New Mutants (1st series) #71

Issue Date: 
January 1989
Story Title: 

Louise Simonson (writer), Bret Blevins (penciler), Al Williamson (inker), Glynis Oliver (colorist), Joe Rosen (letterer), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Magneto, the White Queen, Selene and Sebastian Shaw observe Manhattan from the Empire State Building, only for it to turn into a monster itself and kill many people. N’astirh observes this and is pleased. The New Mutants, along with Gosamyr, arrive in Limbo and begin to battle S’ym and his demons, until S’ym snatches the Soulsword from Magik. Magik, now increasingly transforming into the Darkchilde, teleports away with the New Mutants, to a throne room, where she tells her friends of her early “adventures” here, and about how she killed the X-Men. The New Mutants are confused, but Illyana reminds them that time works differently in Limbo, and takes them to a place where they can see what happened to her as a child, being tortured by S’ym. The New Mutants want to rescue the young Illyana, but Magik tells them that they can’t. Magik also witnesses, for the first time, N’astirh coming to her aid. The past version of N’astirh meets with Magik and tells her that she must take back the sword from S’ym, and reveals he loves her and promises to help her. Illyana agrees, and so wages battle against S’ym, eventually getting her Soulsword back, but turning into a demon form of herself. Taking control of the Stepping Discs, Magik teleports everyone to Manhattan, at the same time N’astirh’s spell was successful, breaking down the barrier between Limbo and Earth, and allowing thousands of demons to enter Manhattan.

Full Summary: 

The teenage mutant heroes known as the New Mutants, along with their new companion the alien Gosamyr arrive in the dimension known as Limbo after harrowing adventures in deep-space, and seeing that there is trouble in Limbo, Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta asks Limbo’s ruler, who happens to be his teammate Illyana “Magik” Rasputin to teleport them out of here. In her eldritch armor, Illyana replies that she is trying. The New Mutants are used to travelling to Limbo when Magik teleports them anywhere, it is how her power works - but Limbo has never been like this before!

The demon S’ym orders his minions to destroy the New Mutants, and so begins yet another battle for the tired New Mutants. Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie and Sunspot take the point, followed by Danielle “Mirage” Moonstar and Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair, while Warlock protects Gosamyr, and Magik exclaims that she can’t do it, that she can’t make a Stepping Disc to take them to Earth. ‘We’re stuck here in Limbo - maybe forever!’

‘No way!’ Cannonball exclaims as he blasts towards a demon, informing the demon that he is invulnerable while he is blasting. ‘What about you?’ he asks as he smashes through the demon. Sam calls out to Dani, his co-leader of the New Mutants and suggests to her that she better wish up her biggest weapon-spear, because she will need it! Dani agrees, and summons her spear before driving it into one of the demons, asking Sam if this could tie into Destiny’s prophecy - that Illyana had to leave Earth and learn, or else Earth would be destroyed?

Illyana points out that they did go into space, and that she did learn! Illyana exclaims that there are others, besides her, with demons in their souls, but it is how they deal with evil that counts. ‘And it helped to find out I’m not alone!’ Sunspot punches a demon, while Gosamyr clings to him, and exclaims that it doesn’t get us back to Earth. Bobby then informs the alien that he is very infatuated with to avoid these creatures, as they are filled with the Transmode Virus, and if they choose to, they can infect her.

Gosamyr stares at one of the reddish-pink demons as she reminds Bobby that her physiology is alien to the demons, she isn’t human, so she may not be able to be infected. Suddenly, Warlock, in the form of a very large mallet, slams down on the demon Gosamyr was looking at. ‘Self thinks, Gosamyr, that self will not let them try!’ Warlock exclaims, before pointing out that Gosamyr is dangerous enough to her friends as she is without being infected with the Transmode Virus.

Sunspot continues to use his super strength against the demons, while Warlock pulls Wolfsbane from trouble. The young Scots woman thanks her alien teammate, while remarking that there are so many of the creatures and all of them so evil, making it hard for her to breathe here!

