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Nov 19

Hellions #6 annotations

Posted on Thursday, November 19, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

“X of Swords, Chapter 18”
by Zeb Wells, Carmen Carnero & David Curiel

COVER / PAGE 1. Tarn the Uncaring stands over the defeated Hellions.

PAGE 2. Epigraph from Tarn, which pretty much speaks for itself. Tarn is (presumably) a new character – for what it’s worth, the Marvel Universe does have a previous Tarn, who was a minor Spaceknight, but that’s probably just coincidence. Oh, and a tarn is a small mountain lake.

Note that Hellions normally opens with an epigraph from Nightcrawler. I suppose Tarn gets the slot here because they’re such a long way from home.

PAGES 3-4. Recap and credits.

PAGES 5-10. The Hellions arrive in Arakko and meet the Locus Vile.

The Hellions have clearly taken a battering in getting here (not least because they’ve had to pass through Arakkii-occupied Dryador), and as they immediately learn, it was all a waste of time. Their mission, set up in the last issue, was to sabotage the contest by stealing Arakko’s swords before it began. But the contest started three chapters ago.

As we establish, Sinister seems to know this very well; his only objective here is to get more DNA samples from the mutants of Arakko, in keeping with his usual obsessions. This is consistent with the previous issue: when the two Sinisters were discussing their plans, they never mentioned the Swords. They just said that “Arakko contains The Prize.”

Mister Sinister is now wearing a makeshift cape to replace the one that he traded to Jamie Braddock last issue. He says later on that he’s “insecure” about it.

The Dryador Gate. Important point, this: this is the gate that connects Arakko/Amenth proper with Dryador, the Otherworld kingdom that the Arakkii conquered in X of Swords: Creation. So the Hellions are now leaving Otherworld, and re-entering a regular alternate dimension – and the ones who die in this fight can presumably be resurrected on Krakoa as normal. Or at least, if there’s an obstacle, it’s not due to dying in Otherworld.

The Locus Vile. Tarn’s team all wear blank masks – clearly modelled on his, though his has expression. The Vile were previously mentioned in X-Men #14, where Genesis/Annihilation described the Amenthi cross-breeding captured mutants with Amenthi demons to produce a hybrid warrior race, “the origin of the black experiments of the vile schools”. A data page in the same issue talks about the Vile as some sort of secret police which enforce Amenthi rule on the population of Arakko (who, remember, were fighting them until relatively recently). Where the Locus bit fits in is less clear.

PAGE 11. Data page on the Locus Vile. Broadly speaking, Tarn seems to be Mr Sinister’s counterpart, as a mad-scientist geneticist with no apparently coherent objective beyond playing with DNA for the sake of it. Unlike Sinister, however, this guy seems stable and has a fanatically loyal team of worshippers behind him.

The members of the Locus Vile are all new characters. The common theme seems to be that Tarn’s modifications to them have made them all more powerful in a narrow sense, but also disfigured or cursed them in various ways, all of which they presumably regard as worthwhile. He himself claims to have “exalted then defiled” their mutations.

PAGES 12-19. The Hellions fight the Locus Vile. It goes badly.

Tarn claims that he “came to Arakko to plunder while Genesis feuds.” This is an odd line, since X-Men #14 presented the Vile as part of the Amenthi/Arakkii order. But perhaps, like Sinister, he has side missions that he wants to pursue.

Greycrow. Once again, as soon as he’s freed from Empath’s control, Greycrow seems to be the most professional and reliable guy here (admittedly not a very high bar). He goes to quite some lengths in this issue to help Havok.

“You take care of this package and I’ll continue taking care of yours. That’s the deal, isn’t it?” Presumably referring to Sinister and Psylocke’s exchange in Fallen Angels #6 where he agrees to take custody of Apoth, in exchange for her running some missions for him – though in that issue, she did specify “if I believe your need is just”.

Psylocke intentionally – if reluctantly – sends the fanatically loyal Wildchild to die in order to buy time for her, Greycrow and Havok to escape back to Otherworld. Note, though, that she doesn’t attempt to bring Sinister back with her, and doesn’t see his death as undermining her mission to bring his DNA samples back – presumably she’s guessed that there’s another Sinister waiting for her back on Krakoa.

PAGE 20. Data page. Apparently a report from one of Saturnyne’s priestesses to a superior, updating on the misfortunes of the Hellions. Predictably, Saturnyne’s main concern seems to have been the recovery of her horse, which was stolen from her by Jamie, and then traded to the Hellions in the previous issue. The horse doesn’t actually die on panel in this issue – she throws Nanny off and we don’t see her again. Maybe she lives.

