New X-Men: Hellions #3

Issue Date: 
September 2005
Story Title: 
Fortune & Glory, part three

Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir (Writers), Clayton Henry (Penciler), Mark Morales, Greg Adams & Rick Ketcham (Inkers), Wil Quintana (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer), Sean Ryan (Assistant Editor), Nick Lowe (Associate Editor), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor-in-Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Troubles brew within the Hellions, as Rockslide encourages Wither, who is now cured of his death power, to hook up with as many girls as possible, which upsets Mercury, who likes Wither. Hellion comforts Mercury until the Kingmaker announces that it is time for them to sign their contracts. Wanting to know what their first deed is, the Kingmaker informs the Hellions they will be stopping Diamondback and Paladin from retrieving a device from Genetassist. The Hellions decide that what they get out of the bargain is too good not to pass up on, and sign their contracts. At Genetassist, Paladin and Diamondback are in the process of stealing the same device the Hellions have come to get - and the kids take it right from under the mercenaries noses. Diamondback and Paladin warn the kids to hand it back over, but the Hellions wont, so a battle ensues. Hellion flirts with Diamondback while a powerless Wither is left to watch over the device, then his friends as they fall one by one - Tag, Rockslide, Mercury and Dust - until there is only Hellion and Diamondback left. Diamondback reveals that she and Paladin are working for SHIELD, but Hellion doesn’t buy it, and lets a desk fall on her. Wither argues with Hellion about taking something that SHIELD want, but Hellion is concerned more with their contracts. Arriving back at the Kingmaker’s office, it is confirmed that the device is indeed a weapon which the Kingmaker’s mysterious client wanted. Wither refuses to hand it over, until Hellion declares that a deal is a deal, and hands over the nuclear weapon to the Kingmaker.

Full Summary: 

The Californian Desert, more specifically, the research facilities of Genetassist. Inside the once-secure compound, security personnel lie motionless, while laser trip-wires are moved into other positions by diamonds, so a clear path can be walked. The mercenary known only as Paladin stands at a computer console, announcing that he is almost done, he just needs one more second. However Paladin may not have one more second, as he is currently being targeted - until a diamond comes to his rescue, thrown at Paladin’s assailant, it knocks him out of the vent.

The sultry Rachel Leighton a.k.a. Diamondback retrieves her diamond and tells her associate to hurry, pointing out that the are not the only ones who know Genetassist have completed their work. Paladin smiles and thanks Diamondback for the save, informing her that he just needs all the files on the project from Genetassist’s system, explaining that it doesn’t do much good to snatch the sample if more of it can be made.

Diamondback has no objections, but begins to remove her diamonds holding the laser grid in place, declaring that if others are going to be coming through the vents, then she wants this hallway secure. Paladin asks Rachel who she thinks is also after this prize. Diamondback replies A.I.M. and Hydra, as well as other big players.

Unseen to the mercenaries, the liquid-metal girl Cessily Kincaid, aptly codenamed “Mercury” begins to slide through the laser grid, and extends a hand to reach the sample Paladin and Diamondback are after. Paladin asks if this would fetch a lot in an auction, to which Rachel reminds him that they have an employer, so they get the case. Actually, Mercury now has the case, but Rachel sees her as she takes it and slides away.

Diamondback tells Paladin that they have trouble, and begins to chase the hastily-retracting Mercury, darting through the laser grid, Rachel tells Paladin to get the grid down and help her. But suddenly, Diamondback is confronted by Mercury’s teammates - the Hellions! ‘Hey now…didn’t anyone teach you that stealing is wrong?’ asks the smarmy leader Julian “Hellion” Keller.

Two hours earlier in Beverly Hills, at the office of the Kingmaker. The Hellions sit around a meeting table, discussing their recent events courtesy of the Kingmaker. Sooraya “Dust” Qadir reminds her teammates that she was sceptical at first, before exclaiming that the Kingmaker found her mother, and he thinks he can help her move to this country. Julian tells Sooraya that it is great, and asks if she is going to stay at the Xavier Institute if her mother moves here. Sooraya replies that she will have to discuss it with her mother, but it is her wish to.

