Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #286

Issue Date: 
March 1992
Story Title: 
Close Call!

Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio (Story/Art), Art Thibert (Finishes), Scott Lobdell (Scripting), Task Force X (Lettering), Joe Rosas (Coloring), Bob Harras (Editing), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

Colossus is in disbelief that his brother is alive, but quickly learns that his eyes do not deceive him. The X-Men tell Mikhail that he needs to close the portal with his powers but Mikhail refuses to and recants the tale of how he first arrived on this world and, after a brutal confrontation, he defeated his enemy with his powers, but killed all of the thousands present, including his beloved wife. Colossus is angered that Mikhail refuses to help, leaving the rest of the team in a jam. Archangel is mind-controlled by the Avatar to serve her army and, the next day, he leads the Triumvirate against the rebels and X-Men. Jean is able to snap Archangel free from the spell, just as Iceman and Sunfire reunite with the team. Colossus is injured by the Triumvirate and Mikhail attacks. The void grows bigger and jettisons the Avatar into the sky. Colossus and the X-Men finally convince Mikhail to use his powers and, with the aid, he is able to close the portal without killing anyone. He returns the X-Men and himself to Earth with the aid of Sunfire, Iceman and Jean.

Full Summary: 

Colossus and Jean Grey can say that they have seen it all. They have witnessed the fall of civilizations and the rebirth of a universe. However, nothing could prepare Colossus for the sight before him countless dimensions from the world he knows as home. Colossus looks at his brother in disbelief. Storm looks at Colonel Mikhail Rasputin and asks him how this is possible. Mikhail tells Storm that there will be times for explanations later. Right now, he wants his eyes to feast on the sight denied to me for such a long time. In the first time for years, he is in the presence of his little brother. Truthfully, he gave up hope of a reunion a long time ago.

Colossus lunges at his brother and picks him up into the air by his shirt collar, asking in anger if his brother really has returned from the dead. Mikhail tells him that he has yet to leave life, though if Colossus down not let him go then this may indeed be his end. Colossus puts his brother down and, while the two talk, Primate and two guards enter the room. One of the guards, Sri, sees the two brothers and asks if they are truly blessed by two saviors. They could be twice cursed, responds Primate. Primate tells both brothers, still not knowing which one is the real savior, that they do not have the luxury of waiting for the two men to reacquaint.

After being led to the source of the problems, Mikhail tells Colossus that their reunion is ill-timed. He looks at the void and realizes that it is growing bigger by the moment. It will only be a matter of time before Earth is pulled in and both worlds are destroyed. Primate tells Mikhail that he speaks as if there is nothing that can be done. Surely he has the sacred power to close the portal. Mikhail tells Storm that he cannot do it. Storm tells Mikhail that, if Primate is correct, then he has the power to save them all. Mikhail admits that he has the power to close the void. It is not a question of his abilities. He takes Storm’s hand and hangs his head in shame, for he refuses to close the void. Worried, Colossus tells his brother that when he was mistaken as the savior, he felt the admiration the people had for him. They depend on Mikhail and believe in him. Mikhail asks his brother that, if he does not believe in himself, what then?

Mikhail recounts his tale of how he arrived on this new world. He was the premiere Russian cosmonaut, but he was also a mutant. To keep his existence safe, his death was faked during a space launch. That way, his service to his people could continue without him being encumbered by his past. His first assignment was to explore the void on Sakhalin Island. The government believed that his energy warping powers would safely deliver him and his companions to their destination on the other side. The rigor of space travel did not compare to what he and the others went through in the void. They crash-landed on the other world and he survived, though some days he wishes that he had not.

His appearance was not ignored. He was pulled out of the wreck of his shuttle by the Worldly Avatar of the Triumvirate. Weeks later, he regained consciousness. He at once fell in love with the eldest daughter of the Avatar, Tra-Mai-A-Zath. Her lover healed all his wounds, both heart and soul. They later married, though something still bothered him; thoughts of the world he left behind. As a member of the royal family, he had access to the void where he discovered hundreds of vehicles in a graveyard. Submarines, commercial airliners and even a turn of the century sailing boats surrounded the void. All the vehicles were stripped of their parts and left. How it was that he was the only one to survive? Mikhail discovered otherwise. Upon seeing the corpses, Mikhail realized that his crewmembers must have woken up before him. There was a struggle before they were murdered. The Avatar did not even fake ignorance. Mikhail was but one of his many playthings over the years that had come out of the portal. Or so he believed.

