One of the biggest changes to the world of the X-Men in the groundbreaking House of X/Powers of X was the introduction of resurrection as an in-universe tool for mutants. While there are a lot of metaphysical questions to be asked here (some pointed out within the books themselves), the most important result of this was the removal of death as major stakes… for the most part. Or, to be clearer, the ability for mutants to die and come back and be okay with it.
The other massive development is that all mutants are welcome on Krakoa — even the most heinous of villains. And while both of these story developments have been explored in books like X-Men and X-Force, what’s been missing is a title that combines the two to answer the question of “How does mutant society handle its delinquents and malefactors when they can’t be killed?” Enter Hellions.
Zeb Wells worked on the X-books a whole decade ago, writing a fantastic New Mutants run before he would leave Marvel for a spell. And now that he’s back, he’s showing everyone that he’s even better than before. Each book in the Dawn of X line has had a distinct purpose and mission statement, but Wells has come up with what is honestly the most ambitious: In a world where villains are immortal, how do we reform them? Given essentially unlimited time, can we heal and rehabilitate them? Or are they doomed to a lifetime of pain and destruction?
One of the earliest data pages in the book is a document detailing how Empath, historically one of the most vile, sadistic, and unrepentant mutant villains, didn’t start off the way he was, but became the monster he is due to the development of his mutant power. Right away, Wells asks the reader: is it possible to reform those of us we consider irredeemable? This creates such a strong emotional throughline in the story that it’s pretty much impossible to not be sucked in by the characters’ struggles.
The actual plot of this volume outside of the overall mission of the book is a Zeb Wells classic — revisiting and following up on some of the most interesting loose ends from Chris Claremont’s legendary run on the X-Men. In this case, Wells delivers by giving the world the best Madelyne Pryor story we’ve gotten since Inferno. Without getting too much into spoilers, Wells taps into the emotional core of the character and delivers one of the saddest tragedies the X-Men have ever had. Yet despite this, it’s also the funniest book in the line — there’s so much humor packed into each issue that from most writers would undermine the tone of the book, but Wells threads that needle so perfectly that the humor ends up enhancing the emotional portions even more. The way this story is told makes one of the most unique stories the X-Men have ever had.
All this gushing about Zeb Wells isn’t to forget the rest of the creative team, though — Stephen Segovia and David Curiel are a legitimately fantastic art team. Segovia gives the book an aesthetic that honestly makes it look like it’s the flagship title of the line. Segovia’s ability to draw characters that both look iconic as well as expressive is one of the best parts of the book, and pretty much every page is perfect. I mentioned that Wells does a great job maintaining the balance of emotion and tragedy and humor, but Segovia is just as responsible for how well it turned out. The book can flip between hilarious and tearjerking on a dime, and does it so well.
Honestly? If you are at all interested in the X-Men’s current status quo, or if you just like good books, Hellions is a must-read. I don’t think it’s exaggeration to say it’s one of the best X-books published in the last decade. Every single issue of this book is an utter delight, and the day it ends will be a sad one. What are you waiting for? Go get it!
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