The Pintok Hatchery. New, but the author is lamenting the slaughter of Dryador’s maritime-based population by the invading Arakkii in X of Swords: Creation – and understandably wondering why Saturnyne finds this a lower priority than her horse. He’s naturally unwilling to send his scouts into Arakko (due to it being suicide) and clearly expects to be, at the very least, expelled by Saturnyne for his troubles.

The Feculent Forest is also new, and mercifully we don’t get to see it – “feculent” means “to do with faeces”.

PAGES 21-22. The surviving Hellions make it back to the Krakoan gate.

This seems… terribly easy considering how hard it was to get to Arakko in the first place. At any rate, Greycrow doesn’t kill Empath this time, presumably because he knows that resurrection isn’t an option if Empath dies in Otherworld. But he does seem to want to make sure that Empath only just avoids that fate.

PAGES 23-26. Sinister attacks and kills the Hellions.

Presumably, Sinister wants to keep the DNA samples but cover up the fact that he sent the Hellions on a suicide mission and lied to the Quiet Council about it. Psylocke, Greycrow, Havok and Empath will doubtless be resurrected, but they’ll lose their memories subsequent to their last back-up, which would have taken place before they left for Krakoa. But that also begs the question of whether the Krakoans will attempt to resurrect Nanny, Orphan-Maker and Wild Child – or whether they’ll just write them off as having died in Otherworld.

PAGE 27. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: A LOSING BATTLE.

Bring on the comments

  1. DFE says:

    Nitpick — but Arakoa and Amenth, where Nanny, OM, Sinister and Wildchild died, are not in Otherworld. They’re connected to Otherworld via a gate, but they’re not Otherworld realms. I think at some point there was a map that showed them being basically parallel to the 616 but on the other side of the realm.

  2. Ben says:

    I wanted Tarn from the Decepticon Justice Division to show up.

  3. Allan M says:

    I concur with DFE that Nanny et al. died in Amenth instead of Otherworld and should be fine to resurrect via the Five. The Otherworld weirdness should not apply.

    Orphan Maker’s resurrection should finally reveal what he looks like under the armour and what’s wrong with him (his powers?), which has been a standing mystery since the 80s (and foreshadowed when his suit was breached in the first arc of Hellions). Have we ever seen Nanny outside of the egg suit? Her origin was that she worked for the Right so she had to have looked normal, but I don’t recall ever seeing her on-panel. Funny how easily reversible deaths during a crossover might actually result in substantial character revelations.

  4. Ben says:

    What’s next, we get startling revelations about Ruckus and Gorgeous George?

    Actually wait, I’d be kinda interested in that.

    I think I’d be into this book a lot more if it had characters I give a shit about.

  5. Chris V says:

    Can you imagine that Moira has now, most likely, has to live through this Krakoa-Arakko competition twice now?

    Nevermind wanting to save mutantkind, I can only imagine that Moira wants to succeed so that she never has to experience this contest again.

  6. Alan L says:

    That would make Moira essentially an audience-identification character at this point. I’m in the final stretch of a first read and I never want to experience this contest again, either.

  7. Ben says:

    You know, I’ve kinda already forgotten about Moira.

    Arakko should have invaded Earth in every one of her lives.

    Unless this time she’s stayed alive longer than she ever has?

    Except didn’t she live a super long time into the future in the Nimrod timeline?

    Oh god my head.

  8. K says:

    Arakko’s invasion of Earth was probably just one self-contained mini-series away from the last remaining heroes teaming up to go back in time and erase it from history.

    Like Age of Ultron, or Mys-Tech Wars.

  9. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I enjoyed this issue a lot. I think this title fares the best in the crossover – which makes me wish X of Swords was more decentralised as a whole. The Marauders issues were good as well, but I’d rather see the Marauders team do something as a team – like Hellions do here.

    Sure, what Hellions do turns out to be pointless and gruesome, but that’s shaping up to be their schtick. And as long as it’s funny as well – and it continues to be, at least for me – I’m all for it.

    I wonder how they’ll approach the characters dying in Arakko – on the one hand, it’s not Otherworld. On the other hand, it’s a mystical hell dimension connected to Otherworld, so I can see Wells going ‘close enough’. And since it was Nanny, Orphan Maker and Wild Child who died in Arakko, well… who cares, right? Could be it’s the last we’ll see of them.

    (I don’t follow solicitations very closely, so maybe they already revealed all of them will be resurrected, I don’t know).

  10. Paul says:

    I thought I had said that the characters who died in Amenth could be brought back without the Otherworld rule applying. The practical question is whether they WILL be, because the Krakoans don’t know where they died (and the ones who made it back will lose their memories on being resurrected, so won’t be able to tell them). Resurrecting Nanny and Orphan-Maker would be quite a big deal, because presumably they’d be freed from their cyborg shells in doing so (which I suspect is where this is going – even without the Otherworld rule, their resurrection is going to profoundly change them).

