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Oct 7

Hellions #16 annotations

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

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

HELLIONS #16
“Come Hurt With Us”
by Zeb Wells, Stephen Segovia & Rain Beredo

COVER / PAGE 1. Greycrow, with the other Hellions in his sights – though in the story itself, he’s certainly not after all of them. It’s got an “After Liefeld” credit on it, which I can only assume is because of a very vague resemblance to the cover of New Mutants vol 1 #87 (the one with Cable and the heads of the New Mutants shown in gunsights). Calling it a homage is very generous

PAGES 2-6. The aftermath of the explosion.

Last issue ended with Sinister revealing his creation of a Sinister/Tarn hybrid chimera, and Empath responding by prompting Havok to destroy the whole place – thus also eliminating the backup of Psylocke’s AI daughter (from Fallen Angels) that Sinister has been using to keep her in line throughout this series. The Hellions also effectively learned that they’d been manipulated by Sinister and had their memories altered at his behest.

Havok was previously seen flying into one of these rages in issue #1 (against the Hellfire Cult) and arguably #3. Empath wasn’t seen in either of those scenes, and he couldn’t have been involved in issue #3 because he was already dead by that point. The suggestion does seem to be, though, that he was behind the scenes in issue #1 manipulating Havok and engineering Havok’s assignment to this team, all as part of a scheme to keep Sinister in line on behalf of Emma Frost. Even now, it’s far from clear that Havok understands what’s happening.

Greycrow blames Empath for all this (unaware, of course, that Emma is involved). There are several reasons why he might feel so strongly about it – partly because Empath has destroyed something Psylocke cares about so strongly, and partly because he regards this sort of manipulation of a teammate and disregard for them as people as beyond the pale.

Nanny, on the other hand, is apparently set on avenging herself on Sinister. She’s made clear from day one that she detests him, and in her own way she is motivated by a genuine concern for other mutants (the problems come with the way she acts on that concern).

The newly-elected X-Men show up at the end, before Nanny can actually kill him.

PAGE 7. Recap and credits.

PAGE 8. Emma and Cyclops talk.

Emma essentially confirms here that she knew Sinister was going to do something incredible dangerous and that she put Havok in the position to “heroically” stop him – though since Havok had no actual say in what he did, it’s a very broad definition of heroism. Note that Emma is resigned to the fact that nothing can be done to stop Sinister because he’s a Council member – it sounds a lot like she knows nothing can (or will) be done to rein in Sinister officially, and Empath was a secret project of her own.

PAGE 9. Orphan-Maker tries to speak to Nanny.

Nanny has shown relatively little interest in poor Orphan-Maker since his resurrection in issue #9, and has been more preoccupied by the infant Right AI that she picked up in issue #8. Nanny is right to say that he’s “been a man since you came back from Amenth”, i.e. since he was resurrected after dying there in issue #6. Issue #9 strongly implied that he had been brought back as a full-grown adult who no longer fit comfortably into his old armour. This is very, very bad news, because Orphan-Maker’s whole gimmick is that he has powers so dangerous that they must never be allowed to manifest; the armour, supposedly, deals with that.

Oddly, Nanny claims that the events of that day have caused “[o]ur little family” to “f[a]ll apart”. She’s clearly referring there to the collapse of the Hellions as a team, now that their relationship with Sinister is irreparably exposed and shattered – but that has nothing directly to do with her relationship with Orphan-Maker. It feels more like she’s looking for an excuse to get rid of him.

PAGE 10. Data page. A memo from the Beast, writing to Emma about recent events. In keeping with his morally-dubious CIA persona in X-Force, he’s apparently figured out what Emma was up to, and regrets that the Hellions’ redemption fell apart. It’s a little out of character (compared to X-Force) for him to be lamenting the loss of his moral high ground and the hope presented by the Hellions; in that book, he spends most of his time insisting on the nobility and value of his role.

“Terra Verde” refers to Beast’s bizarre scheme to mentally enslave the whole micronation, which collapsed in X-Force #20 and Wolverine #13.

PAGE 11. Psylocke sends Wild Child away.

Wild Child imprinted on Psylocke as his pack leader back in the first arc, and she’s been patiently putting up with him ever since. Understandably, she has no intention of taking him with her on her planned departure from Krakoa.

PAGES 12-13. Psylocke talks to Cyclops.

Psylocke “accepted the role of Captain” as shown in Inferno #1 – technically, this story could still come before Inferno #1, if all she’s done at this stage is to accept the offer.

Psylocke alludes to Sinister having the AI of her daughter, but doesn’t directly explain it. She had hoped to redeem herself by saving her daughter but, she says, “the Council had other [plans]”. In other words, she assumes that Emma was acting on behalf of the Council as a whole. Her new plan, apparently, is to go out and generally fight bad guys until she manages to get herself killed.

PAGES 14-16. Emma, Havok and Empath.

