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23rd May 2024
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Description / Abilities

Usually a sword is supposed to be a simple straightforward weapon. This Soulsword however, is more than the average blade and is shrouded in layers of mystery. A magical weapon, just as the name implies, it was connected to Illyana Rasputin’s very soul. Though its appearance is that of an old-fashioned sword, the Soulsword is not really a weapon in the physical sense and the extent of its powers seem to depend on the user. When Illyana (and occasionally Kitty Pryde) wielded the sword, its chief ability was to disrupt magical spells and beings, quite often permanently. In the case of Illyana it was usually accompanied by an Eldritch armor of unknown origin covering Magik's left shoulder, chest, and arm (although the armor would grow to cover more and more of her with each appearance). The Soulsword can also release a non-supernatural being from a magical spell that it is under, though not necessarily every spell. Moreover, it is capable of physically injuring and even killing a supernatural being such as a demon or a magic-user.

Under normal circumstance the Soulsword doesn’t injure non-magical beings, although shortly before and during Inferno Illyana – and in turn the sword – had grown so corrupted, that this changed. The one non-magical being the Soulsword could physically injure was Kitty Pryde, even when she was using her phasing power to become intangible. This is probably connected to the fact that Kitty and Illyana shared an undefined bond that seemed to make Kitty the receptacle of her best friend’s magical powers whenever she was incapacitated or had renounced her magic.

While Illyana seemed to be afraid to access the sword’s full power, knowing that the use of even more magic would further corrupt her, the sword’s power was still undeniable – the Soulsword is so potent that to wield it seems to more or less guarantee mastery over Limbo.

When Amanda Sefton / Magik II took control of the blade she also used it to store souls, conjure teleportation discs - something Illyana never had to do, since teleportation was her mutant gift - and conjure and channel spells. It is unknown, if the capabilities of the sword actually change with the user or whether Illyana also had access to these sides of the sword but didn’t want them or didn’t know how to access them. The ability to store souls within it was later addressed after Illyana had been resurrected. After the young girl Sapna was killed with the sword, her soul was trapped inside it, and Illyana was surprised to realise an entire realm lay within the weapon.  

As mentioned above, the sword initially had the appearance of a traditional medievil sword, but over time it changed, seemingly depending on Illyana's mental state. When she became a host for the Phoenix Force, the sword erupted into flames, apparently mimicking the qualities the cosmic entity possessed. After the Phoenix left, the sword became much larger than usual and seemed to be made up of glowing energy.

When the soulsword was destroyed by S'ym she eventually reformed it using the essence of a future S'ym as well as an alternate version of herself. This coincided with her giving up the throne of Limbo to Madelyne Pryor, severing the soulsword's link to the realm. Upon manifesting her sword and armor for the first time after these events, it retained it's familiar design but was now golden in color. 


Chronologically speaking, the Soulsword made its first appearance when the sorceress Margali Szardos showed it to her daughter Jimaine in a vision, explaining that the sword was the emblem of her eventual destiny. Before Jimaine who was entranced by the blade, could touch it, the demon sorcerer Belasco took it back, stating that someone else would lay claim to that weapon first. Paradoxically, at that time the blade did not even exist. [Excalibur (1st series) #minus1]

The person Belasco was referring to was a child named Illyana Rasputin. Years after that scene with Margali and Jimaine, the six-year-old Illyana was abducted from Earth by the demon sorcerer into another-dimensional Limbo where Belasco himself was a prisoner due to the displeasure of his dread Lords. Illyana was to become his apprentice and his tool in freeing the Elder Gods. Illyana was a prisoner in Limbo for seven years, while almost no time passed on Earth (due to Limbo being a place outside the regular continuum of time and space). Among the few non-demonic denizens of Limbo there were also some elder surviving X-Men from an alternate timeline. One of them, Storm, had become a sorceress wielding white magic who tried to counter Belasco’s corrupting influence on Illyana. Several times Illyana tried to break Belasco’s hold on her soul by emulating Ororo. As proof of her freedom from Belasco the sorceress has created an acorn from her very soul and then planted it in the ground letting it grow. Illyana tried time and time again to do the same but failed. Finally, after she had openly rebelled against Belasco and was banished to the harshest corner of Limbo as punishment, Illyana grew to realize the reasons for her failure. Ororo had created life to reaffirm her old values – Illyana who had just been a child when she fell into Limbo had no values to return to. All she could claim for herself were innocence lost and a burning desire for vengeance. Fueled by her fury, she took a part of her soul to create a weapon instead – a glowing silver sword (looking like a lightsabre) which was the ultimate expression of her magical power. Using it, she overthrew Belasco, though she chose to spare him at the last moment. [Storm & Illyana: Magik #1-4]