Magik destroys a group of the demons, shouting ‘I rule Limbo, monsters! I won it the hard way!’ The powerful young woman rushes towards S’ym, asking him how he can dare to turn her kingdom against her. S’ym, chomping on his trademark cigarette, addressing Magik as “Darkchilde” and asks her why she is blaming him, after all, Limbo is hers, there is no question about that. He tells her that Limbo reflects what she is, and that it isn’t his fault is turns her stomach.

You turn my stomach…monster!’ Illyana shouts as she slices S’ym in half with her Soulsword. S’ym is gone, and Illyana exclaims that she won - until S’ym leaps up from the murky water by Illyana’s feet, shouting ‘Guess again, babes!’ and reminding Illyana that he is infected with the Transmode Virus, meaning he is techno-organic and therefore her magic sword cannot disrupt him. He boasts that nothing can destroy him after shoving Illyana into the water, then, standing over her, he snatches the Soulsword from her while exclaiming that he can destroy her.

Illyana is shocked that S’ym could take her sword, as she created it from a piece of her soul. S’ym explains to Magik that her soul is corrupted by Limbo’s dark magic, meaning so is her sword. Glancing at the gleaming sword, S’ym declares that there is so much power for others to tap into - dark power - and that the sword’s barest touch conjures monsters. ‘Let’s see what its touch will do to you…?’ S’ym exclaims as he raises the sword high above Illyana - but it only clangs against her armor which grows spikes to protect her. S’ym is not amused by this, but points out that Illyana is still his captive, so he will simply figure out some other way to kill her.

Turning to the other New Mutants, S’ym declares that he will have no problem killing them! Illyana looks at her friends and thinks that S’ym is right, and remarks that it isn’t just her life at stake here, the others are in this because of her. Illyana knows she has to get them home - but something is blocking her, she cannot reach Earth. But Magik is not entirely powerless, and creates a Stepping Disc to retrieve her friends from where they are struggling against the horde of demons, who wonder where they have gone. ‘Maybe Darkchilde stronger than we thought!’, ‘But where? To Earth?’ the demons mutter.

Suddenly, N’astirh appears before S’ym via scrying and S’ym realizes that the other demon has been spying on him from N’astirh’s lair on Earth. ‘Where is your trust?’ S’ym asks, before assuring N’astirh that he would not kill his little precious, as S’ym honors their agreement, and he only meant to scare the Darkchilde. ‘You actually tried to decapitate her with her own sword!’ N’astirh exclaims, and tells S’ym that it would not have been nice. S’ym suggests to N’astirh that he better take a nicer tone with him, as he has the sword, meaning he has the power! ‘S’ym rules Limbo now, and soon, S’ym will rule all of Earth!’ N’astirh points out that the Darkchilde has escaped, and asks S’ym if he really thinks he will rule Earth. S’ym replies that the Darkchilde has not escaped to Earth, to which N’astirh points out that his magick stopped her from doing so, ‘Even from Earth, my magic, my foresight, far outreaches yours!’ N’astirh boasts, before telling S’ym to ask him nicely and he shall find the Darkchilde and deliver her to him.

‘Where are we?’ asks one of the New Mutants as they emerge in some kind of large chamber. Magik replies that she called a Stepping Disc, the nearest one around, and it brought them here. Looking around, Illyana informs her friends that this is the place where she first met the demon-lord Belasco, in this throne room, where he lured her. ‘Lured you, how?’ asks Rahne. Illyana replies that she was with her brother and the X-Men on an island where the wall between Earth and Limbo was weak.

Continuing, Illyana explains that she heard Belasco calling her, so she came, and fell into a Stepping Disc, which brought her here. Magik remarks that she thinks she heard Belasco’s call because of an inborn affinity with Limbo - after all - she was born with the power to control the Stepping Discs. Magik takes her seat on the throne and reveals that when she got lost here, Belasco gave her a locket and said that he loved her. ‘I believed him. I was only six years old!’

