10th Feb2021

‘Hellions #9’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Zeb Wells | Art by Stephen Segovia | Published by Marvel Comics

My tour of books I-haven’t-been-picking-up-but-really-meant-to brings me to the issue I am currently holding in my (virtual) hands, Hellions #9. Being honest, there’s not been much about the more recent X-books that’s particularly appealed to me of late. I’ve been reading X-Men since the late 1970’s, and they do go through peaks and troughs, and sometimes it is the ‘add on’ books that shone brightest for a time. In the past New Mutants and X-Factor did that, and I’m wondering if Hellions can do the same. The original Hellions of course were the White (Emma Frost) Queen’s Hellfire Club answer to Professor X’s New Mutants. I enjoyed them at their peak, but most of them are now in Comic Book Heaven. So, who are the new Hellions?

These Hellions are a tie in to the whole Krakoa thing. This was the end of a storyline where the X-Men invited all mutants to a safe haven to live. All mutants, good and bad. Fresh start and all that. Previous big bad Mister Sinister himself has taken advantage of this, and assembled a rag tag band of mutants to give ‘purpose’ to. Wild Child, Nanny, Orphan Maker, Empath, Scalphunter, with Psylocke and Havok on board to keep an eye on things. Empath and Scalphunter were original Hellions incidentally. That’s as much as you need to know really. A nice, if not completely original, concept, but for me made more interesting by the fact Zeb Wells is writing it. I’ve always enjoyed everything I’ve read by Wells, so am hoping the winning streak continues here. Let’s take a look.

We start with some witty repartee between Mister Sinister and Mastermind, as the two arrange a mutual alliance to test the boundaries of Karakoa’s rules..that is, until Mastermind poisons Sinister. Nice opening. The great dialogue continues with the exchange between Nanny and Orphan Maker, Havok and Empath, Wild Child and…you get the picture. Wells does character stuff really well. After a bit of scene setting, Sage calls the team together to give them the terrible news that Sinister has gone missing. They…laugh. Loudly. Clearly, this team is a marriage of convenience, not love. Still, Psylocke promised Professor X she would bring Sinister back so them’s the breaks. Off to New York City it is then.

Their contact to help them in New York is… Mastermind. Who would guess you can’t trust a master of illusion? Mastermind soon plays his hand, and the team are thrown through the off balance sort of illusions you would expect. Mastermind has always been a character that, being so powerful, you wonder why he’s not more respected. He does his stuff here nicely, throwing in the little extra that he manipulated Sage into sending them. Man’s a supervillain GOAT. That’s not the best bit. The best bit is Mastermind’s partner in crime revealed on the last page, a favourite classic villain of mine for many years. No spoilers here, but 1970’s Elton John called, he wants those shoes back. Next issue looks fun.

This was a fun read, but a bit light on anything substantial. For me, as a new reader, it was great. Some nice character interaction, the beginning of a new arc, and some gap filling character and team wise. For ongoing readers, though, this may have seemed a little like treading water before fully getting underway on the new arc. The payoff was fun for sure, but no other ongoing plots were addressed or dealt with here, so it may have felt a little vanilla. For me, this is a book I’ll definitely be picking up in the future, as well as seeking out those past issues. Zeb Wells writing is as crisp and solid as I’d expected, and Stephen Segovia’s art is equally top notch. I especially like the way he changed the style of the layouts during Mastermind’s illusion, to give a sense of being unbalanced, disorientated, confused. Worked well. Lovely visuals, not forgetting that awesome cover.

If an issue in which relatively little happens can convert me into a fan, you can imagine how good a book this is when firing on all cylinders. This book most definitely follows that trend of the quirky lesser X-books being the best ones.

Rather like cream, well written second banana characters always rise to the top if written well. Or by Zeb Wells.

**** 4/5

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