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Jul 24

Hellions #2 annotations

Posted on Friday, July 24, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

COVER / PAGE 1: Kwannon / Psylocke and Wild Child fighting while Mister Sinister looks smug about it. This doesn’t actually happen until the last panel, so yay spoilers.

PAGE 2: Epigraph. A vaguely compassionate quotation from Nightcrawler (original, as far as I know). Another quotation from Nightcrawler also opened issue #1, which is interesting, since he’s not otherwise a presence in this issue.

PAGE 3: Recap page. Note that Kwannon is definitely now being billed as the new Psylocke. Oddly, Havok is described as “theoretically reformed”, which doesn’t really seem to fit with the back story.

PAGES 4-6: The Hellions arrive at the Nebraska State Home for Foundlings.

This is the orphanage secretly run by Mr Sinister, where Cyclops and Havok spent some of their childhood. Officially, the Hellions are there to demolish the orphanage itself, but the real goal is to get rid of Sinister’s cloning facility underneath. Strangely, the cover story doesn’t bother to explain why an X-Men satellite team has come all the way from Krakoa to knock down an old orphanage. You’d have thought that people would be asking questions about that.

“You’re the alpha…?” Wild Child seems to instinctively attack anyone in a position of authority that he regards as physically unimpressive. Note that Scalphunter – not Havok or Psylocke – is the one who steps in to restore order. It’s not obvious that he really belongs here. Remember, the ostensible justification for the Hellions is to provide an outlet for mutants with inherently antisocial powers. That applies well enough to Empath and Wild Child, but Scalphunter…?

PAGE 7. Credits. The story is “Blood Work” by Zeb Wells & Stephen Segovia.

PAGES 8-14. The Hellions explore the orphanage.

The orphanage is in a ruined state, but still has beds and the odd toy lying around. So that we know it’s an orphanage, I guess.

“Your Nanny can feel it…” Nanny is being manipulated by Empath, but she is a psychic in her own right, so maybe she really is picking something up – or reasonably believes that she is. Or maybe she doesn’t mean it literally. To Nanny’s credit, she responds by at least trying to protect a teammate, albeit in a very distorted way. And she does actually apologise later, even though she was being mind controlled. By the standards of this team she’s almost reasonable – when she isn’t thinking about one of her obsessions, at any rate.

“I know you’re hungry!” Nanny seemed to be feeding Orphan-Maker in issue #1.

“Warned him.” Empath doesn’t last long in this mission. He’ll be restored from back-up, of course. But Scalphunter is right – he did warn Empath, very clearly, in the previous issue: “I think for a second you’re using your powers on one of us, at any time, for any reason … I’m gonna shoot you between the eyes.” Empath didn’t seem to think he meant it. He’ll know better next time, I suppose.

Havok quite reasonably thinks he doesn’t belong on a team where this sort of thing happens. He’s obviously right, so is there something going on here beneath the surface?

The other Havok in the mirror shard has the same speech balloons as our Havok did in issue #1 when he was being possessed. The woman draped over his shoulders is presumably Madelyne Pryor. I’m guessing his costume is supposed to evoke his Goblin Prince look from Inferno, where he wore a tattered version of his costume as Madelyne’s mind-altered sidekick – though it didn’t really look much like this.

We’ll see later that the zombie Marauders speak in the same way, so presumably Madelyne was behind his behaviour last issue.

The zombie Marauders are Riptide, Arclight, Harpoon, Prism, Scrambler and Blockbuster. Other than Scalphunter himself, there are three members of the classic Marauders team missing – Malice, Sabretooth and Vertigo. Sabretooth is accounted for in the Pit of Exile, as of House of X #6. Malice was a psychic entity and presumably not cloneable. Vertigo’s absence is more curious, since she’s shown up among cloned Marauders groups int he past. (However, Vertigo was a Savage Land Mutate, not a mutant – so she’s probably of less interest to Krakoa.)

PAGE 15. Data page. An unnamed writer – presumably the same one as in the previous issue – reflects on what ought to be done about the Marauders.

“To call his resurrection protocols lax…” Krakoa has procedures designed to make sure that no mutant is restored from back-up unless they were definitely dead to begin with. This is meant to stop multiple versions of the same character from running around, causing confusion and raising awkward questions about whether a cloned character really is a continuation of the original soul (and whether that makes a difference). Mr Sinister used to clone the Marauders with great abandon, showing no interest in this sort of thing. (Obviously, at some point the Krakoans are bound to wind up reviving a mutant who isn’t actually dead, because nobody’s ever “definitely dead” in superhero comics.)

“Are these current Marauders the most natural versions of themselves? If not, don’t they deserve to be?” We’ve seen it suggested in the past that the Five are bringing people back from the dead in improved versions.

