Marauders #21

Issue Date: 
August 2021
Story Title: 
You’re cordially Invited to the Hellfire Gala (1st story); Out with the Old (2nd story)
Staff: 

(1st story) Gerry Duggan (writer), Matteo Lolli (artist), Edgar Delgado (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Tom Muller (Design), Russell Dautermann & Matthew Wilson (cover artists), David Finch & Frank D’Armata; Phil Jimenez & Marte Gracia (variant covers), Nick Russell (production), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Chris Robinson (assistant editor), Jordan D. White (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
(2nd story)
Chris Claremont (writer), John Bolton (artist), Glynis Oliver (color artist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Ann Nocenti (editor)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

1st story:
Mutantkind welcome guests, friends and foes alike to the Hellfire Gala. Kate Pryde and Franklin Richard have a friendly encounter, but Reed and Xavier less so. Emma leads through the program, starting with a unique telepathic concert. Emma asks her brother to take care of a Shi’ar shipment of logic crystals. The Stepford Cuckoos decide to help Wilhelmina Kensington by awakening a memory in her. Friends shoots the breeze and enemies gather. But all of them are shocked after the evening’s final reveal.

Full Summary: 

1st story
Mykines Island, protectorate of Genosha, where the three Royals of the Hellfire Corporation are waiting on a balcony for their guests to arrive. Sitting in his wheelchair, Sebastian Shaw muses that it is remarkable to be at a Hellfire gala once again. It has been a long time. Kate Pryde remarks she was too young for those parties and Emma Frost assures her she hasn’t missed anything. Tonight is the one that will have all the fireworks.

They watch the ships and planes coming in. Their friends and enemies are watching, and so are their neighbors beyond this planet, Emma warns. They have much riding on tonight’s success.

Dressed in simple, black suits X-Force is doing security. Domino informs the White Queen that conditions are green. The Krakoan Gates are now open and active for non-mutant guests.

New York:
In front of the Krakoan gate, Tempo welcomes the Avengers and doles out Krakoan flowers as their tickets through the gates for the gala and possible after-parties. Nervously, Captain America steps through the gate first, and he and the others are welcomed by Emma, who announces how glad they are that their friends have come. She knows even their closest allies have questioned what their mutant friends have become. They hope tonight strengthens any frayed bonds.

The Fantastic Four and family arrive with their jet, a disgruntled Franklin Richards among them. Kate waves at him and the two hug. Iron Man also arrives on his own speed and tells the telepath Quentin Quire that it’s the outside of this beautiful head he will be staring at all night. He knows what he’s thinking: “Where did Iron Man get those psi-dampeners?” No, he’s thinking where is his Krakoan flower? Quentin retorts, calling him a boring old *)(/&. And he should have used the gateway. The island is a fragile eco-system. Iron Man retorts that he doesn’t just throw himself into any sort of new unproven portal technology for fun. More conciliatory, he offers to treat them both to a pair of Shirley Temples.

More guests arrive, among them Dr. Doom. Emma thinks to herself that inviting him was a bitter pill, knowing how poorly he’s treated mutants inside his borders.

Next, the Russian and Madripoorian ambassadors arrive with UK ambassador Reuben Brousseau, which gives her pause. Still, more positive guests arrive, among them the AIM Agent who recently helped them and who is warmly greeted by Storm. Next is Dr. Strange, who is pleased to see that for once he is the one underdressed.

Xavier greets Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. After their last meeting, he wasn’t sure he would accept their invitation. Richards replies curtly that the kids wanted to come. Also, he wanted to say this to Xavier’s face. He whispers something into Xavier’s ear, then walks away. Xavier’s smile slips.

Kate hugs Franklin Richards, who admits he thought she’d be disappointed or angry. Never, she assures him. Xavier walks by, noting it’s always nice to see their human friends – especially him. Franklin scowls. Kate reminds him that, being part of the Fantastic Four is plenty cool enough. In fact, it’s probably too cool for him. Everything works out in the end, she promises.

Telepathically, Emma greets everyone, welcoming them to the first of many Hellfire Galas.

In an observation room, Beast complains that Emma is already off script. He never agreed to do this again. Sage snorts. Emma and Jumbo already have a theme for the next one.

