The Hellfire Gala & Mutant Fashion - Ranked (Part two)
The X-Men and more have dressed to impress at the biggest party Krakoa has ever seen.
Alright, so apparently this whole thing needed to happen in two parts. I can totally understand that. It has been a massive endeavor on my part, and I don't think things have been much easier for the Ghost of Joan Rivers. Thankfully for you and I both, dear reader, she has stuck it out with me this far, and we are finally entering the final stretch. So, please, get acquainted with whatever the Hell(fire) this is if you haven't already by reading the first half of this article, and then let's get on with the show.
Leading things off today are the designs by Lucas Werneck being featured in X-Men #21.
This simple, understated design appears at first to be something more practical than fantastical, but upon closer inspection it becomes clear that much more thought was put into this particular ensemble than one would notice at but a glance. Thankfully, the tight stripes and light touches of color are easily capable of drawing a second look, and there isn't much to dislike. It's clean, combat ready, and sophisticated all at the same time. It's a subtle homage and a brand new bag all at once. It's perfectly serviceable, but it isn't stunning, and that's just fine.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers says she didn't know they were making a sequel to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow seventeen years late.
Final score: 7.3
Sunfire is doing a lot with this look, and most of it works. With the exception of some specific choices regarding cuts of fabric and how things fall, this is a powerful representation of not just what Sunfire is all about as a mutant, but who he is as a person. He is intimidating, but not unapproachable. The hypnotic patterns resting beneath the flames are just one more tiny detail that would be sorely missed if removed, and the only alterations I would even think to suggest are so superficial that I can't imagine they even impact my score here.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers wants to know which one of the 3 Ninjas grew up hot.
Final score: 8.7
I am personally a huge fan of Synch, and try as I might to not let that influence my feelings regarding his choice of attire, it probably will. I'm also a huge fan of rainbows, bright colors, holographic anything and "so ugly I love it" fashion in general. Listen, the suit isn't great, but that jacket is one of the coolest fucking things I have ever seen in my life. Let's not worry about the fact that Synch looks like the great-grandson of John Shaft that got lost walking home from Coachella. Let's just all take a deep breath, and seriously consider emailing me, the author of this article, telling him that you know where he can trade money for an ankle length color shifting rainbow trench coat that is probably somehow directly connected to the wearer's own emotional spectrum. Let's all just do that, okay?
The Ghost of Joan Rivers says she is really disappointed in me right now.
Final score: 6.3
Lucas Wernek also supplied readers with this jaw dropping set...
Colossus' look for the Gala is just perfect. That's it. It's just perfect. Everyone else can go home, probably. While it might seem superficial at first, there was clearly a lot of thought put into this suit which showcases not only Colossus' perfect physique, but symbolizes so many things about him. This is an ode to Russia, to his powers, and to mutant kind all at once. It is a reclamation of pride in the things that for so long he was told to be ashamed of, and it is a boast in and of itself that he, along with all mutants, are truly a most remarkable and unbreakable people.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers is making some noises that I thought only existed in Tex Avery cartoons.
Final score: 9.8
Coming up next are some fanciful designs by Alex Lins from the pages of New Mutants #19.
What Warpath chose to wear to the Gala was a choice, and no one can take that away from him. It seems to follow a lot of the same concepts as what Colossus wore, at least at first, and then things kind of go off the rails. I'm not sure if this was a failed attempt to weaponize a tuxedo or an homage to some mutant James Bond figure that I have never heard of, but it isn't great. I'm genuinely confused by the breastplate and spiked shoulder pads, but then there is the inside of the tail of his coat, and I wonder if maybe I'm not being too harsh on something that was just a little less reigned in than it should have been.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers just got real excited and produced a stash of XFL merch that I was previously unaware of.
