ten, a hundred and a thousand years into the future, a horrific timeline has been unleashed that makes the Age of Apocalypse look like a day at the beach! Who are the Immoral X-Men, sworn to crush a world that adores them?
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