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File:Inferno 4666.jpg

Creepiest X-Men Crossover Ever

Inferno! was a Marvel Comics comic book crossover from 1988-1989. The basic premise was that New York city was literally turned into a hell (not THE Hell, mind you) and its heroes, villains and civilians had to deal with it.

Should not be confused with a part of Dante's Divine Comedy, the movie about a burning building, or several other media uses of the word "inferno".

Synopsis: Although extended to affect several Marvel titles, this was basically an X-Men crossover. It was made for two reasons: first, to solve the dangling plotline regarding Jean Grey's clone, Madelyne Pryor, and secondarily, to finally do something with the plotline of Illyana Rasputin (Colossus' sister) which had been teased for years. Pryor was a Jean Grey lookalike that Cyclops just happened to meet shortly after Jean Grey's death. They married and had a baby. However when Marvel decided to bring Jean back to life and have her and Cyclops star in a new title (X Factor) suddenly the character was unnecessary and made Cyclops look bad for "running away from his wife" (actually he had intended to return to her but she had vanished by then.) This story revealed that Pryor was indeed a clone of Grey from the start, created by the villain Mister Sinister since he wanted a baby born from the two of them, as it was predicted it would be the only one who could permanently destroy Sinister's archfoe, the mutant villain Apocalypse. The revelation drove Pryor mad.

As for Illyana, she had the mutant power of opening portals to the dimension called Limbo- which was a type of Hell. She was captured by its ruler, the sorcerer Belasco, who raised her for the purpose of sacrificing her to his mysterious gods, but Illyana defeated him- leaving her the ruler of limbo, whether she liked it or not. She joined the New Mutants but her demonic heritage was a constant latent threat.

The plots become linked by the fact that S'ym, Illyana's main demon servant, made a deal with with Pryor in a dream, which she foolishly accepted thinking it would not be binding in the real world- needless to say, it was. This turned her into the evil Goblyn Queen. The whole thing was a plan by Limbo's top two demons, S'ym and N'astirh (Introduced for this story). (Note that N'astirh was given credit for corrupting Madelyne, which is incorrect, unless it had pretended to be S'ym in the dream.) The two eventually turn on each other.

N'astirh tricked Illyana (aka as Magik) into releasing the forces of Limbo in New York. Demons invaded the streets and even the city itself turned demonic. While the local superheroes dealt with the resulting chaos, the X-Men and X-Factor had to prevent Madelyne from sacrificing her own baby. Ultimately she dies while trying to kill Jean Grey, and things are restored to normal in New York. Almost as an afterthought, the heroes hunt down Sinister and kill him, though he would return later (as did Madelyne). Illyana seemingly was reverted to an innocent, non-demonic child. Most of the people of New York wrote off the incident as a mass hallucination.

In another example of tying loose ends, the baby was taken to the future (in another story) growing up to become the mysterious hero Cable.

The story had a sequel in 2009 by the title of "X-Inferno" featuring the "darkchylde" Illyana once again.

Tropes in this crossover:

  • Cloning Blues: Poor Madelyne.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Cyclops running into a Jean lookalike shortly after her "death" (although this story says it was set up by Sinister.)
    • Of all the people in the world, why did the demons choose Madelyne as their new Queen?
    • The baby turning out to be Cable.
  • Deal with the Devil
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Madelyn, the baby, teenage Illyana.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Belasco's gods.
  • Evil Costume Switch: For Madelyne and Illyana. Both of which are very Stripperiffic.
  • Fridge Logic: ...So, nobody thought to check out Madelyne's DNA to see if it matched Jean's?
    • Why didn't Sinister just USE Cyclops and Jean's DNA to create the baby instead of going to such convoluted extremes? Made even worse because that's exactly what he does in the Alternate Reality crossover, The Age of Apocalypse.
  • Genius Loci: The city itself became "evil" featuring everything from overflowing toilets to trains turned into giant worms!
  • Human Sacrifice: Illyana (originally) and the baby (both survive.)
  • I Thought It Meant: The terms "limbo" and "inferno" are NOT interchangeable. Made worse by the fact that Marvel *already* had a dimension called Limbo before Illyana's was introduced.
  • Nightmare Fuel: especially when Madelyn tries to kill her own baby.
  • Red Skies Crossover: None of the non-mutant heroes involved ever found out what the Hell all that was about.
  • Selective Obliviousness: The people of New York accept the existence aliens and mutants, but demons? No way.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The long-teased Limbo invasion finally happens, and it's Madelyne Pryor instead of Illyana who provokes it?
    • Also, S'ym loses the spotlight to a completely new demon.
      • You'd think Belasco would have returned for this instead.
  • Super-Powered Evil Side: The Darkchylde for Illyana, and the Goblyn Queen for Madelyne.
  • Take That: S'ym is a parody of Cerebus.
  • Taking You with Me
  • Underboobs: See page illustration above. Unquestionably one of the most legendary examples in comic book history. Were it not for the fact that she possessed awesome telekinetic powers there would have been no way that Madelyne could have ever raised her arms like that, much less engaged in combat, without baring it all!
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • Jean Grey's return started the whole mess.
    • All the characters eliminated here eventually return.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Remember the other infants who were to be sacrificed? They were turned into child soldiers.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Madelyne, who's Start of Darkness was because Scott callously abandoned her and Nathan to be reunited with Jean.
    • Well really Madelyne does not undergo a change of personality after being abandoned. So really her Start of Darkness would be her later dreams.
    • When news came that Jean had returned to life, Scott goes to see Jean, but he does not tell Madelyne that their marriage is over, though she threatens him with it if he goes. Note that he specifically does not immediately take up his former relationship with Jean again, and tries several times to contact Madelyne and figure out how to fix things. Scott does not resume his relationship with Jean until he learns (wrongly) that Madelyne had died. It was, strictly speaking, Madelyne who ended the relationship.
      • After Scott had joined X-factor several months had past before he first tried to contact Madelyne. Many of the problems would have been avoided if Scott bothered to explain the situation to both Jean and Madelyne.
      • Of course, there has always been a fan faction who maintain that Madelyne and Jean are the same person anyway, a case of multiple personality disorder combined with the Phoenix Force. While this sounds far-fetched, a case for it can be made using canonical sources.