BIOGRAPHY - Page 1
Born on the Ust-Ordynski Collective farm in Lake Baikal, Siberia, to Nikolai and Alexandra, Illyana was the youngest of three siblings. However, she never got to know her older brother Mikhail, a cosmonaut, as at the time of her birth he was already believed dead. Actually, the State had staged his death in a space launch, so it could better explore Mikhail’s newly discovered mutant powers and, at the same time, shield him from outside influences. Illyana grew up unaware of any of this and she formed a close bond with her more than ten years older brother Piotr, who nicknamed her “little snowflake.“ [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #285-286]
In the following years, Piotr found out that he was a mutant as well, with the ability to turn into "organic steel." He used this power rarely on the family‘s farm. One day, however, he spotted a runaway tractor racing towards Illyana, who was playing in the fields.
Transforming into his steel-form, Piotr grabbed Illyana. However, he couldn't get out of the way in time, so Piotr simply stood still and let the tractor hit him. It crumbled before his strength. Professor Charles Xavier, who had come seeking Piotr, witnessed this incident and asked Piotr to join his new team of X-Men. [Giant Size X-Men #1]
When Arcade was held hostage by Dr. Doom, his associate Miss Locke captured the X-Men's loved ones in order to force them into rescuing her boss. Colossus' sister Illyana was among the ones taken. The X-Men did as told and encountered Dr. Doom, though secretly a few reserve members entered Murderworld, trying to free the hostages. Both groups were successful. Happily reunited with her older brother, Illyana was granted permission to stay in the States. Xavier wanted to test the girl for mutant powers and the perpetually homesick Colossus was happy to have a member of his family around. Xavier telepathically taught his X-Men Russian, so that they could communicate with the girl and Kitty would often tell her bedtime stories. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #145-146, 148, 153]
Illyana was also with the X-Men when the team was forced to move their headquarter to a strange, alien city on a island in the Bermuda Triangle (their home had been attacked recently), but the location proved to be a bad choice. The demon sorcerer Belasco lured Illyana into a temple, which through randomly appearing “teleportation circles” - stepping disks - was somehow connected to his other-dimensional realm and prison Limbo, a place where the rules of time and space did not apply. There, Belasco promised the hapless girl a glorious future. The X-Men followed and encountered a second set of X-Men from another reality. These counterparts were much older, at least the ones still alive. The Nightcrawler counterpart was currently serving Belasco, while an elder Storm, who had learned magics, was opposing him. The team learned that, in the other X-Men’s reality, they had managed to free their Illyana, but were forced to stay behind in Limbo. For this set of X-Men, the reverse was to occur. They were able to get Illyana back and the old Storm cast a spell to bring them back home, but in the last instant Belasco grabbed the child again, while the X-Men were spirited away back to their island. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #160]
Belasco brought the little girl to an altar, where he used a piece of Illyana’s soul to create a bloodstone out of it. The stone was placed in a medallion, which had places for five of them. His intention was to create five bloodstones over time, by corrupting Illyana step by step. In this way, he would be consecrating her to evil and making her the instrument of the Elder Gods – his masters’ return to Earth. After creating the first bloodstone, Belasco left her alone, at which point she was taken in by the old Storm and the other X-Men’s Kitty. This other Kitty had begun calling herself Cat, because of having been transformed into a half-feline. Storm thought it best to teach Illyana white magic, to prepare her for another confrontation with the demon and to enable her to rein in the evil that Belasco had planted within her. Cat, who despised magic, protested and thought Storm was making a big mistake, essentially doing Belasco’s dirty work for him. In her garden, Ororo tutored Illyana about life, white magic and creation for about a year. However, being old, her energies were weakening. In addition, Illyana realized that not only was there a stain of evil in herself, there was an even bigger taint within Ororo, which made her distrustful of the woman.
One night, Cat returned and took Illyana with her, trying to return her home. When they got in a fight, Illyana fell through one of the stepping disks floating around Limbo and landed near S’ym, another demon servant of Belasco. He made fun of the girl, threatened and tortured her, until Kitty arrived to help the girl. Phasing through Limbo’s walls, they arrived in a desert which they had to cross to reach Belasco’s citadel, from where Cat wanted to send Illyana home. While walking through the desert, Cat trained the little girl in fighting and survival skills, and after two long years they finally arrived. Kitty tried to phase both of them through the dimensions but they were misled by one of Belasco’s illusions. Belasco bound Cat to his will, transforming her into an even more catlike creature, and took in the little girl as his pupil, making her create a second bloodstone herself.
