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Jan 7

Hellions #8 annotations

Posted on Thursday, January 7, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

HELLIONS #8
“The Grinning Neonate”
by Zeb Wells, Stephen Segovia & David Curiel

COVER / PAGE 1. Wild Child and Nanny fight their way past the Right, to the surprise of Havok and Psylocke. As we established in the previous issue, their resurrection has made both Wild Child and Nanny much more focussed and aggressive.

PAGE 2. Epigraph from (as usual) Nightcrawler. He insists that hate is not part of the soul of man, but something generated by circumstances.

PAGES 3-4. Hodge begins his speech.

“The smiling soul of Cameron Hodge.” A curious way for the caption to describe Hodge. “Smiling”, of course, refers to the Right’s armour design. The comment about the “soul” seems intended to undercut Nightcrawler’s optimism, insisting that this is indeed what Hodge is at his core. But we also learn later that this isn’t Hodge at all, but a robot copy which thinks he’s the original. Then again, if we’re saying that identical copies of dead people with the exact same mind somehow don’t count – and this is a similar point to the first arc’s material about Madelyne Pryor – then there are awkward questions about how to reconcile that with Krakoan resurrection. Of course, you can handwave it away by saying Proteus sorts it all out (for example), but it seems intentional that it’s being left at least slightly vague.

“You were gifted eternal life by a demon.” N’Astirh, in X-Factor vol 1 #32.

Hodge’s religion. I don’t recall Hodge ever being this religious in the past. He was more of a sneering manipulator and (later) raving maniac. From his comments later, this version of Hodge seems to believe that he’s been restored to life by divine intervention (despite his immortality deal with N’Astirh), and appears to have undergone a conversion of some sort. Naturally, Wild Child and Nanny have no interest in listening to this D-list rant, and set about the mission.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.

PAGES 6-10. The Hellions fight the Right.

Empath promptly runs away, but really, he’s got a point, hasn’t he? His powers don’t work on these robots, and he has nothing else to attack them with, so why stand there and get shot at? It’s not like his teammates are likely to do much to protect him – and even if they do, he’ll be a distraction. If this is meant to come across as Empath being a coward, it doesn’t really work.

Psylocke is, curiously, identified by the Right robot as not definitively a mutant. It thinks she’s a mutant, but for some reason the results are within the margin of error. Nobody else has mentioned this before, and it might just be an issue with the Right’s equipment, but things like this tend not to be said without a purpose.

PAGES 11-12. Nanny makes it to her ship.

This is indeed how Nanny’s ship looked back in the day, though it’s drawn here to look a little more dynamic. I love the “Oh, how she rocks” joke.

PAGES 13-17. Empath exposes Hodge as a robot.

Pretty straightforward. This is the first time Empath has been allowed to save the day, even if he’s only doing it because he was backed into a corner. Probably a wise move, since he’s getting killed on every mission and he needs to do something to retain a bit of credibility.

PAGE 18. Nanny activates her ship.

“What kept you?” We’ll see later that Nanny has picked up a Right AI “child”, in keeping with her usual desire to shelter the “innocent”. Wild Child evidently didn’t see this, and knows nothing about it.

“Amend isn’t through with us.” Both Wild Child and Nanny feel convinced that the demon hordes of Amenth – despite now being under the leadership of Genesis and Apocalypse – will be back to attack Earth at some point. They don’t have any evidence for this, just some sort of feeling of inevitability, evidently linked to their corrupted resurrections after dying in Amenth.

PAGE 19. The Right AI start to improve their attitude to mutants.

PAGES 20-21. Psylocke destroys the AI.

“No AI may flourish under our watch. The Council made that clear.” Powers of X established AI as an existential threat to mutants, and the Council – or at least some of them – are working under that steer. But, as we saw in the previous issue, the mind of Psylocke’s long-lost daughter is entangled in the Apoth artificial intelligence, which Psylocke retrieved in Fallen Angels #6 and secretly handed over to Mr Sinister.

This is the key point of Psylocke’s relationship with Sinister. She needs to keep Apoth secret from the Quiet Council in order to free her daughter from it. If she goes to the Council for help then they’ll destroy Apoth because it’s an AI. Hence Sinister’s hold over her. Psylocke makes clear in this scene that she does consider the AI to be alive – “I have to”, because she needs to believe in the possibility of retrieving her daughter from Apoth – and so she believes that she is killing innocents here.

Note that Psylocke’s instructions come specifically from Magneto, who does know about Moira’s insights from Powers of X. How far he’s speaking in the name of the Council without their authority must be a matter for speculation, but the closing data page seems to make clear that this is a real Krakoan policy, joined by Professor X.

