Entry 067 – Hellion

Art by Sana Takeda

  • Name: Julian Keller
  • Code Names: Hellion
  • First Appearance: New Mutants #2 (Aug ‘03)
  • Powers: Telekinesis
  • Teams Affiliation: X-Men

About

A healthy awareness of one’s ability is a good thing. When that devolves into arrogance it becomes an issue. That’s why Spider-Man’s mantra “with great power there must also come great responsibility” is so important. Spider-Man would be such an unlikable character if he continued to be the guy he was before he learned that. A character who never learns how to be humble is just gonna end up like Hellion, a real jerk.

Julian Keller was a spoiled brat. His parents were rich and he never worked for much in his life. When his mutant abilities manifested, they were more worried about the optics of the situation and didn’t care that their son was different. Julian’s telekinesis was very powerful from the start, but his insistence on using it in public caused his parents to ship him off to the Xavier Institute. He worked under the advisement of Northstar (who obviously wasn’t the right guy to learn humility from) but the two clashed heads a lot and Julian requested a transfer to one Emma Frost.

Art by Keron Grant, Rob Stull, and Dan Kemp

Emma valued Julian’s power and confidence, she knew she could shape it into something great. Julian already thought of himself as something great and decided to take a code name to prove it. He called himself Hellion as a tribute to Emma’s team of young students from the Massachusetts Academy. He led Emma’s squad, known as the Hellions and became close friends with his teammate Rockslide. Julian often bumped heads with Dani Moonstar’s squad of students, the New Mutants, but harbored a crush on their co-leader Wind Dancer.

Art by Clayton Henry

Hellion was good at leading his squad, helping them bring home first place at the school Field Day competition, but he was still a big ol’ jerk. He was the one to turn away the homeless Surge at the gates of the school and he was a constant antagonist to the New Mutants. He thought his money and his powers allowed him to do whatever he wanted, and he wasn’t shy about saying so. Julian had a soft spot for his teammates and at the end of the semester flew them all out to his house in Malibu for vacation. The Hellions struggled to get through security at the airport, considering a girl made out of liquid metal and a rock monster were on the team, and a skirmish broke out. Julian though he could use his family lawyer to smooth things over without consequence. He was wrong. The Kellers were furious that their son embarrassed the family name and tried to use their money to fix everything. They disowned him and Julian was furious.

Art by Clayton Henry, Mark Morales, and Wil Quintana

Hellion broke into his parents safe to find a piece of paper with instructions to contact the Kingmaker. His parents had used this broker to gain their wealth years ago and Julian desired to use this as an opportunity to make himself the beloved hero he deserved to be. He saved the governor of California, who at the time was Arnold Schwarzenegger, from an assassination attempt and won the admiration of the nation. The Kingmaker didn’t just give these gifts away for free and enlisted the Hellions to steal a bioweapon for Doc Ock. Even though it meant losing his fame, Julian and the rest of the Hellions couldn’t go through with being terrorists and they turned the weapon and the Kingmaker over to SHIELD.

Art by Clayton Henry, Mark Morales, and Wil Quintana

Hellion was one of the few students to retain his mutant powers after M-Day and Emma Frost decided that the reminder would battle for seven spots on the New X-Men training squad. She gave Hellion specific instructions to ensure the X-23 wouldn’t be among those left standing. Julian had Laura on the ropes but something about her gave him pause and he couldn’t go through with it. Emma was not thrilled and snubbed Julian by giving the leadership role to Surge.

Art by Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco, and Brian Reber

Hellion and the New X-Men did what students at the mutant school had always done and snuck out to take care of threats without telling the adults. On one such occasion, X-23 was gravely injured and Hellion was determined to help her. He convinced Emma Frost to remove the mental blocks she had put on his powers and he flew Laura to safety at hypersonic speeds. This didn’t come without consequence and Hellion lost a large amount of his fine telekinesis control. After that Laura started to develop a crush on Julian but she was crushed when Surge kissed him in front of the whole school to mess with a completely unrelated student.

When the first mutant child since M-Day was born Hellion and the New X-Men decided that they needed to do their part in ensuring the survival of their race. To that end, they launched a preemptive strike on the mutant-hating Purifiers, but got ambushed by a different faction, Lady Deathstrike and her Reavers. Hellion took the worst of the attack and ended skewered on Deathstrike’s blades. The young X-Men retreated and stabilized him, but he was left out of the field for a long time.

