Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #365

Issue Date: 
March 1999
Story Title: 
Ghost of X-Mas Past!

Steve Seagle (Writer), Chris Bachalo (Artist), Tim Townsend with Sowd (Inkers), Liquid and Monica Kubina (Colors), R.S. JG and Comicraft’s AD (Letters), Mark Powers (Editor), Bob Harras (Editor in Chief)

Brief Description: 

On Christmas Eve, Colossus is haunted by a spirit who simply tells him to “remember.” The confused Colossus relates his troubles to Storm, Nightcrawler and Shadowcat, but all three feel that Colossus is just imagining things, as he drank much coffee before bed and is just hyper. Colossus himself doubts his own eyes at times, but soon his drawings of a faceless woman disappear, only to reappear with parts of a story of an Ice Princess with a missing face. As Colossus transcends deeper into the mystery, he discovers that the ghost “harassing” him is actually his sister, Illyana, or rather a memory of her stuck in limbo. Illyana has been given a chance to have a loved one perform a task for her and she is only allowed to tell him one word. She has chosen “remember.” Colossus is able to figure out the mystery and locates an old photograph of Illyana packed away that his sister wanted him to keep close to his heart. “Illyana” moves onto the afterlife and the next morning Colossus finds out that the person writing the stories on his pictures was actually Marrow, who wanted to thank him for an earlier present.

Full Summary: 

It is the night before Christmas and all through Xavier’s mansion, not a creature is stirring. Well, that is not quite true. In his room, Piotr Rasputin sleeps in his bed peacefully. Suddenly, the candle by his open window reacts oddly to the wind. The flames extend from the wick and swirl around the air as a child-like female voice calls out the name of the armored X-Man. Piotr wakes up to see a spectacular array of lights in the room and is shocked as the poltergeist asks him to remember her. Piotr quickly armors up, as the apparition once again tells him to remember her. Colossus is confused and asks the girl if he knows her. Is she the woman from his recent drawings?

He follows the trail of ghastly light out of his room, as it goes down the hallway. He calls for the ghost to wait, as he has not seen her face. How is he to remember her? How is he to complete her image on his new portrait if she won’t reveal herself? Colossus follows the lights to the attic and is astounded to find that he is now in a black and white drawing of the attic! The voice tells Piotr to remember him one last time as he turns around.

Colossus turns around and finds the attic back to normal. However, Storm is now with him and tells him that she heard noises from her bedroom and thought raccoons had snuck in, until she realized that they would have to weigh several hundred pounds to make such loud thuds. Then she thought there was an intruder. Colossus informs Storm that a ghost is loose in the mansion and she led him there. Storm is confused and Colossus explains that he was drawing a portrait of a woman before bed. She then woke him and told him to remember her and she led him to the attic. She even magically transformed the attic.

Storm, however, dismissed Colossus’ wild story as a nightmare. Colossus reverts back to flesh and tells Storm that he knows the ghost is real. Storm, however, reasons with Piotr and tells him that there is no shame in sleepwalking. She often has strange dreams as well. Annoyed, Piotr tells Storm again that the ghost was real and he will show her.

Moments later, the two return to Piotr’s room, where they find his portrait missing, replaced by a doodle of a monster. Ororo jokes and tells Piotr that his ghost is frightening and she knows why he is concerned. Piotr is astonished and tells Ororo that someone stole his portrait. She must believe him! Storm tells Piotr that she believes he saw something. She also remembers him drinking a double espresso from the Salem Center Coffee Bean not even an hour before he went to bed. He should remember that his mind and body are intertwined and he should treat himself healthily. She then retires back to her room and tells Piotr to call him back if his ghost returns.

Colossus sits alone at his drawing board and wonders if his imagination is running wild. Perhaps it is stress from returning to the mansion. He could be haunted by the ghosts of his past. However, that does not explain his drawing of the faceless woman. He did not dream that. As Piotr begins a new sketch, he wonders how it disappeared. He then hears a smashing sound from outside.

Putting on jeans, Piotr armors up and heads outside and sees lights ahead, as well as some noise. He marches through the snow, as he knows he is not imagining things. He wonders why Storm is so eager to dismiss him after all the things they have both seen as X-Men. Suddenly, as he rounds a corner, Piotr is met by a bone claw. Wolverine asks Colossus what he is doing out this time of night. Colossus also wonders what Logan is doing out, but is reminded that Wolverine moved into the log cabin back when Colossus returned to the mansion. Colossus explains he heard noises, but learns that Wolverine is throwing a party.

The two return to the cabin to see Puck of Alpha Flight, as well as Gambit. Puck is excited to see Piotr, as he recalls Wolverine mentioning his return to the team. Then again, what does Logan know, as he mentioned that Colossus was also sleeping? Colossus greets Puck and is surprised to see him, though he learns that the man snuck past border patrol, because he forgot his identification. He wanted to see Logan before dropping into Manhattan. Puck notices that Colossus is shaken, and Colossus relates his tale of the ghost made of ice and light.

