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The Untold Truth Of Magik

Illyana Rasputin, aka Magik, isn't quite like her New Mutants teammates. Yeah, she's a mutant, but her teleportation powers are just the beginning of her extraordinary abilities. Illyana is the earliest New Mutant to appear in the X-Men comics, showing up seven years before the New Mutants original graphic novel that introduced the team to readers. She's part-demon queen, a powerful sorceress, sister to a classic X-Men hero, and a star of 2020's superhero/horror hybrid The New Mutants. Plus, of the classic New Mutants line-up, she's proven the most willing to commit the kind of dark acts most superheroes shun. 

Over the years, Illyana has become a staple of the New Mutants. While not a founding member, once she joins, she's one of its most powerful assets and later proves an equally irreplaceable member of the X-Men. Unfortunately, the mystical origins of Illyana's powers occasionally threaten to make her a liability, as she's got a demonic dark half that's dangerously easy to corrupt. With both mutant and magical abilities, Illyana is a fascinating character, so keep reading to learn the untold truth of Magik.

Magik shows up much earlier than the other New Mutants

When it comes to the New Mutants, most of the classic characters come from the 1982 New Mutants original graphic novel or the ongoing series that follows. For example, mainstays like Cypher and Warlock first show up in the regular New Mutants series. Magik, on the other hand, first appears way back in 1975's Giant-Size X-Men #1. 

Giant-Size X-Men #1 is a game changer. Many of the most popular X-Men — including the legendary Wolverine — are introduced to the X-franchise in this 1975 comic book. Another big player who makes his first appearance is Peter Rasputin, aka Colossus. And when he meet him on a collective farm in Siberia, he's using his powers to save his unnamed little sister from a runaway tractor. Of course, that little girl will grow up to become the Magik we all know and love, but in this particular tale, Illyana Rasputin has little to do with the story once her brother saves her. Of course, a slightly older Illyana would eventually show up in later issues of Uncanny X-Men and get her own miniseries before joining the junior X-Men in New Mutants.

As for her relationship with Colossus, the two don't get a lot of time to hang out. After all, the siblings are on different teams embarking on different adventures. Nevertheless, Magik and Colossus have crossed paths multiple times, and they've supported each other through thick and thin.

Her childhood was interrupted by a demon

In the beginning of 1982's Uncanny X-Men #160, Illyana Rasputin is six years old. By the end of the issue, she's 13, and she's survived more than her brother Colossus knows. It all starts back in 1981's Uncanny X-Men #145, when we learn Miss Locke — employee of the eccentric killer-for-hire Arcade — has kidnapped Illyana Rasputin and others to force Colossus and the X-Men to rescue her employer from the tyrant Doctor Doom. After that adventure is over and Illyana is saved, she's allowed to live with her brother in Charles Xavier's Winchester mansion. But when Uncanny X-Men #160 comes along and the X-Men lock horns with demonic Belasco, Illyana is there to suffer the consequences. 

Belasco captures Illyana and Kitty Pryde, aka Shadowcat, as part of a plot to free himself from the inter-dimensional realm Limbo. By the end of the story, the X-Men have saved both Kitty and Illyana, but things don't work out super well for poor Magik. As the team is being teleported away, Belasco grabs Illyana from her brother's arms and yanks her back into Limbo. Back on Earth, Kitty Pryde quickly reaches back through a portal, grabs Illyana, and pulls her to safety. But Peter's sister is seven years older than she was on the previous page. It won't be until the 1983-1984 mini-series Magik that we see what happened to Illyana in the interim. 

Magik was the first New Mutant with her own series

Few members of the New Mutants get to shine outside of team titles like New Mutants or X-Force. But Illyana Rasputin proves to be something of an exception. Before she becomes an inseparable part of New Mutants, Illyana Rasputin enjoys her own mini-series with 1983-1984's Magik

In 1982's Uncanny X-Men #160, Illyana experiences a radical change. The X-Men save her from the clutches of the demonic villain Belasco, but while her time in Limbo seems to pass in mere seconds to the X-Men, she lives seven years in Limbo before Kitty Pryde pulls her back to Earth. 

We don't get to see what happens during those seven years in any issue of Uncanny X-Men, as that story is saved for Magik. The mini-series begins and ends with Illyana safe at Xavier's Winchester mansion, and the story of her time in Limbo unfolds as a flashback. In these scenes, Illyana is pressed into the service of Belasco, who hopes to use her as a means to summon powerful Elder Gods. In the seven years she remains in Limbo, Illyana learns much from Belasco and from alternate reality versions of X-Men, particularly a duplicate of Storm. In the interim, her mutant ability to create teleportation discs manifests, and the sorcerer skills she learns from Belasco grow enough that she's able to defeat the villain. Plus, in Magik, we see her first manifestation of the powerful Soulsword, as well as the first emergence of the Darkchylde — her dark, demonic half.  

