X-Men’s Hellions: Marvel Comics, Do You Even Test Market?

There’s so much to talk about with this one, I’m not sure where to begin. At this point, it appears Marvel is just throwing ideas at a wall and seeing what sticks.

Their new book Hellions, in line to be written by former Amazing Spider-Man and New Mutants author, Zeb Williams, is a textbook case of a manufacturer riding a wave.

Sadly, it looks like their beginning to erode the beach. It’s nothing new. They did it with the Avengers, but only after a couple of years. It’s weird that after only a few months, we’ve come this far already.

“I can’t believe I get a chance to play in the sandbox Jonathan Hickman and company have so brilliantly created. For my money, it’s the most exciting game in town and I can’t wait to let this merry band of psychopaths loose in it.” – Zebb Wells

A couple of days ago Marvel started teasing the announcement of a new X-Men team book set to debut in March 2020. Obviously, I assumed they were preparing for an info drop on the already announced X-Corp series. Like so many times in the past few months, I was wrong. Really, really wrong.

X-Men's Hellions: Marvel, Do You Even Test Market?

As they tend to do, often to underwhelming results, Marvel revealed the team one character at a time using silhouettes. Some, like Havok and Psylocke, were easy to guess, if not confusing. I say “confusing” because both characters are already in other books; X-Men and Fallen Angels, respectively.

With the embarrassment of riches that is the current X-Men character catalog, I don’t understand including two characters that are already in use elsewhere. The rest of the shadowy figures, outside of Mister Sinister (who wouldn’t recognize that fabulous cape?), weren’t so easy. And for good reason.

Wild Child, Nanny, Orphan Maker, Empath, and Scalphunter round out the rest of the cast. I’m assuming due to Mister Sinister’s rank and possession in Krakoa, he’ll be acting as the groups ‘handler’ because I refuse to use the phrase ‘leader.’ Sinister isn’t a leader-type. He’s a ‘send the cannon fodder into the fray while I conduct my business way over here‘-type. It’s why he’s known to clone his subordinates (and himself), use them, discard the remains, and repeat.

X-Men's Hellions: Marvel, Do You Even Test Market?

Marvel describes Williams motley crew as some of  ‘mutantkind’s biggest troublemakers’. While he’s not exactly wrong, that’s not the problem here. From what I gather from the early description of the book, Psylocke and Havok will be acting in positions, not unlike Suicide Squad’s Rick Flag. The concept is sound, if not laughably familiar (Marvel’s done the same with their Thunderbolts series along with a past version of X-Factor).

The problem with this project is that about 70% of the book’s cast members lack mass appeal. I’m warming up to the book, but that’s after thinking about it for a while. I wasn’t jumping off the walls at first sight and I doubt it’s going to inspire many impulse buys in other customers, especially those not anticipating its debut.

In my opinion, the more intriguing angle would have been Mister Sinister secretly reanimating his original hit-squad of mutant baddies, his own way. Maybe a mixed bag of his former groups, including the Nasty Boys. Some of which will be recognizable thanks to the resurgence of X-Men: The Animated Series on Disney+. Secrecy would be necessary because I doubt the Quiet Council would support Sinister’s plan to reassemble a group of sociopaths via Krakoa’s Resurrection Protocols.

Outside of Cullen Bunn’s Magneto series, the X-Men don’t often get to tell a story exclusively from the point of view of the villain. Even if that were off the table, Krakoa is currently chock-full of less savory and edgy types such as; Marrow, Frenzy, Daken, Random, Lady Master Mind, and Emplate. All of which have bigger fan-followings than… Wildchild and Empath.

X-Men's Hellions: Marvel, Do You Even Test Market?

Again, it’s not a bad idea, but everything down to the name is kind of divisive. The title ‘Hellions’ originates from a group of mutants that were being taught by Emma Frost shortly before she parted ways with the Hellfire Club.

Years later, she revived the name for her X-Men trainee squad, and also dubbed her favorite student Hellion. It’s a well-traveled name but doesn’t have the necessary gravitas or any real history. Especially with the likes of Mister Sinister.

Hellions may become one of the better X-Men ongoings, who knows? However, something tells me, this isn’t going to be a bestselling title based purely upon rack appeal. It’ll have to depend on ‘word-of-mouth,’ which often takes too long.

Do you know what would have been a better name for this book? Marauders.

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