New Mutants : Truth or Death #2

Issue Date: 
December 1997
Story Title: 
Family Matters

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: 

Younger and older New Mutants compare notes when Illyana returns, her brother Mikhail in tow, who intends to save her from her fate. Knowing him to be a villain, the older New Mutants are suspicious and put it to a vote. It’s a tie, with Karma unable to decide, and the older Mutants intend to attack Mikhail. Of course, the younger team is horrified at their older counterparts’ willingness to leave Illyana to her fate and battle breaks out. The more experienced older mutants are slowly winning, despite the danger Illyana poses, until Karma switches sides, possessing her own teammates, as she’d rather help save a family than see another one destroyed. She puts her teammates to sleep and the New Mutants follow Mikhail, who announces that they have much to do. Only young Wolfsbane remains doubtful.

Full Summary: 

The younger New Mutants and their older counterparts still stare at each other in surprise before comparing notes.

Young Dani learns that she’s going to be an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D agent some day. Young Wolfsbane sniffs disapprovingly at her older self, who explains that she’s wearing perfume. The boys love it. It’s the devil’s odor, the younger Rahne protests. Young Robeto asks how his older self can still be solar-charged when the sun is down. A little Askani trick Cable taught him. Young Roberto doesn’t understand one word.

Amara compares notes with the older Karma. So she didn’t die like her friends assumed? Somberly, Shan tells her that, when she was a prisoner of the Shadow King, she was dead in many ways. Young Sam learns that his older self has become a full-fledged X-Man. Happily, he flies up and lands in the ceiling. Could somebody help him? he asks embarrassed; he’s stuck. Just as young Roberto mocks him, he’s in for a sight, as his older self suddenly flies up to get Sam down.

Sam makes fun of Dani; after all, he will become an X-Man. Amara impatiently tells them to stop their bickering, reminding them of Illyana’s situation. They have to do something about that. Perhaps that thing, she points to Douglock, can tell them something. Douglock introduces himself as a member of the Phalanx. Warlock agrees but adds that he has never seen a member of his species so advanced. Why is he wearing Doug’s face? Douglock doesn’t know what to say. He could tell them the truth. That Cypher is going to die defending his friend, Wolfsbane, and that he has assumed his face as a gesture of respect. He thinks of another way of expressing himself than words and suggests Warlock and Doug link with him, so he can show them. Why he? Doug asks suspiciously. Older Rahne intervenes, making up an excuse of wanting to show Doug the new Shi’ar computers.

The younger Rahne notices her older self being quite chummy with Doug and wonders if this is some kind of foreshadowing. The two Danis agrees that the young New Mutants should be heading home. If only they can find Illyana… Call of the search party, Magik announces, as she teleports in with a companion. She and her brother Mikhail are right there. And she’s not going anywhere! Dani and Sam are weirded out: not only is Mikhail one of the sickest foes the X-Men ever faced. Isn’t he supposed to be dead?

Mikhail notices the fear of the mutant and suggests maybe he and Illyana shouldn’t include them in their endeavor. Illyana asks him to chill. Those aren’t just her best friends; they are as much her family as he and Piotr. Surely family means as much to him as to her? More than she can imagine, he tells her, as he hugs her and asks her to introduce him to her new family.

The older New Mutants are troubled watching the youngsters fawn over Mikhail, whom they’ve only heard of as a Cosmonaut hero. Sam reminds Dani – unnecessarily - that Mikhail drowned the Morlocks, created Gene Nation and probably teleported himself here through the use of his reality-warping powers. Question is why.

Mikhail tells the younger mutant that he isn’t a hero, just a humble farm boy - a servant of the state, lucky enough to be given the chance to walk among the stars. Though now he questions his meager achievements, wondering if little Illyana might yet live, had he been here to watch over her. Like she and Piotr, he too possesses astounding abilities. Powers that make the matter in his hands as malleable as clay. Powers, he recently realized, could perhaps save their sister.

The present was too late; he had to somehow reach her in the past. So, he took an insane chance, by hurtling his consciousness into the vortex of time. His gambit paid off. He offers his hand, asking if they will help hi …their sister. The older mutants look suspicious and undecided and Douglock announces an “commercial break.”

The six put their heads together. Do they or do they not work alongside a total psycho and mess with history just to save a friend’s life, Dani asks. She votes ‘no.’ Rahne feels differently. Death scares her. She hates thinking of what happens to Illyana’s soul in the afterlife and she feels guilty for not having been a better friend to her. She votes “yes.” Sam protests: Helping Mikhail is like selling their souls to the devil. They should have heard about he ungodly things Storm told him about this freak and the dimension he was rapped in. So he votes “no.” Roberto admits that Illyana freaked him out at first, but eventually he overcame his fear. Call it a lingering guilty conscience for not having been open-minded. He votes “yes”.

Breaking the tie is up to Karma. Among the New Mutants, none understands the crippling loss of a sibling as well as her. It is a pain she long endured when her siblings were missing, presumed dead. She doesn’t know how to decide. Douglock announces that he doesn’t expect to be asked, but he is deterring some strange psionic reverberations emanating from Mikhail. He’s getting antsy. Sounds like he has something to hide, Dani decides. So they’ll attack on three…

They get ready for battle and Mikhail, panicked, tells his sister that they mustn’t stop them.
Summoning her Soulsword and gazing at the others coldly, Illyana announces that they can’t and her friends join the battle.

Younger Cannonball flies at the older one, asking how they could allow a friend to die. Older Sam understands but it’s not simple. He repels his younger version with a power stunt the other doesn’t yet know - a forcefield - as he states that everything happens for a reason. As he looks after where his younger self blasted out of the house, he wonders how none of them remember that happening. The younger Sunspot grabs him from behind, angry at the way he treated his best friend.

