New Mutants #73 (1989, March)
S’ym is taunting Illyana for her weakness, while a voice in her head tells her to give into being the Darkchilde, to embrace evil. The combined New Mutants and X-Terminators are searching for Illyana, while the city is still crazy. And Colossus is looking for her, too, and fights demons. Meanwhile, Magneto and the Hellfire Club are also dealing with the crazy city, while N’astirh suggests an alliance. The Mutants spot Magneto, and decide to ask his help, but they see him talking to N’astirh, and assume he’s making a deal with him and run off.
Colossus gets dumped at S’ym’s feet. Illyana’s shocked to find him still alive. S’ym threatens to kill him, which gets a much more intense fight going. The Mutants chance upon it and get between them, and also smash into a pawn shop, where everything declares Illyana was a pawn. Colossus spots her, and she feels ashamed of what she’s become, and teleports to Limbo, with the Mutants following. In Manhattan, Colossus and S’ym fight, and Colossus swears to kill every demon and take Limbo for himself if that’s what it takes to save Illyana. Now there’s an interesting What If idea.
Back in Limbo, Illyana lets herself be led to her throne, while Illyana begs her to return to Earth with them, and to be their friend. Man, I really do love just how much Rahne came to care for Illyana. It’s probably my favourite thing about Simonson’s run on New Mutants. It’s just so sweet. The devout Christian and the demon girl, and the deep bond between them. Because it shows just how much Rahne’s grown as a person. Starting out, Rahne pretty well emotionally relied on Dani. But she’s grown up, gotten better at reaching out to others, and I think she saw in Illyana something of a kindred spirit, and she reached out and tried as hard as she could to just be there for Illyana, to let Illyana know she’s loved. And it’s just the sweetest thing. Less sweet is this moment:
At the church where the remainder of the two teams are protecting the babies, some demons show up to eat them. Illyana decides she’s going to embrace her destiny in order to save the Earth, but Rahne refuses to allow it. She goes to find a stepping disk to take her back to when they saw Illyana as a child. They find her, and then drop through another disk, back to the throne room, where the Darkchilde is confronted with her younger, more innocent self. She’s furious at the girl. It gets pretty epic.
Illyana is about to kill her child self, but Rahne says that’s Limbo’s way, and that Illyana now has a choice. She makes the right choice. She teleports back to Manhattan, with a stepping disk that she keeps making bigger and bigger. It sucks up all the demons, and she hurls her Soulsword in after it. After it’s all gone, all that’s left is the armour, crushed and broken. But with Child Illyana inside. Everything’s better! Wait, no it’s not, because there’s still the stuff going on in UXM and X-Factor, with N’astirh and the Goblin Queen.
This is a great issue. Illyana’s descent into the Darkchilde has always been heartbreaking to watch, and it reaches its ultimate climax here, with her right on the verge of completely abandoning her humanity by killing her own innocent younger self. It’s unsettling and it’s sad. Colossus fighting for her was cool, even if it actually contributed little to the story. But he kinda had to be here. Illyana’s his sister. He had to be there for the conclusion of her story; it just wouldn’t have felt right, otherwise. There’s some good demon-fighting stuff. Interestingly, we don’t actually see Magneto’s response to N’astirh’s offer; I’m really curious what he might have said. Oh well.
But the real heart of this story was Rahne. I talked about that earlier in this post. But I really do love her. She is the kindest, sweetest, most caring and compassionate person. All she wants is for Illyana to be happy. Her hug with Child Illyana at the end of the issue is a wonderfully touching moment.
Of course, Rahne’s comment here becomes really depressing in hindsight, given what happens to Illyana. She dies of the Legacy Virus, comes back without a soul, and has spent the past few years learning how to be good again. Poor Illyana. She’s led such a terrible life. You kinda just want to give her a hug, except she’s not a hug person. (One of my absolute favourite moments from Bendis’ UXM run was Illyana going to hug Kitty, and Kitty phasing because she wasn’t expecting it, because Illyana isn’t one for hugs.)
On a side note, Simonson has noted that she actually left a “back door” for bringing back Teen Illyana. The Child Illyana was an alternate version of Limbo, not the original, so the “real” Illyana could have still been out there. Of course, eventually, she would be brought back in New X-Men. And has been awesome ever since. I’m pissed at her not being in the Resurrxion promos. Her arc over the past few years has been fascinating to read, and she’s such a great character, and seeing her dropped into limbo is so disappointing. Of course, there’s a lot of characters I’m depressed to see in limbo.
But back to this issue! I love Blevins’ art. The cartoonish style accentuates the creepiness of the demons and of Limbo. And it’s really expressive. Even with her full body armour, Illyana’s body language conveys her emotions very effectively. Blevins was fantastic at that. The inks are great. And Oliver on colours. She does a spectacular job here.
This is an excellent issue and I love it. There are things that could be criticized. But screw it, I love it.