Publication Date: 12th Feb 2021
Written By: Monolith.
Image Work: Douglas Mangum.

Biography -- Page 1

Idie Okonkwo was a fourteen-year old Igbo girl living in the Oyo State of Nigeria when she became one of the first new mutants to manifest after the events of M-Day. The spell cast by the Scarlet Witch causing the Decimation was resisted by the Phoenix Force initiating the birth of a mutant "messiah" named Hope Summers. Through Hope's birth and (thanks to a bit of time travel) her teenaged manifestation of powers in less than a year, Idie and other young people began showing up as new "Lights" on the X-Men's mutant detection system, Cerebra, hence their nickname.

Idie grew up in a poor Nigerian village, tutored by Christian missionaries to have a strong devotion to Catholicism. She thought it was the Devil's work when she started setting fires in her village, and others agreed. Idie was labeled a witch child and, when her parents resisted, they were apparently killed by the mob. Most of the village was evacuated and the local militia prepared to kill Idie in the church where she sought refuge. Feeling cursed and suicidal, Idie was greeted by the arrival of Hope and the X-Men's Ororo of Kenya and Wakanda. They warded off the militia and allowed Hope to touch Idie, stabilizing her new powers as she did with all the Lights. Hope and Ororo tried to convince Idie she was not the Devil, and offered her a new life away from the horrors of her past. Idie came to see Hope as her own personal savior, and so she went with them. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #528]

Even with Hope's encouragement, however, Idie still saw herself (and all mutants) as monsters. She felt she was now a sinner, destined to live among other sinners. When the Fifth Light, Kenji, got caught up in his powers and started a rampage through Tokyo, Idie felt justified in her beliefs. Despite her self-hatred, Idie proved cool under fire and effective in combat scenarios. She and the other newly-recruited Lights (Laurie, Gabriel and Teon) helped Hope carry out a battle plan and reach Kenji, touching him so his control over his mind and powers was restored. The Lights returned to the X-Men on Utopia, where Hope received authority from Cyclops to lead her team on missions to recruit other new mutants who manifested. [Generation Hope #1-5]

Idie and the others instinctively followed Hope wherever she led, but her time among the X-Men did little to raise Idie's spirits. She saw herself as a reluctant creature of Hell, damned for the sin of being born a mutant. When it came time to choose codenames, Idie rejected the title of "The Girl Who Wouldn't Burn" foisted on her by her village, for she knew she would burn in the next life if not in this one. Instead she adopted the name Oya, an elemental goddess native to her region, for she no longer felt worthy of her Catholic beliefs. Hope showed some awareness of Idie's problems and asked Professor Xavier to possibly speak to Idie about being a mutant. However, Idie's quiet, resigned nature made her inner struggles easier to overlook, given the day-to-day chaos of mutant life on Utopia. [Generation Hope #6-9]

Idie's struggles came to the attention of Wolverine, of all people. Logan saw himself as the X-Men's protector, doing dirty jobs to keep the others clean and safe. He thought kids like Idie should be playing with dolls instead of worrying about combat training. When Idie called herself a monster, Cyclops blamed humans for not accepting her; Wolverine blamed the X-Men for not correcting her. After a mutant named Kid Omega directed a psychic attack on the United Nations, it kicked off an international Sentinel arms race. Idie didn't understand why the humans couldn't be allowed to protect themselves, so Laurie brought her to the opening of the Museum of Mutant History to learn about the legacy of fear and persecution between mutants and Sentinels.

During the opening, the Hellfire Club attacked the exhibit. The X-Men were disabled and most of the younger students fled, but Idie was trapped inside the building with the attackers. Through the Stepford Cuckoos, Idie telepathically called for help, leading Cyclops and Wolverine to begin racing towards the museum. However, the Hellfire Club were prepared to detonate a bomb to kill the unconscious X-Men and the civilian hostages. Idie didn't know what to do. Still telepathically linked, Wolverine told her to stay quiet and safe until he got there. Quietly, Cyclops told Idie they were not going to make it in time, and she should do what she felt she had to do. Learning about mutant history did nothing to convince Idie she wasn't a monster. But now she understood that monsters should fight other monsters. And so she stepped out from her hiding place and killed a dozen men. She reasoned she was a monster with combat training, so of course this was what was expected of her. As an X-Man.

