Wolverine and the X-Men (1st series) #31

Issue Date: 
August 2013
Story Title: 
The Hellfire Saga – part one

Jason Aaron (writer), Nick Bradshaw (pencils), Walden Wong (inks), Laura Martin (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Nick Bradshaw & Morry Hollowell (cover artists), Jordan D. White (associate editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Quentin Quire has joined the Hellfire Academy in order to help Oya, who refuses to leave until she learns who shot Broo. At the Academy, they and other kids are taught by super-villains how to become successful at evil. One kid, though, Snot, is a complete failure and eventually disappears. Quentin provokes his teachers until he is finally sent to Kade Kilgore, as he planned. He tries to read Kade’s mind but fails. He’s taken prisoner by the Philistine and is supposed to be thrown into the Siege Perilous, which already changed Snot into a true super-villain. In the meantime, the X-Men do their best to find their missing kids, with no success. Wolverine decides that, once they find them, they will close the Jean Grey School.

Full Summary: 

A previously unknown island in the Pacific Ocean:
Philistine’s teleportation portal takes Quentin Quire and another boy there. Philistine points at the way and warns them to stay on the path. Right, thanks for the lift. Stay creepy, Quentin tells him.

The other boy is amazed at the school building. They don’t have anything like that where he comes form. And where’s that? Quentin asks. North Pole drifting ice station 2. Quientin tells him he has a little something on his face. Snot, the other boy explains, and adds that’s the name they gave him. Bit on the nose, no pun intended, Quentin remarks. He suggested Captain Awesome or the Super Nose Kid, Snot replies. How long has he been a mutant? Quentin asks. Since Tuesday, Snot replies, snot running from his nose. That was the day he sneezed and killed a walrus.

Quentin suggests if he wants to live long enough to see the weekend not to think of it as a school. Schools don’t tend to have a thousand different ways to maim and kill you. But by the look of it this place sure has. Welcome to the Hellfire Academy. Let’s hope they survive the experience.

Day one, first period: “Introduction to Evil” with Professor Raven Darkholme:
Students (dressed in military style uniforms) include, Quentin, Snot, Oya, Broo, Glob Herman, Mudbug, a Goth girl named Infestation and Tin Man.

Mystique announces this is a pass / fail course. They pass, they live to fight another day. They fail, she shoots them in the face and feeds them to the lawn. Any questions?

Are they the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants? Glob asks. He ain’t so good at reading, Mudbug announces. Can’t they just fight each other instead? Tin Man remarks he’s pretty sure he’s in the wrong place. He’s not a bad guy. He’s actually a quarterback.

Mystique orders them all to shut up. If they can’t survive this class - and most of them won’t - then they wouldn’t survive a day in the field. Right now there are more Avengers, more X-Men teams, more Spider-people running around than at any other time since the invention of spandex. If they want to live their lives outside the law as opposed to in a cell with laser bars it doesn’t just take pretty costumes and some fancy moves. It takes guts. It takes blood, and lots of it. It takes a strong stomach and a numb conscience and an intimate working knowledge of every sin known to man. It takes an unwavering commitment to never love anyone or anything more than you love yourself.

Now, if it was up to her she’d start this class by beating every one of them senseless with her bare hands. Just to see how long it takes them to beg her to stop. Oh, please do, Glob Herman moans.

But instead she’s being paid to take it easy on them. For now, at least. So for anyone who misses a question in the following pop quiz, she’ll only be breaking their fingers.

First question: the most effective method for attacking your arch enemy is:
A. brainwashing
B. stuffing their loved ones in refrigerators

Quentin interrupts, asking why they should listen to anything she says. Last he checked, she doesn’t own her own country. She’s stolen lots of money but must not have hung on to it. Why else would she have to take a job as demeaning as this? What exactly has she achieved during her many years as super-villain other than the usual assortment of ignominious defeats and humiliations?

She sits down on his desk and asks for his name. He’s quite certain she knows. He’s one of the Grey School runaway, she remarks. What’s the matter, Wolverine’s little daycare too tough for him? Funny she should say that. Didn’t Wolverine kill her not too long ago?

With a smile, she announces their first homework assignment. One hundred bonus points for each of Quentin’s teeth left on her desk come morning. If the head’s still attached, they can take the rest of the semester off.

Pop quiz question two: The best henchmen are found in:
A. prison
B. message boards
C. St. Louis…

After the lesson, Glob Herman, Infestation and Mudbug try to attack Quentin who gets them off his back with a telepathic gun. Glob warns him to sleep with his mouth shut.