Havok still doesn’t seem to have grasped the fact that he was being manipulated by Empath, and his swift change of mood when Emma offers to look at the case of Madelyne Pryor again might be influenced by Emma and/or Empath. Madelyne died in issue #4, and the Council’s refusal to resurrect her (because she’s a clone) has come up repeatedly.

Empath, apparently, is putting up a show of being unbothered about what’s happened, but is voicing his own feelings of loss in the guise of ironic sentimentality. The art really gets that across in the last panel.

PAGE 17. Greycrow and Wild Child.

Greycrow “told [Empath] what I’d do if he used his powers on us” in issue #1 – i.e., shoot him – and did it for the first time in issue #2. As he says, Empath never seems to have learned the lesson. And indeed, if you go back to issue #1, Greycrow did indeed refer to Empath using his powers on any of the team, not just himself.

PAGES 18-23. Nanny’s ship is destroyed.

The guy on the screen is Dr Harold Murch, a Right scientist who we saw in issue #13. He gets a first name here. So too does Nanny, who apparently answers to “Eleanor”. If Murch is speaking literally when he says “we were never properly divorced”, then presumably she’s Eleanor Murch. In the same line of dialogue he talks about the Right AI as “our baby”, so he might mean it figuratively. But overall it sounds like we’re meant to take this guy as her estranged husband.

Murch talks about Nanny wound up in her egg suit. This is loosely based on an origin flashback from X-Factor vol 1 #40, which was always unreliable, since it was Orphan-Maker’s account of what Nanny had told him. Orphan-Maker’s version goes like this: “Once upon a time, Nanny was a scientist, an inventor, pioneering in cyborg technology. She worked for an organisation called the Right. Then one evil day, she learned that the Right used her technology to create super-soldiers to destroy mutants. But Nanny herself was a mutant! Nanny was real mad and tried to stop them, but they captured her and locked her in one of her own cyborg designs so that she would have to work for them forever! It drove her nearly crazy, and finally she escaped…”

Murch’s version is slightly different. He seems to suggest that Nanny knew what the Right was when she joined it (which raises the question of why she joined), and that after she tried to leave, she was given a choice between “forgiveness and my embrace, or condemnation and that egg”. This suggests that Nanny was punished not simply for trying to stop the Right, but for personally defying Murch. But he seems to corroborate Orphan-Maker’s account that she was put in the egg suit as a punishment and that this had terrible effects on her sanity. He expresses (perhaps understandable) astonishment that she’s still wearing the egg now – and indeed we’ve seen that she has two of them, and could, if she wanted, simply take it off.

The Krakoan “dirty orphange” is presumably the Bower from Way of X #3, a place where abandoned newborn mutants were cared for by Stacy X and her staff.

Once again, Nanny takes out her anger on Orphan-Maker quite unfairly – she was the one who sent him away, after all.

PAGE 24. Quote from Nanny, essentially suggesting that something very bad is going to happen. Well, encouraging Orphan-Maker to grow up and get rid of the armour has always been suggested to be a bad idea.

PAGE 25. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: FIRESTORM

Bring on the comments

  1. Evilgus says:

    I can’t express how much I’ve enjoyed Hellions. This is how you do a team book – everyone gets a moment, gets meaningfully developed. And the characters are taken seriously, despite being a ‘joke’ collection of throwaways.

    I didn’t like Hellions to start – I didn’t like how the ‘Psylocke body’ remained almost as marketing ploy. But I’ve gone back and reread the whole run. Kwannon’s been invested with so much care. I really like how it’s all panned out (albeit tragically!).

    And the development for Greycrow, and Nanny (is all this new?). And poor Havok is such an unaware patsy!

    Anyway, sorry for the gushing. The art on this has been consistently great too, selling the humour and the horror.

  2. Si says:

    Was it Liefeld who first did the crosshairs gimmick? It has been homaged a lot, and I have wondered. I’m pretty sure there’s a Spider-Man cover with the Punisher holding the gun, that predates it, but that would only be one crosshair circle.

  3. Michael says:

    The problem with Empath being responsible for Havok’s going nuts in issue 1 is that Alex didn’t remember it. Empath’s victims usually remember everything that happened and feel disgusted. Emma could have done it with her own powers. though. Still, I have to wonder if Havok’s evil personality emerging in issue 1 was a surprise to Emma and Empath and they just took advantage of a lucky break.
    Nanny really doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of the resurrections in this issue. First, she tries to kill Sinister. It’s debatable whether she would have been able to do that in Sinister’s weakened state after Havok’s blast but there’s definitely no way she could have prevented the Five from resurrecting him. Then, she blows up the ship to stop her ex from using it to destroy the orphanage, even though the Five could have just resurrected everybody killed.
    I like Beast’s reaction to what Emma did: “Emma, you just did something reprehensible and idiotic that will probably cause more problems for us in the long run! That’s supposed to be MY job!”
    Emma really has turned back into the same woman who tormented Firestar, if she ever changed. She forced her ex’s brother to essentially kill a child! I guess the idea is that now that she’s got the Hellions back, she’s starting to forget the lessons their death taught her. It would be nice if we saw some of this in other books, though. It might be nice to see Firestar show up and react to these developments.
    I don’t think his change of mood when Maddie was mentioned was Empath or Emma’s doing- I think it’s more of his obsession with Maddie.
    I wonder if Emma was telling the truth about resurrecting Maddie. I also wonder- is she doing this just to appease Havok? Or did she originally refuse to resurrect Maddie because she felt that, demonic corruption or not, there was no way she would try to turn Scott’s brother into a killer while endangering a child? And now she realizes that’s the case, and maybe wants to save Maddie to redeem both of them?