Final score: 6.5
Dani Moonstar is pulling out all the stops for the evening's festivities. Much like Colossus, she is embracing so many different aspects of who she is as a mutant, Cheyenne, and maybe even just a little touch of Valkyrie. What's even better is that all of it works. Apart from the shoes, those just kind of hang out around the break room, but everything else definitely works. Well, maybe not the cape. Maybe the cape. I need to deliberate with Joan about this one... Okay, so it's a yes on the cape, no on the shoulder pads. I'm really glad we cleared that up.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers says she'll reconsider the shoulder pads if this is another XFL thing.
Final score: 8.7
Illyana Rasputina has come to embrace her darker side more and more over the years, and it looks like she is breaking all the rules by riding the line between mutant and demon. This isn't a gorgeous gown, but it is a spectacle in the best kind of way. Magik looks like the Disney princess none of us knew we needed, and considering who owns Marvel, there is bound to be an argument to be made that she actually is one at this point. Though there were absolutely some risks made with this dress, they all come together well enough that the entire ensemble passes with mostly flying colors. Plus, the amateur fashion critic can't complain about your shoes when you've got goat legs, amirite?
The Ghost of Joan Rivers is completely losing her shit right now. She's certain that XFL is making a full fledged comeback and I did not know she was so into it. I didn't know that anybody was, to be honest.
Final score: 8.0
What Karma chose to wear to the Gala feels more like a New York Fashion Week, half-joking, pseudo-experimental attempt at haute couture than it does anything inspired by, well, anything. It's cute. It would look good on a runway somewhere. Or on a mannequin somewhere. Or on an album cover somewhere. Just, y'know, anywhere else. It's quirky but not in an especially fun way. The earrings are good. I'm going to pretend I didn't see the shoes.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers just got real mad real fast, and I think she's just realized that these are not in fact new XFL uniforms.
Final score: 5.3
They gave Warlock a bowtie. They gave WARLOCK a BOWTIE! THEY GAVE. WARLOCK. A BOWTIE!!!.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers can shut the fuck up for two God damn minutes and let Warlock enjoy the party before I call Dan Akroyd and file a real serious kind of complaint.
Final score: 12.WeLoveYouSoooooooMuchAndYouAreSuchAHandsomeBoy
Now we move on to Alberto Foche's designs from X-Corp #2.
I genuinely don't know what Jamie Madrox was thinking with this one. It is only barely reminiscent of his previous styles and costumes, and only in the worst possible ways. The split cape over the green bodysuit with face paint that couldn't possibly clash more with the rest of the look, it's all too much. This is bad now, this would have been bad when he first showed up in the seventies, and it will still be bad in another forty years. Jesus, Jamie...
The Ghost of Joan Rivers is laughing uncontrollably.
Final score: 5.2
You would think that for someone whose mutant power is casting vivid, lifelike illusions, Mastermind would have done something a little more chic. Then again, style was never really his forte, though he hasn't done a back job of making himself presentable for the Gala. Drab as it might be, Mastermind's choice of suit for the evening is really quite stunning once you get past the assortment of beiges on display. Mastermind isn't drawing any attention to himself from across the room. Maybe that's the way he likes it, and that's okay. On a technical level, this is a good outfit, and should be treated as such even if the man inside of it is a righteous bastard.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers says her thing for men in suits is no longer "a thing."
Final score: 7.5
Selene has never looked particularly bad for a seventeen thousand year old mutant vampire, but she has looked better than she does for the Gala. There is a noble aspect to her outfit for the night, but it quickly becomes lost in translation somewhere between the feathered cape and catsuit. Did you know that Selene was a literal goddess at one point? Because everyone who saw her wearing this immediately forgot about it after rolling their eyes through the backs of their skulls.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers wants to know why Elvira's daughter is dressed like she's headed to the nunnery.
Final score: 6.0
Sunspot is really heating up the green carpet, even if he isn't setting the night ablaze. This bold, striking look does exactly what it was intended to by putting on a pedestal exactly what it is that Sunspot all about, which is only one thing at a time, really. This isn't to say that Roberto Da Costa is a one note character, but rather that he has a hard time separating himself from that singular dimension from which he suffered over the years. Instead of putting on the face of a rich and reckless mutant playboy, Sunspot has gone all in on a decidedly more aggressive look that ultimately falls short of noteworthy.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers says men named Roberto are only good for two things and she can't say either of them on network television. I think she thinks we're filming this, y'all.
