Hellions #5 (Chapter 6)
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Carmen Carnero
Colors: David Curiel
Letters: VC’s Ariana Maher
Design: Tom Muller
New Mutants #13 (Chapter 7)
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist & Colors: Rod Reis
Letters: VC’s Travis Lanham
Design: Tom Muller
Cable #5 (Chapter 8)
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist & Colors: Phil Noto
Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino
Design: Tom Muller
The contest of champions draws closer and the mutants of Krakoa are on edge. The resurrection protocols are on hold as it has been discovered, in X-Factor #4 (X of Swords Chapter 2) that if a mutant were to die in Otherworld then they cannot be resurrected to their original minds on Krakoa. While several of the books over last week and this week deal with obtaining the 10 Blades for the upcoming contest between the champions of Krakoa and Arakko what if none of that was necessary? What if a select squad of mutants, those on the fringe of Krakoan society were able to infiltrate Arakko and steal their swords and kill their champions before the contest. Enter Mister Sinister and his Hellions.
Hellions has quickly become one of my favorite Dawn of X titles with its heavy dose of snark and its characters utter contempt for the burgeoning Krakoian society as well as each other. I was a little unsure on my first reading of issue #1 but on a reread I really started liking this book with its anti-heroes, its amoral leader in Mister Sinister and his obsession with his cape with all of its regalia. I was somewhat curious as to how this book would play into the larger X of Swords storyline but it quickly became obvious this is the book where the mutants would try to cheat for a win.
To call the Hellions dysfunctional is an understatement. For example, in the first story arc Scalphunter shot Empath in the head because he thought he was trying to influence his decision making. Havok is an emotional mess while Wild Child only responds to Pyslocke since he now sees her as the alpha. No one is for sure what Mister Sinister is actually up to while Nanny and the Orphan-Maker continue to be stuck in their mommy-child dynamic. No one would see this as an elite mutant team, but they are an expendable mutant team that no one would truly miss except maybe Havok… maybe.
Hellions #5 was a fun interlude to the larger X of Swords story as it has nothing to do with finding a sword or a champion and it has everything to do with cheating. When Mister Sinister proposes his plan to the Quiet Council they are intrigued with the idea, as long as Mister Sinister accompanies his team. While Mister Sinister is none too happy with this caveat to his plan he’s not without alternatives and we get a glimpse into Bar Sinister and Sinister’s unsanctioned clone farm and no doubt the highlight of the issue as Sinister and his clone argue over who goes on the mission and who gets the cape. With the External Gate destroyed by Opal Luna Saturnyne the only way to Otherworld and then onward to Arakko is via the Avalon gate, guarded by the mad king Jamie Braddock. For those not in the know Jamie Braddock is not only the elder brother to Brian (the former Captain Britain) and Betsy (the current Captain Britain) Braddock but also an Omega Level mutant who can warp reality around himself and as I stated earlier, he is quite mad. Sadly, the classic Captain Britain stories featuring the villainous Jamie Braddock are out of print (which is a crime against comics since they are so good) but fans of ‘80s the Uncanny X-Men and Excalibur will have a good sense of Jamie. It falls to Sinister to manipulate Jamie into allowing the Hellions access to Avalon and the broader Otherworld to reach their objective. What comes next will no doubt be part of the next issue and I am looking forward to the further adventures of Krakoa’s most dysfunctional and expendable team.
For much of his time on the New Mutants Doug Ramsey aka Cypher has felt like a hindrance. With a passive powerset, the ability to speak any language, Cypher has always been an asset but also a liability since he has no offense and many times stories revolved the rest of the New Mutants protecting him. Cypher was one of the first additions to the New Mutants in the ‘80s. Originally introduced as a video gaming pal of Kitty Pryde’s who was excellent at every game he played, which turned out to be part of his mutant powerset since he could understand computer code and used that ability to win. Over the course of the New Mutants Cypher befriended the technorganic being Warlock and the two teamed up regularly over the years, usually with Warlock protecting his friend Doug. Yet the constant theme of Cypher is that he doesn’t fight. So, it came as a huge surprise to the mutants of Krakoa that Cypher was chosen as one of their champions and that his longtime friend, Warlock, would serve as his sword. Yet while the rest of Krakoa looks to other options, especially Krakoa itself as Cypher is the voice of Krakoa as Doug is the only one who can translate Krakoa’s language and if Cypher dies in Otherworld then he won’t be able to enter the resurrection protocols. If Cypher dies so does Krakoa’s voice.
