X-Men: Black Sun #1

Issue Date: 
November 2000
Story Title: 
First Spell: Skin the Cat!

Chris Claremont (Writer), Thomas Derenick (Penciler), Sean Parsons (Inker), Pop Visuals (Lettering), Tom Smith (Colorist), Mike Marts (Editor), Bob Harras (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

Kitty Pryde is training in the Danger Room, and receives a sub-par score against a N’Garai demon. Her shower is interrupted by a courier, and she has to sign for a package. She does not bother to open it, and falls asleep, not noticing the face of one of her deadliest foes, Belasco, rise from the package. Kitty awakes soon, to find herself confronted by one of the lesser N’Garai, and fights it off, but soon realizes that there is more than just one, and leaving the mansion, is confronted with a mountain of skulls, holding the moon up in front of her home. She is not alone however, despite the amount of corpses around her, and five other X-Men join her: Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Banshee and Sunfire. The group retreat back to the mansion, where they devise a plan to close the cairns. But the plan is actually a trap for Kitty, as the X-Men are revealed to be N’Garai and the spell enables them to truly take over the X-Men who they pretended to be. Realizing that she’s in Limbo Kitty is soon confronted by Belasco who tells her pretty much that this has been long in coming, and that for him to open the gateways to his masters, all he needs are the souls of five X-Men and is a catalyst stone, which he proceeds to pluck from Kitty’s soul. After doing so, Belasco is soon confronted by the believed to be dead Magik, who battles him into retreat, and helps Kitty. The two woman have no time for a happy reunion as they are soon confronted by another N’Garai demon.

Full Summary: 

Kitty Pryde is using the X-Men’s high-tech training facility, the Danger Room, as she is in need of a fight. She chose Grant Park in midwinter, because the deadly winds she battles while walking are like a fight anyway. She chose Christmas time, because it was the first time she fought the demon. Suddenly, the demon takes the young woman also known as Shadowcat by surprise as it springs up from the snow. The demon is one of the N’Garai, and it is faster than what she remembered. But as it holds her up against the wall, she breaks free, flipping over it, as she is faster, and far deadlier, than the last time too.

As Kitty kicks herself up and away, she phases, sliding the molecules of her own body through that of the demon’s, and she becomes as hard as the air itself t hold. To Kitty, every day has been a fight lately, every battle a matter of life and death. She thinks that because of this, it makes life all the more precious, and she has gotten very good a defending it. She pulls out of her boot a blade of polished bone, in the shape of a claw. It used to belong to her teammate, Wolverine. When they were broken off in battle, Kitty collected them, partly as keepsakes, partly as talismans, and made them her own.

Kitty aims for the N’Garai’s stomach with the claw, but skilled as she is, and as hard as she strikes, the demon pushes her back, proving to be a worthy adversary. Kitty lands across the road, hard against a car. As she pulls herself up, she thinks how stupid that attempt was, especially as she knows what she is up against – like the fact that the demon can attack her from five different ways at once! She looks at her jacket, torn to shreds almost, and tries not to think that her back may look like it also.

Shadowcat grits her teeth as the demon starts to come closer. She realizes she lost her knife, and did not bring a spare either. Kitty phases behind the car, and just in time too, as the demon rips into it, destroying it. The demon is not afraid of Kitty, and no matter what she does, run, fight or hide, the outcome will be the same to it. Suddenly, a hand reaches up through the snow covered ground, and grabs the N’Garai demon by its ankle. She reveals that she phased herself into the ground, and for a demonstration of what happens when she phases one object into another, and lets go, she pulls the demon into the ground, and within a moment it begins to scream, as it is stuck in the ground.

Kitty leaps up from out of the ground, and tells the demon to stick around as the show gets better! She tells the flailing demon that her power also disrupts electrical circuitry and that if she concentrates really hard, it can include the neural-electric net of a body’s nervous system, and the effect is transitory. She finds the claw on the ground, and with it clenched in her fist, she punches the demon in the face, and the demon falls over.

Suddenly, the large room goes blank, and the demon and the setting for the fight all disappear. The computer says that the program is complete, and Kitty asks for an evaluation. It tells her that she was evenly matched with the demon, yet during the course of the battle she sustained potentially critical injuries. The computer reminds Kitty that N’Garai claws have been known to be poisoned, and it continues saying that after incorporating all parameters of the scenario, and comparing it with past performances, the computer gives Kitty a score of 7.83. For an X-Man of her capabilities and experience, that result is sub-par.

