The first issue of The Hellfire Saga is still the worst comic I’ve read so far this year. It was full of humour that completely lacked the subtlety that a satire requires. It was full of offensive mischaracterization – most notably with Husk – and introduced a bunch of characters with little to know personality. The second issue was an improvement, if only because it focused less on the Hellfire club and more on the X-Men as they searched for the hellfire academy. This issue further improves, but that doesn’t make it good.
First though, let’s talk about what does work in this comic. The character development for Idie is alright. She narrates through most of this issue about what the Hellfire Academy has been teaching her, and how she’s probably become a darker character because of it. It also explores her reasoning behind joining the Hellfire Academy, even if it doesn’t have much of a payoff yet. Quentin Quire’s development is also alright, and Toad actually has some dignity in this comic (even if this doubles as further destroying another villain’s reputation). The X-Men scenes as they search for the Academy are also alright, even if there isn’t nearly enough focus on them.
It goes to show that Jason Aaron really is a capable writer, and if the whole series was done darker and more serious, it could have been a lot better. Unfortunately, much of what made the first two issues bad are still present.
Husks characterization is still offensive. She’s portrayed as a crazed murderer; a far cry from any portrayal of her character before this series (and she’s had virtually no character development in WATXM). Sabertooth’s one scene feels pointless, and female Mojo is still little more than a copycat of the original. Also, Sauron was taken down way too easily in this comic, further reducing him from the powerful villain he once was. The comic’s pacing feels a bit weird too. It jumps around too much, as though it’s trying to juggle too many storylines in a 5-part arc. It also leaves several scenes partially unfinished, trying to make us wonder whether certain characters will be killed off or not (I strongly doubt it).
The art is alright, but nothing special. It’s a comical feel that works for a comedic storyline, which the first two issues were trying to be. It clashes badly with the scenes that are trying to be serious. Also, Oya has fully developed breasts in this issue, and she’s supposed to be 14. Does anyone else find that creepy? I get that comics often work like that, but how hard is it to draw tiny bumps on a teenager rather than drawing an anime-style high schooler with giant knockers and an under aged face? Heck, the only female character in this comic with larger breasts is female Mojo, and she’s fat. I know I’m lingering on this, but this really creeps me out.
This is the best issue of the Hellfire Saga so far, but that’s really not saying much. The villains’ plot is a bit nonsensical, the art clashes with the more serious scenes and some characters are horribly out of character. At this rate WATXM 35 will be my last issue of the series, and I can’t recommend this one. I’m also a little concerned about Aaron’s upcoming Amazing X-men, but I do plan on at least reading one issue of that.