Since X of Swords: Creation there was no doubt that Magik and her Soulsword would be one of the Krakoan champions. Since she escaped her capture Belasco and became the leader of Limbo Magik’s Soulsword has been an integral part of her identity. Magik is also one of Krakoa’s captain’s and in time of war they replace the Quiet Council as the leaders of the young island nation. While Magik is more than prepared for the upcoming contest it falls to her to prepare Cypher for the coming fight. If you have a nice ‘80s sports montage playlist you could easily listen to it while reading a good chunk of New Mutants #13 as much of the issue revolves around Cypher learning how to wield Warlock as a sword. While the rest of Krakoa, and even his trainer might not have faith in him Cypher has a belief that he and Warlock can contribute to the contest… even if it kills him.
Once upon a time there was a beautiful Bill Mantlo written book called Rom: Spaceknight. Rom was a Parker Brothers toy with no backstory. It was just a silver robot looking toy that was cool for 1979 (Yes, 5-year-old me had a Rom & it was awesome). Never one to pass up the chance at a new licensed franchise Marvel licensed Rom and just like they had done with Micronauts earlier that year they turned it over to Bill Mantlo to work his magic. Mantlo crafted a backstory for Rom, creating the planet of Galador who were once invaded by the shape shifting aliens the Dire Wraiths. Citizens of Galador volunteered to be turned into cyborgs, Spaceknights, to defend Galador. For years the Spaceknights defended Galadaor until they were victorous. Once the Dire Wraiths were defeated Rom, the first Spaceknight, pursued the remaining Dire Wraiths through space and 200 years later he arrived on earth to weed out the last remaining hive. Rom: Spaceknight was firmly set in the Marvel universe as many of Marvel’s heroes guest starred over the years, and it may be one of the best licensed properties Marvel ever produced. I wish these stories could still be collected as I would kill for a Rom Omnibuse but sadly Marvel lost the license to Rom and the property fell into obscurity. Luckily Marvel did own the entire backstory of Galador and the Dire Wraiths. So, imagine my surprise when early in the new Cable series ‘young’ Cable came into possession of a new sword, the Light of Galador and encountered the remaining Spaceknights. The five-year-old me got giddy. I knew Rom wasn’t going to appear as he is currently owned by Hasbro and licensed to IDW but it came as close as they could.
Once X of Swords was announced I knew that Cable and his Light of Galador would play a part, especially since he found the sword in the body on Arakkoan monster. In X of Swords: Creation Saturnyne pointed Cable in the direction of the Peak, the former space station headquarters of SWORD and that is where Cable #5 picks up. Cable and his parents, Cyclops and Marvel Girl have traveled to the Peak to see why it’s dormant and how it fits into the upcoming contest. Knowing Jonathan Hickman and how everything is connected I will be interested in seeing how Cable #5 will fit into the larger X of Swords narrative as this book felt more like a horror story than a chapter in X of Swords. As the Summer’s clan arrives on the Peak, they find it nearly deserted. Abigail Brand is nowhere to be seen (see the end of Empyre) and they soon discover the space station has been invaded by an enemy from another dimension. Luckily there is nobody more prepared to defend the world from an invading horde than the Summer’s clan. Eventually the story links up with the end of New Mutants #13 as Cable joins the circle along with the other champions (Magik, Cypher, Wolverine, and Storm) as they prepare themselves for the coming fight.
This week felt like three distinct stories set within X of Swords rather than a straightforward continuation of the main story. While Hellions and New Mutants were clearly a progression of the larger story Cable felt different, but I trust in Hickman and crew. I enjoyed the space horror story and am interested in how this will fit into the grander narrative. Each of these books were incredibly well written, showing how much talent is invested in the entire Dawn of X line. Zeb Wells Hellions is a fun read every month and Gerry Duggan is always a favorite of mine and his Cable has made me like young Cable more than I thought I would, and Phil Noto’s glorious artwork isn’t too shabby either. Ed Brisson is an obvious fan of the original iteration of New Mutants and Rod Reis artwork is so reminiscent of the great Bill Sienkiewicz and his classic run with Chris Claremont. As much as I enjoyed last week’s stories as Wolverine and Storm claimed their blades, I’m glad that each issue of this first arc isn’t all questing for swords. Next week we get an issue of Excalibur, the book that set up X of Swords more than any other book, and the main X-Men book so check back in next week for Week 5 of X of Swords.