Armageddon Now Part One - Family Matters
Credits: John Francis Moore (writer), Jim Cheung (penciler), Mark Morales (inker), Marie Javins (colors), Comicraft’s Dave Lanphear (letters)
Summary: Proudstar receives a message from Tarot warning him that the team will soon be betrayed. Later, Meltdown’s father visits, introducing his new wife and offering Meltdown a chance to join him as a member of the Triune Understanding. She angrily rejects him, and is insulted again when she realizes Sunspot followed her. As Moonstar tries to understand her new cosmic powers, Domino and Jesse Aaronson follow a lead on his missing brother. They discover Christopher Aaronson in Santa Lucia, California. He now leads the New Hellions -- Magma, Paradigm, Tarot, and Switch.
Continuity Notes: As Proudstar points out, Tarot should’ve been dead following the events of Uncanny X-Men #281-282. A flashback to five years ago reveals Tarot and Christopher Aaronson were once in a relationship. He rejected Emma Frost’s offer to join the Hellions at the time, using his powers to block her psychic influence. Christopher divulges that he was identified as a mutant at age six, but escaped government custody at thirteen, using his psionic disruption powers to drive his captors mad.
Meltdown’s father had a vague death scene in X-Force #49 (his trailer exploded). This issue establishes that he survived the explosion and later reevaluated his life, leading him to the Triune Understanding. The Triunes are a cult, allegedly inspired by Scientology, from the concurrent issues of Avengers.
Review: This begins the “Armageddon Now” storyline, which resolves the mystery of the missing Bedlam brother and introduces a new team of Hellions. I don’t think anyone’s surprised at this point that Moore wants to revive the Hellions, but they can serve a purpose outside of nostalgia. It’s not hard to cast them as a legitimate threat to X-Force, who don’t have enough opposing teams to fight, and Moore deserves some credit for acknowledging their horrid death scene and trying to do something with it. Plus, adding Magma to the roster is a nice “Wait a minute!” moment.
I also like the way Moore is integrating Christopher Aaronson into past X-continuity as a “behind-the-scenes” character. This can too often be a cheat, but the foundation of the Hellions is a vague area of backstory with plenty of room to fill, and his presence isn’t being done to undermine past continuity. Pairing him in a relationship with Tarot also humanizes her character a bit. The Hellions actually didn’t appear in too many comics during the New Mutants years, so many of them never moved past the cipher stage. I vaguely recall Tarot receiving some character work in the ‘80s, but it couldn’t have been an extensive amount. She feels like a better defined character this issue, and her connection to Jesse’s brother adds some intrigue to the storyline.