Review by Karl Verhoven
Mr. Sinister has been placed in charge of a team consisting of the more violent and unrepentant mutant killers, with Psylocke accompanying them for monitoring purposes. This volume opens with Mr. Sinister informing the mutant council of the tragic deaths of some team members. What readers of X of Swords know that the council don’t is that he killed them all. This was in the knowledge they’d be resurrected as per available technology, but crucially for him with all memories of the mission absent. However, the revived are astute enough to know the chances of his not being involved are extremely slim.
It makes for an even more than usual unsettling atmosphere as the Hellions head off on a mission to retrieve Nanny’s ship. What makes this team work well under Zeb Wells is that each either has an agenda or a secret, and in almost every case their priority isn’t the wellbeing of the team, while a successful mission is also a secondary concern. Here Wells is clever is with the involvement of Mastermind, the mutant able to create illusions. It throws the entire plot up into the air, as we can no longer be sure what’s real or not, and with the issue of trust already mutable, Wells supplies a constant tension. Mastermind’s ally at least has a way of assuring reality. “Thousands of miles away a loyal employee watches. Confirming through redundant audible neurological, biochemical signals that what I’m seeing is actually happening”. It’s probably just as well.
With Wells’ plot less reliant on horrific shock than it was in Vol. 1, Stephen Segovia’s pages have to illustrate a broad variety of mentally induced scenarios. At times these are more detailed, but for the most part Segovia uses figures on basic backgrounds, leaving the depth to colourist David Curiel. As an example, a few clouds and brown colour substitute for a war combat environment, which isn’t really making a lot of effort.
For the main story Wells concocts a neat trap with the neat solution being the abundant mental health issues suffered by the Hellions, and there’s enough humour about the villains to make them likeable. That includes Mr. Sinister. He’s a joy as written by Wells, camp, hilarious, devious and egotistical. However, in the final chapter Wells goes full on for the comedy of the Hellions circulating among the cream of mutant society, and it’s forced and obvious. As with some earlier material, it requires a vast knowledge of who some people are, and without that knowledge there’s a lot of online research, or homework as it used to be called back in the day.
A rather puzzling ending leads into Vol. 3. After two volumes Hellions remains a series with unfulfilled potential. Wells supplies good personalities and good twists, but fitting them into stories that continually hold the interest is the problem, while Segovia could make the locations look more interesting.