Review by Karl Verhoven
Under the reorganisation of mutant society, all mutants are welcome on the living island of Krakoa. As Magneto puts it in the opening pages, “even the inconvenient ones”. In context he’s referring to the mutants whose powers were previously used to harm, kill and intimidate. The solution is that those beyond redemption are allocated to Mr. Sinister for training and education, with Psylocke along for the ride to monitor things don’t get out of hand. This seemingly contradicts the role she has in Excalibur, but that’s just not mentioned, although in passing the text pages appear to note this Psylocke isn’t Betsy Braddock.
Clearing out Mr. Sinister’s former cloning facility in Nebraska is the first task for this misfit team, and doing so reveals Zeb Wells has some interesting ideas about some of the personalities. Wild Child, for instance, previously never more than a younger, diluted Sabretooth. Here he’s more animal than human consumed with a pack mentality and constantly looking for a way to challenge the leadership. Empath is a sociopath who can control the emotions of others, Havok is completely fractured, and Mr. Sinister is delightfully camp, although with him Wells is building on the work of others.
Stephen Segovia’s storytelling approach is very much based on leading in to the next pin-up, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but any tolerance is likely to be based on how keen you are to see gruesome violence relatively explicitly depicted. The Hellions are not nice people, and those they’re faced with are even worse, which calls for some considerable violence.
A team that can’t even tolerate each other yet are expected to work together provide the core story, and the results are brutal and unpleasant. There’s no reason, though, why when straddling all kinds of other genres, an X-Men related title can’t be stalk and slash horror material, and the opening four chapters provide that competently.
The Psylocke puzzle is a weakness running throughout the rebooted mutant titles. While the text pages are useful, there’s also an expectation of readers either being familiar with every nuance of past continuity affecting dozens of characters, or they’ll consider having to research online as par for the course. In this instance at least, the entertainment is provided, so there’s no need for option three, which is to drop the series in frustration.
With X of Swords complete, Hellions Vol. 2 continues as normal and a surprising tragedy leads there.