But what Illyana didn’t know at the time was that Belasco really wanted to use her to bring the evil gods he served to Earth. A frightened Rahne asks if that is what S’ym means to do, but Illyana replies that S’ym only serves himself, before continuing on with her story, revealing that the X-Men followed her to Limbo and tried to save her - but one by one - they died! ‘Died?’ gasps Rahne, stepping backwards into a pile of bones. Illyana gets to her feet, informing Rahne that she is standing on Nightcrawler’s foot. She explains that Cat phased it into the ground and killed him, because he had become a sick thing by then, a monster.

Rahne knocks a skull to one side as she asks who “Cat” is. Illyana picks up another skull and announces that this is Cat, or at least what is left of her. ‘Grown…changed…twisted demonically…by Belasco. You know her as Shadowcat…Kitty Pryde!’ Illyana exclaims that she fought Cat and killed her. ‘Even here she was my best friend…and I killed her!’ Illyana holds Cat’s skull up and exclaims that Nightcrawler, her brother Colossus, Wolverine, they all died around her - because of her.

Illyana reveals that Storm tried to save her from the dark seed Belasco planted in her soul - but she killed her too, to keep Storm from eternal damnation at Belasco’s hand. Illyana slams Cat’s skull to the ground, shattering it and begins to pound the ground as she declares that she blamed Belasco for what she had become, but realizes that she must have chosen it. ‘No one made me murder my nest friends!’

Sunspot exclaims that Magik has popped her cork, and tells her that she is wrong, crazy. Mirage points out that the X-Men are indeed dead, but that they died on Earth, and only recently too. Warlock adds that Nightcrawler and Shadowcat are still alive, trying to reassure Illyana that she did not kill them. Wolfsbane exclaims ‘You’re our friend. You couldn’t have! You didn’t…did you?’

Very demonic looking, Illyana glares at the New Mutants with blood-red eyes. ‘Oh, yes!’ she exclaims, pointing out that time is different here, and revealing that alternate choices mean alternate timelines and alternate people are created. Illyana remarks that it is difficult to explain, but assures the New Mutants that she made the right choices, the ones that let her live and led her back to Earth - while the others were trapped here and died.

Cannonball tells Magik that she sounds almost proud of herself, before remarking ‘Sometimes, in the heat of battle, people die. But murder, Illyana? For any reason?’ Rahne asks Magik why she never told them this before and asks her why she is saying it, exclaiming that it cannot be true, before declaring that it must be this terrible place. ‘Things will be different when we’re home. Please…let’s go home!’ the frightened Wolfsbane exclaims.

Sunspot points out that Illyana is home, when suddenly Gosamyr alerts everyone to the incoming barrage of demons. ‘There they are!’ the demons exclaim upon seeing Illyana and the others. ‘Master traced them here!’ ‘Get them!’ But Magik is too fast, creating a Stepping Disc around her teammates she then leaps into it, and they all vanish, while the demons slam against the ground.

Wolfsbane screams, wanting to know where they are, as a decaying form of Colossus stands before them. Magik shows her friends the proof that her story is all true. Illyana tells Rahne not to worry, that she didn’t kill her brother, S’ym did, to which Dani tells Illyana to stop torturing Rahne, as she cannot take much more of this. Suddenly, there is a scream, and the New Mutants all look to another ledge, where they see a little blonde girl running away from S’ym.

S’ym tells the little girl not to run away from him, as he wants to talk to her. He finally catches up to her, and holds her upside down by her legs, informing her that he doesn’t like it when she won’t smile at him. ‘S’ym doesn’t like your attitude!’ the demon shouts before slamming the little girl down on the ground.