After she returned to Earth, seven years older, Illyana first tried to forget her experiences in Limbo. However when traumatized she unthinkingly drew her blade striking her friend Kitty with it – something that should not have been possible as Kitty was phasing – a first hint of the link between the two girls. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #171]

When the demon S’ym attacked her following Belasco’s wishes Illyana once more manifested the blade hurting the demon with it. As a result S’ym swore to be her servant and Illyana reluctantly took control over Limbo. [New Mutants (1st series) #14]
During the New Mutants’ battle against the Demon Bear, Illyana’s sword changed appearance: suddenly it looked like a traditional medieval sword with a broader more ornate hilt, instead of its previous lightsabre look. Also, from this point on, the manifestations of the sword were accompanied by the growing armor of unknown origin. The sword showed its potency in the battle against the Demon Bear, when it proved to be the weapon to beat the creature and release the two people who had been magically changed into it: the parents of Magik’s teammate Danielle Moonstar.

However this adventure also proved that the blade had limits and apparently couldn’t break every kind of spell. While Illyana had successfully used her sword to cure two innocents, Sharon Friedlander and Tom Corsi, who had been turned into demons by the Bear she couldn’t undo the first part of the enchantment, which had transformed them from Caucasians into Native Americans. [New Mutants (1st series) #19-20]

When Illyana was briefly driven mad by the curious omnipotent Beyonder and turned into her evil self – the Darkchylde- the blade turned black corresponding with her soul’s state. Kitty Pryde grabbed the sword (something no other could do) and used it on Illyana returning her to normal. [New Mutants (1st series) #30]

Further proof of the link between the two girls was when the Beyonder cured Illyana of her magical side – and the Soulsword, Illyana’s magical effects and her responsibility as guardian of Limbo automatically passed onto the inexperienced Kitty. Illyana was forced to take the magic back to save Kitty from the threat of the demons who had used that chance to free themselves from Limbo. [New Mutants (1st series) #36]

When the Beyonder momentarily killed the New Mutants and erased them from everybody’s memories the blade and the armor once more passed to Kitty, who could still remember her friend. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #203]

When Limbo became infected with an alien techno-organic virus S’ym and other demons openly rebelled against Illyana. In a final gesture of defiance Illyana pushed the Soulsword into the ground. The result was surprising: Apparently she could – at least for some time – exorcise the place with the sword. As long as the blade was in the ground Illyana was free of her dark side– and Limbo became a lovely uncorrupted place, with the demons kept at bay. [New Mutants (1st series) #50]

However she was forced again and again to take up the blade to fight and the corruption spread in herself as well as Limbo. As the corruption in Illyana grew her sword also manifested a darker side, also altering non-magical things it touched in demonic ways. [New Mutants (1st series) #64-70]

Shortly afterwards during Inferno Magik lost control of her sword as she had lost control of her realm. While the blade had been untouchable to others before now suddenly the demon S’ym could tap into its power and took it from her. Following the advice of another demon named N'astirh Illyana fought S’ym for the blade and unleashed its full power thus turning into the Darkchylde and unwittingly creating a permanent opening between Limbo and Earth. Trying to undo all this Magik cast her final spell and apparently reverted to the six years old, she had been before Belasco had corrupted her. [New Mutants (1st series) #71-73]

