RUSTY COLLINS: Page 3 of 3

Publication Date: 20th Dec 2023
Written By: Monolith.
Image Work: sixhoursoflucy.


Though they didn't get their interview, the re-capture of Rusty and Skids did make the news networks, and drew the attention of the Mutant Liberation Front. The terrorist organization broke into the prison hospital ward where Rusty and Skids were being kept in order to instigate a jail-break. Rusty had been drugged to keep him from using his pyrokinesis, and when he tried to get out of bed to face the MLF, government soldiers shot him in the back. With Rusty out of commission, Skids made the decision for the both of them to leave with the MLF in order to escape custody and get medical treatment for Rusty's wounds. [New Mutants (1st series) #87] The two originally served in the Mutant Liberation Front willingly, if reluctantly, perhaps out of gratitude to Stryfe for freeing them, or merely because they felt they had nowhere else to go. [New Mutants (1st series) #100]

Before long, however, Stryfe subjected them to a brainwashing procedure that involved surgically and telepathically altering their very brain tissue, leaving Rusty and Skids positively frothing at the mouth with pro-mutant fanaticism and dedication to the MLF's terrorist goals. [Cable: Blood and Metal #1-2]

Eventually, their former friends caught up with them as a large posse of X-Men, X-Force and X-Factor members assaulted the MLF's main American base in Dust Bowl, Arkansas. Rusty and Skids were personally taken down by their old teammates, Cannonball and Boom-Boom. [X-Cutioner's Song crossover] 

As with most of the MLF, they were turned over to Val Cooper of X-Factor and remanded into government custody for crimes including grand theft, terrorism and murder. Naturally, once the brainwashing was uncovered by government psychiatrists, the pair were deemed unfit to stand trial. Once word got out that these alleged mutant terrorists would not being executed for their crimes but were instead being transferred to "a private facility for care and treatment" (secretly, Xavier's School),  the anti-mutant organization known as the Friends of Humanity vigorously spoke out against the decision. Action followed words, and an extremist cell of the FoH attacked the Vault transport carrying Rusty and Skids to Westchester, taking the young mutants hostage. They were rescued by X-Force, but were still suffering the effects of the brainwashing, and so were less than grateful. [X-Force (1st series) #24]

Cable had recently returned to X-Force, but was unable to disable the neural tissue implants modulating Skids and Rusty's behavior patterns. Before X-Force could decide what to do with their incapacitated friends, though, they were approached by Exodus, the new herald of Magneto, who offered the former New Mutants a place at his master's side. Cannonball accepted the offer to see Magneto's new base of operations, but only if they brought Skids and Rusty along as well. This was most fortunate for the duo, as Magneto was easily able to use his magnetic powers to manipulate the iron in the blood flowing through their brains, destroying Stryfe's implanted tissues and restoring their free will. Having had enough running and fighting to last a lifetime, Rusty and Skids chose to remain with Magneto aboard his new space station, Avalon, retiring from the problems that had plagued them for so long on Earth. Even when their old teacher Jean Grey and a strike team of X-Men arrived on Avalon and ultimately rendered Magneto a vegetable, Rusty and Skids would not leave their new home among the Acolytes. [Fatal Attractions crossover]

Still, Rusty shied away from the confrontational missions on which the Acolytes occasionally were sent, preferring to remain in space with Skids, living in relative peace. Shortly after time and space were torn asunder by Professor Xavier's son Legion, Rusty participated in one of the more passive Acolyte expeditions: investigating a mysterious chunk of crystal that materialized in rough orbit around the space station. A quick application of Rusty's heat-generating power revealed a still-living being trapped inside the crystal. Exodus, leader of the Acolytes in Magneto's absence, insisted they bring the anomalous being on board for study and reflection. [X-Men: Prime (1st series) one-shot]

This was the latest in a long line of irrational moves Exodus had made since assuming command of the Acolytes, and Rusty and Skids began to seriously question their decision to stay on Avalon. Their discussion was interrupted by the projected form of Scanner, who relayed a message from Exodus that the Acolyte standing watch over the creature was suddenly unreachable, and Exodus wanted Rusty to check on the situation. In the medi-lab, Rusty found no trace of Milan, and soon learned why -- the entity was actually the dimension-tossed Horseman of Apocalypse known as Holocaust, who had used his life energy absorbing powers to revitalize himself and utterly disintegrate Milan.  As Holocaust turned his attentions on his next victim, Rusty barely had the chance to call out an alert to Scanner before he too was consumed by the Horseman's power, and reduced to ash. [X-Men (2nd series) #42]

Being incinerated did not prevent Rusty (or other similar victims) from being resurrected years later. Selene, the Black Queen, had a servant named Eli Bard who acquired the techno-organic virus, and used it to reanimate the forms of many dead mutants. These mutants were nearly indestructible thanks to their techno-organic reconstruction powers, and were forcibly loyal to Selene. Rusty was among numerous mutant zombies who attacked the X-Men's island base of Utopia on Selene's command. Some of these mutants reportedly survived unscathed after Selene's defeat, but the majority of them (including Rusty) returned to the grave. [X-Force (3rd series) #21-22]

In time, another form of mutant resurrection emerged on the island nation of Krakoa. Xavier and Magneto led the mutants of Earth in forming their own country, using a circuit of five mutants to bring about the resurrection of any fallen mutant. Rusty Collins was brought back by Hope Summers and this Resurrection Five. [X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #62]

He was later seen at the Green Lagoon, the watering hole and congregation point for the people of Krakoa. [Bishop: War College #1] It has yet to be determined whether Rusty will reunite with Skids or any of his other former friends and allies.