Hellions #1 by Zeb Wells and Stephen Segovia introduces the problem children of mutantkind, all under the steady gentle guidance of Mister Sinister. It’s a Suicide Squad meets Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. What could go wrong?
Today I’ll answer:
+ Who are the Hellions?
+ What is Hellions role in the Dawn of X?
+ How does this oddball collection connect to Mister Sinister, Madylene Pryor, and possibly Inferno 2?!
Spoilers for discussed comics may follow!
Hellions begins with the X-Men tracking renegade Hellfire Cultists (more on them in a few) attempting some terrorist plot on the anniversary of the Mutant Massacre (more on this in a few too!). Following a bazooka attack that leaves Nightcrawler unconscious, Havok seemingly “breaks” and lets a darker persona loose, nearly frying a cultist alive until Wolverine – of all people – interjects (lest Havok break that Krakoan no killing humans law).
The mission’s sour turn puts Alex on a fast track for the gathering of the Hellions.
In this case, Alex is joining the following problem mutants being put on trial for their actions endangering Krakoa: Orphanmaker & Nanny, John Greycrow aka Scalphunter, Kyle Gibney aka Wild Child, and Manuel De La Rocha aka Empath. On the surface it’s an oddball, nearly inexplicable gathering, but as I’ll explain, the connections these characters share are actually pretty clear.
In pre release interviews, writer Zeb Wells said: “The book asks how the mutants with blood on their hands can possibly integrate in a civilized society.” As Nightcrawler says in the issue’s opening quote, “It is folly to create an Eden, if no one has use for snakes.”
This all actually sounds a bit like Fallen Angels, but whereas that short-lived failure was a meditation on Kwannon’s new status free of Betsy Braddock, Hellions immediately takes the question to Krakoa’s Quiet Council and demands the council account for the “inconvenient” mutants. Not for nothing, Wells and Segovia also clearly take the cues from Hickman’s glam rock Sinister in crafting a wicked rush of energy coursing through the chaotic geneticist.
After much debate, it’s actually Sinister who lands on the idea to put these Hellions to use as his own personal task force. The likes of Cyclops – I would say reasonably – have issue with Sinister taking ownership of some of Krakoa’s most violent, but with certain restrictions put in place – for example, the Hellions are not to be used if there’s a possibility of human casualties, which I’m sure won’t possibly ever be a line that gets crossed – the Quiet Council agrees to this proposal. And the new Hellions are born!
In the pages of New Mutants, in an issue by Chris Claremont and Sal Buscema, the original Hellions are students of the Hellfire Club’s White Queen, Emma Frost, at the Massachusetts Academy. It’s a fun inversion of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, and a great rivalry and occasional frenemy status with the developing New Mutants franchise. The original Hellions are Catseye, Empath, Jetstream, Roulette, Tarot, Thunderbird, and for a short time, Firestar.
There’s of course plenty of story between, but many of these original Hellions, save Empath, were killed by Trevor Fitzroy in Uncanny X-Men #281 and #282.
Although there has never before been a Hellions comic title, the Hellions name has also been repurposed in the pages of New X-Men.
With Mr. Sinister working in the wings as the Hellions leader, it brings to mind a 90’s Marvel What If issue (#74 to be precise) about Sinister leading the X-Men.
Notably, every member of the Hellions has recognizable often deep connections with Sinister throughout X-Men history, which I’ll highlight here.
John Greycrow is the Native American mutant Leader of the Marauders and a leading villain in the Mutant Massacre, the 80’s X-Men crossover that led to the deaths of many Morlocks and the violent removal of Angel’s wings. When you talk about mutants whose very presence ruffles the feathers of other mutants on Krakoa, Scalphunter is high on the list.
Sinister Connections: Scalphunter has worked for Mister Sinister, often as a Maruader, for about as long as the character’s been in Uncanny X-Men comics. This extends into modern day comics as well, through events like Messiah CompleX.
As expected, we get a glimpse of the problems with Scalphunter’s presence on Krakoa when Callisto and a group of Morlocks attack him on the anniversary of the mutant massacre, although gathering from the fact that he was cleaning his weapons at the time, this didn’t go well for the Morlocks… again.
