The first arc of Hellions wraps up just in time for X of Swords, leaving the readers with moral quandaries and righteous anger. Hellions #4 is a dirty, grimy, yet satisfying conclusion to an arc that still sets things up for the future.
Rain Beredo (cover), David Curiel (colors), VC’s Ariana Maher (letters), Tom Muller (design), Stephen Segovia (art and cover), Zeb Wells (writer)
September 16, 2020
What is very interesting about this issue is that the climactic action of the arc happens about halfway in, with the second half of the book mostly falling action and quiet moments. The Hellions versus the remaining Marauders is brutal and fast, a dirty mess of flying limbs and blades. Wells makes another egg joke with Nanny, a gift that keeps giving.
As Maddie starts to bring the whole clone farm online, Greycrow misdirects the rest of the team away from the control center and to the waste processing, which catalyzes Nanny’s anger, as she sees the discarded bodies of infant clones, knowing that they were thrown away without given a chance to survive. While seemingly unimportant at the moment, it sets up one of the scenes in the second half of the issue perfectly.
The actual resolution of the mission is resolved in two continuous pieces, as Madelyne taunts a broken Alex, continuing to try and draw him into her side. But she realizes that her control over him isn’t complete and that the breaks in his brain may not be entirely her doing. That begs the question as to who or what is influencing Alex’s actions. We know someone is, but who? To what end? Something very sinister permeates every page of this issue. But before we can delve deeper, she’s shot through the back by Greycrow, and in her dying gasps notes that her control over the clones is fading, leaving her alone again. Alone save for Alex, asking with her last breaths to remember that she was real, that she existed.
Her death solved the problem of the clone farm and instigated the emotional reaction that would complete the official demolition mission. After watching Maddie die again, Alex lets loose with his powers, blowing a hole clear from the subbasement through the roof, and bring the whole structure down around his ears. The rest of the team narrowly escapes, and Alex emerges from the rubble in tattered rags, his mouth clean of the bloody Popsicle mess.
The lone data page of the issue is a post-mission briefing. It provides a fantastic look at the psyches of our Hellions and how this mission affected them. Of note is that Wild Child’s attachment to Psylocke, and the aforementioned trauma that Nanny endured in the waste processing center. The data page also brings up the quandary of what to do about Madelyne. At what point is a clone its own person? She had her own life, as under Sinister’s boot as it was, but she was still a clone of Jean. Still, the Stepford Cuckoos are clones of Emma Frost, but clearly the two dead sisters have been resurrected? Where is that line? The data page leaves us wondering, saying that it is a question for the Council.
It’s not a decision we need to wait long for, as the close of the issue is a conversation between Scott and Alex on the steps outside the Council chambers. Alex is sitting depressed and resigned, almost certainly expecting the answer that Scott brings him, that the Council has decided that she will not be resurrected. Scott tries to deliver this news diplomatically, but Alex rightfully refuses to let him. He demands to know what Scott’s position on this is. Scott dodges the question, and Alex shouts at him that Madelyne mattered. Alex is left in tears on the stairs as Sinister looks on deeply satisfied with his machinations.
His satisfaction is short-lived, however, because that trauma he inflicted on Nanny comes back to haunt him, as Nanny delivers a very thinly veiled threat. He considers every resurrected mutant a child, and she intends to leave them all orphans.
Clearly there is much set up from this opening arc. I refuse to believe that Maddie’s story ends with Hellions #4, despite the Council’s decision. And obviously Sinister has much more up his sleeve for this batch of misfits. But first, swords!