This upsets Rahne a lot, but Illyana stops her from going over to the girl. ‘What are you doing, Illyana? Have you gone mad? She’s just a wee child, an innocent baby!’ Rahne exclaims. ‘We have to save her!’ Tears form in the Darkchilde’s eyes as she asks her teammates if they don’t understand anything. ‘That…baby is me! The way is was when I first came here!’ Magik explains to her teammates that during the last jump they teleported in time as well as space - ‘Into the past. My past!’

Magik explains that S’ym is punishing her for some imagined transgression, informing her friends that he did that whenever he could catch her. ‘I remember. I don’t want to remember!’ Magik gasps as she looks at her former self, telling the New Mutants and Gosamyr that they cannot stop S’ym, they must leave her past-self to learn what she can from this - a lesson in hatred - so she will be around to defeat Belasco and become what she is today - monster though she might be - and so that she can learn to control the stepping discs and hopefully send them home!

Cannonball exclaims that the price is too high, while Warlock points out that Magik speaks of only sending them to Earth and not herself. ‘Earth is your home too!’ he exclaims. ‘Is it?’ asks Illyana, pointing out that S’ym never killed her, when he could have so easily. ‘I wonder why’. Illyana then turns to Rahne and tells her that they should go, as she is sure that what happens next to her former self is not something Rahne wants to see.

Cannonball grabs Illyana as she turns away and motions to the past which is continuing to play out, though there is a green demon flying above S’ym and bombarding him with energy, declaring ‘The girl-child must remain alive!’ Sam asks Illyana who that is, to which Magik replies that she doesn’t know, as she has never seen this demon before, however she can feel his power, nearly as powerful as Belasco was, and potentially as powerful as she is.

‘N’astirh! Rebel…you dare to threaten Belasco’s guard?’ the past S’ym asks as the past N’astirh knocks him to the ground. ‘I threaten the human sorcerer’s cringing lackey!’ N’astirh replies, before a fight follows. Rahne turns away sobbing, exclaiming that they are tearing each other apart. Rahne tells Illyana that she had such horrible thoughts about Illyana being a murderer and consorting willingly with demons, that it was all her fault they are stuck here.

Rahne goes over and hugs Illyana, ‘But you were an innocent baby when you came. Too young to understand! None of this is your fault!’ Illyana does not hug back, while Sunspot mumbles ‘And you endured this horror. Day after day…for seven years!’ Rahne tells Illyana that even if it means they have to stay here, they should go and save her child-self. ‘No!’ replies Illyana and teleports herself and the others away, at the right moment too, for the demons have found them, though once again are not quick enough.

Meanwhile, on Earth, in the glorious city of Manhattan. Standing almost on the highest point of the Empire State Building are four very powerful beings. Not just because of their mighty mutant powers, but they are powerful for many other reasons. They are the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club! Magneto a.k.a. the White King, Sebastian Shaw a.k.a. the Black King, Emma Frost, the White Queen and Selene, the Black Queen.

The Master of Magnetism, Magneto exclaims that the Empire State Building is growing, to which the White Queen remarks that it is impossible - isn’t it? Magneto points out that when Shaw summoned the Inner Circle to meet, he came reluctantly, as his students were missing and thought Shaw was exaggerating. Emma declares that it is almost palpable, even without her telepathic power she is certain she would feel it, something in the air - something evil!
Shaw motions to the tourists on the observation deck below and remarks that they seem more disturbed by the weather. One tourist looks through some binoculars and exclaims that he didn’t know they would be so high up, and that it is too bad about the haze. He declares that if the haze let up, then he bets they could see all the way - suddenly he begins screaming as he is cut-off mid-sentence, and he falls back, clutching his eyes and screaming ‘My eyes! My eyes!’

‘My eyes, now! Like them?’ the binoculars ask, grinning as blood drips down its “face”, now complete with real human eyes. ‘Die! Thing of evil!’ Magneto exclaims as he blasts the binoculars with a burst of magnetic energy. But at that moment, the antennae that the Inner Circle are standing on begins to crumble! Magneto reminds his associates that they have laced their costumes with threads of steel - a precaution which has paid off as he is able to use his powers to grab hold of them.

