The new Hellions' first mission goes amazingly horrible in Hellions #2. Though saddled with a longer-than-usual lag time thanks to the covid pandemic, Zeb Wells' troubled, but engaging cast returns in a grand, violent fashion. Tasked with the "therapeutic mission" of scouring Mr. Sinister's old clone farm settled underneath the Essex Home for Foundlings (the same boys' home where Alex Summers grew up), the Hellions are ready and willing to burn in all to the ground for the sake of their mental health.
Written by Zeb Wells
Art by Stephen Segovia and David Curiel
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
"Yeah, that's what this group's good at. Following rules."
But faces from the past, namely Goblin Queen Madelyne Pryor and the shambling corpses of the 'legacy' Marauders, throw a major roadblock in the Hellions' path to wellness, routing the team and threatening to drag Havok and John Greycrow back into cycles of trauma and self-destruction. Once again reestablishing the hook of the team (and then doubling down on it thanks to some fun, darkly hilarious team dynamics), Wells - along with the expressive, theatrical artwork of Stephen Segovia and David Curiel - make a pretty strong case for Hellions being the cult hit and dark horse favorite of 'Dawn of X.'
Though it's been a while since the Hellions' impressive debut, writer Zeb Wells wastes little time getting to the Quiet Council's idea of therapy. Dispatched to the Essex Home with the express purpose of reducing it to rubble, the Hellions, led by team "watchdog" Psylocke are eager to get to the business at hand. Just as a concept, the whole idea of the Hellions is still very fun to read about, but Wells even goes a step further in this follow-up issue, further exploring how each team member interacts with one another as well.
This leads to two of the issue's standout scenes, both centered around the "alpha" dynamic that the largely feral Wild Child understands as "law." A group of deputies, with K9 support, form a perimeter around the building, awaiting the arrival of the team. But Wild Child wishes to challenge the "alpha" of the deputies, leading John Greycrow to administer some "tough love" to the errant mutant, slamming him hard to the ground to establish his role at the team's heavy. It's a visceral scene, but Wells does us one better not a few pages later as he keeps Empath from playing cruel games with the emotions of Nanny... by shooting him directly in the head.
The Maddie Pryor of it all throws the whole team into further chaos, as well as allows Segovia and Curiel ample room on the stage to show off the return of the Goblin Queen in all her proper, gory glory. But the character dynamics and darkly fun tone Wells continues to foster in this second issue really is a lot of fun and continues to stand it apart from the more traditional heroics and team unity of books/casts like X-Men and Excalibur.
Hellions #2 also doesn't look like any of the other 'Dawn of X; books, thanks to the wonderfully expressive and horror-inspired work of Stephen Segovia and David Curiel. Though quite a few shades darker than the opening issue, Segovia and Curiel continue to adapt very well to Wells' pitch-black sense of humor. Both of the Greycrow beats detailed above are almost played as comedy beats, with Segovia and Curiel just plainly dishing out pain with nary a sound effect and minimal motion lines. And then once the Goblin Queen makes the scene, the pair shift in a vibrantly creepy horror movie vibe, casting heavy shadows over the broken, zombified forms only to explode with fiery oranges and blinding blue flashes as Maddie and Alex square off for the first time in years.
Though the length of time between these first two issues has been frustrating, I truly think Hellions #2 was worth the wait. Chock full of wonderful, darkly wacky character moments, a rich team dynamic, and story hook that continues to pay out dividends (now made even more richly complex thanks to Pryor's return), Hellions #2 continues to be wholly it's own thing and by doing so, absolutely stands out amid the Dawn of X pack.