Kevin “Wither” Ford sits next to Mercury and explains to her that if he takes this cure twice a day, then his death touch is off, he is just a normal guy. Pleased, Cessily asks the now casually-dressed Kevin if he can touch anyone now. ‘Anyone at all!’ replies Kevin. Santo “Rockslide” Vaccarro semi-jokes that Kevin has to get started on the touching - ‘You know what I mean? you got options now!’ Annoyed, Cessily gets to her feet, excusing herself she asks her teammates to tell the Kingmaker she will be back soon. Julian and Kevin look at Santo crossly. ‘What’d I say?’ Santo asks oblivious.

Outside, Cessily is sitting on her own on a park bench. Julian approaches his good friend asking her if she is okay. Cessily replies that she is happy for Kevin. Julian sits down beside Cessily and tells her that he knows she is, before knowing she thinks that it was nice when she was the only one Kevin could touch. Cessily replies it does, but that makes her a terrible person thinking like that. Julian puts his arm around his friend and tells her that it makes her a girl with a crush, and adds that he is sorry Kevin doesn’t understand that. Changing the subject, Kevin asks Cessily how her wish went, to which Cessily replies that her parents accept her for who she is, so it is great. Suddenly, the Kingmaker appears before the friends and tells them that it is time they talked.

Back in the conference room, the Kingmaker stands at the front of the table, handing out the Hellions’ contracts, he declares that it is time to put their working relationship down on paper. Rockslide asks if they have to sign in blood, to which the Kingmaker replies that they don’t, adding that he is a simple businessman. Wither is surprised, asking the Kingmaker if this means they are out of time. The Kingmaker holds onto one of Wither’s cure-vials, informing him that he will get it back once they have done him their first major favor.
The Kingmaker tells the Hellions that they have all received a wonderful test drive but now it is time to buy the car or get out. Hellion raises his hand and asks what the first favor they will be doing is. The Kingmaker asks the Hellions if they have to know before they sign, to which Sooraya points out that it seems only fair. ‘Of course it does’ replies the Kingmaker, clicking a remote, which lights up the view screen in front of the Hellions, where a large facility is shown.

The Kingmaker informs the Hellions that this building is Genetassist, a research company who work on the human genome project, adding that they are a real “help humanity” type of outfit. The Kingmaker explains that Genetassist have just finished a new project, and believes they have a leak, because everyone in the underworld wants this new project for themselves. He reveals that there are a handful of dangerous groups - terrorist groups - who may be sending people in after it, therefore he believes the project is not safe there anymore.

The Kingmaker tells the Hellions that their task is to stop the project from being stolen and bring it to him, adding that the dangerous groups will likely send operatives after it - gunmen and thieves, nothing the Hellions cannot handle. However, as the Kingmaker declares, there will also be greater threats. Two new images appear on the screen - headshots of Paladin and Diamondback.

The Kingmaker introduces Paladin, whose real name is unknown, as a mercenary with heightened strength and agility, a stun gun, and a motto being “Have gun, will travel”. Diamondback, whose real name is Rachel Leighton, is a former member of the very dangerous Serpent Society and whose current affiliation is unknown, adding that she uses an array of throwing diamonds. The Kingmaker reveals that Paladin and Diamondback have been hired to steal from Genetassist, and his sources say that they are striking tonight - so they must be stopped.

Wither points out that Diamondback reformed and was working with Captain America as a hero. ‘Was a hero. Past tense, she is a mercenary now,’ replies the Kingmaker, to which Mercury asks him why. The Kingmaker reveals that no one knows, but she is no longer with Captain America. The Kingmaker tells Cessily that as a shape-shifter, she knows how it is, that sometimes you can change to please people and they just don’t care. ‘And when that fails, you’re still the same person you always were’. Cessily tells the Kingmaker that she will do it, and signs her contract.