Shaw alerts Magneto to the falling steel beams and tells him to watch his back. Magneto motions to the steel beams and exclaims that he has power over iron and steel - even the living metal that this tower has become. Meanwhile, the tourists have all rushed to the elevator, all wanting to get back to the ground. But as the elevators make the trip back to the ground, they increase their speed, faster and faster.

Emma tells Magneto that she can feel the screams of the tourists and asks him to catch the elevators - but it’s too late, they land, and the doors open, only for a river of blood and bones to flow from it. ‘How can this be happening? What’s going on?’ Emma asks, unaware that the wicked demon N’astirh is watching these events he had a hand in play out, with the imprisoned Artie Maddicks and Leech at his side.

Back in Limbo, and in an earlier time, a version of N’astirh welcomes Illyana to his corner of Limbo as she and her friends arrive. Sunspot points out that this slot is occupied and suggests they leave. ‘I think not! Take them!’ N’astirh orders his N’asteris while Magik realizes who this is, and asks him why he stopped S’ym from killing her. The past N’astirh informs Magik that he has watched her through precognitive magic and has summoned her into the past via a transport spell of his own devising - more cumbersome than her elegant, natural approach, but it is effective in its own way.

N’astirh tells Illyana that he needs to speak with her privately, to which Magik asks him who he is. N’astirh explains that he is a poor demon scorned by Belasco fro apprenticeship. ‘He preferred human students, you see, and thought demons only good for servants!’ N’astirh points out that Belasco first chose Storm, and then Illyana over him, before revealing that he stole Belasco’s main book of spells before Illyana could destroy it and travelled into the past, where he has now mastered all of them.

N’astirh explains that he has a natural affinity for dark magic, before revealing that S’ym’s army is massed for invasion, and tells Magik that he will help her defeat him and save her friends and escape to Earth. Magik remarks that, in dealing with demons, there is always a price, to which N’astirh exclaims ‘You wound me, Darkchilde! I offer help because I love you!’

N’astirh points out that the power to return to Earth is Illyana’s in any case, as it is her birthright, but that she fears to use it. ‘What do you mean?’ Illyana asks. N’astirh points out that Illyana let S’ym take her sword because she knew in her heart what she had become, and rejected it, thus, she surrendered to S’ym, the most powerful piece of her soul. N’astirh reveals that S’ym will indeed try to use the sword, so he tells Magik to take the sword back and accept its dark power, which will enable her to defeat S’ym and use it to save her friends, to return home and save the world.

Illyana asks N’astirh if he will send her back to S’ym so that she can do this, and what he gains from helping her. N’astirh declares that he only wants her to accept her true self, to embrace her dark heritage and defeat S’ym - for now, that will be enough he exclaims. ‘And in the future?’ Illyana asks. ‘Someday, perhaps, you will return to me as my dark bride…if you choose’.

‘No! You can’t!’ Cannonball exclaims. Illyana replies ‘That’s the future, Sam…and this is now! If I don’t d something, none of you will have a future! Don’t you see? He saved me from S’ym. He wants to help me - he says he loves me!’ Rahne begins to cry as a demon comes and puts its hands on her face as she reminds Magik that Belasco said he loved her too, ‘And see what he’s made you - no! Get away!’ she tells the demon.

Magik tells the other New Mutants that Rahne is nearly insane now, and points out that if she stays here she will die. ‘You’ll all die! Then S’ym will use the power of my sword to lay waste to our world!’ Illyana exclaims that she can stop him and asks what is her life compared to that? Magik tells N’astirh that they have a bargain, she will take back the sword, and opens a Stepping Disc which envelops her friends, some of who are protesting.