In Belasco’s palace, Illyana was trained in black magic for years but, even though she learned creation spells, she was not able to create anything untainted, the way the older Ororo could. One day, while she was thinking of a way to get out, Illyana’s mutant ability to control Limbo’s stepping disks manifested. Practicing this newfound ability, Illyana ran into the New Mutants, who years later would be sent there by her older self. She also witnessed a battle in the past between Belasco and the young magician Storm, who defeated and attempted to kill her captor, only to become like him in turn. Returning to the present, Illyana found the old Storm fighting Belasco for a second time over her. Illyana tried to help the old woman but she was kept busy fighting Cat, whom she had to kill by breaking her neck. She was too late, however, as Cat had already dealt Ororo a mortal wound. As she realized that Belasco wanted to make the third bloodstone out of the dying woman’s soul, Illyana mercy-killed her, before Belasco could begin the ritual.
Belasco was furious with her and Illyana fled with her stepping discs, suddenly finding herself in front of her parents’ home in Russia. Happily, she realized that she could use Limbo’s teleportation circles to teleport her out of Limbo. Her happiness quickly turned sour when she greeted her parents, who didn’t recognize the teenager in the feral outfit – as far as they were concerned, their daughter was a six-year-old living in the USA. They harshly told her to go away and, as Illyana broke down, she was taken back to Limbo by the corpses of the older X-Men under Belasco’s control. Belasco created the third stone, again of Illyana’s soul, and exiled her without any powers to Ororo’s garden, where a harsh winter was beginning.
Alone in the winter cold of Storm’s garden, Illyana practiced her magical skills, but she failed time and again in copying Storm’s creation spell. At last, Illyana realized that she failed in it, because she was not Storm and had other motives, namely revenge. Modifying the spell, she created a weapon out of a tiny part of her soul – the Soulsword.
With this powerful weapon, Illyana battled and defeated Belasco. However, right before delivering the killing stroke, she remembered the past battle of the young Storm she had witnessed. Illyana, now considered Limbo’s ruler, let the demon go and called up a stepping disk that could breach the dimensional wall and bring her back to Earth. She emerged in the middle of the X-Men, for whom only seconds had passed, but Illyana was now seven years older than the little girl they remembered. [Magik #1-4]
Trying to cope with what had happened to her, Illyana told nobody about her experiences in Limbo. She kept her abilities, both mutant and magical, hidden from Xavier, the X-Men and the new team, the New Mutants, none of whom wanted to put her under pressure. Xavier noted, though, that she had an unusually strong protection against telepathy that was unlikely to be natural. Being roommates, she forged a special relationship with Kitty, who was now about the same age as her. During a session in the Danger Room, Illyana volunteered to program the session. Whether deliberately or not, she called up holograms of Belasco, S’ym and Limbo. As Kitty asked what she was thinking, Illyana went from a trance into a murderous rage and manifested her Soulsword, managing to injure Kitty with it, even though the other girl was phasing. Illyana broke down afterwards, telling Kitty that she remembered what had happened to her. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #171]
On the night of her fourteenth birthday, S’ym appeared in the mansion, sent by Belasco to retrieve Illyana. To buy herself time, Illyana teleported the New Mutants through Limbo (this is the scene that Illyana witnessed years earlier) back into the house to help her fight the demon. Even though the New Mutants did their best, in the end it was Illyana who defeated S’ym using her Soulsword. With a forgetting spell, she made sure that her sorcery remained secret, although she admitted being a mutant with teleportation capabilities, meaning that from that point on she studied with the New Mutants. [New Mutants (1st series) #14]
When the X-Men were away and Kitty Pryde had been kidnapped by the White Queen, Illyana had to reveal that she was a sorceress to the New Mutants. This earned her the distrust of several of her teammates, especially the extremely religious Wolfsbane. Using a scrying spell, she had learned of Kitty’s fate and the group attempted a rescue mission, but they were tricked by the White Queen. She had the mutants attacked by her own team, the Hellions, and invaded the New Mutants’ minds. Only in the last instant Illyana - whose mind was closed to telepaths - was able to teleport herself and Mirage away to Limbo. There Danielle learned what a nightmare Illyana’s childhood must have been and Illyana realized that she would always have to teleport via Limbo, since the stepping disks she controlled were part of that dimension. After having a rest, they tried to go back to the Massachusetts Academy, but Illyana’s control over the stepping disks wasn’t very accurate and they emerged over a year in the future, where they saw their former friends as loyal Hellions. In a second attempt, Illyana got it almost right as they materialized a few days after their teammates‘ capture. Daring the Hellions for a duel over their friends, a fight started, which soon was interrupted by the White Queen. In the confusion, Kitty was able to cause the training room to malfunction; while everyone was getting to safety, Illyana teleported the whole group back to Salem Center. [New Mutants (1st series) #15-17]
At a time when several members of the team were absent, the X-Men found themselves fighting against the Dire Wraiths, an alien race with magical abilities. Hopelessly outnumbered, Professor Xavier sent Illyana to aid them. Up until now, she had kept her skills as both mutant and sorceress secret from her brother, fearing his reaction, but hiding was no longer possible. Once the villains were defeated, Illyana confessed to Piotr what she had experienced in Limbo and, naturally, he comforted her and promised to be there for her. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #188]