Her magic had to go somewhere though and the sword once more transferred to her best friend Kitty Pryde, who didn’t want it. At first the sword was stuck in a stone outside Excalibur's lighthouse, and Kitty tried her best to simply ignore the weapon. [Excalibur (1st series) #8, 11]

Apparently the nature of the Soulsword had changed – now anyone could touch the blade, but only Kitty could remove it from the stone it was stuck in. At a later point Kitty’s “doctor” Dr. Doom paid her a visit and convinced her to use the sword to pave a way for them to Limbo (an ability the sword hadn’t displayed before, possibly because it wasn’t necessary). Doom claimed the Promethium in that dimension could solve the world’s energy problems. Kitty fell for his ruse, and soon Doom wrested the sword from her thus becoming ruler of Limbo and very soon she, Excalibur, the West Coast Avengers, Doom, and Darkoth, a man whose life Doom had destroyed and who now lived in Limbo, were embroiled in a battle. Doom intended to plunge the sword into the very heart of Limbo, as a result of which every grain and every creature native to the place would revert to Promethium. Excalibur finally left the sword to Darkoth who took control over Limbo with it. Since he was just searching for inner peace, Limbo changed to mirror this state and seemed empty. [Excalibur (1st series) #37-39]

The peace lasted only shortly. There was more to the magical weapon that had been apparent before. A sorceress named Shrill wore an eye made of mysterious “Soulsteel” and she claimed that the Soulsword was made of the same metal. Whenever the Soulsword was drawn on Earth it caused her unspeakable pain. She tried to get the weapon from Darkoth, but instead it quietly incorporated itself in Kitty again. Not used to magic, Kitty grew slowly corrupted by its influence, finally drawing it and wanting to kill, until Excalibur knocked some sense into her. Shrill however wanted the weapon destroyed if necessary over its owners dead body, and there was another sorcerer named Gravemoss, a disciple of the Winding Way (same as Margali, the mother of Kitty’s teammate Amanda Sefton) who also wanted to obtain the sword and use it to kill those ahead of him on the Winding Way. Gravemoss possessed Nightcrawler to attack Kitty from the outside, but he was defeated as Kitty remembered the sword’s capabilities and used it to exorcise Gravemoss from her friend, effectively killing him. Amanda Sefton then convinced Kitty to give her the Soulsword, magically severing the link between Kitty and the blade, and turned the weapon over to her mother Margali for safekeeping, a mistake that would come to haunt her. [Excalibur (1st series) #83-85]

Margali, mad for power, used the sword to kill all of the magicians ahead of her on the Winding Way. She then gave herself a new body and joined the London Hellfire Club as their Red Queen. However, when Margali tried to tap into the power of some ancient demon trapped beneath London, she was overwhelmed, and when Excalibur severed her from the interface, she and the Soulsword were captured by Belasco, Magik's onetime mentor and once again ruler of Limbo in the absence of any other to challenge him. [Excalibur (1st series) #98-100, 103]

Belasco also planned to use the Soulsword to gain power, but was eventually defeated by Margali (who had come to her senses), Amanda and Nightcrawler. While the others left, Amanda stayed as guardian of Limbo. The Soulsword, which had been knocked off of Belasco's tower during the battle, broke through the surface of Limbo in an armor-coated hand, perhaps signifying Magik's return. [X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #19]

The result of that apparition was never revealed, instead Amanda took both the name of Magik, the Soulsword, and the role as Ruler of Limbo that came along with it. In Magik II's hands, the Soulsword's shape had changed a little, and the more experienced sorceress had increased its functions to include storing souls in it and drawing spells and stepping disks in the air.

The destiny Margali once promised her daughter had been fulfilled as she now bore the weapon and the responsibilities that came with it. [X-Men: Black Sun #1-5 & X-Men: Magik #1-4]

Soon after, Amanda discovered a demon named Hive was after the Soulsword and, in a bid to protect it, she entrusted it with the purest soul she could think of: Nightcrawler. However, she didn’t let him know about her plan and instead covertly hid the sword within him, using a spell. Possessing various people in Nightcrawler’s life, Hive attacked the mutant and Amanda was forced to come clean. Nightcrawler then used the soulsword himself to attack Hive and put an end to his schemes. [Nightcrawler (3rd series) #7-11]

The Soulsword remained with Nightcrawler for a long time, where he would occasionally use it if the need arose. The situation soon changed though when reality was warped to create the House of M, a world in which Illyana Rasputin hadn’t died. The universe was soon restored to normal and Magik returned to the grave, however Belasco had briefly sensed his former ward’s presence. Returning to Limbo, he overthrew Amanda’s rule and cast her out and then set about hunting for Illyana. When he couldn’t find her, he assumed she was in hiding and so created a new version of her instead. This facsimile of Illyana was not what Belasco wanted, as she lacked the soul of her former self. Instead of the innocent human girl he had desired, he got a twisted woman with horns, goat legs and a bad attitude. Displeased, he banished his new creation and decided to find the real Illyana by abducting a group of the X-Men’s students to discover her whereabouts. The soulless Illyana managed to team-up with some of the students and she convinced Pixie to give her a piece of her soul so a new soulsword could be forged. Illyana removed a fragment of Pixie’s soul and turned it into a Bloodstone, allowing Pixie to manifest a Souldagger of her own. Illyana managed to overthrow Belasco and exile him from Limbo again, but afterwards she attempted to remove the rest of Pixie’s soul to take as her own. She was stopped by the X-Men and afterwards she fled into the wilds of Limbo in shame. [New X-Men (2nd series) #16-19, 37-41]

With Amanda out of the way, Illyana reclaimed the title of Magik and set about restoring her soul. Nightcrawler still possessed the Soulsword but, when he and Pixie were training one day, he was injured by the young girl’s Souldagger. As she pulled the weapon out of him, the Soulsword was removed too, an act that Magik immediately sensed. Teleporting to Earth, Magik attacked the X-Men and wrestled control of the Soulsword from Pixie. The moment she held the sword, she was returned to her human form once more and silver armor covered her body. She fled to Limbo, where she discovered that Belasco’s daughter, Witchfire, was attempting to open a portal to unleash the Elder Gods. Witchfire had a Bloodstone amulet that contained three Bloodstones, fragments of Illyana’s soul, and just needed two more to fill the amulet. Magik attempted to stop her but was captured and imprisoned by Witchfire, who promptly took Magik’s amulet containing the single Bloodstone made from Pixie’s soul. When Pixie and the X-Men showed up to stop her, Witchfire removed another part of Pixie’s soul and filled the amulet, opening a portal to unleash the Elder Gods. In the meantime, Nightcrawler managed to get hold of the Soulsword and Pixie’s Souldagger and freed Magik. Re-united with her Soulsword again, Magik took down Witchfire and then used her sword and the Souldagger to pry one of the Bloodstones from the amulet, closing the portal. In the chaos, though, Witchfire escaped with the amulet that contained four Bloodstones. Afterwards, it was noted that Pixie’s Souldagger had grown more powerful, due to her having another part of her soul removed. Magik, however, once again took control of Limbo and also decided to stay with the X-Men. [X-Infernus #1-4]

Illyana spent many years searching for Witchfire and eventually caught up with her, killing the woman and taking the amulet back. However, Witchfire had set them up and the X-Men had been lured into Limbo just as the Elder Gods were unleashed. The X-Men were killed and so Illyana decided to travel back in time to before it all happened to try to prevent the disaster. She arrived just in time to help the newly reformed New Mutants in taking down Legion. The troubled mutant had seemingly been resurrected and had accidentally killed a number of people in a small town. Teaming up with Karma, Illyana allowed herself to be absorbed into Legion’s mindscape, where she discovered she was able to wield the Soulsword. She used it to kill a number of Legion’s more troubling personalities before handing it to Karma, who killed a personality that had murdered a child. [New Mutants (3rd series) #1-5]

After some adventures with the New Mutants, the events that would soon kill the X-Men started to unfold. Magik allowed them to play along, waiting for the right moment to strike. It wasn’t Witchfire this time that wanted to unleash the Elder Gods but a group of military personnel who had been trapped in Limbo for many years. They managed to get a hold of Witchfire’s amulet and abduct both Pixie and Magik. They used the Soulsword to pull a Bloodstone out of Pixie again, filling the amulet once more and opening the portal. Only this time, when the X-Men arrived, they had the added help from Legion. Karma had gone inside his head and, using Magik’s Soulsword, navigated his treacherous mindscape until she found the most powerful personality, God Legion. As the Elder Gods came through the portal, Legion wiped them from existence, ending their threat forever and saving the X-Men. Afterwards, Magik and Pixie finally reclaimed their soul fragments from the Bloodstone amulet. [New Mutants (3rd series) #15-21]

Magik settled down with the X-Men once again but her life was soon thrown into disarray when she was possessed by a fragment of the Phoenix Force. As well as bestowing near-omnipotent powers upon her, the Soulsword was also affected by the cosmic entity. Since returning to life, her sword had remained a traditional, medieval design that occasionally glowed with energy. With the added power of the Phoenix, the sword was constantly on fire, perhaps emulating the fiery bird’s abilities, or symbolizing the effect it was happening on Illyana’s soul. Regardless, Illyana was not affected for long as she soon lost the Phoenix Force, resulting on both her and the Soulsword returning to their normal power level. [Avengers vs X-Men crossover]

Not long after, Magik’s Soulsword went through one of the biggest changes in its history. Instead of the medieval design, it grew very large and ornate and seemed to be made out of energy itself. Its color varied over time, ranging from blue to orange to yellow, but always with the same physical design. Despite its enormous size, Magik had no trouble wielding it as if it weighed nothing at all. The change coincided with Magik and some of the other X-Men experiencing fluctuations in their mutant powers. Initially, it was assumed that it was because they had all been touched by the Phoenix Force, but it was soon discovered that Dark Beast was to blame. He had infected them with nano-technology to disrupt their powers as part of his plan to destroy the X-men. However, when the tech was purged from Illyana’s body, she regained a greater control over her powers once more but still kept the new-look Soulsword. [Uncanny X-Men (3rd series) #1-7, 21-22]

Illyana started meeting with Doctor Strange, who taught her more about the magical side of her powers in a bid to stay in control of Limbo. Perhaps it was this growth that allowed Magik to display a new ability with the sword, something that only Amanda Sefton had previously achieved. Illyana had taken a young girl named Sapna under her wing as she seemingly possessed powers relating to demons. Sadly, Sapna was used as a pawn in the machinations of a demon called the World Eater. Illyana was forced to kill the young girl, who had been possessed by the demon and threatened to kill the X-Men. Sapna was stabbed with the Soulsword, but soon after it became apparent her soul had been stored inside the sword itself. Magik managed to travel into the sword and discovered an entire realm inside, one that was cold and desolate. Whilst she was unable to completely free Sapna’s soul from the sword, she did cast a spell that allowed the young girl’s spirit to leave it occasionally. [Extraordinary X-Men #13-16, 19]

Illyana was later killed and resurrected as part of the Krakoan protocols, and since then the Soulsword has returned to its original medieval design. [New Mutants (4th series) #1] When the forces of Krakoa and its sibling island Arakko went to war, a tournament was created by the Otherworld Majestrix Saturnyne. Ten Krakoan champions wielding ten swords were to travel to Otherworld and face off against their Arakkoan counterparts. Naturally, Illyana and her soulsword were amongst the number, and she used her sword to train up one of the other unsuspecting champions, Cypher. [X of Swords crossover]

Illyana had grown weary of ruling over Limbo, and chose to relinquish the throne to none other than the newly resurrected Madelyne Pryor. Illyana, Madelyne and some of the New Mutants travelled to Limbo to formalise the handover, but the demon S'ym made his own play for the throne. He had created his own twisted version of a soulsword, and he used it to destroy Illyana's, severing her instinctive link with the realm. Illyana opened up a portal to escape back to Earth, but the group found themselves in another part of Limbo instead. Having grown so accustomed to using the sword for teleportation, she struggled to navigate the realm using her own mutant powers. 