On the stage, Emma announces that tonight is about building bridges for the future together, rather than about their obvious differences and rows. A blue-skinned young woman with a string instrument joins her on the stage. Emma introduces her as Rhapsody. She is playing a living, single string instrument grown on the island.

Nothing says mutant supremacy like a string solo, British ambassador Reuben Brousseau mutters in the audience to Delores Ramirez, who prefers seeing her perform over the ones who shoot death rays out of their eyes.

Emma explains that Rhapsody will be accompanied by the telepaths, the Five-in-One and Marvel Girl. The psychic butterflies do not just carry the sound but allow everybody to feel what it is like to play as a master.

Disgusted, Doom swats a butterfly away, while the crowd experiences it. If his Aunt Petunia could hear him play, the Thing announces. Doom calls him a sentimental rube.

The performance over, Rhapsody and the telepaths bow. Ambassador Brousseau calls this a cheap stunt. Delores is astonished. Russian ambassador Natalia Vollock asks Brousseau to join her for a talk with her friends from the Verendi government in Madripoor.

On a balcony outside, Shinobi, Pyro, Bishop, Iceman and Ned the Aim scientist roll dice, until they are discovered by the Thing who angrily asks what they are doing. He’s offended they didn’t ask him if he wanted to roll some bones. It’s gambling time!

Inside, Banshee addresses Emma, now dressed in a short, business style suit and an X-shaped fascinator. Everyone is having fun. She always knew how to throw a soiree. She’s happy he’s accepted her invitation. He got both of them, he replies, but he’s afraid… Emma interrupts: if it’s bad news, please not tonight. She excuses herself. She sees two guests who need her attention.

Captain America and Dr. Doom silently glare at each other and two spectators bet on whether there is going to be a fight.

Emma steps between them and thanks them for honoring them with their presence. If she is interrupting something, do tell. Not at all, Cap replies politely. He was thinking about taking a walk around her party. Is that what this is? Doom scoffs. A party? Addressing Doom by his first name, Cap points out they have both attended their share of state dinners. This one just has more firepower. And style, of course, he adds with a glance at Emma.

Emma turns to Doom stressing there is no reason Latveria cannot enjoy the same friendship with Krakoa that America has. They have much to offer and little to ask. Frankly, his intractability on Krakoa demeans a man who has accomplished so much. Doom replies she says “man” as though he is less, not more. Emma smiles. Mutants are here. They are not going anywhere. He’s acting as though they have announced that they have conquered Earth.

That moment, a Shi’ar envoy bows and announces he’d like to congratulate them on behalf of the Shi’ar Empire. They would like to congratulate mutantdom on conquering their homeplanet. Emma is speechless and Cap looks pained while Doom bursts into laughter. Emma gently corrects the envoy while Doom walks away, still laughing.

Emma speaks under four eyes with the envoy who tells her they have fulfilled her request, though it was not easy. Clearly not knowing what he is talking about, Emma asks him to refresh her memory. They are here, in a ship as requested, he continues. She must come. Emma smiles politely, then telepathically calls her brother Christian for help. She tells the envoy Christian will take care of the gift while informing Christian telepathically she has no idea what he is talking about. She asks him to sort it out. The two men leave.

Shinobi Shaw next steps up. His father asked him to tell Emma that the UN ambassador is at this moment negotiating a trade agreement with… Emma interrupts. A rising tide lifts all boats. If their enemies improve, so do they. She’s the boss, he replies diplomatically and steps away.

In the meantime, Brousseau, Vollock and another ambassador consider when to share their news with the world. Whenever it might be most inconveniently timed to hear, Brousseau decides. Vollock congratulates him. She knows her people in Moscow will be delighted. He would like to introduce her to some like-minded ambassadors. Shaw watches them sharply.