Magik is more than just a mutant

Marvel's mutants are born with their extraordinary abilities, but circumstances have led a few to have one foot in the mutant world and the other in more mystical realms. Scarlet Witch is a perfect example, as is the New Mutant Danielle Moonstar, aka Mirage. But Illyana Rasputin is unique among them in that her purely magical talents are so impressive that it can sometimes be easy to forget she even has separate mutant abilities. 

Illyana's mutant power is the ability to create teleportation discs which allow her to teleport herself and others over untold distances and even through time. While most often used for practical purposes — e.g. to transport somewhere quickly or to retreat from a losing battle — Illyana is not above using her discs as weapons, like in 2019's Uncanny X-Men #20 when she kills the alternate reality mutant Dark Beast by teleporting him so that his head reappears in a ceiling. 

But Illyana's magical abilities have often proven impressive enough to outshine her mutant powers. Her Soulsword and the mystical armor that manifests with it are extremely powerful on their own, particularly against magical targets, and her Darkchylde form is extremely formidable. She's the Sorcerer Supreme of Limbo — the same title Doctor Strange wields in Marvel's home dimension — and the Eye of Agamotto identifies her as one possible candidate to replace Doctor Strange as Earth's Sorcerer Supreme in 2009's New Avengers #53.

It can be tough to figure out how old she is

Comic book characters are known for, among other things, their drastic shifts in status quo, many of which are inevitably reversed. Heroes die and come back, go evil and return to the light, or they're otherwise lost and eventually found. In the case of Magik, she suffers a very particular type of change: rapid age shifts. 

In one of her earliest appearances, in 1982's Uncanny X-Men #160, Illyana ages seven years in a single comic. In the beginning of the tale, she's six. By the end, she's been captured and rescued from the clutches of the demon sorcerer Belasco. Even though it seems to the X-Men that it took mere moments to save her, Illyana lives seven years in the temporally-confusing dimension Limbo. 

But that isn't the last time fate plays havoc with Magik's age. In 1989's New Mutants #73, as part of the line-wide event Inferno, Illyana has her years in Limbo and with the New Mutants taken from her. See, Illyana transforms into her demonic self, the Darkchylde, but eventually ascends to what Wolfsbane calls "a being of light" or a "Lightchilde." As a result, Colossus and the New Mutants believe she's dead within her mystical armor until they hear her voice calling for help. Colossus tears the armor open to find her six-year-old self waiting inside. And Illyana remains a child until her tragic death in 1993's Uncanny X-Men #303.

She's occasionally the ruler of Limbo

A number of rulers in Marvel Comics have double duty as superhero and world leader. Most famously, there's Black Panther who governs the fictional African nation of Wakanda. Similarly, Magik is also walking the line between super leader and superhero. However, Illyana has something of a unique responsibility among Marvel's rulers in that she claims control over not a nation or even a world but the entire dimension of Limbo ... sometimes. It depends. 

With the help of her demon lieutenant S'ym, Illyana takes over control of Limbo from Belasco, but holding on to Limbo continually proves a tricky prospect. When your servants are demons, your servants all want your throne, and throughout her time in New Mutants, Illyana is forced to fight against the rebellious S'ym. In 1988's Uncanny X-Men #231, she unwittingly summons her brother Colossus to help her fight S'ym and his forces (she thinks Colossus is dead at the time and wrongly believes him to be a "necromantic shade"). Then S'ym allies with the demon N'astirh to help defeat Magik in the 1989 line-wide event Inferno, which helps lead to Magik being de-aged to childhood.

One of the most recent examples of how tough it is to be a demon queen is in 2013's Uncanny X-Men #6-7, when Magik and the X-Men fight off an attempt by the powerful Dormammu and his hordes of Mindless Ones to take over Limbo. Magik is ultimately forced to, in her words, "end Limbo" by mystically drawing the dimension into herself and eventually remaking it.

She has a dark, demonic half

You could argue all of us have a so-called "dark half," but in the case of Magik, her dark side manifests as a literally separate, destructive being. She's had different names, like Darksoul and Darkchylde, but whatever you call it, Illyana's dark self gets closer to the surface the more Illyana uses her magic. When she summons her Soulsword, for example, usually a magical armor will appear along with it — and the percentage of her body covered by the armor grows steadily as she uses more power. If she wields enough sorcery, she manifests other devil-like physical attributes like horns sprouting from her forehead and cloven hooves replacing her feet.

In spite of its power, the Darkchylde often proves to not only be Magik's greatest weakness but something her enemies can use against her friends. Characters such as the god-like Beyonder and the Asgardian sorceress Enchantress have managed to either force the Darkchylde to the surface to use against Magik's allies or — in the case of Enchantress in 1985's New Mutants Special Edition #1 — physically separate Darkchylde from Illyana to remove any and all tempering goodness from the mightier demon half.  

Magik has a unique weapon

It isn't until 1984's Magik #4 that we get to see the very first time Illyana creates her famous Soulsword as part of a spell she casts to gain vengeance for the death of her friend, the Limbo duplicate of Storm. However, publication-wise, the Soulsword first appears in 1983's Uncanny X-Men #171, when Illyana panics as she remembers her experiences in Limbo. Kitty Pryde, aka Shadowcat, calms her down, but not before Magik cuts Kitty's cheek — something that shocks Kitty because she was using her phasing power to become intangible at the time. 

The Soulsword has since been a staple of Magik's, and she's rarely seen in battle without it. The sword boosts her mystic might and wielding it usually summons a powerful accompanying armor. For the most part, the Soulsword damages creatures of mystic origin, though non-mystical, intangible characters — such as the aforementioned Kitty Pryde when she's using her phasing power — have also been affected with the blade. Unlike a more physical weapon like Thor's Mjolnir, Magik carries the weapon within herself. At first only Illyana and Shadowcat could use the blade, but over the years, characters like Nightcrawler and the sorceress Jimaine have managed to briefly wield it. 

The outward appearance of the Soulsword is always changing. When it first appears, the Soulsword doesn't look particularly unique. But in more recent years, the sword has grown in size until its massive girth looks more like what you'd expect Cloud to be swinging in Final Fantasy 7

She was the victim of a mutant-killing virus

For close to a decade, the mutant-killing Legacy Virus rampaged through Marvel's mutant population. Most of the more well-known victims to die from the virus were villains like Mastermind and Pyro, but the first hero to succumb to the illness was Illyana Rasputin. 

Having been reverted to the age of six at the end of 1989's New Mutants #73, Magik is still a little girl when she grows ill. Attempts are made to cure her, but nothing bears fruit. With Jubilee by her bedside, Illyana's life slips away in the emotional issue of 1993's Uncanny X-Men #303. In the wake of her death, Colossus briefly leaves the X-Men and joins forces with Magneto, and the ironclad hero eventually sacrifices himself to eradicate the virus that killed his sister in 2001's Uncanny X-Men #390. Of course, both Illyana and her brother eventually return to the land of the living, though in the case of Illyana, it's thanks in part to her old enemy and teacher, Belasco. 

She made war on the Avengers

Hostilities break out between two of Marvel's most beloved teams in 2012's line-wide event and accompanying mini-series Avengers vs. X-Men. The feud is all over the impending return of the destructive Phoenix Force. In an attempt to stop the entity, the Avengers inadvertently disperse it between five mutants — Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus, and Magik — who become known as the Phoenix Five. At first, the Five seem to want to use their new god-like powers only to help the world, but eventually, their newfound might corrupts them. 

Magik and Colossus work hand-in-hand as part of the Phoenix Five, both before and after they turn their attention to destroying the Avengers. Unsurprisingly, considering her darker leanings, Magik proves just a bit more committed to their course. In Avengers vs. X-Men #7 she tries, but thankfully fails, to murder Scarlet Witch. Two issues later, both she and her brother lose their power after beating Spider-Man nearly to death. At first, they begin arguing because Magik is annoyed at her brother's hesitance toward killing Spidey. And that's when Peter Parker uses the opportunity to provoke them both. As a result, Magik and Colossus strike each other, each driving the Phoenix Force out of the other.

After the event, which eventually includes the murder of Professor X at Cyclops' hands, Illyana doesn't seem particularly remorseful over her involvement. She joins Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Magneto in their fugitive team of X-Men.  

Magik is one of Marvel's LGBTQ+ heroes

For a long time, the question of Magik's sexuality has been up in the air. She rarely if ever has shown interest in romance, leaving some fans to theorize she might be asexual. Apparently, writer Jonathan Hickman was intent on answering the question of Illyana's sexual preference. When the Marvel's X-books were revived in 2019, it included a revival of New Mutants. And in 2020's New Mutants #5, Illyana proves — like fellow Marvel hero Deadpool — to be pansexual.

As the New Mutants confront the Shi'ar Death Commandos, Magik takes on three of them — the Skrull Flaw, the insectoid Offset, and the female humanoid Hypernova — all on her own, but before fighting them, she asks each one of them whether or not they want to make out with her. They all refuse, though Hypernova admits the offer is tempting. Once they turn her down, Magik says, "Gotta say, bad call. Because it was @#$& or fight, and you have chosen poorly." 

Once they refuse her advances, she seems pleased as they each confirm they're not human, presumably because their deaths at her hands wouldn't break the law of the new mutant nation of Krakoa that states Krakoan citizens can't kill humans. So yeah, it seems that new Magik is both sexy and more than a little scary.