Gambit is concerned and thinks about his recent troubles with a green ghost woman, which he has been keeping secret. His ghost swore to leave the others alone if he stayed with her. Gambit asks Colossus if his ghost whirled around him like smoke, or say she loved him and that he better love her back. Colossus replies no to both, which pleases Gambit, as it isn’t his ghost harassing the Russian mutant.

As Gambit leaves the cabin, Wolverine asks Gambit why he is asking so many questions, and why he is in a hurry. Gambit replies that three’s company and four’s a crowd. He has business to attend to. Logan realizes that it is 3 a.m. and decides to trail Gambit. He invites Colossus to stay with Puck and party. Colossus tells Logan that he is going back to the mansion, so he will follow Gambit. Wolverine asks Colossus if he is sure, but the man replies that two’s company, three’s a crowd.

As he walks back to the mansion, Colossus wonders if returning back to the mansion was a mistake. Perhaps this vision is reminding him of his last stay at the mansion, when he defected to the Acolytes. Suddenly, the ghostly girl calls from Piotr’s room and asks him why he is outside. Colossus calls to his window and demands to know why she is in his room. She once again reminds Piotr that she wants to be remembered.

Colossus marches back to his room, refusing to be a victim of his insecurities. He returned to the mansion, because his heart told him to. He will not be swayed by a ghost. He wants to know what the ghost wants him to remember, immediately. Colossus returns to his room, but finds his missing drawing returned to his drawing board. However, it is altered. Written next to the picture of the woman is a story about an Ice Princess, who had lost her face. She discovered that the King of Cricket stole her face but, when she tried finding the person who told her, she found that she was actually all alone.

Colossus is confused, as the writing is not his. However, the story relates to his mystery tonight. Is he to remember some childhood folktale? It is not a story he knows, but it does suggest another image. Piotr begins to draw again for a time, when suddenly the candle blows out and the ghost returns to tell Piotr to remember her. He chases the ghost out of the room, asking what her story means. Unbeknownst to him, a mysterious figure enters the room and steals his next drawing.

Colossus follows the ghost down the stairs and asks her who she is. Is she the ice princess looking for her face? What does she want? Colossus follows her as she passes through a wall and is shocked at the sight. She is just like… Kitty? Piotr rounds the corner to where the ghost should be and finds Kitty instead. Kitty is startled by Piotr sneaking up behind her and asks him what is wrong. Piotr, not wanting to embarrass himself or alarm Kitty, tells her he was looking for… crickets. Kitty doesn’t believe him, and asks him if he was so excited that he could not sleep.

Piotr wonders what he is to be excited about. He feels like he has been asleep and is still asleep. Kitty interrupts and requests that they take their conversation to the living room as Nightcrawler is back. Piotr is confused, as it is three in the morning. Where did Kurt go? In fact, why is she still awake? Why has all the furniture been moved out of the living room?

Suddenly, Nightcrawler teleports into the room with a Christmas tree. He informs the pair that he found this tree in a dumpster as it hadn’t been sold, so he rescued it. Kurt notices Piotr’s pale face and tells him not to be afraid. Kitty and he merely decided that they could not let Christmas pass for the X-Men. Piotr is confused and asks Kitty how she can celebrate Christmas if she is Jewish. Kitty explains that she may not observe Christmas as a religious holiday, but she loves the festivities. She then switches the topic and asks Piotr what has him so scared.

Piotr relates his tale of the ghost that has plagued him this evening and how she is the faceless woman from him painting. She stole his portrait and returned it with a story of the Ice Princess on it. Nightcrawler smiles and interrupts Piotr, telling him not to drink so much coffee. Kitty adds that he should at least switch to decaf. Annoyed at the two’s disbelief, Piotr tells them that this is the second time he has been told this, so he is retiring for the night. As he leaves, Kurt wonders what they will decorate the tree with. Kitty recalls Rogue having ribbons, but the southern belle is sleeping right now. Kurt offers to teleport in her room real quick, but Kitty reminds him that his brimstone stench is a bit conspicuous. She has another idea.

Piotr walks through the hallways and wonders that, if a sane man’s peers think him insane, are not they correct then. Perhaps he is tired after all and the stress recently has gotten to him. Suddenly, Piotr hears a voice coming from behind a door and see a light shine through it. He thinks it is his ghost and swings the door open, stating that he wants the torment to end and he knows the ghost is in the room.

Sitting in his office, Professor Xavier drinks some tea and agrees with Piotr that he is there. However, he does not understand how the presence of a schoolmaster in his office should torment the young man. Xavier offers Piotr some tea, as he sees that his student is troubled. Piotr recalls the accusations of him being over-caffeinated, and refuses the offer. He informs the Professor that he is facing troubling ghosts. Xavier reveals that he is doing the same. In fact, every year around this time he makes a point about seeing his own ghosts.

Xavier shows Piotr the picture frames on his desk of… the fallen. Among the pictures are Thunderbird, Cypher and Changeling. Around this time he remembers them and reads their files. He wants to keep their spirits alive. So many students turn out like Piotr, but others he cannot reach and he cannot protect from harm. He wishes to recount their accomplishments and reminds himself of what he could do in the future to prevent such failures to ever occur again. Piotr asks Xavier if he feels that spirits can return from the grave. Xavier replies that it can happen, but not without a cost. He asks Piotr to stay, as this conversation is stimulating. Piotr declines the offer and retires back to his room.

