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DF Interview: Dennis Hopeless sets Secret Wars ablaze with Inferno
By Byron Brewer
Five years ago, a band of demons rose up out of the fiery depths and turned Manhattan into Hell on Earth. The X-Men fought to vanquish the demon horde. They failed.
Thus, on this fifth anniversary of Manhattan’s fall, Piotr Rasputin is leading a small band of mutants back into the Inferno. Colossus doesn’t know what they’ll find on the other side of those flames, but he knows for certain they will not coming back without … his sister!
Spinning out of the universe-shattering chaos of “Secret Wars” comes a book by writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Javier Garron that presents a new twist on the 1989 X-Men classic event “Inferno” that’s hotter than you remember. To get the skinny, Dynamic Forces trudged into midtown Manhattan and spoke with writer Dennis Hopeless.
Dynamic Forces: “Inferno” has got to be one of the best remembered and most beloved of the Claremont era crossovers, if for no other reason than after months and months it finally reunited Cyclops’ X-Factor with Storm and Wolverine’s X-Men. Dennis, were you a fan of this extended storyline?
Dennis Hopeless: I remember seeing those iconic covers on the newsstand but I was only 7 or 8 and still a few years away from reading X-men monthly. It was a hell of a lot of fun going back and reading those issues for research. Totally lived up to those covers. Who doesn’t love a sprawling Hell on Earth story?
DF: Tell us the situation we find ourselves in as we approach this area of Battleworld. Is it Inferno Redux or has time passed in this burg since the original storyline? Whassup?
Dennis Hopeless: Our story takes place five years after the demons took Manhattan; in this world, the X-Men lost. The island of Manhattan has been burning and festering all this time and nobody is allowed in or out… with one exception. Cyclops and Colossus struck a deal when the X-Men retreated five years ago. Once a year, on the anniversary of their defeat, Colossus gets to take a team of X-Men into the Inferno to try and rescue Illyana. It’s a little bit like Escape from New York in a demon-run Manhattan with Peter as Snake Plissken.
DF: Part of the so-called fall of Manhattan (which has already taken place here) was really the odds and ends of Limbo run amok. Will we see such reminders as N’astirch, S’ym and, of course, the Goblin Queen herself, Jean Grey clone Madelyne Pryor (Cable’s mom!)?
Dennis Hopeless: Yes, definitely. Inferno Manhattan is a complicated place rife with power struggles between the various demonic factions. Illyana, Madelyne, N'astirh and S’ym all have different loyalties and agendas. We’ll be fleshing out the world and playing around with the demon-eat-demon politics of post-fall Manhattan. It’s the best kind of insane.
DF: I understand why Dr. Doom battles for the soul of his mother in Hell every year, but if Colossus knows his sister Illyana is doomed to be Darkchylde why after five years is he endangering the lives of those he loves for a situation he cannot hope to combat?
Dennis Hopeless: Colossus is a man obsessed. Leaving Illyana behind when the X-Men abandoned the city ripped his metal heart out and these annual missions keep him from falling apart. He’s just biding his time until he gets another shot at demon-killing atonement. This single-minded obsession creates a fair amount of conflict, especially with Colossus’s girlfriend Domino.
DF: Dennis, you say Illyana is RULER of Inferno? I am surprised Madelyne or the instigator of it all, Mister Sinister, does not have that role. Explain.
Dennis Hopeless: You’re absolutely right. That seems like a power dynamic we might want to explore in the book. Let me write that down.
DF: It was in this storyline that the X-Men discovered Jean Grey was alive. (This was John Byrne’s “Cocoon Jean” from Jamaica Bay.) But on our world, the Jean is the original from the original X-Men’s early days brought forward in time by the Beast. Will there be a Jean in Inferno? Which one? And if so, will she and the Goblin Queen get it on?
Dennis Hopeless: Jean Grey is indeed in the book. She’s rocking that badass X-Factor costume with the big X across her chest and will absolutely be throwing down. Let’s save the rest of the Jean details for the book.
DF: How has it been to work with artist Javier Garron? Is his art reminiscent of what we had during the original “Inferno” event or are we getting a brand new style all his own?
Dennis Hopeless: Javier is a beast. His pages are just fantastic and he’s been a joy to work with. Javier’s Inferno style is sort of Hell on Earth as depicted by an unhinged Renaissance painter. It’s equal parts picturesque and creepy. So cool.
DF: Any newcomers here in that were not yet on the tundra of 1989?
Dennis Hopeless: Domino plays a big role in the book. I had so much fun writing Colossus and Domino as a couple in Cable and X-Force. There was no way Neena wasn’t making it into this book. Most everyone else played some kind of role in the original series, but expect more than a few surprises. Five years is a long time and this world has moved on.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Dennis Hopeless for taking time from his busy schedule to answer our questions. Inferno ##1 spins out of Secret Wars into stores this May!
Pre-order your copy of Spider-Woman #5 signed by Dennis Hopeless right here!
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