  4. Thom H. says:

    Re: crosshairs cover

    John Byrne’s Alpha Flight #12 also featured them (albeit without the shooter also pictured) and is the one I always think of when I see an “homage” like this.

  5. Michael says:

    One important thing about resurrecting Maddie that hasn’t been addressed- is it possible to resurrect her as a good woman or only as the Goblin Queen? I guess we’ll find out in two months.
    The solicits for issue 18 state that Orphan Maker has committed a horrible crime. I think he’s going to kill the AI baby out of jealousy. That’s the only thing that makes sense. He can’t permanently kill another mutant and killing Nanny’s stalker ex would be understandable if not excusable.

  6. Ben Johnston says:

    @Evilgus — I absolutely agree. Hellions has emerged as the biggest success in the Krakoa era for me, and I plan to go back and reread the whole run once it wraps up in December.

    Emma or Empath might be affecting Havok in the scene in her home, but he’s generally been played as clueless and preoccupied throughout this run.

    I wonder if the Madelyne Pryor stuff is going to set up a spinoff series starring the two of them for Wells to write after Inferno.

  7. Michael says:

    The X-Men really did a bang-up job of making sure Sinister didn’t hurt anyone while on the council. I mean, he only helped Mastermind kill some dude, used a child as a human shield and almost gained godlike power. I guess the council covering this up explains why Mastermind is staying with X-Corps instead of getting the pit. Although you’d think that Hank or Scott would give Warren a heads-up that Mastermind is bad news.

  8. Adam says:

    I could use a little more explicit clarity regarding whether Havok’s lack of power control was entirely due to manipulation by Emma and Empath and whether that was indeed because they wanted a bomb they could set off on the team.

    I’m also not sure how much of a stupid sad sack Havok is now because he’s still being manipulated versus how much we’re to take him as the broken remains of a once-great (if B-list) hero.

    That said, I concur with everyone else praising the series. It’s been a “simple” (and funny!) team book well-done, almost entirely based on characters that we don’t already know everything about.

    I’ve basically been planning on jumping ship from the X-titles alongside Hickman, but I could be convinced to follow Zeb to another book.

  9. JD says:

    Zeb Wells is now the leader of Amazing Spider-Man‘s “Beyond Board” (the title is back to a “Brand New Day”-style team of rotating writers), and he’s also busy with TV work (the ASM #75 editorial page mentions the upcoming SHE-HULK show), so I’ll be very surprised if he’s got another X-book lined up after HELLIONS wraps up.

  10. JCG says:

    I heard he will return to the X-books, but it might take some time, will likely not be in the coming relaunch.

  11. Michael says:

    As I understand it, Wells has already finished his She-Hulk writing:
    https://wegotthiscovered.com/tv/spider-man-writer-joins-disney-plus-she-hulk-series/

  12. K says:

    Segovia’s art duties being on the issues with key character moments has been really instrumental to the storytelling in this book.

    As Paul said, not every artist could have nailed Empath’s scene like that.

  13. Taibak says:

    Has Firestar been seen on Krakoa? I know she liked being an X-Man, but Krakoa doesn’t really seem like her thing.

  14. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    She was in a crowd scene somewhere at the Lagoon.

    Immortality is a hell of a drug.

  15. ASV says:

    There could be an interesting companion story to Children of the Atom in looking at anti-Krakoa mutants. It would be a good fit in Excalibur for the UK government to have some spokesperson mutants they trot out to speak against Krakoa in general.

  16. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    You could do a team book of anti-krakoa mutants, but that would be more of a critique of the set up than their interested in.

    Wisdom didn’t want anything to do with it.

    Justice doesn’t seem to either.

    Ricochet is MIA.

    Typhoid Mary gives no shits.

    In the other side, I’m surprised they haven’t done anything with a mutant character who normally has nothing to do with the X books show up and cause trouble.

    I want Whirlwind to rob a bank and head through a portal to the island.

  17. MWayne says:

    This issue of Hellions kinda punched me in the face, in a good way. Long-term plot lines (as “long-term” as you get in this age of quickly canceled books) paying off, brutal consequences for the characters, team dynamics broken, Nanny emerging as the most compelling character (who’d a thunk it). And on top of that, the book continues to have golden comedic moments. When it started, I would have never guessed Hellions would be sitting at the top of my comic pile a couple years later.

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