It’s Hard To Say Goodbye: Reviewing ‘Hellions’ #18

The mutant nation of Krakoa was born out of many ideas, one of which was to create a homeland and community/society just for mutants. A place where even those that had stood against one another could have a second chance, to live within a paradise that was of their own making free from the bigotry of humanity.

Except, that second chance wasn’t for everyone.

Hellions was born out of the decision to collect a number of individuals with violent or emotional issues that kept them from fully integrating and find a way to perhaps put them to ‘use’ for the so-called greater good of Krakoan society. Basically, they were the dirty little secret used for the jobs that had to remain in shadows and could not be connected to any part of Krakoa. Krakoa’s little experiment in a sense.

With this latest issue Zeb Wells, Zé Carlos, Stephen Segovia, Rain Beredo, and Ariana Maher brought that experiment and the series to a tragic close. A team born out of tragedy and political backstabbing sadly was destined to end the same way. Yet, there was also some semblance of healing amidst the heartbreak.

One of the biggest challenges from the start of this series for Wells was taking a cast of characters that mostly had been antagonists or supporting members or hadn’t headlined a book ever and turning them into a likable cast for the audience. This wasn’t a typical X-Men book where at least one or two would be big-name favorites. When a series comes with characters like Nanny & Orphan Maker, Empath, and Greycrow as part of the main cast readers could be forgiven for assuming that they might not be into it.

This is a concept and cast that not all writers could spin into gold, but Wells has proven himself that type of writer in the past including with a previous stint in the X-Universe. In 2009 he took a New Mutants run that many out there (myself included) assumed was just going to be a nostalgia trip type of book and gave us something far beyond what we could have imagined/assumed it would be.

Even with their pasts, this book rested heavily upon these characters’ interactions with one another as they began to form bonds in their own little-found family. Shunned in many ways from Krakoa as a whole, they found something more within each other as they did the dirty work and dealt with the backstabbing of Sinister and the machinations of the Quiet Council. While the fate of Nanny and Orphan Maker was tragic in this issue, continuing to help showcase how even the paradise of Krakoa is still fundamentally flawed on so many levels, especially in their ‘justice’ system, the growth we see from the rest of the cast as they break apart and go about their lives is promising.

They aren’t happy mostly, still mostly outcasts dealing with their issues that got them into this spot in the first place, but it’s undeniable that there was a change for every single one of them. Even Empath, the terrible sociopath that he is, shows signs that this experiment had some lingering effects upon him. Despite the Quiet Council essentially setting these characters up to fail in a number of ways, they still achieved some of their goals with the group.

Regular series artist. Segovia, comes in to bring most of the issue-ending montage/epilogue to life with the same dynamic energy and emotional depth as previous issues. Not only are the characters wonderfully rendered and given life, but the way that Segovia handles the panels adds so much more to the overall story. The use of inset panels and panels of various shapes and sizes just presents the story in such a different way than it would read if it was a more standardized type of panels across a page.

Take the page with Maddie Pryor’s return for example. That would work as a full-page spread and it would work as, like side-by-side panels, the emotions, and the feeling would still be there. By placing the two panels with Alex’s reactions at the corners, around the big page reveal of Maddie though it allows all the emotions to actually wash over the reader in a better way.

It falls to Carlos to handle the bulk of the issue, which deals with the aftermath of the last issue and the Hellions standing before the Council in judgment. His style is different than Segovia’s in a few ways, but that same energy and emotional depth is still there. There are a ton of really great closeups that just radiate with whatever emotion is being showcased at that moment, such as the ones where Sinister’s smirking gloating quickly turns to fear and then indignation once he’s knocked down a bit.

Their paneling instincts are very similar too, as Zé very much plays with white/black space around panels and goes for extreme close-ups and insets as well. Even a few pages where it looks closer to what some might consider classic or standard sets of panels are offset and shaped differently to give it a whole different vibe/flavor. Having little red panels reminiscent of the council tables forming a circle around the Hellions as Orphan Maker is sentenced with Xavier, Storm, and Emma appearing in those red panels was brilliant.

Krakoa is a varied paradise, and colorists like Bredo help make that apparent on each and every page. Across the board, Bredo has brought a tremendous look to things with colors that meet in that perfect middle ground of bright and dark at the same time (perfect for a book like this), but the pages of Krakoa especially showcase so much because no two parts of the island look the same color-wise.

The council area has lots of whites/greys but also browns and greens for the lush vegetation that surrounds it, while the east domiciles (where Maddie is at later) are purple and pink alongside the lush vegetation, while Sinisters area is bright ominous reddish-orange like a fire. It breathes life into this world, giving everything a little bit of a pop and making it memorable in so many ways.

All that energy felt within the art and the colors are matched beat for beat by the always on point lettering work from Ariana Maher. We see the rage in Greycrow’s face and we hear it too in the giant clearly shouting dialogue bubbles coming from him at the moment. These types of ways to emphasize just how a character would sound in the moment (whether yelling, or whispering, or normal tones) may seem like a small thing to some, but in a medium such as this, it helps so very much. Sure we can infer things and fill things in ourselves, but when it’s all laid out on the page for us it makes achieving the experience that the creative team was setting out for us to have.

Truly I really appreciate how Maher uses normal sentence case all the time for normal levels of talking, as it fits the vibe of just more mellow everyday talking. Saving the all caps for the moments they are needed, excitement or yelling. Also, there is just electric type energy to SFX when Maher does them that just makes me smile most of the time, especially in the case of those SFX being put around Sinister getting put in his place quite a few times in this issue.

We’ve reached the end of this tale, and honestly, I’m a bit sad to see it go. If anyone had told me before this title came out that I would fall in love with a book that featured most of these characters as leads I would have found that slightly hard to believe (knowing the creative team I would have at least accepted there was a chance of that). Here we are though, what a journey it has been.

Hellions #18 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.

The mutant nation of Krakoa was born out of many ideas, one of which was to create a homeland andCOMICONRead More

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