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Nov 10

Hellions #17 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, November 10, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

“Trauma Response”
by Zeb Wells, Stephen Segovia & Rain Beredo

COVER / PAGE 1: Orphan-Maker rescues the Right AI baby.

PAGES 2-3.Psylocke decides to help Orphan-Maker.

Psylocke decided to leave Krakoa last issue, after Havok (under Empath’s influence) destroyed the A.I. copy of her daughter’s mind, which Mr Sinister had been secretly using as leverage over her. She told Cyclops that “I was tasked with keeping the Hellions in check. If only I’d known they also tasked another.” That referred to the clear indication that Havok and Empath had been put on the team by Emma Frost specifically for this purpose. This is the subtext of Psylocke and Emma’s exchange on page 2, which is alluded to in Psylocke’s line “I think you do know.”

Emma refers to Psylocke as a “Great Captain”, so this is after she was appointed in Inferno #1.

The Stepford Cuckoos are giving a fairly straightforward recap of the Right’s attack on Nanny last issue. The bit about debriefing Nanny, and Orphan-Maker overhearing the location, is new. He did see the attack happen last issue, tried to help Nanny, and she rejected him.

The “protocols” Emma mentions come up again on her data page later in the issue – basically, for fairly obvious reasons, the Krakoans don’t want people like Psylocke launching attacks on bad guys on foreign soil without some sort of prior authorisation. Psylocke simply responds by pulling rank as one of the Krakoan Captains (thus withdrawing her resignation).

PAGE 4.Orphan-Maker attacks the Right.

The A.I. baby was recovered by the Right as part of their attack last issue. The three scientists with it are Dr Meyer, Dr Harold Murch, and Dr Green. We saw all of them before in issue #13, when they sent the Right’s Zeta Team after Nanny; Murch is the leader, and we established last issue that he’s Nanny’s ex-husband.

Murch mentions Zeta Team being on “meds”, except for “Susan”. We saw in issue #15 that Susan is some sort of religious extremist, regarded with some bafflement even by her own teammates. I think the reference to meds is new, though.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.

PAGES 6-8.The Hellions gather to help their teammate.

As made clear last issue, Havok still doesn’t understand that he was being manipulated; Psylocke forgives him because she does. Note, though, that while the rest of the team clearly show up out of a sense of team spirit and loyalty to Orphan-Maker, Havok doesn’t – he arrives separately, motivated by personal guilt. That’s consistent with his behaviour throughout the series, where he’s always tended to reject any team identity.

Nanny has a particular concern for Peter, and now her anger has passed. Wild Child is obsessed with Psylocke. But both of them at least show up alongside the team-spirited Greycrow; the vibe is very clearly one of the team uniting after all. Empath tries to join in and is immediately rejected – Greycrow did indeed threaten to kill him last issue as revenge for what he did. The previous issue strongly suggested that Empath’s disdain for his teammates is a pose and that he does actually care about them to some extent – none of them see it that way, though, and he doesn’t seem to take their rejection well.

PAGE 9. Data page. Emma’s memo to… someone… discussing how they’re going to spin a Krakoan assault on an Arizona extremist camp politically. Fortunately, the Right’s campus isn’t very popular with the locals, if only because they’re bad neighbours. Emma also makes sure to tell us that everyone in the Right compound is a mutant killer, so don’t worry, kids, they’ve got it coming.

PAGE 10.Orphan-Maker storms the compound.

He’s yelling that all the bad things Nanny said to him last issue are untrue.

PAGE 11.The Arizona cops watch from a distance.

These guys need to serve the role of hapless innocents caught in the crossfire, and Wells is making sure to set them up appropriately. They don’t understand what the Right is – they think it’s some sort of regular religious cult – but they do fully understand that it’s dangerous and they’re massively outgunned. And they’re going to do their job and go in anyway.

PAGES 12-15.The Hellions fight Zeta Team.

From left to right in page 11 panel 1, Zeta Team are Cobb, Barker, Susan and Martinez. None of them have full names.

Nanny runs off on her own during the fight; Wild Child notices but gets attacked by Susan before he can alert anyone.

PAGES 16-19.Orphan-Maker and Nanny reach the AI baby.