Kitty wants to argue, but knows the computer was right. Kitty was just angry and wanted to hit something, she got what she wanted by hitting the demon, but the anger made her careless. The carelessness got her hurt – anger and hurt, they seem to be her favorite emotions lately.

A delivery van begins to drive through the entrance to the Xavier Institute. The institute or "the mansion" as it is commonly known used to be home to Kitty. Now it is just a place she lives, basically because she feels she has no where else to go.
The delivery van approaches the front of the mansion, and Kitty goes to have a shower.

She remembers how the X-Men were a family, but the team has changed so much, so fast, that the people she has known for years seem like strangers. As she looks in the mirror she thinks she has become a stranger too. She thinks it may have been the new haircut…but it seemed like a good idea at the time! She thinks it is a pity that there was no one she trusted at the time to tell her otherwise. Kitty is startled by the sound of the doorbell.

Kitty complains about how she lost her shower to the doorbell because everyone else was at the lake, and the package needed a signature. As she brings it into her bedroom she realizes she does not even know whom it is for, only that it is addressed to the school. She says that it is probably a bomb…. Once Kitty Pryde would have said that as a joke, but now the words pop off her tongue like a rant. The sound of it brings her up short, and her eyes turn towards a collage of photographs. Some of them are family, some friends, one was her best friend: Illyana Rasputin - Magik, and she loved them all. But they all have one thing in common. They are all dead. Kitty chucks the box on the floor of her bedroom, curls up on her bed and closes her eyes.

Almost instantly, which she has been able to do since she was young, Kitty falls asleep, so she does not notice the parcel beginning to glow…nor that the glow manifests the visage of someone she knows only too well…Belasco. In the realm of dreams, Kitty misses the part in which they turn to darkest nightmares….

Kitty’s eyes blink open, and she stares at the lesser N’Garai who breaks through her window. She says that it is impossible, and quickly phases through her bed, and that she will worry about how it got there later, as right now she needs to save herself. Even as she phases into her bed, the demon slices it up, reducing it to kindling. With one of her claws, Kitty lunges at the demon, knocking it out with one shot. She thinks Wolverine would be proud. She thinks she should be cheering, but all she wants to do is cry, after all, her life has changed so much since she joined the X-Men, and most girls her age should be worrying about guys and grades. As Kitty leaps out of her window and floats to the ground, she thinks that what is natural for her, is the stuff other girls see in their worst nightmares. Outside the mansion, Kitty Pryde is shocked when she sees the moon.

The moon has had chunks of it taken out, and broke, it seems to rest upon a mountain of skulls. Kitty sees bodies everywhere, and figures that there must have been a battle, but refuses to believe it. She looks at the moon, with the sickly mist spilling around it, and her rational mind provides an assessment that her heart refuses to believe. Kitty’s mind races through the list of the X-Men’s foes whom have played tricks on them using perception and senses in the past. There is no moment that she stops and thinks it is all real, that acknowledgment would be more than anyone could bear…yet the air is laced with the acrid stench of blood and battle, together with sounds that tell her it is not quite over….

Kitty is shocked when she sees two of her closest friends, Nightcrawler and Colossus. She runs over to them, where the are battling a horde of N’Garai. She’s amazed at how they are still alive, but Kurt tells her that they won’t be for long if the N’Garai get their way. Colossus adds that the harder the fight, they more they have to face. Kitty asks her friends where the other X-Men are, to which Colossus tells her that there probably is none, and tells her to look around, referring to the skeletons everywhere.

Kitty refuses to believe any of it, and swiftly moves to attack the demons, striking like one herself. When she tries to phase however, she learns that some of the demons are immune to her phasing, so to save herself she attempts to phase into the ground, where she will attack it with Wolverine’s claws. But the demon grabs her before she is safe in the ground. She quickly deducts that the demons not only have the ability to adapt to their powers, but to neutralize them also. Kitty manages to wrest free from the demon by twisting in its grasp, and hits it with her claw. As she thinks it is good that they do not need their powers to win against the demons, Nightcrawler and Colossus come to finish the job.