Piotr stops by to get a banana as he heads back to his room. He thinks about the heavy weight the Professor bears as the leader. It is easy for him to forget that Xavier is a man who must deal with life’s many shocks. Suddenly, Piotr is surprised again, as he sees another page of the Ice Princess story on his drawing board.

In the story, the Ice Princess confronts the King of Crickets about her missing face, but is unable to tell him what she wants as she has no mouth. Frustrated, she turns to leave, but the King suggests he uses one of the faces in his collection so she can tell him what she wants.

Piotr begins to draw another picture of the Ice Princess and declares that he will not go to bed until he solves this mystery. Once he finishes his drawing, he demands the spirit to continue with the story. Suddenly, a voice calls his name. He turns to see the green light behind him. He armors up and demands that the spirit finish her story on his new drawing. The voice goes back into the hallway and tells him to remember. Piotr asks her whom she wants him to remember. The only person she resembles is… Yes, replies the ghost. Colossus is shocked as he realizes that the spirit may indeed be his sister, Illyana Rasputin, a.k.a Magik!

Colossus follows the spirit back to the attic. He demands to know why the spirit wants him here. Suddenly, Piotr finds that he has stepped into a teleportation ring, and finds himself back in the cartoon attic that he was in earlier in the evening. Illyana, sitting on some crates, tells him that it is all magic… or should she say… Magik? Colossus is surprised to see his sister. Illyana reveals to her brother that she thought he would never remember the teleportation disc she mystically bound to this spot. It was bad enough that he left the mansion, but it was worse that when he came back he didn’t think to contact her through the portal. Colossus argues with his “sister” that she is… dead.

Illyana knows she is dead. In fact, she is dead and stuck. That is why she came to him. It is hard for her to appear fully, but she knew she would be a lot more stable in limbo if she got him there. Colossus tells his sister he misses her. Illyana tells him that she misses him too, but she it not really here and she is no demon either. She is something like a… memory. Colossus asks “Illyana” why she has come back. Illyana is about to explain when she screams. She needs him to do something for her, but the powers in charge won’t let her tell him what it is directly. She must play by their rules. She has one chance for a loved one to complete a task for her and she can only tell that person one word. She has chosen the word “remember.”

Colossus is confused, as he remembers his sister every day. She must tell him more. Illyana tells her brother that she cannot. If she does she misses her chance to move on. It is up to him, as she cannot hold onto this place any longer. Colossus tells Illyana to show him her tormentors, as he will defeat them. Illyana, however, tells him that she doesn’t need his strength, rather his heart. This is how it works for spirits. Colossus must figure it out. Get the picture, replies Illyana, with an emphasis on the whole sentence. Colossus understands Illyana’s sly scheme and starts to rummage through some old boxes that he had shipped from Muir Isle that he never opened. He then pulls out an old picture of Illyana that he had stored away.

Illyana tells Piotr that is all she wanted. Colossus then realizes his mystery is over. It was Illyana this whole time who had been writing the stories of the Ice Princess, and it was done to make him remember this photograph. Illyana tells Piotr not to be silly. Ghosts cannot write. “Illyana” then bids farewell to her brother and moves on to the afterlife.

Colossus is still confused on who was writing the story of the Ice Princess, but he does know what the picture was missing now. He then stays up for the rest of the house and draws a new picture. As he falls back asleep, a silent figure sneaks into his room and steals the picture.

Piotr wakes up in the morning to hear someone calling his name and telling him to come downstairs already. Piotr wakes up and hurries to grab some pictures he has drawn. He meets the rest of the X-Men downstairs and tells them all that he has gifts. He drew a few pictures himself and he would like them all to choose one that best suits them. Marrow interrupts and runs up to Piotr with a package. She has something for him and, though she cannot draw, she wanted to thank him for the cool picture he drew of her shortly after his return to the mansion.

Colossus opens the package and is astounded to see that it is a picture he drew of the Ice Princess with Illyana’s face, as well as the rest of the X-Men in the background. It turns out that Marrow was the one writing the story of the Ice Princess, and the story concludes with the King of Crickets giving the Princess back her face. The Ice Princess then celebrated the return of her face and realized that having friends like family is worth more than a pretty face.

Characters Involved: 

Colossus, Gambit, Marrow, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Rogue, Shadowcat, Storm, Wolverine (X-Men)

Memory of Illyana Rasputin personified

Puck I (Alpha Flight)

Story Notes: 

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

Colossus, Shadowcat, and Nightcrawler returned to the mansion due to the events of Uncanny X-Men #360 and X-Men (2nd Series) #80.

The X-Men recently battle Alpha Flight in Uncanny X-Men #355.

Gambit’s adventures spin-off into Gambit (3rd Series) #1.

Colossus drew Marrow a picture in Uncanny X-Men #361.

Gambit’s troubles with the green ghost can be seen in Uncanny X-Men #361 and X-Men (2nd Series) #81.

Issue Information: