The last issue of Hellions ended on an explosive note, reintroducing classic X-Factor villain Cameron Hodge to the world of mutants. Hellions #8 walks back on that a little, but raises some wholly interesting new plots in its place.
Early on into Hellions #8, it’s clear Cameron Hodge is a little…odd, not quite sounding like himself, though he is still undeniably evil. Empath eventually deduces that the Hodge in front of him is not the real Cameron Hodge at all, and really just a self-aware AI. At first glance, this reveal is a bit disappointing, since Hodge is such an iconic X-villain. But to view the “self-aware AI who hates mutants” as an ongoing plot in Krakoa, things get a bit more interesting. After all, Powers of X introduced a reality where man-machines waged war on mutants, and the connecting thread between these two ideas is very present. The Council itself seems fearful of AI, telling the Hellions to snuff out this new breed. Could this plot eventually lead to some repeating themes from Powers of X? It’s certainly interesting to think about, especially with that last page reveal with Nanny.
Speaking of acting weird, Nanny and Wild Child, who came back differently after their resurrection, hint at the repercussions of their unorthodox resurrection again. Though Hellions #8 doesn’t quite explain much in the way of that question, the book throws a few bones to make it clear that will be a major driving force moving forward for these characters.
Hellions itself thrives as a series about people who have done bad things but want to be better — yet, they’re still pigeonholed to this “murderer” position. For someone like Mister Sinister with a past as a Nazi doctor and continued villainous practices, redemption was never an option for his story, and rightfully so. However, for characters like Kwannon and Greycrow, redemption absolutely is applicable. Hellions #8 has a very touching moment between Kwannon and Greycrow, with Kwannon telling him she knows he doesn’t want to kill anymore and she won’t make him, taking that burden off him. The outcasts who stick together is a very heartfelt sentiment, and it works very well with these characters who have become Sinister’s victims in their own right at the same time. This is a group of people who want to be better, and they want to help each other get there. It is the heart of Hellions as a whole and makes it the X-series with consistently the most character-building moments.
There’s also something interesting to be said about how Hellions handles death. Once again, their mission results in the loss of a member when Empath dies after provoking robot Hodge. It seems that on every mission, the Hellions die, which has heartbreaking notions attached to it when you consider these people who are trying to be better are considered the expendable ones of this society. Like X-Factor volume 3 in 2006, Hellions does great work in making the reader care immensely about lesser-focused characters that they previously may not have cared about.
Zeb Wells is no stranger to the X-Men, but Hellions is certainly his best work with a mutant team thus far. Stephen Segovia’s pencils are a treat as usual, and the writing proves once again that Hellions is the X-Men series with the most heart.
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