Who asked for the body horror in Hellions #3? It was one of you, don’t lie!
Rain Beredo (cover), David Curiel (colors), VC’s Adriana Maher (letters), Tom Muller (design), Stephen Segovia (art and cover), Zeb Wells (writer)
August 26, 2020
Where were we? Oh right, Alex Summers had fallen prey to his dominatrix ex-girlfriend, while Psylocke had shown weakness in front of Wild Child, and the rest of the team flailed haplessly at the hands of the zombie Marauders. Things are in dire straits and it looks to get worse before it gets better for our band of misfits.
The issue opens with Maddie making sure that Alex can’t interrupt her villainous monologue by removing his mouth with a simple “Hush, my love.” Her rage is potent and deserved, having been abandoned by the man she had been literally created to love. The panel in which she describes herself as “a nothing person… in a nowhere place” is beautiful and haunting, encapsulating her sense of self that had been stripped from her. There is a hint of meta-awareness to this as well, as when her husband Cyclops was shoehorned into the original X-Factor, Maddie truly did become that in the eyes of readers until Chris Claremont redefined her through the X-Men’s Outback era and Inferno.
Alex, however, is not content to sit quietly like a good little boy. He finds a shard of glass and slices himself a new mouth, a ragged hole with no lips and smeared with blood like a child with a cherry ice-pop on a hot August day. He tells his side of the story, how he truly loved her, and wanted to give her the things that Scott refused to, but how she had never loved him the same way. That like every other thing in his life, it all came back to people liking Scott more.
We then briefly segue to Psylocke and Wild Child, where we see Kwannon with a DIY boob-window dripping blood after the brutal assault that ended the previous issue. As Wild Child goes in for the kill, we’re treated to our second splash page of the issue. Both splash pages play beautifully off of each other, featuring a strong woman exerting her will but in vastly different ways. In one, Maddie forcibly shuts Alex up again, this time with a passionate kiss instead of another mouth-stealing spell. Psylocke’s is more brutal, as she shoves her psychic knife (the focused totality of her telepathic powers) into Wild Child’s head to make him heel while telling him that she is the Alpha of this team.
As we transition back to Maddie, we see that she has Greycrow strung up by his feet, dangling at her mercy. He ignores her, which just infuriates her further, as she doesn’t like feeling like she doesn’t exist. Here we get the revelation that Maddie remembers the events of Uncanny X-Men #215, where Greycrow and Arclight had kidnapped her en route to the hospital after the Marauders had abducted Nathan from her. This is when Greycrow shot her and left her for dead. Looking at the cast of Hellions Maddie has a reason to exact her will or her vengeance on all of them. Aside from the obvious with Greycrow and Alex, we have Empath who she has manipulated in the past (during the Manifest Destiny era of the team), Nanny and Orphan Maker who went after her child, and Psylocke, who she has no reason to consider is not still Betsy. This might be her downfall, as the data page in this issue reinforces that this is not Betsy, and if Maddie is planning for her to behave like Betsy, it may not work out for her.
Which brings me to this: how much of our team is here because of Sinister’s machinations and how much of it might actually be Maddie’s doing? She doesn’t have connections to Wild Child as far as I can suss out, but she does have connections to the rest of the team. And if you look closely back in the first issue of the series, when we see Alex lose control, she may have even been the reason for his fall. While he’s losing control, we see a shift in his speech bubbles, a shift that is mirrored by the bubbles of the Marauders under her power.
The remainder of the issue oscillates between Maddie’s threats to invade Krakoa with an army of her Marauders and depositing Alex’s head at Scott’s feet, Psylocke having to break Wild Child’s neck to heel him (it’s okay, he has a healing factor), and the rest of the Marauders continuing their attempts to crack open Orphan Maker and his egg-shaped guardian.
I recently read Zeb Wells’ run on New Mutants and the man is a master of telling a compelling superhero horror story, and that continues through Hellions #3. Coupled with Segovia’s incredible artwork, this series is shaping up to be an absolute masterpiece. Segovia evokes a haunting environment, and even more so with facial and body language. His depictions of Maddie’s face are maniacal and twisted, just slightly out of sync to make her look demonic and psychotic. She shifts from cool and composed to absolutely deranged. Coupled with the intensely graphic violence (see the aforementioned mouth cutting), the art in the book is absolutely horrifying.
Hellions #3 sets us up for the conclusion of the first arc, and things have never looked worse for our heroes.