Mikhail fled the castle that night and gathered two countrymen who were disgruntled with the Avatar’s dictatorship. Ironic isn’t it, that the son of Russia would be fighting for democracy? His rebel scientists deduced that the Avatar’s power came from the void and, if the portal would be closed, it had to be done with an energy that paralleled the void’s energy. It was decided that Mikhail would act as the counter force. He was able to seal the portal, but at a cost. The power released by the closing of the portal killed everyone present, both rebels and loyalists; no one was spared, not the Avatar or even his wife, whom he never stopped loving. Alone he stood, the savior among a sea of dead people. Mikhail tells Colossus that, no matter how innocent he was, he had wrought too much carnage. Colossus tells his brother that there was no way he could have known what would happen and that he cannot blame himself. Mikhail asks Colossus who else he can blame.

In a nearby village, Triumvirate troops destroy all the buildings in sight, in search of information about the missing X-Men. A woman tells one of the attackers that they told them all that they know. One of the attackers tells the women that their Protector-General told them of his alien companions and they want to know where to find them. From behind, Iceman asks Sunfire if the large man is referring to them. The attackers harassing the women ask the two men where their loyalties lie. Iceman tells the man that he is a Mets fan and then asks Sunfire what his choice is. Sunfire tells Iceman not to drag him into his attempts at lightening the situation. One of the attackers whips out two swords and prepares to kill Iceman and Sunfire. Iceman yawns and asks Sunfire if he would like the honors. Sunfire declines and tells Iceman that this situation is more suited towards Iceman’s grandstanding. Iceman cannot help but agree.

Moments later, Iceman encases the three attackers in ice. One of the women tells him that he has her gratitude and asks if there is anything she can do for him. Iceman smiles at the flirtatious woman and tells him that he has a list around here somewhere. Annoyed, Sunfire says Iceman’s name. Disappointed, Iceman weakly asks for directions to the rebel camp. Equally disappointed, the woman tells Iceman that, if that is his wish, then she will show them.

On Earth, the Blackbird flies over the ever-expanding void. Forge tells Xavier that it looks like the end of the world. Xavier tells him that isn’t the thinking they need right now and they are in luck that the portal hasn’t reached any populated areas yet. Xavier looks at a few monitors of worldwide news reports and tells Forge that black holes are opening up around the world, though much smaller at the moment. Forge looks at his own monitors and tells him that his sources think that things are looking bleak. On one screen, S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Fury tells Forge that his people have no clue what to say, other than to confirm what Dr. Pym has already thought of. On another screen, Hank Pym of the Avengers tells Forge that the portals share the same point of origin. On yet another screen, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four tells Forge that it may be hours before they can figure out a solution. Xavier tells Forge that they do not have hours and that maybe they should have entered the maw with the rest of his students. Forge tells Xavier to have some faith, for the X-Men are trained to take whatever the world dishes at them and more.

Back on the other world, Mikhail finishes explaining that the portal may burn itself out. Colossus tells Mikhail that they may not be sure that it will burn out. Mikhail asks his brother if he would rather have him destroy all these people trying to close the portal. The force needed to close the portal will be released, but redoubled! Colossus asks if there is another way but Mikhail calls him a dreamer. Annoyed, Colossus tells him that he will always be a dreamer if the alternative is cowardice. Mikhail tells his brother that they are far from the Ust-Ordynski Collective. It is time Colossus learns that some problems cannot be solved with poems and paintings. Jean starts to interrupt but Colossus cuts her off and tells his brother that at least he does not seek to escape his responsibilities on a rocket ship or drown in his own self-pity.

Mikhail tells his brother that the dead will walk beside him everyday and that he will never be absolved of his sins. If Colossus cannot understand that, then maybe he should have stayed on the farm. Colossus turns into his steel form and tells Mikhail not to speak down to him. He is no longer the boy Mikhail left behind. He smashes some rocks and asks Mikhail if he wishes to speak of suffering and pain. Until one is an X-Man, that person will never understand those words. He struggles for a cause greater than him and, though it shames him, he has killed before. The only difference between them is that Mikhail has given up. Colossus walks away and Jean tells Mikhail that she has never seen Colossus so angry. That is because, says Mikhail, he has never let him down before.