As the demon hits Kurt back, he warns Colossus to look out, as their blows against it have no effect. The demon pins Kitty, and bends her, she feels like her back could break. Kitty knows what will come, and knows how much it will hurt. She knows she will scream, and prays it will be over quickly. Before the demon breaks her she wonders what humanity did to deserve such an awful fate, and miraculously thinks she should have had more faith, as a lightning bolt strikes the demon, freeing Kitty from her doom. Storm has entered the fray, and cries ‘Enough!’ Kitty congratulates Storm, and Ororo Munroe tells the demon that its day is done, and that she will see no more X-Men perish. After Storm’s bold words, the heroes are attacked by a swarm of lesser flying demons. Before Storm can muster any defense, she is overwhelmed by the demons. Storm did not arrive on her own however, and Banshee and Sunfire soon arrive. Shiro tells Sean to use his sonic scream to remove the bugs off Storm’s body, while he drives the horde back with his energy blasts. The plan worked, and Storm thanks her friends, telling them she is in their debt. Banshee asks if they will survive to collect it.

The six mutants assemble, and face the mountain of skulls holding up the moon. Sunfire notes that the N’Garai are regrouping for another assault, and Colossus asks if anyone has a plan. Kitty tells her former boyfriend that they cannot stay in the open ground, as it is indefensible. She suggests they head to the mansion, and tells them they should choose direction over valor, and for a change…run for their lives!

The demons follow the six heroes who at one point in their time were all called X-Men, but the mutants are faster, and Kitty activates the mansion defenses, a mixing of forcefields and deadly weapons. Within seconds the weaponry takes a massive toll on the demons, but they demons do not seem to care, and more just keep coming.

Inside, Kitty is rather upset, and tells Nightcrawler that they don’t have much time as the weapons will run out of ammunition, and that when they do, they will have to be ready. She asks him what happened, as when she went for a nap the world seemed fine. Kurt tells her that everything happened so fast, and that none of them are quite sure. Without warning, on every continent, N’Garai cairns suddenly appeared, and opened, and from them emerged countless demons. It was then that the slaughter began. He adds that neither the military or super heroes could stop them, and that the demons are only interested in the death of the human race.

Kitty is shocked by the defeatist tone in her friend’s voice and tells him he sounds like he has given up. He tells her that there is a mountain of skulls like the one outside on every continent – Kitty cuts in and reminds him that they are X-Men, that they have fought the N’Garai before and beaten them, so there has to be a way this time too. While Colossus and Storm look on solemnly, Kurt tells her that there might be a way, for those with courage and nothing to lose.

Soon, in the Danger Room, Kitty thinks it is funny that the day started with her in the Danger Room fighting simulated demons, and now the real ones have appeared…she wonders if the events could be related. Kitty tells her friends that she has sealed every corridor and access point, and that whoever wants in without permission, is going to have to work for it! She tells them this allows them a little more time, but turns to the others for suggestions as of what to do now.

Nightcrawler tells her that one spell opened the cairns, so a counter spell should close them. Kitty looks a little anxious when she asks if he is talking about blood spells, and says that it is weird for a postulant priest to be proposing black magic. Kurt reminds Kitty that his foster mother and childhood sweetheart were both sorceresses, so he knows what he is talking about when he is talking about magic. He tells her that his Holy Mother Church no longer exists, thanks to the N’Garai, and that if they do not act quickly the remnants of humanity will quickly follow into that abyss.

Kitty suddenly remembers something, and tells everyone that she thought the N'Garai had been deposed by ‘some outfit called the Rutai?’ Storm says ‘The Rutai are nothing’, and Sunfire adds ‘The N’Garai are all’. Kitty says she stands corrected and asks where they go to from here.

Kurt tells her they construct a pentagram, which they do, and Kitty stands in the center, Kurt tells her they couldn’t do it without her, as for the spell to have true power it requires the blood of an innocent. Sarcastically Kitty remarks how lucky she is, and Banshee tells her is it a lucky world. As Kitty pricks her finger and lets her blood drip into a goblet, she agrees with him. Kurt tells Kitty that given the nature of the spell, it is only natural to feel a little uneasy, and tells her to think of it as fighting fire with fire. Kitty wants to make sure of what they are doing, and says ‘One drop of blood. No big deal. No big sacrifice. I hope.’ The goblet if passed around to the other five mutants, each of whom let one drop of blood into the cup, before it is returned to Kitty.