Note that Orphan-Maker’s dialogue is much less childlike than normal on page 16; he reverts to his normal speech patterns when Nanny shows up on the next page, and starts pleading for recognition from Nanny. As in previous issues, Nanny more or less ignores him in favour of the AI.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the “mew mew” that the baby has been repeating for several issues is actually the opening syllable of something else entirely… Nanny is killed in front of Orphan-Maker’s eyes (she’ll be resurrected, of course), and he responds by killing all three scientists. There are no Right soldiers visible – I’m not sure what happened to the woman who was trying to get them to evacuate, but maybe she was blown up in the explosion – so the impression is definitely one of murder rather than self-defence. Certainly none of the three is presented as a physical threat to him. In principle, this ought to lead to a trip to the Hole… if anyone in authority on Krakoa finds out.

PAGES 20-23.Orphan-Maker goes on a rampage.

It’s hard to have much sympathy for the Right cultists, but the problem is when he kills the two cops – who are maybe being unwise trying to take him on, but they certainly haven’t done anything to deserve being attacked. Orphan-Maker seems to realise this afterwards, saying that he “couldn’t stop” – he doesn’t try to tell us that he mistook them for Right members. We’ve repeatedly been told that Orphan-Maker is potentially very dangerous, but normally this is said to be something to do with his suppressed mutant powers. Here, he just seems to lack all self-control; Nanny has trained him to be a murderer, after all.

PAGE 24. Our closing quote brings us back to Nightcrawler, who regularly provides wisdom to bookend issues ofHellions despite not being in the cast.

PAGE 25. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT:WE ALL FALL DOWN.


Bring on the comments

  1. Si says:

    I wasn’t even reading this comic at first, probably because Fallen Angels turned me off of Psylocke, or because there’s been a glut of Bad Guy comics lately and it’s a bit on the nose. But Hellions really is one of the best. The character moments are amazing.

    I don’t really understand a few things. Like the Right baby. How is it an AI and not a robot? I mean, all robots are AIs, so where’s the distinction here? Will its body physically grow? And the whole thing about resurrections changing the person depending on how they died.

    Also, I think both comics would make more sense if this one and Marauders swapped names.

  2. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I’ve been saying that about the titles since Hellions started! It’s so counterintuitive!

    Another great issue. Robobaby’s first words were a gut punch. And darkly funny at the same time, which is something Wells is very good at.

    But I’m afraid we’ll be left with quite a few unresolved subplots, considering there’s just one issue to go.

  3. Michael says:

    @Kryzsiek Ceran- The three major remaining subplots are the question of what Peter’s powers are, the question of whether Empath and Emma were responsible for Alex’s initial bouts of madness and the resurrection of Maddie. All of those will probably be dealt with next issue, although I’m not sure how they’ll squeeze them all in.Probably Peter will resist being put in the pit and then his powers will go crazy and almost destroy the world.
    I wonder if they’ll try to tie the plots together. Like maybe Peter’s power is the ability to cause madness and he’s the cause of Alex’s madness. But if that’s the case, I’m not sure what the acid coming out of Orphan Maker’s armor in issue 3 was about.
    Or they could go even crazier and claim that Orphan Maker was the cause of the supposedly faked plane crash in Maddie’s origin.Who knows?

  4. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I’m going to miss this goofy book.

    That said the art felt very sloppy this issue.

    I still want Ricochet to show up and kill Nanny and Orphanmaker for murdering his mom.

  5. Mike Loughlin says:

    This is definitely my favorite X-book, and I hope it continues in some way post-Inferno.

    That said, I could see Peter being put on trial, sentenced, freed by Nanny, having his armor cracked, and sacrificing himself to prevent his power from killing others. Out of guilt, he might be the first mutant to ask not to be resurrected.

    Zeb Wells is a better writer than I am, obviously, so I hope he goes in a different direction. I also hope the editors don’t screw up the end of Hellions like they did with X-Factor.

  6. The Other Michael says:

    I think Peter’s powers are to erase everyone’s Netflix accounts, and that’s why Xavier and Magneto are so desperate to keep him from manifesting.

  7. Chris V says:

    Probably something much more meta, such as his power causing the delay in shipment of all comics, further putting off the revelations about Krakoa.
    Something Moira, Xavier, and Magneto wanted to avoid at all costs…because, regardless of what you may have read, even they don’t know the secrets of this era yet to be revealed.

  8. Josie says:

    Peter’s powers are what’s keeping the single-issue-reliant comic book industry afloat by sheer inertia.

  9. Jon R says:

    @Si: On the resurrections changing people, Amenth is effectively a hell dimension. They never come out and put the dots together, but I think that’s part of the general thing where no one is really wanting to talk about the spiritual part of the resurrections directly for some reason.