Storm descends from the sky and tells Mikhail that, after his death, Colossus canonized him as he wished. He did not have the truth in his face. Mikhail asks if the truth is that Colossus realized that his brother is a failure. Storm tells him that she shall not condemn him and neither should he. When Colossus first joined the X-Men, he was the most innocent out of them all. He tried to see the world though the eyes of the most courageous man he had ever known, a man not content to dream about the stars but to see them. Mikhail walks away and Jean telepathically asks Storm if she should stop him. Out loud, Storm tells Jean that Mikhail can run as fast and far as he would like, but there is nothing that can distance him from the truth he has learned today.

In the fortress of the Avatar, Archangel leads his troop in a training exercise. Archangel flies through an exercise room and easily defeats the other men. The X-Man tells them that, if they cannot be a single man, then they have no hope against an army. A man jumps Archangel from behind, causing him to call out the name of his friend, Hank McCoy. The attacker asks his lord what a Hank is but Archangel tells him not to question him. To himself, Archangel wonders why it is so hard to think. As soon as Archangel loses his concentration, his wings take over and he becomes stoic once again. With ease, he kills all the troops in the room, without second thought. Warren snaps out of it and sees what has happened, but the Priestess-Avatar enters the room and tells him not to worry. The woman tells Archangel that it is fitting that an alien shall defeat the man responsible for the death of her family.

Archangel tells her that there has been enough death. To herself, the Avatar thinks that she must touch Warren, for only physical contact will allow her to assume full command over his senses. She touches Warren’s chest and asks him to repeat himself. Warren holds the woman in his arms and tells her that he will personally bring her the head of the betrayer. The Avatar puts her hands to Warren’s face and he tells her that, this time tomorrow, the Triumvirate will once again control the portal. The Avatar tells him that she loves his enthusiasm but the dawn is a long way off. The two then begin to kiss.

Elsewhere, Colossus sits on a rock and tells Storm that though he likes to believe that his home of Russia is changing; in truth it is crumbling, much like his memories of his brother. He does not know what to believe in anymore. Storm holds her friend and tells him to believe in themselves.

Dawn arises and the Avatar speaks to her army, telling them that, before they leave for battle, they should remember those fallen. They were her parents, whose kindness was betrayed. Her sister, who married the alien traitor, also was killed. Today, they will honor those lives. The Avatar orders her troops to leave and they do, following the mighty Archangel to the rebel camp.

Less than an hour later, the rebels are ambushed nearby their camp by many Triumvirate guards, hiding in the bushes and thicket. A woman leaps out and quickly kills one of the rebels with her gun and tells all the others to die, for they stand no chance against the chosen ones of the Avatar. A woman tells the attacker that that is the reason the rebels have brought friends. Jean, Storm and Colossus, who carries a log, race to help their companions. Storm tells Jean to be cautious, for they must remember that their primary goal is to seal the portal. Colossus agrees but points out that they must fight without him, Mikhail is his brother and any enemy of his brother is his enemy. Colossus uses the log as a ram against an oncoming onslaught of soldiers, whose bones break and skin tear as they are hit.

Storm electrocutes another attacker and tells the others that, now that she has gained better control of the weather in this new world, maybe her lightening will be enough to close the portal, which means they won’t need Mikhail. Jean thinks to herself that Storm is a brave woman. They all know that they don’t stand a chance without Mikhail’s energy warping powers. Jean uses her telekinesis to knock an attacker down, covering Storm’s back. Archangel attacks Jean from behind and asks her who is covering her. Jean is shocked to see Warren attacking her and instinctively hits him with a psychic attack when he hits her. The Avatar arrives on the scene and tells her troops that the reports must be false, for surely no true messiah would watch his own people get slaughtered. Hiding nearby, Mikhail realizes that the Avatar is trying to draw him out but he won’t do that, as long as he is so near to the portal. He is more of a threat than the Avatar’s swords and axes combined.