Prior to the Krakoan era, the Marauders were last seen in Uncanny X-Men vol 5 #18, where they were all killed by Chamber. It’s not obvious how Scalphunter came back separately from the others, or indeed if these are a completely extra set of Marauders who existed alongside the ones who got killed.

PAGES 16-24. Big fight.

Scalphunter seems genuinely concerned for his teammates. We’re clearly going with the take where he’s, if not exactly decent, as least the most human and professional of the bunch.

The Goblin Queen strongly implies that the people who sent the Hellions knew she would be there. If she’s right, then might that be something to do with the reasons for sending Havok on this mission? As she points out, she’s been back for years and she’s been floating around the fringes of the X-books making very little impact.

She briefly removed the mouths of one of the Marauders at the end of the previous issue, as she does with Havok here.

Nanny’s armour can fly, so it wouldn’t normally get stuck like this.

PAGES 25-26. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: GO WILD.

Bring on the comments

  1. Michael says:

    I’d say that of all the classic Marauders, Scalphunter is the only one who’s ever shown any sort of remorse/desire to, if not atone, change his ways, as well as a concern for his soul as a guy who’s been cloned many times before.

    This doesn’t excuse him one bit for his earlier history and participation in the Morlock Massacre, which they’re clearly picking up on, but since the X-Men seem hellbent on offering acceptance and amnesty to any mutant regardless of past crimes, this is the best place for him.

    Scalphunter is clearly the Deadshot of this team, both in terms of “guy with a gun” and “possibly the most sane of the lot, despite his issues.” I doubt he’s here because of his powers (healing factor and um… gun-making? It’s always been a little unclear). I expect it’s because he -is- a problematic guy to have running free as long as the Morlocks hold a justifiable grudge–this gets him out of the way of further social unrest.

    Given the Krakoa setup, I’ve no problem if they shoot Empath in the head every few issues.

    Meanwhile, Nanny is a freaking nutjob.

  2. Allan M says:

    Three bits that registered with me:

    1) Scalphunter (now billed as Greycrow) is good to his word and executes Empath when he steps out of line, but shoots to wound Arclight even though she’s a zombie. So there’s some genuine respect if not affection there. I agree with Michael that he’s the Deadshot thus far.

    2) When Empath gets killed, Psylocke is mostly irritated that she has to do paperwork. Where she saw the Fallen Angels as a team she could mentor, the Hellions are fodder, with the arguable exception of Havok (she calls him Alex throughout the issue despite rejecting his insistence that he doesn’t belong on the team). Attempt #3 to make Kwannon-Psylocke a viable character in her own right. We’ll see if Wells can pull it off.

    3) Prism dies again. He seemed to have also been killed in X-Force #1, but the text page seems clear that Greycrow’s the only original Marauder they’ve resurrected, contingent on the current mission to destroy Sinister’s cloning facilities. Either an error, a Prism clone died, or a mutant who looked like Prism died?

  3. Eric S says:

    There was a parental advisory on the cover, and I wondered if that was something new? I see Wolverine has one too. Comixology usually says 12+ or whatever in their descriptions, but this is the first time I noticed it on the cover.

    Also, ‘Greycrow’ is better than Scalphunter. They didn’t even use his former name in the issue, so I think that’s being retired.

  4. Chris V says:

    Marvel has always had “parental advisory” ratings (or at least since the ending of the MAX line) on certain of their books with more violent content.
    Most recently, I can remember Savage Avengers getting that rating too.
    It only applies to certain “Dawn of X” books, not all of them.

  5. Michael says:

    I was going to comment as an aside that “Scalphunter” as a codename is outdated and potentially offensive, or at least problematic, and it’s as good a time as any to sweep that under the rug. Especially if they do want to potentially use him in any sort of sympathetic capacity…

  6. MasterMahan says:

    The Krakoans are continuing their unsympathetic streak, I see. Wild Child attacks a K-9 officer, and Psylocke blames the officers for having a dog around Wild Child. Which is obviously nonsense, because how were they supposed to know? The one responsible for Wild Child, who knows his triggers, and can read his damn mind is you, Kwannon.

    I assume Prism being on Krakoa was just an artist mistake. They were told to draw background mutants getting shot, and they went with the guy whose power is being super-vulnerable to bullets. I suspect Sinister put him in the Marauders as a joke.

    Not calling the Native American character Scalphunter anymore is probably smart.

  7. Fett says:

    I just wanted to point out that Greycrow is actually Scalphunter’s last name. His full name is John Greycrow. So it’s not a new code name; it’s just them calling him be his real last name.

    Given that the people on Krakoa believe mutants should have mutant names, I do wonder what a more appropriate code name for him could end up being.

  8. ASV says:

    The paperwork bit marks this as kind of Marauders-esque comedy title, but it’s also something Wells has done before. At the beginning of his New Mutants run in 2009, Cannonball reforms the team by submitting a roster request form to Cyclops, in his office, seemingly with supporting documentation.