Art by Humberto Ramos, Carlos Cuvas, and Edgar Delgado

The mutant nation relocated to San Francisco and Julian followed them. He wasn’t satisfied with the way mutants were being treated and led riots throughout the city. This attracted the attention of Norman Osborn, director of H.A.M.M.E.R., who imposed a curfew on the city. Hellion wasn’t great about rules and started another riot to make a point. The good thing was that this led to the creation of the mutant island Utopia, the bad thing was that now people had more of a reason to dislike mutants.

Art by Marc Silvestri, Joe Weems, and Frank D’Armata

When Utopia was under siege during Hope Summer’s Second Coming, Julian was on the front lines defending his home. Battling the attacking Sentinels Hellion lost both of his hands and had to be rushed to the medical bay. He survived and was given advanced prosthetics, but was very bitter about the situation. As an aside, when you do a story about a disabled character whose mutant abilities render him effectively the same as before his disability it loses a bit of its impact. After this, Julian pushed everyone, including Laura, away deciding he only needed himself.

Art by Mike Choi and Sonia Oback

Rogue, who had taken it upon herself to mentor the young X-Men, enlisted Hellion to help the X-Men rebuild San Francisco. He was bitter about having to work with Hope who he felt let down by. This was the mutant messiah he was dismembered to save? The Omega Sentinel, who was helping with the construction, lost control of her human side and attacked the other workers. Hellion came to their defense and ferociously attacked the android. As her body laid broken around her, Karima begged Hellion to take her out before she could hurt anyone else. He was happy to oblige. The X-Men leaders were furious that Hellion took her life into his own hands, but he had no regrets about what he did.

Art by Paul Davidson and Brian Reber

After the Schism, Julian followed his classmates to the Jean Grey School, eventually getting enrolled in Spider-Man’s Special Class. He did well there and even grew to be a better leader, but the Terrigen Mists messed that up. Julian wasn’t with the X-Men when they moved the school to Limbo and found himself in the path of the Mists. He decided to make his last stand in New Attilan, forcing the Inhumans to see what they did to him. His telekinesis ran rampant, shaking the city to its core, but the Inhuman Synapse disabled him and take him to the med bay for treatment. With the threat of the Mists gone there is no knowing that the future holds for Julian Keller.

Art by Carlos Pacheco, Dave Meikis, and Antonio Fabela

Must Read

Most people would point you in the direction of Kyle & Yost’s New X-Men, but I am well documented as not totally loving that run. Julian in there never really redeems himself in my eyes and it would take quite a writer to get to the core of him. That writer was Mike Carey who in two issues of X-Men: Legacy immediately got the character. The short arc Fables of the Reconstruction tells the tale of Hellion accepting who he is, even if that means alienating those around him. You can find these issues (#242 & #243) on Marvel Unlimited or in a trade.

Art by Mico Suayan and Marte Gracia

Ranking

When I covered Rockslide I said I liked Glob Herman and Kid Omega way more than I like Hellion and Rockslide. I stand by that because, at the end of the day, Hellion is still a jerk. Maybe some people find him sympathetic, but I don’t. Hellion is easily my least favorite of the New X-Men kids which has to put him below Surge who is currently at number 50. I’ve used Northstar as my line for characters I like vs ones I just don’t and Hellion falls below that line. Looking at this list, I think he has more merit than Mastermind but not as much as Darwin which places him as the new number 54 in the Xavier Files.

Hellion was requested by /u/dew7950 and /u/TheSnooinhiver on Reddit, OGStarkiller, Blind_Guard, and Clay from this site, and Peter Marinari better known as Krisis who won this by getting the most questions right on an X-Men quiz I did (and who happens to be our newest supporter on Patreon). Thanks to all of you and make sure you check out Peter’s site Crushing Krisis and it’s insanely comprehensive X-Men reading guide. If you have a request just submit it at the bottom of this article and I will add it to the list that currently stretches into December 2018! If you want to cut to the front of the line, link Max did, we have a Patreon you can support for just $1 to get a line cutting reward.

Make sure you check out Legion Quest a new podcast where me and Newsarama reviewer Matt Sibley talk about the FX show Legion. You can follow the show at any of these sources (iTunes | Google Play | Sticher | RSS).

Click here if you want to see the full ranked list, with links to every entry in the Xavier Files so far.

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Next week I get to talk about the most adorable little moppets in the Marvel Universe, Artie and Leech! See you then!

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