Greycrow offers to kill them for her, and Psylocke responds to this gesture of sympathy by encouraging him to stop being a killer, as he basically wants to do anyway. Remember, the supposed premise of the Hellions (however dubious) was that these were mutants with inherently antisocial powers. Psylocke doesn’t appear to believe that this is true of Greycrow.

PAGE 22. Havok sees the AI die.

The robot’s Krakoan line of dialogue is “My data burns!”

PAGE 23. Nanny keeps her AI secret.

Nanny evidently knows, or at least suspects, that the Krakoans would kill the baby AI if they found it. Her behaviour here is entirely in line with her actions in X-Factor vol 1, where she tended to find children that she wanted to take into care, and then kill off the parents to honour her insistence that they had to be orphans. Here, the work has been done for her by the Quiet Council. But in the past she wanted to “protect” mutants – it’s not clear (yet) why she wants to take on this creature.

PAGE 24. Data page on Krakoa’s anti-AI policy. More accurately, it’s directed at anti-mutant AIs, rather than all AIs – there’s no suggestion that the X-Men are going to start hunting down Machine Man, say.

Hesiod was an ancient Greek poet. His relevance here is that he wrote the story of Pandora’s Box (in “Works and Days”).

PAGE 25. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: KIDNAPPED.

Bring on the comments

  1. SanityOrMadness says:

    Paul> Psylocke is, curiously, identified by the Right robot as not definitively a mutant. It thinks she’s a mutant, but for some reason the results are within the margin of error. Nobody else has mentioned this before, and it might just be an issue with the Right’s equipment, but things like this tend not to be said without a purpose.

    I read this not as the Smiley questioning Psylocke’s mutanity(?), but whether there’s any meaningful difference between mutant and human in the first place.

  2. Chris V says:

    I took the Hodge material to be especially highlighting the fact that this Hodge is a machine, which would relate to Hickman’s mythology about the Titans.

  3. Chris V says:

    It’s really nice that this book (at least) is returning to one of the main themes of Hickman’s relaunch.
    It seems like this Quiet Council (? Xavier & Magneto) policy would have been brought up much sooner, instead of randomly slipped in now in a random issue of Hellions one year after “Dawn of X” started.

    It would be nice to see this followed up on and fleshed out further, considering the Quiet Council knows that the Nimrod has been built.
    Then, they have just ignored this for months and months, due to Mystique refusing to follow through with her mission.
    It seems like they would have been much more worried about this fact, instead of spending so much time with Amenth.

  4. Dave White says:

    Look, we all know Psylocke *isn’t* a mutant. She’s an evolved wolverine.

  5. CitizenBane says:

    Was the Smiley questioning Psylocke’s mutantness specifically, or making a general comment on there not actually being much genetic difference between humans and mutants?

  6. Drew says:

    This version of Psylocke is 100% genetically Kwannon, right? There’s no Betsy in her?

    I ask because Betsy’s dad is from Otherworld, so even though she’s a confirmed mutant, her mutant gene might read a bit different from a “normal” human mutant. But of course if that’s all in the past and this is purely Kwannon, that wouldn’t be relevant.

  7. Evilgus says:

    As others above have noted, the consensus seems to be the robot meant there wasn’t much difference between mutant and human, really.

    But I did think it would be an interesting take it that was directed at Kwannon, or hinted at something deeper.

    Kwannon still reads to be me as regretful murdery Betsy-Psylocke. But it’s dissonant and I know this is meant to be a different character. I hope this the difference (or blend??) is fully teased out. I trust Wells to eventually do that, given how he’s even made me invested in Greycrow and Nanny, of all characters.

  8. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I agree, the robot was saying that mutants and humans have only a tiny inconsequential difference in their DNA.

  9. K says:

    So many parallels to Uncanny X-Force #4 in this one. Interesting how the roles shift too.

  10. Allan M says:

    In addition to the big questions about Orphan-Maker that may be resolved next issue (i.e., what does he look like, what are his powers), he also died on Amenth, which means he’s going to be mentally changed, too. Even more subservient to Nanny? Or will he become more independent, like Wild Child? If he stays broadly devoted to her, he’s also got a secret baby brother/sister now, and it seems inevitable that he’ll become jealous that he doesn’t have Nanny’s undivided attention anymore. See also: his reaction to her trying to “adopt” Storm back when.

    Re: the Psylocke/Greycrow scene in this issue, there’s a sense of sadness to Psylocke, that she seems to think she’s beyond hope, a hardened killer with nothing else to offer except helping others find peace – John and her daughter. Greycrow’s the character who has been defined most from this run, but I’m increasingly sold that Kwannon was worth bringing back for reasons beyond keeping the character design in circulation.