Although Wild Child, aka Kyle Gibney, is most frequently found in the pages of Alpha Flight, the most recognizable version of Wild Child for me is found during Age of Apocalypse, as Sabretooth’s dog-like sidekick. Wild Child’s somewhat similar to a Wolverine or Sabretooth in both powerset and in the fact that his feral half is out of control on Krakoa.
Sinister Connections: Wild Child’s a part of the 2000’s Weapon X relaunch, and it’s revealed as the series progresses that Mister Sinister has a major role in that incarnation of Weapon X.
Debuting in New Mutants #16, Empath is the only original Hellion on this unit. As mentioned, Empath survived Trevor Fitzroy’s assault on the team and went on to work for X-Corps, although don’t let that suggest Manuel has turned over a new leaf.
Empath, Manuel de la Rocha is making the other original Hellions fight… just for fun. Notes on the Empath problem state “A violent sociopath was not gifted the X-gene, the X-gene created a violent sociopath.”
In terms of Sinister connections, Empath is also the front-man for a Hellfire Cult led by Madylene Pryor in the pages of Uncanny X-Men written by Matt Fraction. Since these are the idiot goons Havok and the X-Men are tracking down at the beginnings of Hellions #1, it’s certainly not an accidental connection.
Nanny & Orphanmaker
Created by Louise and Walt Simonson in the pages of X-Factor.
Nanny views herself as a self-appointed savior of mutant children, and enlists Orphanmaker to assassinate parents of mutants so she can protect these children – now part of her Lost Boys and Girls. I’d also note that originally, Nanny rebels against the Right’s plans to kill mutant children, and this is what gets her sealed in one of her egg-like cyborg robot suits of armor.
What makes them mutants? Nanny exhibits low level mind control, although most frequently she uses her tech to regress individual’s mental state towards childhood. Orphanmaker’s mutant abilities are repressed and contained by the suit of armor.
Sinister Connections: Orphan Maker was one of the children in Mister SInister’s orphanage, and Nanny rescues him from a likely murder by Sinister’s forces.
On a potentially related note, they’re really strange and disturb just about everyone.
The “always a bridesmaid” of Summers brothers had a particularly rough go of it lately, as basically the only Avenger to remain inverted evil after the events of 2014’s event-dud AXIS. He’s also somehow perpetually following a trail of Scott’s ex-girlfriends, whether we’re talking Madelyne Pryor or Emma Frost.
Sinister Connections: He’s a Summers! Nuff said!
Since he absolutely doesn’t trust Mister Sinister, Cyclops asks Kwannon aka Psylocke to oversee the team
Sinister Connections: See Fallen Angels! In order to confront Apoth, Psylocke leverages Sinister’s connections and influence on Krakoa. For all intents and purposes, she is still indebted to him, and Sinister means to collect.
Appropriately, the newly formed Hellions first mission is to raze Sinister’s orphanage & underground clone factory (doesn’t every orphanage have one), and the original Marauders (of Mutant Masscare infamy) within.
When Psylocke confronts Sinister about the dangers ahead, Sinister is clearly concealing something about the dangers the team will face, but smugly refuses to offer any more information.
Hellions #1 ends with the tease that what Sinister likely knows the team will find is one Madylene Pryor, Sinister’s clone of Jean Grey who married Cyclops, gave birth to Nathan Summers (Cable), and brought about Inferno as the Goblin Queen (among many others things that I’m sure I’ll get to in a future Krakin’ Krakoa).
For me, this brings the inclusion of the Hellfire Cult full circle, as Madie once ruled them as well.
All in all, Hellions is a really enjoyable opening issue from Wells and Segovia, and a welcome entry to the Dawn of X.
It’s felt like we’ve been building to an Inferno 2.0 for a while now, whether we’re talking the demonic presence of Arakko, Cable #1, or even the use of Belasco in the pages of the otherwise unrelated Ghost Rider. Madylene’s reemergence only cements that idea, and I’m betting this could well be build-up to the promised December 2020 X-Men event.