Best Shots Advance Review: HELLIONS #1 'a Rich Opening Gambit from the Misfits of KRAKOA'

"Hellions #1" preview 2020
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Hellions #1
Written by Zeb Wells
Art by Stephen Segovia and David Curiel
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

”What do we do with them?”

Credit: Marvel Comics

Krakoa gets its own Doom Patrol in Hellions #1. Written with a keen self-awareness by Zeb Wells and given a brutally entertaining look by artists Stephen Segovia and David Curiel, Hellions follows those struggling to find a place in the new nation. Led by Mister Sinister and Kwannon, this troubled group comprised of Alex Summers, the Orphan-Maker and Nanny, Empath, Wild Child, and John Greycrow - a.k.a. Scalphunter, a name we surely will see fall by the wayside soon - aims to find peace through violence.

Though we will have to see if the concept can hold any water in execution next issue, Zeb Wells does a wonderful job introducing the story hook and our team of misfits in this debut. Neatly cut with the occasional data page, Wells takes readers through a tensely, darkly funny set of vignettes, detailing the issues each returned mutant has been dealing with and how uniquely dangerous they are to the tapestry of Krakoa. Wells also adds an interesting wrinkle to their psychoses, specifically detailing how each mutant either became affected by their arrival on the island or by the activation of their X-gene, not the other way around. Couple that compelling hook with the splashy, highly emotive artwork of Segovia and Curiel and Hellions #1 brings a fun, occasionally heartbreaking kind of crazy to Krakoa.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Right from the jump, Wells shows that something is rotten in the state of Krakoa. Accompanying a field team against a cell of the Hellfire Cult (no relation to Kitty Pryde’s Hellfire Trading Company), the newly resurrected Havok is attacked. But it's his reaction to the attack that turns troubling. Harkening back to his many heel turns, Alex lashes out at the humans, permanently disfiguring one and crippling others. But just as soon as it is started, it is over and Alex has no memory of the violence he wrought. This is just the first of a few great uses of Havok by Wells, who leans into the stalwart activist aspects of Alex while also acknowledging his past trauma and transgressions and how heavily that weighs on him, even after his return.

But Alex isn’t the only “square peg” of Krakoa. From there, Wells starts building out the cast. The script then takes on a more episodic feel and tone introducing each team member in a vacuum, threaded through with an ongoing Quite Council meeting on the fates of our team. But like Alex’s outburst, Wells injects an interesting wrinkle into each mutant’s problem. For example, Empath’s lack of… well, empathy, is due to the activation of his X-gene eradicating his sense of learning how to “feel.” In Beast’s words: “A violent psychopath wasn’t given the X-gene. The X-gene created a violent psychopath.”

Credit: Marvel Comics

Inversely, the very nation is affecting certain mutants as well. Mutants like Wild Child, who instantly reverted to a more feral state as soon as he passed through a gateway or John Greycrow, who is still hunted by the Morlocks for his role in the Mutant Massacre. It all speaks highly of Wells’ work to contextualize each character’s affliction and how the team can use that volatility for the betterment of themselves, guided by the gleefully funny Sinister and stony field leader Kwannon. Yet another winner of a concept informed by character for "Dawn of X."

Artists Stephen Segovia and David Curiel also help that contextualization, along with a hefty amount of action. The pair open with a fairly stock standard X-Men mission, but after a sudden explosion, burning with Curiel’s trademark bombast and slick sheen, the scene turns much darker. Segovia’s take on Alex turns wicked through his ruined mask, echoing shades of a battle-damaged Spider-Man. Even the way his powers are detailed has a darker bent with Curiel and Segovia turning the shine of his beam into a dark flame burning out the face of a henchmen.

Credit: Marvel Comics

The vignette style of the rest of the script doesn’t allow the two a chance for a consistent visual style, but the tonality of the opening continues throughout the issue. Each new member is given a sharp introduction set piece, all bent around their issues and current mindsets. Wild Child rages at his keepers Sage and Dr. Cecilia Reyes, leaping from a widescreen panel with a snarl. Orphan-Maker and Nanny also fight against their stewards Angel and Beast, angry that they are kept apart even for a few moments. But the most troubling is Empath, who uses his psionic abilities to force mutants to fight one another (and even brainwashes those unfortunate enough to try to stop him from his cruel delights). Heavy stuff, but it's all given the proper weight and dread by Stephen Segovia and David Curiel.

While that last bit might sound a bit much, Hellions #1 really is a lot of fun. Thanks to the droll wit of Wells’ characters, emotionally dynamic artwork, and the meaty, carefully laid out concept, this opening has a lot to work with. It would have been nice to see that potential in action fully, but despite that Hellions #1 is a rich opening gambit from the misfits of Krakoa.

Twitter activity