A mystery has been brewing in Marvel Comics' X-Men line since writer Jonathan Hickman spearheaded a launch of the core X-Men title and its spin-offs with the intertwining limited series House of X and Powers of X.(opens in new tab)
That mystery is, of course, the true nature of Moira X and her involvement in Krakoa - including exactly how much she's pulling the strings, and what's coming in the future that is so monumental the island has secretly banned the resurrection of mutants with precognitive powers.
Now, as the currently branded 'Reign of X' X-Men line kicks off its big summer event 'The Hellfire Gala' in this week's Marauders #21 (opens in new tab) which stretches across nearly every title of the line in June, the mystery is heating up as well - and it's looking like the questions are about to bubble over into out-and-out conflict.
'The Hellfire Gala' will spin off into August's The Trial of Magneto limited series, in which the titular mutant master of magnetism is accused of a high-profile murder - the victim of which is still unknown. That will be followed by September's Inferno, a new title from Jonathan Hickman, who is departing the core X-Men title after several years as writer (though he's staying on as 'Head of X' in addition to writing Inferno).
True to Marvel fashion, even as the publisher has teased that these stories will answer some of the X-Men line's long-simmering questions, both titles are being marketed as mysteries of their own which will have a huge impact on the X-Men line and mutantkind's place in the Marvel Universe.
What's it all pointing to? Well, Krakoa may have banned precogs, but Newsarama hasn't.
And though our powers are much more deductive than mutant in nature, we're about to piece together clues from what we know of 'The Hellfire Gala,' The Trial of Magneto, and Inferno, along with current developments in the X-Men line, to play a bit of Clue (opens in new tab) and try to predict the victim, circumstances, and indeed the true culprit of the murder of which Magneto will stand accused - and where it may all be leading.
All the big upcoming developments in the X-Men line, from The Trial of Magneto, to Inferno, and beyond seem to stem from 'The Hellfire Gala,' and indeed the latest issues of X-Men and Marauders have put forth some clues about the event and its fallout, though what's actually going to happen in the course of the party remains a mystery.
The one thing that's been directly foreshadowed by Marvel Comics is a murder that will occur at the Gala, leading to Magneto being put on trial, and a growing rift in the mutant community. But even the actual victim of the murder remains a mystery - not a usual circumstance for a murder investigation, where detectives often at least start with a body.
Here's what we know about the party itself so far. 'The Hellfire Gala' kicked off in Marauders #21, with many non-mutant heroes, villains, and dignitaries arriving on Krakoa to meet the new mutant society. Tensions run high as the party starts, with characters like Doctor Doom and Captain America facing each other down, and Reed Richards whispering something unknown, but presumably dire, into Professor X's ear.(opens in new tab)
However, the actual events of the Gala, presumably to be told across the other titles of the X-Men line throughout June, aren't shown, with Marauders #21 instead skipping ahead to show some of the non-mutants who are visiting Krakoa reacting to something that happens at the event, which seems to leave everyone skeptical about Krakoa at best, and increasingly hostile at worst (though again, the events that breed these feelings remain unrevealed).
What's odd about the development is that the reactions don't seem strong enough to indicate that anyone has witnessed a murder, though Marvel's synopsis for The Trial of Magneto states that 'The Hellfire Gala' will be the setting of the murder of which Magneto will apparently be accused. The nature of the non-mutants' reactions may be a clue about what's to come in and of itself, though we'll get to that in a moment.
For now, there are a few more clues about the fallout from 'The Hellfire Gala,' and what may occur. Flashing back to X-Men #20 (opens in new tab), the title's final issue before the start of the crossover, that issue showed Mystique failing to prevent the activation of Nimrod, the super Sentinel, resulting in Magneto and Xavier once again denying the resurrection of Mystique's deceased wife, Destiny, one of the precognitive mutants who is specifically shadow-banned from Krakoa.
Mystique, devastated, recalls a premonition Destiny gave her before her death, before the founding of Krakoa. In the premonition, Destiny tells Mystique that if Xavier and Magneto ever form their own mutant nation, she must promise to either get them to bring her back or destroy their work entirely.
Considering all the characters shown in Marvel's teaser for Inferno - Magneto, Xavier, Mystique, Moira X, and more - Mystique's promise to Destiny, her sorrow over Magneto and Xavier's refusal to resurrect her wife, and her willingness to do violence in her own interests may all become extremely relevant factors to what happens during and after 'The Hellfire Gala.'
But there's the little hitch that it's not Mystique, but Magneto who's going on trial for someone's murder, which brings us to the next part of our investigation.
Who is actually going to be murdered? That answer may be the key to solving the whodunnit of 'The Hellfire Gala.' There are a few likely theories to consider based on the available info - including one potential victim whose death would indeed rock mutantkind to its core unlike the death of any other mutant.
All we know is that we really know nothing - not even whether the victim is a human or mutant. Judging by the reaction of the non-mutants present at 'The Hellfire Gala' compared to the world-shaking ramifications of the murder implied by Marvel's teasers, it may be safe to assume the victim won't be human - though there could be a twist there yet.
The only visual clue as to who may die is a still redacted cover for The Trial of Magneto #1, which shows an ambiguous chalk outline against the shadows of Magneto's cape. We could try to parse out which characters could fit into the non-descript figure of the chalk outline, but it's more than likely the outline is merely a placeholder for the victim who will be shown when the uncensored cover is revealed.(opens in new tab)
With all of that taken into account, there are some likely possibilities for who could be murdered. As for who does the deed, well, we know Magneto will stand accused, but we'll get into those possible wrinkles later.