  11. Evilgus says:

    @Allan
    “there’s a sense of sadness to Psylocke, that she seems to think she’s beyond hope, a hardened killer with nothing else to offer except helping others find peace”

    I agree that this is good characterisation. But it’s also a direct continuation of Betsy-Psylocke’s character evolution – it doesn’t feel unique to Kwannon herself, which is a problem when you have explicitly separated the two. Though I think Wells is canny enough to address this at a later point (and the blackmail plot with Kwannon’s daughter has a lot of mileage). Or maybe it just means acknowledging that Betsy/Kwannon are more similar than either woman wants to acknowledge (I think Wolverine made that point in an X-Men issue when this mess first surfaced!)

  12. SanityOrMadness says:

    Drew: This version of Psylocke is 100% genetically Kwannon, right? There’s no Betsy in her?

    Who knows? When Revanche died, she supposedly removed all trace of Kwannon from Betsy’s personality (and gave back everything she had from Betsy herself), but that was never really borne out in the characterisation anyway. (Kwannon herself implied in Fallen Angels that she wasn’t Revanche, she’d been stuck as a passenger in Betsy’s body the whole time Betsy was in there, and Revanche was a copy. Further evidence for that is that Kwannon apparently couldn’t speak English in Rosenberg’s UXM, while Revanche could).

    Moreover, this *isn’t* Kwannon’s original body, it’s a body Jamie Braddock created out of thin air when he brought Betsy back from the dead in Claremont’s third UXM run.

    (There are a few other points, but this is complicated enough already.)

  13. Karl_H says:

    Paul> there’s no suggestion that the X-Men are going to start hunting down Machine Man, say.

    Given Slott’s big AI-centric plot over in Iron Man recently, it would be impossible to reconcile these stories taking place in the same universe if that were the case. It’s already nearly impossible.

  14. Rob says:

    It’s not even that — Kwannon has died and been resurrected since joining Hellions.

  15. SanityOrMadness says:

    @Rob

    True, but that just raises the further questions of when the DNA sample used to clone her was taken. If it was after Hunt for Wolverine (presumably while she’s living on Krakoa), then everything above still applies.

    If not… what were her pre-Betsy powers meant to be again? Some sort of low-grade telepathy, right?

  16. Chris V says:

    Sinister said he had a complete collection of all mutant DNA in the Hunt for Wolverine series.
    He must have been speaking hyperbole, as we know he is still missing a couple of Omega-level mutants.
    However, I think that Xavier wanted to make sure that Sinister had a very complete collection of mutant DNA before founding Krakoa.
    So, I’d guess the DNA predates Krakoa.

  17. SanityOrMadness says:

    Yeah, but they could have updated everyone when they came to Krakoa. And while, on the one hand, they said they were going to try and unpick as many of Sinister’s modifications as possible when bringing back the “Legacy Maurauders”, (e.g.) Angel/Archangel and M/Penance were definitely not reset to original condition.

    And even if we leave out Revanche and the various power-swaps Betsy went through starting with Claremont’s second run (even if we ignore the Crimson Dawn thing as mystical), there are at least three versions:
    *Pre-Betsy/Mojo samples
    *Post-Mojo, Betsy in Kwannon’s body, which Mojo explicitly messed with
    *Betsy in a Jamie Braddock recreation of Kwannon’s body, *presumably* unchanged when Betsy was ripped out in HFW:MIM.

    If every time her powers changed in the 2000s we assume it changed the DNA, add a bunch more versions. And Kwannon complained in Fallen Angels that she was less powerful than Betsy had been after Betsy was ripped out on top.

  18. TdM says:

    I had assumed that Cameron Hodge’s religion remarks referred to the Kyle/Yost X-Force run where he was resurrected by the technarchy and serving/worshiping Bastion.

  19. neutrino says:

    “Amend isn’t through with us.” That might mean they think the changes to them after their resurrections are continuing.

    “But in the past she wanted to “protect” mutants – it’s not clear (yet) why she wants to take on this creature.” It was said that her resurrection made her a more intense version of herself.

    “PAGE 24. Data page on Krakoa’s anti-AI policy. More accurately, it’s directed at anti-mutant AIs, rather than all AIs – there’s no suggestion that the X-Men are going to start hunting down Machine Man, say.” This brings up a slippery slope argument. What if Machine Man fights a mutant for legitimate reasons? Will he be declared an anti-mutant AI? Elsie Dee and Albert were created to kill Wolverine. Are they cleared? You can assume any conflict takes place after Slott’s Robot Rebellion storyline.

  20. John Wyatt says:

    — “Amenth isn’t through with us.” That might mean they think the changes to them after their resurrections are continuing. —

    I was intending to add a comment much like this one, but neutrino beat me to the punch with the final comment

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