  9. NS says:

    Didn’t Maddie form sort of a truce with the x-men (primarily Storm) in the X-Women run (X-Men #12 March 2014)?

    Storm lets the newly resurrected Maddie and Selene go as long as they don’t get in the way of stopping Sublime’s sister Arkea. Selene is ready to fight, but Maddie agrees with Storm and encourages Selene to let it go for now. So shouldn’t her hiatus make some sense (assuming nothing’s been retconned)?

  10. Evilgus says:

    I can’t quite decide if this issue squandered the positive momentum of the first, or was just the long delay.

    Still had some positive character beats – Greycrow emerging as a forceful character, Empath’s obnoxiousness, Madelyne’s sadness at returning ‘and no-one cared’… Also enjoyed the humour of egg shaped Nanny being stuck face down.

    Kwannon/Psylocke continues to frustrate me as it relies on her to all intents and purposes continuing the Betsy/Psylocke personality. I bet we’ll see that play out in interactions with Havok and Madelyne. Otherwise, why would Kwannon who has no history with either character care?

    On the Nightcrawler quotes – perhaps as he is he the last ‘moral’ main X-character who hasn’t been on a kill squad? And it’s being positioned as conscience in wider HOX.

  11. Drew says:

    Is this the most effective Prizm has ever been? Usually he just gets smashed almost immediately. Here he successfully neutralized Havok and would’ve killed him if not for Maddie.

    (Also, how sad is it that a master assassin’s high point is “almost killed one guy”?)

    I didn’t know Chamber killed all the Marauders recently. No offense to Jono, but that has to be a new low, right? I feel like Mike Carey restored the Marauders to seeming like a genuine A-list threat again during his run, but since then they’ve slid right back into “disposable random henchmen” territory.

  12. MasterMahan says:

    Prism was briefly effective in back in Mutant Massacre when he managed to deflect Cyclops’ optic blast. Then Jean telekinetically threw him into a wall and accidentally shattered him.

    Given the characters, I wonder if Wells meant this as a reference.

    Prism was always the odd man out in the Marauders. They were originally presented as these terrifyingly efficient killers, and then you have the glass jaw guy.

  13. Chris V says:

    Obviously, this was the genius hint to show that Gambit really was working for Sinister during the Mutant Massacre.
    He put a weak-link on the team, to help the X-Men.
    The proof was always there with Claremont. It’s so obvious with hindsight.
    (wink wink)

  14. Si says:

    There’s something like three Maddie Pryors now, isn’t there? There’s the resurrected one, the psychic entity one, and the goblin queen one (I think). And there’s Jean Grey of course. And … Phoenix … There’s Basically one for every Wolverine! Who needs uncharacteristic polygamy?

  15. Daniel says:

    Psylocke / Kwannon is the same character as Revanche, right?

  16. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Yes, though… and I can be wrong about this since it’s retcons upon retcons, retcons all the way down… when Revanche debuted in the 90s hers and Betsy’s minds were supposed to be mixed up – as in, both had personality traits of the other due to stupid plot contrivances.

    So if I’m not mistaken and if that wasn’t retconned out, then this would be the first time we see Kwannon as just Kwannon, without any Betsy in the mix.

    Not that it makes much of a difference, considering Revanche was a rather short-lived addition to the team and Kwannon still hasn’t been properly defined as a character.

    Anyway, on to the issue. I’m liking this book. A lot! It’s a weird group of characters, the idea for the team is weird and more than a little non-sense, which might be due to secret plot reasons or it just might be a silly idea nobody vetoed, but I like the character interactions and so far I think Wells just makes this weird book work.

    It’s premature to say after only two issues, but I’ll say it anyway – for me this is easily in the better half of the current title line-up and well on its way to my personal top3.

  17. Daniel says:

    They should really resurrect Revanche for added lulz.

  18. Luis Dantas says:

    I know that they made an attempt at defining Psylocke as a character of her own in Fallen Angels, but I would say that they did not quite succeed.

    Maybe it is just me, but I keep thinking that after what must be at least a couple of years even with the sliding timeline, Kwannon would feel a very strong urge to avoid being mistaken for Betsy.

    It is difficult for me to believe that she would just keep using the exact same appearance and codename that Betsy used during that extended period, particularly given that they were never quite her own up until very recently.

    Using a different costume and choosing a different codename or just going back to Kwannon or even Revanche would be very easy and go a long way towards establishing her as her own person.

    A good story could be told of how at some level she does not fully want to be her own person, but I understand that such an approach has not been attempted so far.

  19. Karl_H says:

    Wells has done pretty well with team books in the past and I appreciate his obvious familiarity with Marvel continuity.

    Filed under “that had to be intentional”: Egg-shaped Nanny being “scrambled” (mainly because she lampshaded it so hard), and also the echo of the classic Psylocke/Sabretooth feud on the final page.

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