You Reap What You Sow: Reviewing ‘Hellions’ #16
by Scott Redmond
Everything Hellions has been building to since its debut begins to collide in a highly emotional and engaging way that never strays from the book’s winning character-focused format. Change is coming for Krakoa and this series is clearly one of the stepping stones to what will be coming next for the future of the mutant society.
The best-laid plans of mice and men, or in this case the best-laid plans of one Mister Sinister, often go awry. All the scheming and backstabbing employed by Sinister as he used the broken mutants relegated to the Hellions across the previous fifteen issues has quite literally blown up in his face.
One of the greatest things that has been done through this series is how Zeb Wells has made sure that these characters, many of who were underdeveloped to various degrees, not only were fleshed out with their histories and issues but made the audience care about these characters. They are flawed and broken and have committed any number of sins, but they had their charms. This was a book full of a found family of differing personalities, which is an aspect that just screams X-Men to its very core.
All the cracks we’ve seen growing over the months finally shatter the team as their battle with Tarn the Uncaring revealed everything not only amongst them but to others on Krakoa. While the events of The Trial of Magneto, Inferno, and this series (among others) are seemingly playing out at different points it’s very clear that a seismic shift is coming to Krakoa and the power structure as we know it. Emma Frost is showing her hand both in this book and somewhat in Inferno and seems to have the best interest of things at heart even if her methods leave something to be desired since they ripped any hope of these characters being able to heal or be better right away.
When even ‘commits war crimes and genocides like they are hobbies’ Beast calls out your actions and says it took his hope away, that says some things.
I have to say, despite her being one of the breakout characters of this series, I was not actually expecting to get some backstory on Nanny (or should I say Eleanor) and somewhat of an explanation for why she’s been in this egg-shaped armor all these years. How it tied back to her past with The Right group and the recent arc (as well as the side plot of The Rights’ soldiers and leader gunning for the team) is exactly the great move to respect the character’s pasts while expanding it that Wells has mastered over the years.
It’s fitting that Stephen Segovia returns for this issue, as his style really works with the raw emotional energy of this issue, alongside the coloring of Rain Beredo. All the grief, anger, terror, and more is plain upon the faces of these characters as the book is just full of so many wonderful close-up panels that do not shy away from the brutal aftermath of what went down the last issue. The shifts in the paneling, from rectangles to small closeups on top of full pages and all the well-used white space, allow us to get deeper into these characters and events.
Words are important and tell us a great many things, but there is a reason that the phrase emerged about pictures and a thousand words. This team knows exactly how to make sure that panels and even whole pages can speak for themselves even without a lick of dialogue or captions. While the character is awful on many levels, there is a multi-panel sequence that actually brings some feeling about Empath, the despair so clear in a close-up of his eyes.
There is a truly gorgeous shot among the destruction of the new X-Men team arriving to ‘help,’ and their detailed and dramatic posing with Bredo’s coloring going up a colorful notch, setting their bright heroic personas off from the darker hued shadowy nature of the Hellions. It’s a nice move to remind us of how despite coming from the same place, the mutant nation/Krakoa, these groups are on totally different planes of existence.
Ariana Maher always deserves all the praise that can be given when it comes to what she does with lettering in a book. From the perfect placement and care put into where dialogue bubbles and SFX go, to the way that they are made to be different with their own styles even in the same panels. Conversations look like conversations (using the sentence casing) while yelling and whispering are clearly that based upon the increasing or shrinking of the bubble or font sizes and the way the emphasis changes. It brings that final piece that completes the emotional package that these issues are hoping to deliver once they are opened by excited readers.
There are only a couple of issues left in this run, the X-Line clearly gearing up for a soft line relaunch and reshuffle in 2022, and hopefully, we get a lot more stuff from this creative team. Preferably together as they work so wonderfully, but keeping them all in the X-Line in some form would be fantastic.
Hellions #16 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.