Final score: 6.7
Coming up next are Valerio Schiti's designs from S.W.O.R.D. #6.
I don't think anyone expected Joanna Cargill to show up in such fierce fashion, at least not of this particular variety. Frenzy is tearing up the green carpet in a dress that harkens back to the more sexualized costume from time with the Alliance of Evil as well as her stints with both the Femizons and Acolytes. None of those previous styles came anywhere close to this, though. The helmet might not tie the look together in the way that she had hoped, and would honestly be better off without it, but apart from that one detail it is near impossible to find anything about this dress to nitpick.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers says there's not enough cleavage and I cannot tell if she is joking or not.
Final score: 9.0
Wiz-Kid is supposed to be a smart guy. Like, a super smart guy. That's kind of his thing. Yet somehow he ended up here. Let's pretend the fishbowl helmet wasn't there for a minute - This is exactly what you would want to see on stage at a whole lot of different concerts. A red suit with knucklebones on it or whatever being carried by a pinstriped matching wheelchair rocking some S.W.O.R.D. emblems... All of that sounds dope. But then you show up to the Gala in it, and, alright, whatever, maybe it's supposed to be the talk of the night and make a scene and yadda yadda yadda. The fucking fishbowl, though. The audacity it takes to among the smartest people in the room and say to yourself "This is the appropriate thing to wear," it just boggles the mind. We know that you've been in space, we don't need reminding. The bottom of it isn't even sealed. Ugh. I'm not sure how to score this. Let me grab some coffee and think about it.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers says if she had known Elton John had raised his son on the moon she would have asked for a postcard.
Final score: 6.8
You know, at first I really hated this outfit, but after some consideration it really has grown on me. There isn't anything technically fascinating about the dress itself, but the woman wearing it and how she is doing so make it special. It would be too easy to call this any of the myriad of horrible things that the Ghost of Joan Rivers is currently spouting off, most of which are genuinely pretty funny. There isn't anything that will make me appreciate that makeup nor the haircut, both of those are objectively bad and should never have happened. The rest of it, though, the way that Khora has turned the fact that she is a walking powerplant into something beautiful, it's all quite remarkable. This tows the line between fashion that panders to a runway crowd and fashion that wears its model as much as the model wears it. Khora has shown up to the Gala not as a mutant of Arakko, but as a piece of art. How it is interpreted is up to the observer.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers is slowly approaching Khora with a marshmallow on a stick.
Final score: 8.2
This is the most miraculous look that Magneto has ever worn, hands down. I'm not complaining, I'm just pointing that out. Nothing about this suit is not fantastical, regal, or somehow even somber. There is a story that it tells in its intricacies, one that those more qualified than I could surely spend hours translating. Honestly, I wish someone would. Of all of the wondrous, magical ensembles of the evening, this is the first one to elicit a deeply emotional reaction from me, and I wish I could pinpoint exactly why that is.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers said she's going to try to trade Magneto some decent ghost-blow for his hat.
Final score: 8.8
Manifold has long lived in the shadow of Gateway, something that hasn't always been easy for him, though it looks like he has let a little bit of his old mentor shine through with this very loud suit and sneaker combo. As much as I would like to say that I hate the shoulders or cuffs, I just can't. Everything else makes those two objectively awful features bleed away into the entire look, and at the end of it they don't even have to work when they can just be overlooked instead. Manifold looks cool and casual without losing any of his sophisticated edge, and there is nothing to not love about that.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers just requested "September."
Final score: 8.0
After that last round of entries are Bob Quinn's designs being featured in Way of X #3.