Quentin runs after Idie and telepathically asks her to wait up. She tells him to leave her alone. He’s going to get her into trouble! He tells her if there were telepaths here, he’d sense them. They’re free to think as they like and he’s thinking they have to get out of here as fast as possible. Angrily, she tells him he and Broo shouldn’t be here. Neither should she, he insists. She’s looking for who shot Broo and he knows what she plans to do. She tells him to keep out of her way. And Broo bites him in his leg.

Quentin thinks to himself he can mentally coax her into leaving later. He just needs to find the best way out of this joint.

Get to class, Philistine orders him and Quentin wonders where he came from.

Second period: Subjugation through science with Dr. Karl Lykos (or more to the point, his alter ego Sauron):
He introduces himself as Sauron, supreme ruler of this class-room, master of all second period. In this class he will teach them to rule the most powerful and deadly weapon known to man… science! Over the course of the next semester, they will all build and detonate their own gamma bombs. They’ll bombard gorillas with cosmic rays. They will clone, irradiate and transmogrify their classmates. They will breed their own race of subservient mutants. They will—

The rant is interrupted by Snot, who comes in too late. What they will under no circumstances do is dare to interrupt him, Sauron announces. And he will view tardiness as a direct challenge to his authority.

He takes some of Snot’s lifeforce while ordering the others to read quietly from chapter one: “Newton’s three laws of mass destruction.

Third period: Xenobioloy with Dr. Xanto Starblood, who shows them how to dissect alien tentacled beings and criticizes Snot for vomiting.

Fourth period is PE with Coach Dog Logan. Dog tells them there is a volcano maze to the left, forests of giant cat fish to the right and those slimy caves over there are about to start spewing lava mud. They are headed across the island to his shack to get more whiskey. Whoever ain’t dead when they get there, gets a B. And somebody pull the Snot kid out of the quicksand.

Fifth period: Lunch with head lunchlady Husk. Pulling off her face, Husk shouts at them to eat a balanced meal or die! They’ve got all their basic food groups: Donuts, French fries, fruit Gummis, energy drinks, bacon!

Sixth period: Hell Lit with Master Pandemonium. The wizard explains their textbooks were handwritten by the horned demons of the pit and bound in the flesh of fallen nuns. Do not write in their textbooks! Do not leave their textbooks unattended around infants, dogs or the recently deceased! Do not sleep with them near their face! Do not read aloud from them unless they like the idea of being eaten alive by giant burning demons. If contacted through their book, do not sell their soul to a devil. Not without first soliciting competing offers from other hells. Where does Idie think she is going?

Seventh period: Public relations for psychopaths with Madame Mondo. You’ve just disemboweled Captain America, the Spineless One explains, but who’s going to know if you can’t even craft a credible press release. How to choose the right hostage for their focus group. How to best traumatize their target demographics. How is the pen sometimes mightier than the bonesaw?

Eighth period: Study hall with head librarian Husk. Tearing off her face, Husk shouts at them to read faster.

At midnight, she orders them to get up and into the Danger Room, where Wendigo is waiting for them.

Toad stops Paige. She asks if he shouldn’t be working and doesn’t listen to his reply. She has no time for this. She’s got more skin to tear off and children to scream at… Does he think one day she might tear all the way down to her soul?

Toad wonders which class he is supposed to teach here. He doesn’t see his name on the class list anywhere but he supposes he could teach frog mind control or what it’s like to grow up in an orphanage or-- Paige laughs and tells him not to be ridiculous. Stick to what he knows, she suggests and hands him a broom.

Meanwhile in Madripoor. Rachel mindscans a captured Hellfire mercs, insisting they must know something. One tells her the labs are automated. They don’t tell him anything. They’re just kids. Though the little girl scares him.

What have they done with their children! she screams but learns nothing. Same as the other labs. Nothing but foot soldiers and they don’t know crap.

Storm informs them Henry has uncovered another factory in Symkaria. Warbird and Iceman are headed there now. Wolverine doesn’t believe it’ll matter, but he’s on his way there. Storm tells him they have every active X-Man in the field. They are doing all they can to bring the children home. They are not going back to the school, Logan declares. When this is finished, so are their teaching days. They can‘t protect the kids and they’ve obviously done a poor job steering them straight. All they’re gonna do is wind up getting them killed. Soon as they find the kids, the Jean Grey School is finished.

Back at the Hellfire Academy:
In the Danger Room, the kids are paired off in duels against each other. Broo bites Mudbug. Infestation’s parasites attack the helpless Tinman. Oya fires ice blasts at Glob Herman.