    So the mutants have a technological/psychic solution for resurrections, but haven’t actually accounted for any magical effects. Die in Amenth and you’re ‘infected’ and come back more aggressive and vaguely dark. Die in Otherworld and come back scrambled between alternate selves or something. It’s some mix of spiritual taint and sympathetic magic affecting the mental backups/physical samples. I guess. I think it works well as an idea, but none of the writers want to directly confront it, possibly because the base idea was a Hickman thing that was intended to play out somewhere else.

  10. Ceries says:

    I got the impression that the “mutant scum” thing is the ironic consequence of Kwannon murdering all the “parent” AIs and causing them to decide that mutants are bad after all as they died. Tragically hate has been the result of hate, that sort of thing.

  11. Luis Dantas says:

    Or it could simply have been learning from the Right, I suppose.

    @Jon R: I can hardly claim to know, but I got the sense that Ogun had returned less determined, but not darker than he was before.

  12. Si says:

    The AI baby is a nature vs nurture argument, yeah? Sure it’s capable of learning, but its prejudice is (literally) hardwired. It fits the Mutants vs Robots theme that Moira brought in.

  13. Dave says:

    “all robots are AIs, so where’s the distinction here”.

    Nah, robots that make cars aren’t AIs. There’s a certain threshold of complexity that a computer ‘brain’ has to pass to be an AI. Maybe it’s the Turing test? Although your average Sentinel wouldn’t pass that, but Nimrod could. Arnie in T2 was in the grey area (and seemed to be moving towards passing it).

  14. Si says:

    I wasn’t very clear there was I? I meant more specifically Marvel robot characters. Your Visions and Doombots and whatnot. They’re often spoken of *having* an AI, not actually *being* an AI. It seems a deliberate choice in the story, I just don’t understand the significance.

  15. Chris V says:

    Well, the significance has to do with Hickman’s mythology.
    That AI is a “discovery, not an invention” by humanity and that machines are also evolving.
    I guess the hint is that this is the next step in evolution for robots.
    It arose around the same time as Nimrod was being activated by Orchis. We know from Moira that Nimrod is so dangerous because it leads to an acceleration in technology.

  16. Allan M says:

    Kwannon forgiving Alex was a nice character moment. She knows what it’s like to be used by people and has empathy for it. This series has done well by its cast generally, but Kwannon desperately needed some depth if she’s going to last as the new Psylocke and I think this book did a lot on that front. A moment of empathy and then a funny line (rejecting Empath’s help) a page later.

  17. Dave says:

    “I meant more specifically Marvel robot characters. Your Visions and Doombots and whatnot.”

    Interesting what the distinction between a character and a non-character is here. I used a Sentinel as an example of a non-AI Marvel robot, and A standard Sentinel isn’t a character. Most Doombots aren’t, either. I suppose, again, it’s whether or not they do have full AI.
    As for ‘being’ as opposed to ‘having’ AI, I don’t think there is a distinction. You can say something IS an AI and still have it be a robot.

  18. Ethan says:

    Is Wells scheduled to be writing another X-book after this? He’s one of the best of current roster.

  19. I think, for the purposes of Hickman’s Grand Plan™, we are supposed to forget about Death’s Head, HERBIE, the Human Robot, the Human Torch, Jocasta, Machine Man, Quasimodo, Ultron, Vision…

  20. JCG says:

    Well, and why not?

    The Marvel Universe is so old and large now that it contains just about anything you can think of.

    Trying to take all single part of into account for every single story would not work that well.

  21. Thom H. says:

    I suppose we don’t technically know how HERBIE feels about mutants, but you’re right — we can probably assume he’s not racist. 😉

    I can’t believe Wells made me a) care about some of these characters and b) believe that they’re a team. This issue kind of felt like when the “All-New” team started to gel way back when.

  22. Chris V says:

    I want to read the story where HERBIE is outed as a huge racist and has to explain why he thought it was alright to hate mutants, but now he has to make an apology.

    “What? What’s wrong with saying ‘Mutie’? Some of my best friends are mutants and they’re always calling each other Muties!”

    “Come on! I’m not some mutie-hating Sentinel! I don’t want them all dead. I just don’t want them around me or my self-replicating nanobot offspring, ok?”

  23. JCG, I get the impression that it’s AI as a general concept that is supposed to be the existential threat, in which case one wonders why all the other Marvel AIs don’t count.

    Yeah, it’s just one of those things we handwave all the time in superhero comics, it just stands out as an odd one this time, that’s all.

    HERBIE though, definitely a machine supremacist.

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