Cute as she might be most often, Pixie has always had a darker side buried deep under the surface. Since mutant kind is effectively immortal now, she has been embracing it more and more, and her Gala attire perfectly encapsulates that. It does not do so particularly well, unfortunately. If only the lace had been more prominent. If only the dress were a little more snug. If only she hadn't chosen to cosplay as one of my more presentable sleep paralysis demons. In the interest of fairness, this is not a bad dress. It isn't even the wrong dress for the occasion. There's just something missing, or something too much, and after the initial shock sets in the whole thing falls a bit flat.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers is leaving to track down both a young priest and an old priest.
Final score: 6.3
-Mercury is looking so good.
-How good is she looking?
-She's looking so good that Loa openly and nervously questions her own sexuality while day drinking in Way of X #2 by Si Spurrier and Bob Quinn.
It isn't that good of a joke, but it's a thing that happened in the comics. I'm not going to say that this is a look that especially does it for me, but for a Gala event it is absolutely, positively the kind of thing to experiment with. It also just so happens to be perfect.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers is, once again, unavailable. I'm ninety-nine percent sure that she went looking for those priests. I'll average her score between the others.
Final score: 8.0
Lao's lionfish inspired look is a stunning representation of what she is capable of. It also makes excellent use of her naturally occurring tattoos, and finds a symmetry that the similarly styled Mystique's gown decidedly did not have. Having such a limited palate without including anything that truly pops, such as Mastermind's triple beige suit touched up with gold, would likely be a detracting factor on anyone else. But Lao is confident, radiant, and dangerous, just like her muse for the evening.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers is back and she wants to know if this is a 101 Dalmations but with fish type of situation.
Final score: 8.5
Dazzler is, well, dazzling in her bell bottom jumpsuit. She doesn't need any help to shine like a diamond, and there has never been a better time to bring back her most iconic style in a slightly updated fashion. There isn't a whole lot to say here, really. Dazzler is shining as brilliantly as ever, and we can't help but love her for it.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers just asked me if I could also see the shiny lights, and now I'm wondering what she took that I wasn't offered any of.
Final score: 8.3
And now, for the final group entry into this series of critiques, we move on to the designs featured in X-Factor #10 from David Baldeon.
This simple, clean suit offers everyone a look inside the mind of a man who decided his ash gray jacket needed tribal tattoos to match the ones it is covering. He also decided not to wear any shoes. What the fuck even is someone's life that this seems like a solid plan?
The Ghost of Joan Rivers says she has the same tattoo in three places, and that I'll never guess where any of them are. I'm going to try not to think about it too hard.
Final score: 5.3
Now here is someone who, unlike Daken, knows how to put together a snazzy ensemble that highlights their own history and personality in a way that leaves them both approachable and worthy of awe. And then he kept going just way too far. There was, at some point, probably before the buckled side window and hip chains, that this would have been an easy nine or higher. Northstar has, in fact, looked better. Not by much, though, and this outfit isn't horrid or outright bad, it's just juggling more than it can handle. Maybe that isn't so bad for a Gala event.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers wants to know which Belmont she's about to make fun of.
Final score: 8.0
This simple yet captivating dress worn by Aurora is everything that the concept of elegance through simplicity has every tried to convey. It isn't too sexy, and it isn't too experimental, but it draws and holds your attention, nearly forcing you to soak in every facet of its design. The footwear was the perfect match for the dress, too, and it's hard to imagine it falling so perfectly over the frame of anyone else.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers isn't really paying attention anymore after seeing the next dress, but I think she whispered "nine."
Final score: 9.2
This uranium glass ornament that Polaris is wearing has two collars, one for her neck, and one also for her neck when she decides to flip the whole thing upside down for a slightly more ridiculous aesthetic. I genuinely don't know how I'm supposed to be kind about this. I know I should take it seriously, but this just comes across as another try-hard gown designed with nobody and no body in particular in mind. It fits so well, despite its glaringly incohesive structure, and the more I look at it, the more I realize that the number of things I actually dislike aren't that great. It is the degree to which I dislike them that has created such a guttural reaction in me, and I'm not sure I can get over that by the time I'm done consulting with Joan.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers says she used to own that exact same ashtray, but she likes it better now.
