New Mutants : Truth or Death #3

Issue Date: 
January 1998
Story Title: 
Letting Go

Ben Raab (writer), Bernard Chang (pencils), Mark Pennington (inks), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’(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: 

Watched by the younger New Mutants, Mikhail Rasputin begins the procedure that is to prevent that his sister, Illyana, will ever contract the deadly Legacy Virus. Something seems to go wrong, though, as Illyana screams in pain. Mikhail spends some time with his sister and then announces to the others that the operation was a success. Suspicious, Cypher hacks into the files and not only learns that his future self is dead, but that Mikhail, instead of curing Illyana, has infected her. Wolfsbane, in the meantime, has snuck away to free their older counterparts. Mikhail keeps her from doing so, but finds that the former New Mutants have freed themselves and are now out for his blood. A short battle ensues, until the younger New Mutants show up and confront Mikhail with Cypher’s findings: Mikhail was infected and passed the infection on to her, hoping to accomplish two things: heal himself and help Illyana by inoculating her mystically altered body with the disease, a stratagem that apparently will backfire in her younger self dying later. Mikhail apologizes and teleports away. The younger New Mutants leave, after Karma has telepathically made them forget what happened.

Full Summary: 

In one of the X-Mansion’s labs, Illyana Rasputin lies hooked up to several devices surrounded by her teammates – like her, from the past – and the present version of Karma. Looking at the computer screens before him, Cypher tells Illyana’s elder brother, Mikhail, that all systems are good. They can start.

Also hooked up, Mikhail announces that they will begin. First, he urges Douglas to make this as painless as possible for her. She looks frightened… Is he kidding, Doug jokes, His li’l sis is the demon queen of Limbo. Nothing scares her. Illyana gives him the thumbs-up, refusing to show the others how scared she is. Because, if Mikhail’s powers can’t teleport out the dormant cells within her that will someday become the Legacy virus, she’s as good as dead.
She lies back.

Rahne Sinclair fears Magik. It’s a result of her staunch pious upbringing in a tradition that tells her a being like Illyana is pure evil Nevertheless, she speaks out, as she fears something goes wrong and asks Doug not to do this. When he asks her what’s wrong, she claims she just wanted to know if everything was properly calibrated. Karma tries to calm her and Cypher starts the sequence.

A quiet calm washes over Rasputin, as he initiates his mutant talent. Illyana, though, screams in pain, as the internal systems go wild. They have to get Illyana out of there before the feedback fries her brain, Doug shouts. Karma intercedes, using her newfound telepathic power to protect Illyana. Mikhail lifts up his sister, who is exhausted but still alive. Mikhail teleports to the infirmary with her and the others follow, all save Wolfsbane.

Meanwhile, in the electro-magnetically-sealed sub-basement detention block, the New Mutants’ present day counterparts, laid low by Karma, reel from the aftershock of a particularly nasty psionic hangover. Sam moves Dani off of him, joking about her having gained some weight. Looking around, he wonders how Cyclops would handle a situation like this.

He touches the forcefield that surround the cell. Enough juice to fry Sabretooth. But perhaps Douglock could jack into the alarm matrix and deactivate the electro-locks. But at first he needs a jumpstart. He heaves Douglock up and has his fingers touch the energy field.
Douglock yelps, asking if Sam wants to electrocute him. Was he conscious, Sam asks. He was pretending to be unconscious as everyone else was doing it, he replies. Sam sighs and orders him to help wake the others. Sam shakes Dani awake, admitting he needs her help. They cannot allow history to be rewritten.

In the I.C.U., Mikhail stands at his sister’s side. Illyana weakly wonders why her mystical armor and her Soulsword didn’t protect her, as they usually do. Mikhail promises he will do everything in his power to help her. She knows that, she replies weakly. She’s so glad she finally gets to know him. He had left for the stars before she was born. She asks him to tell her something of his adventures. At his sister’s behest, Mikhail’s fractured mind sails upon a tempestuous sea of memory:

(Mikhail’s memories)

From the moment of his liberation from the void of another reality at the hands of the X-Men, to his own part in the destruction of the subterranean Morlocks, to the instant when the X-Man, Storm, nearly took his life in recompense for all those he had taken on two worlds…

(the present)

Though he would grant her the world were it his to give, Mikhail denies his sister’s request. He asks her rest, as he gets up. Illyana asks him if he’ll stay with her, with Piotr and the X-Men, while she recovers. He replies that he thinks it best if he return to Russia and Illyana begs him to stay. With a hug, he assures her he’ll be with her until the very end.