  11. Ben says:

    I liked Wild Child up until they turned him into a Nosferatu then a dog.

  12. neutrino says:

    There is no Dryador Gate. The map in Stasis had a chasm between Arakko and Dryador, and there’s no evidence Arakko can make gates.

  13. Karl_H says:

    I have the sense that Nanny and the other two are supposed to be OK to resurrect because Amenth is technically not Otherworld, but I want to see someone other than Rockslide get ‘brought back wrong’ just to see what that actually looks like.

    Nitpick corner: It’s not physically possible to pull both arms off of someone without somehow anchoring the body. But I liked this fight anyway — the tempo reminded me a bit of a John Byrne team-vs-team fight.

  14. Allan M says:

    @ neutrino The first panel of this story introduces the Dryador Gate on Arrako, which connects it to Otherworld. Captions confirm what it is. Looks broadly similar to the Krakoan ones, except where Krakoan gates are leafy, Arrako gates have spiky thorns.

  15. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Shame the fight was so one-sided, though. The Hellions barely got any hits in.

    Still, it was fast and dangerous, and that sense of danger is something I miss a lot in most books. My go to example has been the Mutant Massacre – X-Men/X-Factor clash with Marauders, people get hurt on both sides and they don’t get up at least until after the battle.

    Most books these days, it’s a splash page of lasers going everywhere, then several pages of bif-bam-pow and somebody is declared the winner near the end because the plot demands it, not because the battle was resolved on page in an organic way.

    My go to example from the modern era was Carey – his group fights had the same sense of danger and at least somewhat lasting damage (I really love Messiah Complex). Though that ‘modern’ example is over 10 years old now.

  16. Evilgus says:

    I enjoyed these issues too. There was a focus on the team, everyone gets a moment, the fight had stakes, and there was humour too.

    I found it interesting good Havok and Psylocke made it home, as the most marketable and recognisable characters. I’d feel it was a slight cheat if Nanny and co. don’t get warped on resurrection, as it was mentioned in this issue those were the stakes. What’s intriguing is how Empath was half out the doorway…

    There’s a certain pleasure in seeing the ‘heroes’ get their asses handed to them once in a while.

  17. Thom H. says:

    “Most books these days, it’s a splash page of lasers going everywhere, then several pages of bif-bam-pow and somebody is declared the winner near the end because the plot demands it, not because the battle was resolved on page in an organic way.”

    That sounds like a typical Bendis fight to me. I never could figure out who was supposed to be doing what in those double-splash layouts.

  18. Chris V says:

    Ben-Moira only founded Krakoa and worked with Apocalypse in one other lifetime.
    I don’t think that the Amenthi could break out of their dimension without the help of Krakoa and Apocalypse.
    There would only be one other lifetime where this Arakko business could have occurred, which was Moira’s life nine.

    In that timeline, Moira mentioned that Apocalypse freed his original Horsemen.
    Which means that she must have gone through all of this once before.
    Not in any of her other lives though.

  19. Ben says:

    Aaaaaaah good point!

    I guess I don’t know why they need a gate from Krakoa.

    If they can make it to Otherworld can’t they go from there to Earth?

    I’m not versed in the Otherworld rules.

  20. Adam says:

    I still haven’t the damnedest how Sinister went from being his traditional, endlessly mysterious self to the sassy, fashion-conscious nutjob we all know today, but that doesn’t bother me; I like him so much better.

    Come to think it, since this is a blog half-dedicated to continuity: Has there ever been an explanation?

  21. Trevor says:

    Ben – in Excalibur they established that Saturnyne kept her palace hidden for some reason. Apocalypse had Excalibur obtain rare relics to perform a spell that guided them go from Avalon to Saturnyne, but that was a one-time trick. They planted a gate outside the citadel so they could go back easier, but even doing that took a greater spell and the sacrifice of the Externals to accomplish. I guess Saturnyne’s realm is the key to traveling all over Ofherworld and getting to Arakko? The more I explain the less sure I am about the mechanics….

  22. Ben says:

    See I dropped Excalibur after two issues so I’m extra confused about this stuff.

    By the time I started reading comics and old Excalibur, Pete Wisdom was already around so I’m pretty clueless.

  23. Loz says:

    Adam: I still haven’t the damnedest how Sinister went from being his traditional, endlessly mysterious self to the sassy, fashion-conscious nutjob we all know today

    Wasn’t it during Kieron Gillen’s brief run on X-Men? When Mr Sinister first became a colony creature? I seem to remember an issue where they’d become an entire society (think Rimmerworld but with Sinisters rather than Arnold Rimmers) and there was a Bizarro Sinister trying to overthrow the leader.