Final score: 7.2
There are so many puns that eye desperately want to make, but eye just can't see any of them landing.
Alright, eyem done now.
In all seriousness, this was one of a handful of designs that I could not wait to talk about while working on this article. It is just so perfect. It is complex without being convoluted, it features both the most lively pattern and stunning piece of jewelry I have seen so far, and the amount of love that Eye-Boy feels for himself while wearing this to the Gala is palpable. I can't think of a single other person that showed up for the evening who could pull this off, and I can't imagine a better choice that Eye-Boy could have made.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers says she doesn't know where she's supposed to look to avoid direct eye contact.
Final score: 9.3
I so desperately want to find something to hate about this suit, even if it's just the cape, but Kyle Jinadu is wearing it too well for me to get lost in minute details that are ultimately more flattering than unsightly. This isn't a perfect suit, it's just close to it. The ascot kind of makes Kyle look like an asshole? Yeah. Yeah that's the worst of it. It doesn't even really make him look like an asshole, to be honest. Pompous, yes. Then again, he is the only human in attendance, so there is a lot to live up to.
The Ghost of Joan Rivers is upset that I'm being kind of a dick about Kyle's suit. I'm beginning to question whether I channeled the right spirit or not.
Final score: 8.8
Well, this is pretty much perfect. I've said that about more than a few of the looks that I've reviewed over the course of this article, but Prodigy really has come out looking like an angel, and thankfully I don't mean Warren. Everything from the half gown to the wings to the eyeshadow is immaculate. I'm not even going to mention the non-shoes beyond this sentence. The detailed molding on the corset is like something from a dream. If anyone wanted to break from convention and still do something unexpected in a room full of superpowered demigods, this is how they would be taught what that even means.
The Ghost of Joan Crawford said she was going to go haunt Tara Reid and left, but she wrote "10" down on a napkin beforehand. She also left me with a massive drink tab, apparently, so please share this article with your friends and tell them all to read it just way too many times.
Final score: 9.5
And with that we have reached the end of this review and critique of all of the fashion from the Hellfire Gala. Sixty two attendees have all been thoroughly examined and judged based on nothing more than their clothes and personal appearances, proving once and for all that not even homosuperior are safe from irrelevant and unqualified white men explaining how they aren't good enough. I genuinely hope that you enjoyed this, as I genuinely enjoyed writing it. Before I head off to cleanse my apartment and body before Joan comes back from wherever the fuck Tara Reid is, there's just one more outfit we need to look at, be beware of spoilers ahead.
seriously, though, this is your last spoiler warning...
Lourdes Chantel (and Emma, again)
Lourdes Chantel is coming back from the dead, and I do not know how that is supposed to happen. What we do know is that Sebastian Shaw, the piece of shit who abused her while she lived, wants her back, and he thinks he's figured out how to do it without Cerebro or The Five. From the cover of the upcoming Marauders #22 it doesn't look like Sebastian will be receiving anything that remotely resembles the reunion he's been hoping for, and that's just fine. It isn't even clear yet whether or not Lourdes will be returning during the Hellfire Gala, but I'm going to go ahead and say that she will have an important role to play at some point during the evening. She also looks drop dead gorgeous for a woman who has made a single appearance in the entirety of Marvel Comics history, over three decades ago, and died during it. It doesn't matter who the actual best dressed of the night is, or even if Lourdes is going to make an appearance at the Gala itself. She's a perfect ten.
I'm so fucking glad the Ghost of Joan Rivers is gone now. She's exhausting. I hope Tara Reid eats whatever is left of her soul.
Final score: 10
John Dodge can be found writing about comic books over at CBR.com. He can also be found on Twitter here, occasionally here, and on Facebook here. He also has an Instagram account. If you would like to support the author directly, the best way to do so is with tips, right here on Vocal. Or you could come to Montreal, find me in person, and hand me several fistfuls of gold coins and precious gems. Sharing my work and following me on social media is also good, but let's just go ahead and circle back around to you giving me gold and/or rare stones.