In an adjacent waiting room, the younger Dani Moonstar announces that Illyana is going to die and it is all her fault. Sam and Bobby tell her that Illyana will pull through and Sam points out how illogical it is of her to automatically shoulder the blame for everything. Karma and Sam assure her that she cannot be able to predict everything. And, if she believes that makes her unqualified for being their boss, she couldn’t be farther off the mark. He’d follow her lead to hell and back. Touched, she gives him a hug.

Rasputin joins them, announcing that the initial readings indicate Magik’s body is virus free. The operation was a success. The Mutants are happy, only Cypher grows suspicious. No life-saving procedures that complicated is this neat and tidy, he decides. Time to put his hacker skills to use. He heads to the I.C.U., claiming he’s forgotten something.

Just a routine double-check he tells Illyana, as he digs into the computer files. He sees Illyana’s “pre-op” genetic structure free and clear of malignancies on the one side and the same pattern “post-op” but mutated in four key places. A horrible realization begins to dawn on him, as he starts to consider that Mikhail may have infected his own sister. Looking for more info, he digs deeper into the files and suddenly turns very pale. What’s wrong, Illyana asks. He looks like death warmed over. Maybe that’s because he is, Doug replies, as he stares at his own file, which reveals that he is deceased.

While the other New Mutants wonder where Rahne has gone off to, the girl in question moves through the mansion’s subterranean corridors, intent on freeing their future selves and end this madness. At least that’s her plan. But the moment she tries to disable the security locks, an energy blast hits her – courtesy of Mikhail. Not clever enough, he muses. Their present day counterparts might have given him pause, but it is too late now and, thanks to his sister, he is at last free of his affliction and soon she will be too. Suddenly, the door opens from within and the adult New Mutants rush out, out for blood.

Sunspot and Cannonball attack. The latter finds that Rasputin uses his powers to turn Sam’s blastfield against himself. Dani lets loose a psychic arrow at him, freeing Sam. Rahne and Douglock trip Rasputin and he lashes out. He shouts that he is trying to save his sister’s life. And nobody will prevent him from saving her!

‘Wanna bet?’ a very angry Illyana, surrounded by her fellow New Mutants, asks, as she threatens her brother with her sword. He has cured her, he reminds her. He cured her of nothing, she spits back. He condemned her. Doug tells everybody what he discovered: Mikhail assumed Magik’s mystically altered body would develop an immunity that her future de-aged self couldn’t. So he infected her with a plague he though she could handle. A plague his own body couldn’t. Before today, Illyana wasn’t cursed with the Legacy Virus, Mikhail was.

For once, he wanted to do some good, Mikhail pleads. Help instead of hurt. He failed. He asks if Illyana can ever forgive him. ‘Burn in hell,’ she coldly retorts. So be it, he states. Perhaps he will see her there, someday… He phases out. ‘Yeah… some day…,’ Illyana somberly repeats, as a tear fall from her eye.

Shortly after, comes the inevitable time to say good-bye. Future Rahne tells them to be brave. The future is not set in stone. For some of them it is, Illyana replies. Maybe if they can remember what happened, they can find a cure in the past, Rahne suggests. This is the lasts day she wants to remember, Illyana replies, as she summons a stepping disk. Now, if she’ll excuse her. She has a life to get back… whatever’s left of it…

Karma announces that she has successfully psi-wiped their past selves. They possess no recollection of ever being in the future. She assumes that they saved the timestream, but couldn’t save their friend.

The former New Mutants spend the rest of the reunion weekend together, dealing with their pain. Sam asks Shan if she is still flipping though the photo album of them as kids. Shan admits that part of her wishes they’d never found out how Illyana contracted the Legacy Virus. Dani admits to being creeped out. Who can a person trust, if not their family? Their friends, Roberto replies, while Rahne and Douglock visit the graves of their dead friends.

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)

in Mikhail’s memories

Iceman, Storm (both X-Men)


Mikhail Rasputin

Callisto and other Morlocks

Story Notes: 

Rahne is not Roman-Catholic, as is claimed in the story, but a Presbyterian, a certain Scottish faith similar to Puritanism.

As long as she hasn’t renounced her magic, Illyana is actually more or less immune to telepathy, which makes it odd that Karma could relatively effortlessly wipe her mind, while more powerful telepaths would have trouble with that task.

Issue Information: 
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