Shadowcat is surprised at how the cup is full to the brim and even more so that the contents are clear, and that there is not hint of blood. She hopes it is a good thing, after all, they are creating something pure to counter something evil. She thinks it makes perfect sense. Standing in the middle of the pentagram, smoke surrounds Kitty, and she thinks her head does not feel properly attached, as if she left her brains behind somewhere when she was phasing. Kitty thinks it is a good thing there is no blood in the goblet, as she would figure it all came from her, what being so spazzed at the moment. Kitty’s instincts are screaming, but she knows she has to ignore them and trust her friends, especially with the whole world at stake. She thinks she cannot afford to fail, and lifts her head back, drinking all of the blood.

The goblet drops to the ground as Kitty thinks how awful it was, but what comes next is even worse. Raw fire explodes outward from the core of her being, and it engulfs her friends. Nightcrawler told her it would be a cleansing flame, and in that sense he did not lie, as before her very eyes, it strips away all falsehoods…to reveal five N’Garai standing in the place of her friends. That is only the beginning though, as beside each demon, appears the visage of the X-Man it was impersonating. While the spirit of each X-Man is imprisoned in the petrified forms of the N’Garai, and the N’Garai themselves become free to act on Earth, in the forms of Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Banshee and Sunfire.

Kitty stands shocked and scared at what has happened. Suddenly, the once clear blood in the goblet, which is spilt on the floor, becomes dark, and from it rises the form of Belasco! He tells Kitty that she played her part to perfection. Startled, Kitty turns around to the sound of the familiar voice, and stares at the Demon Lord before her. She tells him that they will fight him, to which he replies she has already lost. He tells her that the battle is over as her world is lost – as it was from the moment they first met!

Belasco tells Kitty that from the very moment she though she escaped his realm, she had been his unwitting pawn, and that thanks to her, five bloodstones will be formed from the souls of five members of the "New X-Men" team. The bloodstones will open the mystic gateway to the world of Belasco’s masters, the Elder Gods, and those of Earth’s will perish. As the landscape around her begins to change, Kitty realizes she was not in the mansion or the Danger Room – but in Limbo!

Belasco tells Kitty that to complete the spell, a catalyst stone is required, and while once upon a time, the honor was intended for her best friend – Illyana Rasputin – that with the sorceress dead, it seems only fitting that the role goes to Kitty instead, and he plunges his fist into Kitty’s chest, as she screams, he smiles that wicked grin of his and pulls from Kitty Pryde the catalyst stone. Holding the stone in his hand, Belasco asks Kitty if she likes his new arm, as his masters gave it to him as a token of their faith after he has served them so well.
He continues saying that by the act he just committed, he provides them with a realm ripe for conquest, and he himself can take revenge upon his most hated adversaries.

Belasco tells Kitty her companions will know horror beyond comprehension as he embraces glory. Kitty lies unmoving on the ground, and he tells her that before long she will beg for death, which she will be forever denied of. He tells her that it is only fitting that after she made it all possible that she should bear witness to every act to come, and that after that, damnation will seem like Heaven.

‘In your dreams, sorcerer’ cries a voice, and Belasco spins around…and cries out ‘You?! Impossible!’ when he sees an armor-clad woman whose face is obscured by a cowl, enter through a teleportation disk. She says back that that is where he is wrong, as ‘Magik never dies!’ and Magik strides forward with the Soulsword in her hand. Belasco fights back with his sword, knocking the Soulsword out of Magik’s grip. Calling her ‘Illyana’ he tells her she has had talent, which he has never denied, but that that is only the first step to power, and asks her if she thinks the time she spent as his pupil or that of his foes makes her a worthy opponent anywhere near his equal? Magik falls to the ground, and the Demon Lord tells her she is but a child trying to run before she has even learned to crawl.

Jumping up from behind Belasco, Kitty cuts his sword with one of her claws, and tells him that last time she looked, these two „children" pretty much beat him. Kitty calls to Magik to take Belasco, but as she uses her Soulsword on him, he begins to teleport suddenly, and tells the two women that he likes it how they are defiant to the end, as it makes his victory all the more sweeter, but that he will not stay around to battle when the war is already one. He tells them to try again though…assuming either survives long enough.

