Hey Tom King, this is how you talk about trauma without it just being tragedy porn. There was an abundance of trauma in Hellions #1, but none of it seemed gratuitous or unnecessary.
Rain Beredo (cover), David Curiel (colors), Tom Muller (design), VC’s Cory Petit (letters), Stephen Segovia (art and cover), Zeb Wells (writer)
March 25, 2020
I have to confess, Fallen Angels hurt me. Enough that I was really scared about another Psylocke-led book so soon after its ending. I was intrigued by the very composition of this “team” because it’s just a wild mix of characters. You have Kwannon and Havok, to represent heroic characters. You have absolute shitbag Empath, you have mutant mass murderer Greycrow (we will not be using his other name), and the rabid animal that is Wild Child. There’s obscure and weird ’80s villains Nanny and Orphan Maker. And at the heart of it all, is, of course, Sinister.
Turns out I needn’t have worried, as right from the starting shot, Wells and Segovia have lapped Hill and Kudranski at least twice. Hellions #1 does more in its single issue to make us care about its wider cast of characters than Fallen Angels managed in six. We learn why every character is here, and what the goal of the team is. Much like Fallen Angels, Sinister has his fingers in everything (a bad idea while we’re all social distancing Nathaniel, shame on you). Unlike Fallen Angels, there actually seems to be a point this time. This is a team meant to be dangerous, a team that is expendable in its very nature. As such, they can be sent into terrible situations, and with the threat of permanent death being off the table, they can be as violent and reckless as they want to be. In a way, it feels like the X-Men’s answer to the Suicide Squad and not the modern lackluster versions of that team, but the one that set the bar in the 1980s.
Every character in this issue was nuanced and believable, from Greycrow’s guilt to Wild Child’s self-destructive tendencies. But most important is how this book portrays Alex Summers. Alex has had an excess of trauma in his life, and Hellions seems intent on walking him through all of it. Alex Summers, this was your extremely fucked up life. And like I said at the beginning, this book, while taking a look at all of that trauma, is doing so in a manner that is interesting and respectful to it. No panel in this book hits as hard as Alex’s sad “Hey” after Sinister calls him out. This is very obviously a Havok that feels like he deserves what he’s gotten, and has resigned himself to a life of sadness. Between Alex’s sad puppy energy and Scott’s overprotective big brother energy, I absolutely loved the Summers brothers in this.
Speaking of energy that I loved, Psylocke has absolute top energy in this book. She’s the perfect choice to lead this group with a domineering personality, and Wells has already washed the last six issues that featured her out of my mind. I’m absolutely ready for her to be the in-control leader that I know she should have been all along. Now if only she could get out of the swimsuit. For godsakes, give her a costume that’s not thirty years out of date.
Finally, what a cliffhanger, huh? Man, I can’t wait for that particular bit of Alex’s trauma to grind him into dust. Just ready to watch Alex have yet another breakdown and cry for ages. Fuck him up, [Redacted].
It seems to me that Hellions #1 is a lead-in that will erase memories of two of my biggest recent comics disappointments, and do so with a nuanced story that hits extremely hard emotionally.