They walk away from Kade Kilgore and Wilhelmina Kensington, two of the young leaders of the anti-mutant organization Verendi. Sounds like the deal is in the bag, a smug Kade addresses Wilhelmina, whose mind seems to be elsewhere. Listlessly, she agrees. She is unaware that she is being watched by the Stepford Cuckoos, who are telepathically arguing. One the one hand, they know Jumbo Carnation is waiting for them. They ‘d promised Emma to wear another set of fabulous costumes. On the other hand, they are interested in Wilhelmina. They know she is hurting and discuss whether they should help her. Finally, they all agree to do it secretly. Telepathically, they make her remember…

Emma telepathically asks her Inner Circle to join her outside Saucier’s kitchen. She’d like to propose a toast before the fireworks and her final wardrobe change…

James Hudson aka Guardian is shooting the breeze with former Alpha Flight teammate Northstar and his husband Kyle Jinadu-Beaubier. He is glad they have remained together. This job can be hell on marriages. Kyle asks about Heather. Northstar gently points out that Mac just hinted at his and Heather’s separation.

Captain America is surprised to see Henry Gyrich among the guests. Same at him, Gyrich smirks. He never could get Cap to attend any of the Latverian functions in the past. That was… Latveria, Henry, Cap points out. This is… Krakoa, Steve, Gyrich replies in the same tone. He’s always marveled at what an optimist he is.

A short distance away, Emma ogles Captain America and tells Kate that the man usually does nothing for her, but the way he looked at her when they were with Doom, she can tell there is something there. In mock dismay, Kate points out he collects Baseball cards. He’s worn the same uniform for a century. He drinks milk! Emma replies that relationships are still fun to fantasize about, but groans a moment later. Having read Rogers’ mind, she found out she reminds him of his mother. She decides she needs another drink.

A little later, Jumbo drags Saucier from his kitchen to Emma’s impromptu gathering, including Shaw, Kate, the rest of the Marauders, Shinobi, Fenris and Callisto. Emma raises her glass, hoping that after this night there will be no need for a black market for their medicines. At this rate, they’ll only have a black market, Shaw mutters. Tonight, they will bring this entire world together, Emma announces.

Later that evening, a few minutes after midnight:
The guests leave, many in a state of shock at what they have witnessed.

The Brazilian ambassador tells Emma what they have done will galvanize humanity in a way it never was to confront the danger posed by mutantkind. Emma politely thanks her for coming and hopes to visit Brazil soon.

The heroes seem to be shocked as well. Magik asks her former tutor Dr. Strange about his opinion He answers evasively he doesn’t want to be rude at a party and he needs some time to gather his thoughts.

Cyclops asks Captain America about his thoughts. Cap asks if he knew about this when they met a few days ago. Not for certain, but he had an inkling, is the reply. Cap shakes his hand. They solved one big problem, but he’s worried they might have made an even bigger mess. He just hopes they all know what they are doing, are his ominous last words before taking his leave.

Characters Involved: 

Bishop, Callisto, Kate Pryde, Iceman, Pyro, Storm (all Marauders)
Emma Frost, Sebastian Shaw
Shinobi Shaw
Christian frost
Fenris
Lockheed
Beast, Domino, Kid Omega, Sage, Wolverine (all X-Force)
Professor X
Banshee
Marvel Girl
Cyclops
Saucier
Jumbo Carnation

Cannonball, Magik, Mirage (New Mutants)
Northstar
Kyle Jinadu
Stepford Cuckoos
Rhapsody

Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Thing (Fantastic Four)
Brainstorm, Powerhouse
Alicia Masters

Black Panther, Blade, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Ghost Rider, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor (Avengers)
Dr. Strange
Guardian

Ned, the AIM agent
Dr. Doom

Delores Ramirez
Nathali Vollock
Reuben Brousseau
Doland Pierce
Walter Reppion

Chen Zhao
Kade Kilgore
Wilhelmina Kensington

Story Notes: 

Text page:

Invitation to the Gala with the program points

Further notes:

The second story is a reprint of the backstory of Classic X-Men #7, which shows a previous Hellfire Gala during which Shaw, Emma Frost and their allies took over the Inner Circle.

Franklin Richards lost his powers in Fantastic four (6th series) #25, which revealed that he wasn’t really a mutant. As a consequence, Xavier banished from Krakoa

During their last meeting in X-Men / Fantastic Four, Xavier took away Richards’ memory on an anti-mutant device. In that same series, the X-Men also learned about Doom keeping his mutant countrymen captive.

Ned the AIM agent helped the X-Men in Giant-Size X-Men: Storm.

The guests are all astonished because of events in Planet-size X-Men.

Rhapsody first appeared in X-Factor (1st series) #79.

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