N’astirh tells Magik to go and do her part, and assures her that he will do his. Crotus goes up behind “Mawthur” and asks him what he is doing, pointing out that the Darkchilde is his rival for power, he asks why he would help her. N’astirh smacks Crotus back across the ground, telling him that he lacks understanding, as does that fool S’ym, for S’ym underestimates Magik’s true value. ‘He schemes to kill her. I plan to use her!’ N’astirh boasts, before remarking that the human need to choose right over wrong, good over evil, has ever been, and will ever be, the Darkchilde’s greatest tragedy. ‘But that is in our future…’.

In present-time Limbo, S’ym is startled by the sudden appearance of Magik and the others. Magik leaps at S’ym telling him that the demon N’astirh has betrayed him ‘And delivered you into my hands!’ Illyana shouts as she conjures magic to attack S’ym. Sunspot suggests to his teammates that if Magik is going to do this, they may as well help her, and begin battling the underling demons. Magik dodges all of S’ym’s attacks, eventually she gets herself on top of him and blasts him in the head, causing him to stumble back and enabling her to take the sword. ‘Power…dark power…I can feel it! I am power!’ Illyana shrieks as she is transformed into a twisted version of herself, red scales line her body. He beautiful flowing blonde hair now dirty and, her eyes yellow, and a forked tongue darts from her mouth.

Magik declares that she has the sword, and S’ym is now nothing. ‘Earth is safe from your greed…and the Stepping Discs are again mine to command!’ Illyana begins to open a portal back to Earth, but it is hard, some residual barrier blocks the way. She pushes through it though, with all her will, and the New Mutants arrive, not at the school as Cannonball points out, but over Times Square in New York!

The Stepping Disc gives way and the teenage heroes begin to fall to the ground. Cannonball blasts down and grabs Mirage, while Warlock transforms into a parachute of sorts, enabling Sunspot and Wolfsbane to grip on to him, while Gosamyr holds onto Sunspot, and Magik just leaps to the ground, her now cloven hooves to take the brunt of the fall. However the Stepping Disc is not entirely gone, as hundreds of underling demons begin to enter New York.

Mirage tells Magik to close the Stepping Disc, but Illyana replies that she is trying, but she can’t. ‘It’s open, and there’s nothing I can do!’ Illyana exclaims woefully as hundreds more demons begin to fall from the sky.

N’astirh appears beside Magik, and Illyana turns to him, ‘You tricked me! You wanted this to happen!’ she shouts. N’astirh points out that Magik chose to take the power, to try to save her friends, and her world. ‘My friends have simply crashed the party!’ Magik tells N’astirh that he lied to her, to which N’astirh replies ‘Not entirely’, and points out that only the Darkchilde could wield the sword’s dark energy to open such a portal, while only he could wield the forces that it takes to keep it wide open! Magik exclaims that he betrayed her, to which N’astirh replies of course he did, for although he truly loves her, he is a demon nonetheless….

Characters Involved: 

Cannonball, Magik / Darkchilde, Mirage, Sunspot, Warlock, Wolfsbane (all New Mutants)


Leech & Artie Maddicks

Sebastian Shaw, Selene, Magneto, Emma Frost (all Hellfire Club Inner Circle)


N’astirh (present and past versions)

Crotus (past version)



In “Flashback” :

six-year-old Illyana Rasputin



Story Notes: 

The Inferno took place across several Marvel Comics titles at this time, the main issues being New Mutants (1st series) #71-73, Uncanny X-Men # 240-242, Excalibur (1st series) #6-7, X-Factor (1st series) #36-39 and X-Terminators #1-4.

The New Mutants adventures in space took place in New Mutants (1st series) #67-70.

The real X-Men “died” during the “Fall of the Mutants”, except of course, as Warlock points out, for Nightcrawler and Shadowcat, who are members of Excalibur and were not with the X-Men at that time.

The portal that opens between Limbo and Earth was opened in X-Terminators #3, which takes place adjacent to this issue.

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