Marvel's X-Men line has ballooned since the launch of House of X/Powers of X, with titles that fill nearly every niche for mutantkind. But one of the weirdest, most violent, most unsung books in the line is also shaping up to be one of the most important to so-called 'head of X' Jonathan Hickman's plans to push the meta-story of the X-Men forward.
We're talking of course about Hellions from writer Zeb Wells and regular series artist Steven Segovia, one of the X-Men lines's lesser-known but most increasingly vital titles. Hellions focuses on Mister Sinister leading a crew of the worst mutants on Krakoa as they undertake missions that are too bleak or too brutal even for X-Force, Krakoa's official intelligence agency of black-ops agents.
Now, August 4's Hellions #14 from Wells and guest artist Roge Antonio ramps up the still villainous Sinister's schemes, which he's been brewing right under the nose of Krakoa's Quiet Council leadership (of which he's even a member), and makes it clear exactly why Hellions is a title X-Men fans should be reading leading into the impending Inferno title which will bring long-running subplots of the X-Men line to the forefront in devastating ways.
Spoilers ahead for Hellions #14
Since the start of Hellions, Sinister has been continuing his unsanctioned cloning experiments on Krakoa, creating duplicates of himself who often scheme against each other even as they do each others' bidding.
He's also treated his team of Hellions, comprised of Wild Child, Nanny, Orphan-Maker, Greycrow, Empath, and babysitters Havok and Psylocke (themselves burdened by their own dark pasts) as completely expendable servants and pawns. Even in a world where mutants can be brought back to life, partially thanks to Sinister's own cloning technology, the Hellions get put through a serious meat-grinder in pursuit of Sinister's apparent quest to collect the genetic material of all of mutantkind.
Case in point, Hellions #14's return of Tarn the Uncaring and the Locus Vile, bizarre mutants from Amenth, the dark dimension that was once the prison of the mutant island of Arakko, sister nation of Krakoa.
During the crossover 'X of Swords,' Sinister and his Hellions ventured into Amenth with Sinister promising to steal the weapons gathered by the so-called Swordbearers of Arakko which were to act as their invitations to the tournament at the heart of the story, to prevent the Arakkii mutants from competing against the X-Men.
But he had a secret motive - stealing the genome of as many Arakkii mutants as possible, as part of his still not-totally-revealed scheme, which involves cloning not just himself but other mutants. He was successful in taking the DNA of the Locus Vile, but he murdered his own Hellions to prevent his collection of the Arakkii DNA.
Though Sinister's mutant genome codex and cloning tech were instrumental in developing the tools the mutants known as The Five use to synergize their powers and resurrect dead mutants, clones are strictly forbidden on Krakoa - with some notable exceptions, such as Laura and Gabby Kinney (Wolverine/X-23 and Scout, respectively) who aren't exactly clones per se.
This came up early in Hellions, when the team faced off against Madelyne Pryor, a clone of Jean Grey who became the villainous Goblyn Queen - and who once had a relationship with Havok, whose psychological scars are consistently edging closer to the surface.
Sinister's mysterious machinations also play into Psylocke's role on the team as field leader, as he's holding Psylocke's daughter hostage to force her to back up his orders against her better judgment.
All of this plotting, subterfuge, and brutal violence, even among teammates - with Greycrow having to repeatedly murder Empath during missions to prevent him from psionically influencing his fellow Hellions - means that Hellions, both team and title, rides a razor's edge of tension in which readers, let alone the Hellions themselves, can never be sure who to trust.
That tension all comes to a head in Hellions #14, in which Tarn reveals Sinister's misdeeds to the rest of the Hellions, forcing Sinister to activate a veritable army of his own clones, fleeing into a secret location through a gate accessible only with his own DNA.
Now that the Hellions - and undoubtedly soon everyone else on Krakoa and Planet Arakko - know about Mister Sinister's crimes against his fellow mutants and his defiance of the Quiet Council, you can bet your bottom dollar that Sinister's cloning schemes and backhanded manipulations will play into the upcoming Inferno limited series.
Inferno is billed as the next major story evolution of the X-Men line under Jonathan Hickman's watch, and will purportedly split the mutants of Krakoa into separate ideological factions.
The cloning issue, central to Hellions, has already come up throughout the X-Men line, but with Sinister on the run and possibly defecting from Krakoa, the power of mutant resurrection may be at stake. Coupled with Mystique's apparent plan to resurrect her wife Destiny (a precognitive mutant, also shadowbanned on Krakoa) or die trying, set to be at the heart of Inferno's conflict, Hellions is gearing up to be not just one of the wildest, weirdest, best-kept secrets of the X-Men line, but one of its most important thematic titles as well.
Stay on top of everything happening coming up for Marvel's mutants with our list of all the new X-Men comics planned for release in 2021 and beyond.