New Mutants : Truth or Death #1

Issue Date: 
November 1997
Story Title: 
Truth or <strike>Dare</strike> Death

Ben Raab (writer), Bernard Chang (pencils), Mark Pennington (inks), RS & Comicraft’s Liz Agraphiotis (letterer), Tom Vincent (colorist), Jaye Gardner (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Based on orignal characters created by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod

Brief Description: 

Some years in the past, during a Danger Room session, a hooded stranger appears to Magik, warning her of a horrible fate. After a talk, Kitty Pryde suggests to the frightened Illyana that she teleport into the future to find out herself. Illyana manipulates the other New Mutants into a bet, where they teleport a few years into the future. In the present, the original five New Mutants, along with stowaway Douglock, are having a class reunion, when they run into their younger versions from the past. Douglock blurts out that Illyana is supposed to be dead. Horrified, she teleports to Limbo, where the stranger shows up again. Revealing himself to be her eldest brother, Mikhail, he promises to help her avert her fate.

Full Summary: 

Some years ago:

The New Mutants – Cannonball, Magik, Magma, Mirage, Sunspot, Wolfsbane and Warlock - find themselves in a tight spot, as they step out of one of Magik’s energy teleportation circles. They find themselves surrounded by leering demons. Her Soulsword blazing in her hand and with a wicked smile on her face, Illyana Rasputin rather dramatically – and redundantly – informs them that this is the nightmare she called home for seven agonizing years. This is… Limbo. Try not to get yourselves killed, she adds.

Flying up, Cannonball exclaims this looks like something out of a Stephen King novel. More like the pit of Hades from Dante’s Inferno, Wolfsbane whines. Sunspot exclaims that there must be hundreds of them. Ever the leader, Mirage tries to calm the others and reminds them to remember their training. Everybody should be fine then. Or so she hopes, Magik mocks. Dani thought her Demon Bear was tough? These guys eat monster like that for breakfast!

Well, they’re the next generation of X-Men, Cannonball boasts, as he blasts through several demons. That means they kick butt. Who says he’s X-Men material, Dani mocks, as she tries a judo move on another monster. Wolfsbane asks her not to joke at a time like this. If Reverend Craig could see her now, he’d likely damn her soul to hell with the demons. Tuning into her transitional form, she attacks the unimpressed demons. Sunspot advises her not to let the demons ride her. Does she hear fear in his voice, Amara asks. Surely someone as macho as he has nothing to fear from these shadow creatures. Her lava blasts are fairly successful against her foe. Warlock hurries to Sunspot’s side helping him.

Illyana admits to herself that she is impressed by her teammates’ prowess. But there’s still one demon unaccounted for. The huge purple brute named S’ym shows up that very moment and challenges her to see who deserves leadership of Limbo and who gets to die. Illyana kicks him in the eye and flips over him, announcing he can have Limbo if he wants it that badly. She never asked to become a “demon sorceress” or a mutant teleporter. And she never asked to sacrifice her childhood to become the ruler of some stupid mystical netherworld. She’s taking her life back, she announces, as she stabs S’ym with her Soulsword. And now that she has it, nobody’s ever going to take it away from her again!

Fate ignores the wishes of the young, the voice of a stranger suddenly announces, as a tall hooded shape appears before her. Who is he, Illyana demands. Someone who cares for her very much, the stranger assures her. Someone who wants to help her circumvent the inescapable hand of fate. Illyana reaches out for the stranger. Something about him seems familiar and she feel like she can trust him. Then she must come to him, the man tells her. But how, she asks. And where is he? When the time is right, she will know, he announces ominously before disappearing. Illyana collapses.

Dani is the first one to notice and runs to her friend’s side. She shouts up to Kitty to terminate the program and, an instant later, the demons disappear. “Limbo” was nothing but a Danger Room simulation. In the observation booth, Kitty Pryde and Doug Ramsey jump up, worried about their friend’s fate. Kitty grabs Cypher’s hand and phases them both down to find that Illyana is getting up. She remembers seeing someone and then collapsing. Manifesting her Soulsword and threatening Doug and Kitty with it, she angrily asks which of them programmed that weird guy into the simulation. Doug and Kitty look at each other helplessly, having no idea what Illyana is talking about.