Younger Mirage attacks her older self with a psychic fear image of their Demon Bear, announcing that they are not getting near Illyana. Unimpressed, Moonstar manifests her psychic arrows and hits her younger self with them.

Older Wolfsbane and Sunspot consider how to reason with Magma, who has small volcanoes sprouting up everywhere. Amara haughtily informs them that she won’t reason with the likes of them. In her time, the two of them and Illyana are far less than friends. If their actions that day are any indication, they are likely responsible for her death. She hits Sunspot with a lava blast.

Wolfsbane leaps at her, assuring her she’s wrong. Illyana was a casualty of a plague called the Legacy Virus that’s now killing Rahne’s own mother. She knocks Amara out with a vase. She appeals to her younger self and Cypher, wanting to tell them the truth about Mikhail. Doug tells the young Rahne to ignore her future version. Obviously they are nothing alike. After all, what inhumane monster would let their friends die without trying to protect her? Cypher’s caustic word cut the elder Wolfsbane so deep that her younger counterpart’s senses can alsost smell the blood being drawn from her future self’s heart and it gives her pause. Surely that can’t be the reaction of a monster.

Karma and Douglock are left facing Illyana, Warlock and Mikhail. So, only some of them are allowed to come back from the dead, Illyana caustically asks Shan. And they get to decide who? Wrong! Coldly, she orders Warlock to keep the “Vietnamese hypocrite” from laying a finger on her brother. Warlock envelopes Mikhail, while assuring him he won’t affect him with the Techno-organic virus. Mikhail silently observes that Karma seems to be a reluctant warrior. Perhaps he can use that.

Karma remarks that she was gone when Illyana returned from Limbo but, surely, she has learned of her power. She attempts to possess Illyana. Angrily, the Russian girl orders her to get out of her head. Shan finds her resistance staggering and her mind foul and full of evil. Still, she tries to control Magik. As a result, the demons in Illyana spill into her conjuring images of her siblings, Leong and Nga. Overwrought with pain and guilt, Shan collapses.

Witnessing this, Douglock announces that, in the short time he’s known Kitty Pryde, he’s found her a decent judge of character. But, seeing the way Illyana’s treating her teammates for her own selfish desires, he can’t believe Kitty was stupid enough to call Illyana friend. He attacks her with techno-organic tentacles, which Illyana fends off with her Soulword, while shouting at him to shut up. Let’s see how selfish he gets when faced with his own mortality. Before she can stab him with her Soulsword, a psychic arrow, courtesy of Moonstar, makes Illyana drop her sword and she tells the New Mutants to leave.

No, Karma suddenly announces, as she tries to possess Dani. What is she doing, Dani asks, surprised. The right thing, Shan replies. She failed her twin brother, Tran. She failed her younger siblings. She won’t allow another family to be destroyed by her actions. This time, she’s saving one. Dani tries to focus and sends a Psi-arrow at Shan but, surprisingly, Karma manages to instinctively throw up a psychic shield, something she has never been able to do before. She wonders if she is now manifesting greater telepathic abilities as Xavier once predicted she might be able to. But why now?

Young Sunspot is still trying to take out the older Cannonball but, since it’s night, he is starting to lose strength and Sam’s blastfield holds. He extends it outwards and Roberto collapses. Sam flies inside to find his teammates possessed by Karma. She reminds him that he knows what it’s like to lose family. His father died senselessly in a Kentucky coalmine. Wouldn’t he have sacrificed anything to save him? That’s what Mikhail is trying to do. And she will help him. On her command, Sunspot takes out Cannonball.

Illyana and Mikhail commend her and she brushes both of them off coldly. She orders their teammates to sleep and, as Mikhail transports them away, a surprising childlike wave of optimism washes over Illyana Rasputin. He’s her big brother. There’s no thing in the whole wide universe he can’t or won’t do to save her from her fate.

As he touches her cheek, she bursts out that everything’s going to be wonderful. They’ll find Piotr and then they can all go back to their parents in Siberia. He can do that, can’t he? Of course, he assures her. All will be as he makes it. He tells the others to follow him. Much is to be done and time is not in their side. Only young Wolfsbane remains a little behind. She is still doubtful and she fears that she’s the only on left to do the right thing.

Characters Involved: 

present characters
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

past characters

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

Psychic images of the Demon Bear and Leong and Nga Coy Manh

Story Notes: 

From Magma’s remark of Karma being believed dead, the storyline most likely takes place between New Mutants (1st series) #25 and 26, even though the kids behave more like they did during the later Claremont run. During that time [New Mutants 7-31], Xi’an was actually a captive of the Shadow King.

Dani worked undercover for SHIELD.

Cypher died saving Wolfsbane’s life in New Mutants (1st series) #60.

Mikhail has quite a checkered past. Among other things, he drowned most of the surviving Morlocks [Uncanny X-Men #293] and empressed the survivors to create the Gene National terrorists in a twisted, Darwinist alternate universe [Storm Limited series #1-4].

Mikhail tried to reach Magik in the past last issue.

Karma remarks that she was gone when Illyana returned from Limbo. That’s wrong, as Illyana returned from Limbo in Uncanny X-Men #160, at a point when the New Mutants weren’t even formed yet.

Karma’s siblings, Leong and Nga, were abducted in New Mutants (1st series) #46 and were long missing. She was able to free them in the Beast limited series, however not before the children were twisted in body and soul by the villainess, Viper.

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

Illyana’s Soulsword is seen to have a physical effect on people (e.g. when she attacks Douglock), something that shouldn’t be happening until shortly before the Inferno crossover.

Karma’s twin brother, Tran, died in Marvel Team-Up (1st series) #100.

Kara was able to make the people at the airport see Douglock as human last issue.

Issue Information: 
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