This event shattered the relationship between Cyclops and Wolverine. When a Hellfire Sentinel came for Utopia and Cyclops put Idie and the young mutants in the firing line again, he and Logan actually came to blows over it. The Sentinel was defeated, but afterwards Wolverine was determined to give the younger generation an education and a childhood again. He planned to return to Westchester and recreate the mansion as the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. Although Cyclops and Wolverine were adamantly opposed to one another at this point, one thing they agreed on was Idie needing to be somewhere else. It was Hope who put up the biggest fight, insisting that her role as the mutant messiah required her to keep the Lights close. Laurie ultimately convinced Hope to let Idie go, though. Whatever the long-term destiny of the Lights was for the mutant race, in the short term being part of a combat unit was doing Idie irreparable mental harm. [Schism crossover]

At the Jean Grey School, Idie got to be a kid again, thriving in an educational (if eclectic) environment. Idie enjoyed not having to be in a position to kill again, but the X-Men struggled to shake her of her resignation to being a Hell-damned monster. She made friends and even weathered crushes from the comically dissimilar suitors Broo and Kid Omega. Idie seemed better socialized while working with her fellow students, and even developed a love for ice cream. When Hope's grand destiny as a host for the Phoenix Force was coming to pass, she came to visit Idie and they caught up. Idie seemed happy, and Hope became content that she had made the right decision letting her go. [Wolverine and the X-Men (1st series) #1-15]

However, Idie had been targeted by Kade Kilgore and his prepubescent Hellfire Club. In part of his grand scheme to dismantle the Jean Grey School and punish Wolverine for defying him, Kilgore and his associate Maximilian von Frankenstein created a robot pastor to influence Idie. Seeking a church to worship at in Salem Center near the school, Idie was drawn in by the pastor's rhetoric reinforcing her beliefs that she was a monster going to Hell for being a mutant. What Hope and others saw as improvement in Idie's behavior had merely been increasing acceptance over what she saw as her inevitable fate as a sinner. The night of the school dance, Idie let herself go, having fun dancing and kissing Quentin. At the same time, though, a suspicious Broo encountered Pastor Hail in Salem Center, before being shot in the head by Kade Kilgore himself. [Wolverine and the X-Men (1st series) #18]

Idie blamed herself for her lack of penitence, believing the comatose Broo's fate was a direct consequence of her forgetting, even for a moment, that she was a monster. She watched over Broo and questioned Pastor Hail how her friend came to be shot in his church. Kilgore and the Hellfire Club had made a tactical error, for now Idie was much less interested in Pastor Hail's sermons until she could solve the mystery of Broo's shooting. Idie had killed before, after all, and now she felt reason to do so again. When Frankenstein's Monster came to town with his Murder Circus looking for Hellfire's young von Frankenstein, he had a witch in his employ. Idie remembered being branded a witch by the faithful in her village, and enjoyed the opportunity to vent her fury on a target who deserved to die as much as she did. [Wolverine and the X-Men (1st series) #19-23]

Idie's vigil for Broo ended when the young Brood awakened, but regressed to a feral, carnivorous state. During a training mission to the Savage Land, Idie and Broo were separated from the other students. Despite Wolverine having given her a Bible that once belonged to Nightcrawler as a motivator, Idie considered just staying in the Savage Land, with the dinosaurs and other monsters where she belonged, away from the temptation to kill anyone who didn't deserve it. Still, she and the other trainees eventually began acting as a unit, working together to escape their circumstances. [Wolverine and the X-Men (1st series) #24-28]

Regardless of her sheltered upbringing, Idie was an observant girl and hardly naive. Idie discovered the body of Pastor Hail with an axe through its head, revealing the robot for what it was. When Glob Herman defected to the Hellfire Academy, Idie realized the Hellfire Club was behind her woes and trying to manipulate her. She also reasoned that someone from the Club was likely responsible for shooting Broo. Still believing herself to be a monster whose only value was killing other monsters, Idie decided to infiltrate the Hellfire Academy and find the shooter. Contrary to her plans, however, Broo ended up at the Academy, as did Quentin Quire who thought Idie was on a suicide mission and wanted to stop her. [Wolverine and the X-Men (1st series) #29-30]

As a Hellion in training, Idie dealt with the likes of Mystique and Sabretooth as her instructors while trying to locate her target. She was forced to allow Quentin to suffer in "detention" when his efforts threatened to undermine hers. She also committed murder in furtherance of her training as a new super-villain. Luckily for Idie, the pubescent Black King of the Hellfire Club, Kade Kilgore, developed a crush on her. He brought Idie to his office and tried to get her to agree to be his Black Queen (and his girlfriend). Idie got Kade to admit he was the one who shot Broo, and she prepared to take her revenge on him. Idie was a monster and a villain and a murderer, but Kade was worse and he deserved to die. In the last moment, however, she saw Quentin Quire and Toad fighting for what they loved over Kade's view screens. Oya chose to reject the Hellfire philosophy and left to save people she cared for rather than kill people she hated. Idie and Quentin declared their feelings for each other as the X-Men invaded the Hellfire Academy looking for them. The remaining Hellions and instructors were defeated, Broo's mind was restored and Oya returned to the Jean Grey School with her boyfriend and best friend in tow. [Wolverine and the X-Men (1st series) #31-35]

Idie and Quentin began dating after that, becoming the most popular couple in the school. Idie opened up more, bonding with her best friend Broo and the rest of the student body. She defended the school from outsiders without resorting to murder. Graduation ceremonies were held at the end of the school year, and Hope came to visit. She congratulated Idie on how far she had come, and the two of them were happily reunited. [Wolverine and the X-Men (1st series) #38-42]