Sometimes the best comics are the ones that take the biggest chances, and there isn’t a more unconventional X-Men comic out right now than Hellions. The series gets its first stab at the X of Swords event this week, and it features a story that you won’t see coming — Zeb Wells continues to unleash the biggest attitudes on the reader. We’re talking Mr. Sinister level drama mixed with Empath’s douchebag problem and Greycrow’s lack of discipline in killing his teammates level attitude.
This issue offers one of the most unique angles on the X of Swords event. After a brief, but the excellently scripted reintroduction of Empath to the world that is hilarious and clever, the book dives into a plan hatched by Mr. Sinister. The team doesn’t have any swords to snatch or fighters to offer in the duel against Arakko, but they can snatch the swords the other side needs to acquire for their battle. This team of misfits fits the bill for least admirable and it makes a lot of sense. Why play fair when you have the Hellions on your side?
This book is packed with great bits of dialogue, side-eye glances, and funny reactions. Carmen Carnero is one of the best artists to maximize the effect of dialogue, even when it’s quite heavy, which carries this book forward splendidly. It actually reads like it’s extra-long due to the art and multiple entertaining beats on each page, but when you skip the credits and data pages it’s only 21 pages. Carnero is also splendid at capturing the hilarity of the moment — from Mr. Sinister totally pulling a power move as he sticks his “plumage” in the face of Exodus to Nanny hilariously riding a horse, there are many subtle moments that work thanks to the art.
Adding to this is good volume and atmosphere from color artist David Curiel. Mr. Sinister has a secret basement that’s all kinds of evil, while Otherworld has a bright and open fantasy vibe. You can tell where the fresh air is from the colors alone.
There are story elements introduced in this issue too. Avoiding spoilers here, but Mr. Sinister has a few secrets that will likely play a part in future stories as well as how Jamie Braddock plays a part in the narrative. Much of this story takes place in Otherworld, further making this narrative unique from the other X-Men titles.
Hellions #5 is largely Mr. Sinister’s show, so if you’re expecting an evenly distributed team book you’ve come to the wrong place. In fact, Psylocke, as prominent as she is, doesn’t factor into the narrative much. So far this series has never given equal time to every character in each issue, though, and you’ll only need to wait a bit to see one of these off-color characters pop up and do or say something that’ll excite.
Hellions is hilarious dark theater, maximizing every moment with a fun character moment or surprise shock that reinvigorates the superhero genre. This issue continues the series trend of surprising the reader with strange interactions, overly dramatic characters, and a propensity for the strange.
Want to learn more about Hellions #5? Check out our spoiler-story on the new issue!
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