Nearby, Jean talks to the confused Archangel and tells him to fight the spell for a few more minutes. Sunfire attacks Warren from behind with his powers and tells Iceman that he is down. Worried, Iceman tells Sunfire that he has almost sautéed Archangel. When the two reach their comrades, Iceman asks Sunfire if he does things like that deliberately to remind people he is an arrogant hot head. Taken back, Sunfire explains that showing off wasn’t his intention. Weakly, Archangel looks at Iceman and asks if that is really him.

The Avatar sees that Archangel is free from her control and tells her soldiers to attack all the aliens, including Archangel. The men shoot an energy beam straight at Iceman but, at the last second, the X-Men known as Colossus rushes and jumps between the blast and Iceman. He is rewarded with pain. Mikhail runs out of the thicket with two swords and calls out to his brother. He leaps towards the Avatar and tells her that he brings destruction today, not salvation. If she has killed his brother, then he can die in peace. He picks up the Avatar by her throat but she surprisingly blasts him with a psychic blast, asking him if he really thought that mutants were only born on Earth.

Avatar goes in for the kill but suddenly the ground begins to shake and she is flung into the sky. In horror, Mikhail realizes that the void is growing. The Triumvirate guards decide to flee, if this is truly the end of their world. Primate tells her troops that, if this is the end, then they shall go out fighting. The Triumvirate guards are surprised that the rebels wish to fight and call them fools.

Mikhail rushes to Colossus, who is being tended by Jean. Jean tells him that Colossus will be all right, but soon he will be killed by the void. Unless he closes, says Mikhail. The man gets up and turns away and tells Jean to look at the size and intensity of the portal. If he closes it now, the energy released will destroy both worlds. Jean tells him that, if he doesn’t, both worlds are gone. Colossus wakes up and tells his brother weakly to try something.

Mikhail turns around and tells the X-Men that he can try, but not alone. Sunfire and Iceman join Mikhail and volunteer themselves to aid Mikhail. Mikhail finds it ironic that a Japanese man and an American man would aid a Russian. Iceman looks at Mikhail strangely and realizes that he has been away for a while. Storm tells the rebels and Triumvirate guards to cease the hostilities and to run. Primate agrees and tells her troops to give the savior some space.

Mikhail and the X-Men stand atop the crater, with Sunfire and Iceman at Mikhail’s side. Mikhail tells Sunfire that his atomic energy will open a window to Earth in which they can return. Iceman needs to cool down the surrounding areas to keep the heat from ballooning and killing everyone. Mikhail then begins to use his energy warping powers to close the void. The energy of a thousand stars is used. As the energy cascades, Storm orders Jean to raise a telekinesis bubble around them. Mikhail tells himself to push harder, for his brother is counting on him.

An instant later, a large plateau appears where Sakhalin Island once was on Earth. Xavier begins to scan the plateau and Forge asks if the X-Men are alive. On the plateau, Colossus coughs and regains consciousness. He goes over to his unmoving brother, steam coming from his body. Colossus realizes that he is not breathing and begins to resuscitate him via the Heimlich maneuver. Colossus demands that his brother breathe. There is much for him to do. He hasn’t even met their sister!

Mikhail coughs and wakes up, asking if they truly have a sister. Colossus holds up his brother, as the remaining X-Men find them. Colossus tells him that their sister’s name is Illyana and, if he wants to know how old she is, it depends on whom he asks. Mikhail tells him that he does not understand. Colossus tells him that it gets complicated. Jean tells Mikhail, with a smile, that the last psychic readings she got from his people indicate that the destructive energy is gone. They are alive. “Tell me, kavon--” asks Mikhail, “--do you and your friends do this every day?”

Characters Involved: 

Archangel, Colossus, Iceman, Jean, Professor Xavier, Storm (X-Men)

Mikhail Rasputin, Sunfire (X-Men allies)


Various rebels

Avatar II

Various Triumvirate guards

Hank Pym (Avengers)

Nick Fury (S.H.I.E.L.D.)

Reed Richards (Fantastic Four)

Village women

Mikhail’s Story:

Avatar I


Mikhail Rasputin

Mikhail’s companions

Story Notes: 

Colossus explained the details of his brother's “death” in X-Men (1st Series) #99.

Though he states that the Avatar killed his companions, Mikhail later explains in Uncanny X-Men #373-373 that it was his fault for not saving his friends, as his energy warping powers did not protect them and they were all killed in the void.

Issue Information: 

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