Wither declares that he needs the cure, as Dust exclaims that this will get her mother to America. Hellion figures that he has nothing to lose as he is a super hero now, and super heroes fight super villains. As the Hellions all sign their contracts, the Kingmaker grins. ‘Wonderful, then we have a deal’.

Genetassist, now: Diamondback tells the Hellions that they need to hand over the case, ‘Wanna bet?’ declares Hellion. Diamondback tells Hellion that she saw him on the TV saving the governor and asks him why he is now suddenly a thief. ‘Saw me on TV? I looked good didn’t I? And you remembered me!’ exclaims Julian grinning, to which Rachel tells him to ‘Throttle down, junior,’ pointing out that this isn’t time to try and flirt with her, she suggests he hands over the case before he and his friends get in over their heads. Julian points out that it is six to one.

‘Six to two, and we’re professionals, you’re outmatched,’ exclaims Paladin as he joins Diamondback, holding his gun out he declares that he doesn’t like shooting kids, but he is getting paid well enough to get over it. ‘So drop the case, boys and girls’. Brian points out that Paladin and Diamondback must really want the case, so it must be something major. Touching it, he uses his mutant power, announcing he just tagged it. Paladin and Rachel suddenly run from the case, ‘Must get away!’ they yell. Hellion congratulates Tag on the way he got rid of two professional baddies in seconds.

Brian explains that he thought if they were so tough there is no point in even trying to fight them, suggesting they get going, when suddenly, a diamond strikes him in the back of the head, knocking him out. Julian calls out to his friend as Diamondback and Paladin make their re-appearance, Rachel apologizing while pointing out that Tag’s power only has so much range ‘And I’m pretty good with range’. Paladin tells the Hellions that as they wanted the fight, they are going to get it.

Kevin announces that the cure is still working, so he is powerless, so Julian, who is telekinetically getting Tag out of harms way, asks Kevin to watch over him. Cessily hands Wither the case, telling him to look after it and she and the others will keep Diamondback and Paladin away from him.

‘You’re going down, Purple Man!’ Rockslide boasts, letting one of his fists fly towards Paladin, who responds ‘”Purple Man?” That guy controls minds’, grabbing Santo’s loose hand, he declares that he is more of a straight-forward kind of guy, and asks Santo if he knows Judo, where you use people’s own momentum against them. Santo’s fist is thrown back at him, and smacks him straight in the face.

Cessily has reshaped her body so that she can wind herself around Rachel, pointing out that she is liquid metal, she boasts that there is no way Diamondback can break free. ‘Nice trick’ mutters Rachel, and as she pulls a diamond from her boot, she declares that she has two things Mercury doesn’t - an electric diamond and an insulated costume. Rachel lets the electric diamond explode all around Cessily, setting herself free.

Using his telekinesis to levitate office furniture, Hellion tells Diamondback that she may be able to take some of the Hellions down, but points out that he still has numbers on his side, not to mention raw power. Rachel throws a diamond at him, but it bounces of his psychic shield. Dust surrounds Paladin, warning him that her sands can take flesh from the bone, she declares that they don’t want to hurt anyone. Paladin asks her if she is just stealing the weapon for kicks, the revelation that the case contains a weapon surprises Sooraya.

Rachel dodges a chair which Julian throws at her, informing the Hellions that they are stealing a weapon. ‘And you’re not doing very well either’ adds Paladin as he shoots Sooraya with some sort of stun gun. Hellions tells the mercenaries that they may have distracted Dust with that riff, ‘But I’m not buying it!’ he exclaims, unleashing a raw surge of telekinetic power on them, knocking them both to the ground.