Magik stands over Kitty, who had fallen back to the ground and asks her how she can stand without her soul. Kitty tells her it is probably because she is too stubborn to know when to quit, and to angry as well, especially as Belasco played her so easily, not to mention he has been doing it for years. Magik tells Kitty she couldn’t have known, to which Kitty, calling her Illyana again, tells her she is an X-Man and supposed to know better.

Magik asks her to call her "Magik" and not to talk rubbish, as even her precious Wolverine makes mistakes. Kitty tells Magik that he is not her "precious anything" any more, and what matters now is putting everything right again. Kitty tells Magik that there is a N’Garai cairn in Limbo and asks her if that has ever happened before. Magik tells her that it hasn’t, to her knowledge, and asks Kitty if she knows what it means. ‘Something bad’ is all Kitty Pryde replies.

Magik reminds Kitty that Limbo transcends all realities and interfaces with all planes of existence, that from Limbo, you can access all of time and space. She adds that if the N’Garai can conquer Limbo, then the whole of creation itself is at their mercy. Suddenly, a N’Garai demons appears before the two young women, and calling them ‘Meat’ tells them they have no mercy…

Characters Involved: 

Colossus, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, Storm (All X-Men)

Magik I

Banshee, Sunfire (Former X-Men)


N’Garai in disguise as the X-Men

N’Garai demons

In photos in Kitty’s room:

Doug Ramsey, Illyana Rasputin, Courtney Ross, Rachel Summers, (possibly) Pete Wisdom.

Story Notes: 

This story takes place sometime towards the end of the Six Month Gap.

This miniseries is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the "All New, All Different X-Men" (Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Banshee, Sunfire and Thunderbird) Additionally, other notable characters that were introduced around the same time include Dr. Moira MacTaggert and of course Amanda Sefton, while Shadowcat debuted not much later.

Magik is not Illyana Rasputin, the original bearer of the title and Soulsword, like many thought her to be. Illyana was reduced to infancy as a result of the Inferno [New Mutants (first series) #73], and subsequently died of the Legacy Virus sometime later. [Uncanny X-Men #303]. This Magik is Amanda "Daytripper" Sefton, sorceress and longtime ally of the X-Men, who had been temporarily residing in Limbo after a battle with her mother [X-Men Unlimited #19], in fact, it was actually revealed to Amanda that her destiny was to become the wielder of the Soulsword which eventually came true - [Excalibur #minus 1, X-Men Black Sun #1, #5].

A N’Garai cairn stands on the X-Mansion’s grounds and once led to a conflict between X-Men and N’Garai in X-Men (1st series) #96. Kitty fought the N’Garai Demon that was left over from that prior battle on a Christmas eve in Uncanny X-Men #143.

The conflict between N’Garai and their former slaves, the Rutai, was told in X-Men (2nd series) #75.

Considering that Kitty both had lovers and once took a life it is unclear in which way she is supposed to be more "innocent" than her fellow X-Men.

The photos on Kitty’s wall are photos of some of her best friends, all who are dead (or believed to be dead at the time). Rachel Summers got lost in the time stream in Excalibur #75, Doug "Cypher" Ramsey was slain by the Right in New Mutants (first series) #60, Courtney Ross, a former girlfriend of Captain Britain, was killed by her alternate world counterpart Satyr-9 in Excalibur #5, and of course Kitty’s best friend, Illyana "Magik" Rasputin, who met two horrible ends: first she was de-aged in New Mutants (first series) #73, and later she died of the Legacy Virus in Uncanny X-Men #303. Pete Wisdom, Kitty’s one-time lover, was seemingly shot in the head in X-Force #105 (though a later issue revealed that he had faked his death).

Kitty and Belasco first met in Uncanny X-Men #160, the same issue where Belasco kidnapped little Illyana to make her his apprentice.

It is strange that Kitty does not recognize straight away, or even soon after, that Magik is actually Amanda, considering she was best friends with Illyana, and they spent much time together, and also knew Amanda relatively well.. Not to mention the fact that both Amanda and Illyana would have different accents.

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