Reconstructing Hellion

This is something that I’ve been thinking about for some time, and honestly, something that I believe should be done. However, questions remain; primarily: how do you redeem and rebuild a character that has been so utterly dumped on in recent memory. I see three possible outcomes for Hellion at Marvel’s current rate: 1) Julian rises above all adversity and becomes a hero; 2) Julian is beaten down so far that he becomes a villain of large proportions; 3) They do nothing and he fades into obscurity.

Ironically, as a very big Hellion fan (the depths of which I have finally admitted), I want NONE of the above to occur. Why? Because none of them would do him justice. Let’s think this through, shall we? Julian starts as a womanizer (detention for unbuttoning Emma’s blouse, anyone?), an instigator, an arrogant jerk, and near Magneto-ideological ideas (remember his speech when the FBI took Wither?). People will point to these exact things and say: why does ANYONE like Keller? When he was this person? Only a few. But, there was something that was added that was the redeeming quality: the fact that he would do practically anything for his friends.

This willingness is displayed when he goes after Wither, when he calls on family contacts in homeland security so he and his friends can get to his parents’ place, when he flips out when Brian dies, and several times with Laura. This was just the tip of making his character something more than the ‘arrogant jerk.’ Through the course of Childhood’s end and the New X-Men series, he continued down this line. He was growing as a character. He was still arrogant, yes. He still had a temper, yes. But he grew more ready to help his friends, easing out a bit of his ‘I’m awesome, everyone else sucks’ juvenile attitude. His attraction and silent relationship with Laura seemed to help this process. As he seemed to give her humanity to a degree, she seemed to calm him. A great pair. One I am very upset was shattered—but more on that later.

Additionally, let’s touch on the Kingmaker storyline. Julian’s wish was to be a hero. Was this out of a desire for the limelight, or some deep-seated need to want to be not only important, but a good guy? I feel it is the latter. Dipping into Hellion’s psychology, I believe that the brash, bully, arrogant exterior is due to insecurity over the way his family treated him, and being just… well, a kid about his parents being so rich and everyone else’s being so poor in comparison. In short: the guy never grew up! His time with the X-Men, though, was shaping that. Then… he lost his hands. And his mind, as well, apparently.

After the loss of his hands, we got to see emo Julian. While the handicap is understandably going to cause a great deal of mental trauma, Julian reacted rather… insanely. And for a very long period of time. Yes, I understand his frustration and pain. And the one person who I think he needed there the most (Laura) up and vanished on him. In his mind, I don’t think he really had anyone. He watched people moan and complain about their losses, comforting one another. X-Men treat death as a revolving door, but his hands are forever gone. Yeah. Bitterness. Then, let’s add that whenever someone tries to help him, he feels it is patronizing and gets pissed. He was hurt. Drastically. I personally believe, that if Laura were there for this, he would not have fallen down that slope. I don’t blame Laura, I blame the writers on this front. From Julian’s perspective, he lost his parents (they moved and abandoned him without telling him), his hands, the X-Men already abandoned him once (when he woke up in the hotel room), and now the girl he was finally admitting to himself that he loved… just vanishes when he needs her the most. Is it any surprise he killed someone? The boy had nothing left to lose. There was no further down he could hit, in his mind.

Then, we get the Liu treatment in X-23. Stalker Julian. Be with me or I will make snarky remarks and yell at you until you agree to be with me. Or leave. And, Laura left. Are we surprised? Honestly, I’m not.

So… the natural question is: how does Julian Keller get ‘fixed?’ The answer is simple: we break him completely. This might sound odd coming from someone who just said how much Hellion was thrown under the bus and complained about it. And, really, what else can be done to drag him down even further? The answers to these questions are very simple and are a classical part of redemption stories. Julian must be broken in spirit. He must be shown, full force, what path he has chosen and what it has cost him. And it must be shown that it was all –his- choice. He must be forced to admit to the issues, or at least see that there was another way. Then, once he is at the bottom, and the alcoholic termed ‘moment of clarity’ hits… well, then Julian can start to climb back.

And what about Julian and Laura? As much as I love them together… it can’t be. Not now. Laura needs to experience more of a normal life and Julian needs to put himself back together. Ideally, I would see them as friends… then –slowly- rekindle the attraction and a love between them. Once both can fully appreciate it and have ‘grown up’ in their own ways, I feel that this would be an extraordinarily strong bond.

And, that, my friends, is how I feel we could reconstruct Hellion.

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