Quentin is paired with Snot and tells him they don’t have to do this. He’s pretty sure they do, Snot replies. Wendigo watches them and growls. He’ll try not to hurt-- he sneezes his snot on Quentin, who finds it immobilizes him. Before Snot can hit him, Quentin psychoblasts him. He’s going to burn these clothes now, he sighs disgusted.

Philistine orders Snot to the principal’s office. Quentin asks what’s going to happen to him? Philistine blows him off. Quentin orders him telepathically to find his powers don’t work on Philistine.

Dragged off by Wendigo, Snot shouts he’ll see them at breakfast. No, he doesn’t think he will, Quentin fears.

Three days later, Xanto Starblood slams Quentin through the wall, threatening if he ever speaks to him in that tone again, the class will be dissecting Quentin for their next exam! Still not getting it, Quentin grins.

Philistine orders him to the principal’s office. Three whole days, Quentin thinks. He was beginning to think he’d lost his touch. “Lead the way, Jeeves,” he orders.

Worried, Idie reminds him via telepathy the last time someone went to the principal’s office, they never saw him again. He’s got to get out! They all do, he replies. But she won’t leave until she figures out which Hellfire brat blew Broo’s brain out. So if that’s the way it’s gotta be, maybe he can start narrowing down the suspects…

In his office, Kade Kilgore remarks he is rather surprised to see Quentin here. He’d expected him to be their star pupil. Quentin remarks he is disappointed himself. When he hears infamous boy billionaire Kade Kilgore is starting his own super-villain school, he expects something a bit more… classy. Instead, he gets Wolverine’s drunken brother, a Mojo with boobs, a West Coast Avengers villain with demons for hands and a collection of Brotherhood of Evil cast-offs who together have beaten the X-Men a grand total of negative five hundred times. What, were the Orb and Angar the Screamer not available? he asks bored. Telepathically, he tries to find out if Kade shot Broo.

Are these sad little tirades truly the best he can muster? Kade asks. He’s always heard Quentin was such a clever little provocateur. Don’t tell him Wolverine has neutered him already.

Hardly, Quentin shoots back, but it appears the same can’t be said about the once fearsome Hellfire Club which is now as frightening as a middle school Maths club. He notices Kade’s mental resistance.

Does he know why he built this school? Kade asks. To get Mystique in a sexy teacher outfit? Because he’s a business man. And super villains are good for business. He sells Sentinels. And the more afraid people are of mutants, the more giant killer robots they tend to buy. So he’s going to give them a walking talking reason to be afraid. Quentin was meant to be his masterpiece. The mutant messiah of a new age of fear. He thought Quentin would welcome the role but it isn’t going to be that simple, is it?

Quentin agrees while still trying to read his mind, wondering if he has telepathy.

The Philistine informs Kade the boy is worried about telepaths. He does not realize the power of the Siege or its agent. Kade informs Quentin he knows what he’s been thinking from the moment he first set foot on this island. He knows his schemes and betrayals. He offered him the world and Quentin refused him. With a heavy heart, he sentences him to detention. May he return from the experience a changed man.

Quentin is shot at and frozen by Snot, who now looks super-strong and tells him it hurts at first. A lot. But once it’s through you don’t care anymore. Quentin will love the Siege Perilous as much as he does!

Characters Involved: 

Broo, Glob Herman, Infestation, Kid Omega, Oya, Snot, Tin Man (students at the Hellfire Academy)
Dog Logan, Husk, Master Pandemonium, Madame Mondo, Mystique, Sauron, Toad, Wendigo, Xanto Starblood (staff at the Hellfire Academy)

Kade Kilgore

Beast, Rachel Grey, Storm, Warbird II, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Story Notes: 

Members of the staff that weren’t seen: Sabretooth, Lord Deathstrike, Silver Samurai II

Some excerpts from the class list:
Ethics 101: Do what thou wilt with Professor Raven Darkholme.
Hell lit: reading the Infernal Classics, from the Darkhold to the Necronomicon, with Master Pandemonium
Physical Education: the Krakoa Survival hour, with Coach Dog Logan
Public relations for psychopaths with Madame Mondo
Defying the Will of God with Karl Lykos
Xenobiology and the art of evisceration with Dr. Xanto Starblood
99 reasons to hate Wolverine, with Coach Logan
Coming back from the dead, it’s easier than you think, with Professor Raven Darkholme.
Dolphin Shooting Club, with Lord Deathstrike

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