For now, what's important is who dies - and the obvious answer may be Mystique herself. If she launches an attack on 'The Hellfire Gala' and Magneto prevents it, that could lead to some of Magneto, Xavier, and Moira's secrets about refusing to resurrect Destiny coming to the surface. If that happens, the circumstances of Magneto killing Mystique could go above and beyond the remedy of the Resurrection Protocols, with larger ramifications once the victim - if they are a mutant - is returned to life.
That brings up another point: the mutant Resurrection Protocols, which allow a group of mutants known as the Five (Hope, Egg, Proteus, Tempus, and Elixir) to combine their powers to bring back any mutant who dies, mean that even if a mutant is murdered, they can be brought back to life almost immediately. Though there is a queue of mutants to be brought back, those who are murdered or who die fighting for Krakoa usually get pushed to the front of the line.
So what kind of murder could shake mutantkind to its core, when the victim could simply be resurrected? The kind that has larger ramifications, like the revelation of some of those secrets we mentioned.
The death of Mystique herself could fit that bill - but what about Mystique's wife, Destiny? Yes, she's dead now, but if Mystique somehow manages to resurrect her without Xavier's notice, as extremely unlikely as that may be, Destiny being murdered again in full view of the rest of Krakoa would certainly raise some serious questions - especially if Destiny manages to pull off any precognitive predictions before she dies again.
There's also the chance the victim isn't a mutant, but a human after all. Consider that Krakoa as a nation has shared many innovations with the rest of the world, including advanced medicines and health treatments. Could that extend to the Resurrection Protocols? If a mutant were to murder a human at 'The Hellfire Gala,' perhaps as a way to demonstrate the process, they may still be subject to non-Krakoan laws, or even the laws of the mutant island itself which include 'Kill no man,' which bars mutants from killing humans. And if a human is murdered and then resurrected, that would also explain the dour, mixed reactions of the Gala attendees shown in Marauders #21.
But there's still one very likely possibility for the victim of the 'Hellfire Gala' murder that would fit every aspect of what we know, down to devastating and dividing mutantkind: Krakoa itself.
Don't forget that Krakoa, the living island, is itself a mutant - that's exactly why Xavier, Magneto, and Moira chose it for their mutant homeland, and how it communicates with others through Doug Ramsey's language interpretation powers.
If Krakoa itself is somehow murdered, that would certainly shake all of mutantkind to its core, and force the population of the island nation to reconsider their future wholesale - and if the motivations for murdering Krakoa itself are dire enough, that would also give plenty of reasons for mutants to take sides. And of course, the Resurrection Protocols themselves could be threatened or even destroyed if Krakoa is murdered - and even if the Five are still able to perform the Resurrection Protocols, there are still the very likely complications of trying to bring back a whole island.
And, not for nothing, Krakoa may not have arms and legs like the chalk outline on the redacted cover of The Trial of Magneto #1, the silhouette of the island does fit just about perfectly into the dark area of Magneto's cape where the victim will presumably be depicted when the cover is fully revealed.
So why would Magneto, the accused, murder Krakoa? We'll get into that now.
Marvel Comics may be going for a kind of inversion of the concept of a whodunnit by revealing the murderer first and the victim later, but it's just as likely that The Trial of Magneto will involve a totally different twist, one that may show Magneto is in fact innocent of the murder of which he stands accused.
For one thing, Magneto doesn't really have much motive to murder many of the likely victims, especially not in a way that could reveal Krakoa's long-hidden secrets - especially if the victim winds up being Krakoa itself. However, there is another mutant who could easily both commit the murder and frame Magneto for it, who also has plenty of motive, means, and opportunity.
Of course, we're talking about Mystique, whose wife Destiny has remained dead thanks to the machinations of Xavier and Magneto who have also manipulated Mystique to blame her for their own refusal to resurrect Destiny, one of the most powerful mutant precogs of all time.(opens in new tab)
Given Mystique's promise to Destiny to bring her back or destroy Krakoa, what are the chances she could take the latter option, using her shapeshifting powers to force Magneto to take the blame? Even if the victim isn't Krakoa, Mystique framing Magneto for the murder isn't very far out of leftfield.
There's also the chance that Orchis, the space-bound anti-mutant organization that Mystique failed to prevent from creating the ultra-powerful sentinel Nimrod, could launch an attack on Krakoa during 'The Hellfire Gala,' potentially somehow framing Magneto for whatever occurs as a way to sow dissent in mutantkind and further their own incremental agenda.
But an Orchis attack would be unlikely to divide mutantkind or turn the world against Krakoa, considering Orchis are pretty specifically both villains and dedicated to destroying all mutants. Even if they managed to frame Magneto somehow, the possible motives and clues don't quite line up with what we know.
We also have to examine, again, the possibility that Magneto actually is responsible for some kind of murder - perhaps of Mystique, Destiny, or both. As we spelled out, such a scenario would almost certainly have a hugely disruptive effect on Krakoan society and would provide a likely catalyst for the reveal of many long-held secrets.
So that leaves us with a bizarre, disturbing murder that may hurt mutants more than humans, a slate of likely victims, and several potential killers, all boiling down to what seems to be a concise theory of the whodunnit of 'The Hellfire Gala' - Mystique's murder of Krakoa in revenge for Xavier and Magneto's refusal to resurrect Destiny, for which she'll frame Magneto.
Are we right? Well, as we stated at the top, we're not mutant precogs, and Marvel tends to zig when they seem to be gearing up to zag - but nevertheless, we're laying our cards on the table, and making our accusations.
The Trial of Magneto takes its name from the classic '80s X-Men story that kicked off one of the best X-Men teams of all time.