  24. DFE says:

    Adam — the campy Sinister seems to be derived from the version of Sinister in Kieron Gillen’s run, where they refashioned the character in much more of a Victorian fop. Hickman ran with that and upped the camp in Secret Wars, and it’s been magnified further since then.

    Honestly — I like it. It’s still jarring, but he feels much more unpredictable and dangerous now. I think the easiest explanation we’ll ever get is “some of his clones were more serious than others.”

    I need to take another look at Mike Carey’s Sinister too. I remember he was the one who first gave Sinister longer hair, which might have been the front-runner to him getting a personality.

  25. Jon L says:

    I’ve got a head cannon theory that in her 9th life, Moira teamed up with Apocalypse very early on. In which ever issue of this endless event that Genesis finally tells her back story, it seems like it’s only been a few years that she’s been possessed by the evil mask. So, maybe in Moira’s 9th, they retrieve the mutants on Arrako before they got overrun and turned by the Amenth hordes.

  26. Col_Fury says:

    re: Jon L
    According to the timeline chart of Moira’s lives in House of X #2, Moira and Apocalypse rescue the original Horsemen when she’s 24 years old. In her current tenth life, she’s currently 52 years old when X of Swords happens. So yeah, the Horsemen were rescued/awoken/whatever almost 30 years earlier in her ninth life. And since the chart specifically says they “rescued” the Horsemen, your theory is certainly possible!

  27. neutrino says:

    @Allan M : That’s my point. Zeb Wells is contradicting the previous material.

  28. Adam says:

    Appreciate all the responses on Sinister. I have read Gillen’s story, but it didn’t provide much in the way of an explanation for the shift in style. Guess that answers my question.

    Concerning Arakko in the previous lives of Moira, I’ve always extended a certain amount of credit to such alternate realities, because I figure if their continuity is even half as insane as ours…

  29. Joseph S. says:

    Adam, I think Gillen did have an explanation, though I haven’t read those issues since they came out a decade ago. It wasn’t just “Sinister is Victorian Camp” now, but the whole bit about the clones and hive minds and such. It seems a bit like Madrox, with dupes who manifest unique personalities, accept in this case the Sinister clones have the potential to replace the Prime Sinister. Both Gillen and Hickman have scenes where one Sinister is replaced by another, and for Gillen this accounts for the Victorian stuff and for Hickman it is why Sinister is a mutant invited to Krakoa and his role in resurrection (the scene in PoX when he reveals he has Thunderbird’s x-gene).

  30. Adam says:

    Joseph: Huh, OK. I haven’t read those issues since they came out either, so I probably just forgot. Works for me. Thanks.

  31. Andy Walsh says:

    Re: Gillen’s Sinister

    There was also the epilogue to issue #544, also written by Gillen and directly preceding / leading into the hivemind Sinister as a system story discussed above. In that epilogue, Sinister deliberately puts “himself” through repeated rounds of mutation and selection in order to create a version of himself who could retrodict every decision the X-Men had ever made to that point. After so much mutation, a shift in personality does not seem too implausible. (Assuming there is some genetic basis to personality, which we can at least grant for the Marvel universe. For example, Wolverine seems to have passed on several personality traits to his children without having raised them at all.)

  32. Alan L says:

    Didn’t the Victorian Sinister at one point kill and replace the original version? Wasn’t that in one of Gillen’s stories, or did I just dream that up?

    Speaking strictly for myself, I have no problem with a drastic, unheralded change in a character, so long as the author develops a character of some kind. The shift to Matt Fraction’s Hawkweye was quite abrupt, but those Hawkeye books were very good, and the character was handled well within that paradigm, so I had no problem with it. I like the Gillen Sinister, and making Sinister funny was a big step towards advancing him out of the rut he’d been in for decades.

  33. Dave says:

    Wasn’t all the Sinister change also after his ‘death’ in Messiah Complex?
    Also, credit must be given to AoA for first giving him long hair (and beard).

    I’m taking it that the formation of the Krakoa mutant nation is the trigger for Arakko invasion. Because that’s what we’ve been shown. Almost as soon as it happens (only the second issue of current X-Men) Summoner arrives, and it’s his departure which makes Genesis decide to attack (not really sure why she responds to it in this way, but that’s what happened).

    And I’m completely sure that Nanny, O-M and Kyle are OK to be resurrected. Sinister who got back (minus cape) knows where they died. How he got back after being sliced apart I don’t know.

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