Illyana turns pensive. The mystery stranger’s ominous words have awoken fears in her. Cannonball touches her shoulder, suggesting she get down to the infirmary. Hands off, she curtly tells him, unless he wants them sliced off. Then they’ll see who truly needs the Infirmary. She teleports away and, with a sigh, Kitty Pryde tells the New Mutants to let her handle this.

Later, Kitty knocks on the door of the room she shares with Magik. Being in a poor mood, Illyana orders her to go away. Fed up, Kitty phases into the room asking if she was just talking to her or if she’s being a total jerk to all her friends. They’ve got to talk. Undeterred by Illyana’s moodiness, Kitty insists they talk about what’s bothering her. Illyana admits that she feels like someone has stepped on her grave. Is it the guy she saw, the one supposedly from the future? Illyana agrees, revealing that she’s afraid of something terrible happening to her.

Kitty gives her a hug and assures her nothing will happen while she is around. Thinking a moment, Kitty asks Illyana why she doesn’t use her power to find out and put her mind at ease? Oh, and if she does go to the future, can she see if Kitty and her hunky brother ever get hitched? With a giggle, Illyana tells her to get out. She decides that Kitty is right and, if she is going to teleport into the future and try to change her fate, she’ll need all the friends she’s got.

That night, as an unexpected storm passes over Salem Center, a blackout occurs. They’re going to miss the season premier of Magnum P.I., Roberto announces, horrified. Now maybe they can do something intelligent for once, Dani replies. Anybody got any ideas? Sam asks. Illyana suggests “Truth or Dare.”

After a quick search for candles the mutants gather in a circle. Warlock chooses “truth” and Dani asks him who the real leader of the team is: Sam or her? For the sake of his health, Warlock answers Dani, much to Sam’s chagrin. The game continues with some questions being amusing, others being personal. Rahne reluctantly chooses “truth” and Illyana asks her if there’s anyone in the circle she wants to kiss right now. She really meant to say “dare,” Rahne stutters. Amara and Doug tells her not to be a spoilsport.

Roberto interrupts, telling them if Rahne doesn’t want to play the witch’s silly game, she shouldn’t have to. Turning to Illyana, he asks if she can accept as well as dish out. Why doesn’t she accept a “dare?” Unimpressed, she tells him to give her one. Roberto considers and dares her to face fate and see herself in the future. Illyana accepts, on the condition that they all come with her. Roberto is unwilling, but Rahne announces that she shouldn’t have to face that alone.

With a gesture, Magik’s stepping disc descends upon the mutants, removing them from one specific point in time and space to another. At least that’s what it’s supposed to do. However, they find they are still in the living room. Looks like they’re nowhere near the future, Amara states. Then who the heck are those kids? Dani asks, pointing at a picture of Generation X.

Meanwhile, at LaGuardia Airport, a reunion is long overdue, as four young people are waiting for a flight from Glasgow. Sam Guthrie, Roberto DaCosta, Dani Moonstar and Xi’an Coy Manh, former New Mutants, all are waiting for Rahne Sinclair to join them at their class reunion.

Rahne finally shows up in the crowd of people, causing Sam to admit that Rahne sure has changed over the years. She looks awesome. He wonders if she still has a crush on him and moves to hug her. Rahne’s first greeting is for her best friend, Dani, though.

As the five start reminiscing, a most unexpected guest joins them. Doesn’t he get a hug, too, Douglock asks. Rahne tells him he shouldn’t be here. He’s causing a scene. Shan tells her not to worry She has possessed the people in the immediate vicinity, so that they see nothing more than a normal boy.

Douglock tells Rahne that he attached himself to the bottom of the plane. Nobody saw them until after they landed. But why did he follow her from Muir Isle? He wanted to talk to her about what happened before she left, when they kissed. She’s been thinking about it herself a lot, she agrees, but it couldn’t have come at a worse time. The others have no idea what’s going on, let alone who Douglock is and Rahne explains in the car that Douglock is a former member of the Phalanx, who assumed Warlock’s and Cypher’s forms as a gesture of honor and respect. Poor Rahne, Dani thinks. She has enough trouble with her foster mother Moira MacTaggert being sick. She doesn’t need an alien boyfriend now. They arrive at the Xavier Institute.