Holding a desk up with his mental powers, Julian hovers over Rachel, telling her that she is the thief, the one who came to steal whatever is in that case. Rachel reveals that she and Paladin were hired by SHIELD - that they are working for the U.S. government. ‘I don’t care!’ Hellion exclaims, before dropping the desk down on Rachel. Wither comes up behind Hellion and reminds him that Diamondback said she was working for the government, but Julian just telekinetically snatches the case from Kevin, muttering that he heard, he suggests that they all leave.

Outside, Hellion creates a telekinetic platform to carry his teammates away on. Santo asks Julian if it is really a weapon, to which Hellion replies that it is high-tech, and that anything can be used as a weapon. Kevin points out that they just took it from SHIELD, to which Hellion asks Kevin if he believes Diamondback. Hellion asks his teammates if Paladin and Diamondback were with SHIELD, where were the agents? Why mercenaries - they must have been stealing it. He asks if they really trust the government any more than the Kingmaker and reminds his friends that they made a deal - ‘Signed and delivered’.

Arriving back at the Kingmaker’s office, Wither asks Julian to wait, but Hellion marches forward, declaring that there is no waiting as they made a deal. ‘Maybe you guys don’t get what that means’. The Kingmaker’s receptionist tells the Hellions that she will let the Kingmaker know they are here, and leaves them in the waiting room. Wither grabs the case from Hellion, who tells him to stop screwing around. Angrily, Julian tells Kevin that he cannot mess this up and suggests they just give the Kingmaker the case.

Suddenly, Santo comes to Wither’s defense and tells Julian to back off, adding that he wants to know what is in the case too. Kevin tries to get it open, but reports that it is locked. Julian tells him to let it stay that way, to which Tag agrees, reminding his teammates that they made a deal and the Kingmaker upheld his end, so they need to uphold theirs. Kevin turns to Cessily, ‘Can you…?’ he asks. Knowing what Kevin wants, Cessily smiles and replies that of course she can, explaining that once she is in she can shape her hand…’There!’ she announces as she uses her liquid metal body to open the case.

‘What is it?’ someone asks as the Hellions stare at a black device and a green tube. ‘A biological weapon,’ reveals the Kingmaker, announcing that the amount in the cylinder is enough to kill every man, woman and child in a city the size of Los Angeles. A furious Dust points at the Kingmaker, declaring that he lied to them, that Genetassist is not his client. The Kingmaker reveals that Dust’s revelation is correct, revealing that his client didn’t want to have to pay Diamondback and Paladin for the weapon and he didn’t want the government to get it.

Rockslide asks the Kingmaker who his client is, to which Hellion asks what it matters, as whoever it is wants a bio-weapon, meaning he has to be bad news. Santo declares that he wants to know, after all, they were used. The Kingmaker exclaims that it doesn’t matter, as this is a client, which means he does things for him, and vice-versa, informing the Hellions that one day his client may help further their own dreams, and right now, they are helping to further his.

‘No!’ declares Wither. The Kingmaker points out that they do not have a choice, as they signed the papers. ‘You work for me. Signed and delivered’. Hellion pauses before making a move, thinking, then he suddenly grabs the case back from Wither. ‘He’s right,’ Julian exclaims, ‘A deal’s a deal,’ he says, handing the case to the Kingmaker. ‘Signed and delivered’.

Characters Involved: 

Dust II, Hellion, Mercury V, Rockslide, Tag, Wither (all Hellions)

The Kingmaker

Kingmaker’s receptionist




Story Notes: 

This mini series takes place after New X-Men: Academy X #15.

Though this may just be a coincidence, a photo of Diamondback was seen in the office of Sean Garrison, a psychiatrist and father to the New Mutants’ Wallflower.

The cover to this issue resembles a scene from the 1999 movie “Entrapment” starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Hellion saved the Californian governor in New X-Men: Hellions #2.

Indeed, the Purple Man does control minds, currently harassing the New Thunderbolts, the Purple Man a.k.a. Zebediah Kilgrave is the father of Beta Flight’s Persuasion, and former antagonist of Daredevil and Jewel (aka Jessica Jones), among others.

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