Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT! Only seven installments to go before we reach X-Men Monday #100!
Let’s kick the new week off with an X-Men Monday fun fact. Fan-favorite writer Zeb Wells’ first and only solo X-Men Monday (X-Men Monday #52) was released March 23, 2020–just two days before Hellions #1 hit shelves. That means X-Fans haven’t had a chance to ask Zeb about all the craziness that’s unfolded in the pages of this one-of-a-kind X-Book–until now! Read on for Zeb’s thoughts on his wild cast of mutants, what the Reign of X means for Hellions and, of course, capes!
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Zeb! In X-Men Monday #86, Jonathan Hickman used the word “expansion” to describe the Reign of X. So with that in mind, what does the Reign of X mean for Hellions?
Zeb: Glad to be here. With Reign, we’ll see if the Hellions can gel as a team, as their demons continue to haunt them.
AIPT: X-Fan BloodyNinja said that although Psylocke’s aesthetics are well known, Hellions has already shown that Kwannon is a completely different character from Betsy. BloodyNinja was curious, as a writer, how is it exploring a popular character readers are somehow familiar with but actually know nothing about?
Zeb: Well, I had the excellent character work Bryan Hill did in Fallen Angels to use as my compass. I walked away from that series thinking, “Okay, I know who this is.” So I’ve loved running with that ball and planting a flag for Kwannon as a character in her own right.
AIPT: John Greycrow’s inclusion in this series was certainly a surprise. X-Fan Caleb asked what prompted you to put the former Marauder on the Hellions?
Zeb: He really leapt out to me from the earliest brainstorming stages. I see a character who came from pain and violence and then repeated the cycle again and again and never stopped to ask if that is who he really wants to be. And now he’s seeing the world change around him, but not sure if he can change. Out of all the characters he carries the themes of the book most explicitly.
AIPT: It’s been fascinating to follow Greycrow’s character arc. Also fascinating–Nanny and Orphan-Maker! X-Fan Danny asked, what are your go-to Nanny and Orphan-Maker stories?
Zeb: The definitive stuff for me is directly before, during, and right after the “Inferno” era. That’s when they were doing what they do best: murdering the human parents of mutant children for the greater good. How do you get to a place where that seems like a good idea? What horrors have you seen? These are the kind of questions that get me going.
AIPT: A second Nanny question (there were a lot of Nanny questions)–Forrest With Two Rs was wondering if you know what Nanny looks like inside the shell.
Zeb: When she comes out of that thing is entirely up to Nanny. I give her a wide berth. But yes, I have an idea what she looks like. And Orphan-Maker knows for sure. But Nanny is in that shell because the world proved to be a painful, dangerous, and untrustworthy place. She’s in no hurry to let her guard down.
AIPT: I want to take a second to talk about Havok and all he’s been through in Hellions alone. The Quiet Council brought Alex to tears after deciding Madelyne Pryor’s fate. Alex lost an eye, his hands, and was shot by Sinister during X of Swords. Most recently, in Hellions #8, Alex’s new robot friend was destroyed right before his eyes. Zeb, why do you have so much fun coming up with new ways to make Alex Summers suffer?
Zeb: Alex shows what happens when a normie tries to hang with the bad kids. He’s Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club. Sure, he’s had his problems, but he’s a former X-Man bred on hope suddenly on a team that lives and breathes violence. At the end of the day, he’s a tourist. He’s gonna get banged up a bit. Do I enjoy doing it? That’s between me and my therapist.
AIPT: X-Fan Murphy Alexander had questions about Nightcrawler’s surprising role in Hellions. Do Kurt’s epigraphs come from a contiguous, larger text? Are they possibly related to Si Spurrier’s upcoming Way of X?
Zeb: When I started cooking up Hellions, Si’s Way of X was being spoken of in hushed tones on the X-Slack. So I knew it was coming, and the ideas swirling around his concept got stuck in my imagination. So Kurt’s musings are definitely inspired by what Si is doing in Way. I think Nightcrawler would be pondering what mutants like the Hellions mean for Krakoa, and how they might be healed.
AIPT: Very cool to hear. Now, let’s talk Tarn! X-Fan Jonah said that in X of Swords, Tarn the Uncaring seemed closer allied with Amenth than Arakko (though we now know he’s a member of the Great Ring). Can you elaborate on his role in Arakko/Amenth society?
Zeb: You could say Tarn leads something like Amenth’s version of the X-Men. They are feared and hated, but only because Tarn very much wants to be feared and hated. It’s his holy mission to be reviled. He’s a member of the Great Ring in the same way Mr. Sinister is a member of the Quiet Council. Uncomfortably.
AIPT: X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White and I discussed the Quiet Council’s Madelyne decision back in X-Men Monday #76–and X-Fans’ wide range of reactions to the ruling. But I’m curious–what was your own reaction to all the reactions?
Zeb: I loved it! It showed people cared about Maddie and her situation as much as I did. I thought that was special.
AIPT: Finally, there are a lot of great capes in comics. You’re pretty close to Sinister. X-Fan Sam J wanted to know: Whose cape game does Sinister respect?
Zeb: Deep down he respects Exodus’s cape game, that’s why it scares him so much. Real shame. These two could really bond over capes, epaulettes, all of it. Instead, they’re locked in an arms race where there will be no winner.
AIPT: That right there is the true tragedy of Krakoa. On that note, Zeb, thanks so much for taking the time to talk Hellions! And thanks to Jordan for these eXclusive preview images from upcoming Hellions adventures, illustrated by the always amazing Stephen Segovia!
Some great visual teases in there. Speaking of teases, next week, we’ll have something a bit… uneXpected.
What does that mean, you’re wondering? So much, X-Fans, oh so much.
- An eXcellent conversation!
- A HUGE guest, making their X-Men Monday debut!
- An eXclusive reveal!
I’ve already said more than I should. (But I look forward to reading online X-Fan speculation–the guesses are always entertaining.)
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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