Inside, the younger Sam observes that one of the girls in the Generation X picture looks a lot like his baby sister, Paige. Could this really be the future? Acting like a lovesick puppy, Rahne tells him how observant he is. Dani tells both of them to stop flirting. Someone’s coming. Doug asks Warlock to kill the light. Taking the order to be literal, Warclok smashes the light switch.

Outside the older mutants wonder why the lights upstairs suddenly went out. They thought the X-Men would let them have the mansion to themselves for the weekend. An intruder?

Switching to her transitional form Wolfsbane leads the way upstairs, smelling a familiar, foul smell. The kids are hiding behind the couch and are so far undiscovered. However, the younger Rahne has had enough. She isn’t going to hide from herself. She jumps up, exclaiming that she surrenders. They should really go home now, she tells the others, who reveal themselves as well.

Dumbfounded, the older Rahne returns to her human form, unable to believe what she sees. Carefully, she touches Doug’s face, asking if that’s really him. Shouldn’t it be? he asks nervously. The other former New Mutants rush in and Sam asks who conjured up all those holograms of them in their old uniforms. No holograms, Illyana announces, seemingly challenging him. And she’s the one responsible for the little temporal paradox. Is that a problem?

The former New Mutants stutter, not sure what to tell her. No problem here, Sam finally stammers. Douglock alone blurts out. Hey, aren’t you Kitty’s friend? The one who died? The New Mutants look at Illyana, shocked. Torrents of uncontrollable emotion welling up inside her, threatening to cascade over her façade of indifference, Magik teleports away, refusing to show her friends even the slightest weakness.

Yet, despite her bravado, the last thing Illyana wants right now is to be alone. She wishes for someone to hold her and tell her everything’s going to be all right. Someone who loves her.

The stranger who appeared to her before is suddenly standing in front of her, explaining that her brother once told him “the future is but a black canvas upon which we paint the portrait of our destiny.” Though he is not nearly as adept an artist as Piotr, he states, calling her “little snowflake,” he believes he can create a portrait more to her liking.

How does he know that nickname, she wonders. The only people who call her that are her parents, her brother Piotr and – Her eldest brother Mikhail, the stranger continues, as he removes his hood, revealing himself as Mikhail Rasputin.

Characters Involved: 


Cannonball (present X-Man and former New Mutant)

Karma (former New Mutant)

Moonstar (undercover agent of SHIELD and former New Mutant)

Douglock Wolfsbane (members of Excalibur and former New Mutants)

Sunspot (member of X-Force and former New Mutant)

Mikhail Rasputin


Cannonball, Cypher, Magik, Magma, Mirage, Sunspot, Warlock Wolfsbane (all New Mutants)


picture within the mansion

Chamber, Husk, Jubilee, M, Skin, Synch (all Generation X)

Story Notes: 

From Magma’s remark next issue about Karma being believed dead, the storyline in the past most likely takes place between New Mutants # 25 and 26, even though the kids behave more like they did during the later Claremont run.

For Illyana’s adventures during her captivity in Limbo, read Uncanny X-Men #160 and the first Magik limited series.

While Wolfsbane may be pious, but it nevertheless seems unlikely that a 13-year-old has read Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.

Reverend Craig is the stern, loveless Presbyterian preacher who raised Rahne and was secretly her biological father.

The New Mutants fought Dani’s Demon Bear in New Mutants (1st series) #18-20.

Illyana was originally given the middle name “Natalyanovna” by the writers, until they realized that Russian middle names are patronyms and would, in her case, have to be Nikolaevna (after her father Nikolaj Rasputin). Apparently, the writers here ignore that.

Kitty is referred to as “Sprite” here but, at the time the story takes place, she’d already have taken on the name Shadowcat (or at least Ariel)

Roberto uses Spanish phrases like “Madre de Dios” in the story but, being Brazilian, he should speak Portuguese.

Douglock and Wolfsbane kissed in Excalibur (1st series) #113).

Moira MacTaggert is the sole non-mutant infected with the deadly Legacy Virus.

Actually, Douglock is really Warlock, though he isn’t aware of this at the moment.

Illyana died of the Legacy Virus in Uncanny X-Men #303.

Mikhail, mentally unstable at best, a psychopath at worst, was last seen in the Storm Limited Series.

Issue Information: 
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