The group came across a fortress under attacked from a hoard of techno-organic infected demons. When they went to help the occupants they were shocked to discover an aged version of Illyana, wielding a soulsword made up of the technarch Warlock. She explained that she became trapped in Limbo after S’ym shattered her soulsword. Whilst the others died shortly after, she was joined by Warlock who had fled Earth after the fall of Krakoa in his time. Over time he struggled to hold his form together and so Illyana had let him merge with her, allowing him to take on the form of her soulsword. The future version of S’ym heard of the younger Illyana joining the fray and made an attack on the base himself, only to be killed by the aged Illyana. As he had crafted his own soulsword, he left its essence behind when he died, which Illyana used to create a temporary soulsword with a techno-organic component to it. She used it to help the older Illyana repel the last of the S’ym forces and finally leave the realm once and for all. 

Over the next few weeks the group teleported around Limbo, trying to find S’ym from their own timeline. Illyana used the time to go over her original magical training in a bid to reform her own soulsword, but she struggled to maintain it’s form. Illyana used the opportunity to teach Madelyne some of the knowledge she gained over the years, allowing Madelyne to create her own soul weapon, hers being in the form of a scythe. The group found S’ym’s castle and attacked it, but were shocked to find another version of Illyana residing within. This version was from a timeline where Illyana had never left Limbo, and instead chose to stay as it’s ruler after defeating Belasco. The combined might of Illyana and Madelyne easily took down this “Queen Illyana”, and she was killed by Madelyne’s scythe. Upon her death, her essence flowed into Illyana, allowing the girl to recreate her soulsword and armor along with it, only this time it was golden. Illyana was back at full power again with the link to her soulsword reestablished, but her responsibility to Limbo finally over with. [New Mutants (4th series) #25-28]

Origin and Theories

There is however some confusion regarding the swords origin, caused by later writers not knowing about or ignoring earlier stories. Originally it was created by Illyana in Magik #4, but then it was said it was made of the same metal as Shrill’s Eye, and it was also seen in a precognitive vision of Margali in Excalibur #minus 1. A possible explanation for the first is that perhaps Illyana was subconsciously tapping into this “soulsteel” when creating her sword or perhaps all metallic objects made of “soul energy” naturally have some kind of aversion towards each other.

Then there is the question how the Soulsword could appear in a vision to Margali years before it even existed – not to mention the fact that Belasco held it and chronologically at that time Belasco wasn’t even in Limbo, but still frozen in ice in Pangaea (an off-shoot of the Savage Land). The most logical explanation to that conundrum can be found in the nature of Limbo itself. Time moves differently in Limbo and all points of time can be accessed from it. So quite possibly, it was the Belasco from around X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #19 that Margali was seeing in that vision, as he held the Soulsword at that time. As for Belasco’s claim that he is the original owner of the sword, well, demons (even wannabe demon lords) do have a habit of lying, or the blade’s history is even more complicated and mysterious than is known at the time.

Yet another idea might be that Belasco doesn’t appear at all in Excalibur #minus 1, that it all is an illusion based scenario created by Margali in order to make her daughter stay at the circus and continue her magical training as at the time she was toying with the idea of leaving together with Nightcrawler.

The appearance of an alternate version of Illyana Rasputin among the dimension-hopping Exiles, too wielding a Soulsword, has only added to the confusion, but also gives room for further speculation. When the Exiles met the X-Men of the main Marvel Universe this Illyana lost her blade to Archangel, but easily conjured up a replacement for herself. Shortly afterwards she revealed that her Soulswords are very rare items and part of “Bata’s Circle”, hidden in a deep corner of Hades. Is that Illyana totally different from the one who died ? Or could it be that way back when Illyana tried to create a weapon, she subconsciously reached out and pulled one from Bata’s Circle, bonding it to her soul? The sword that was left with Archangel has never been seen since and with the main universe's Illyana alive and well, no mention has been made of Bata's Circle.

Then there is the matter of Pixie's soul dagger, which was created when Illyana removed a fragment of the young girl's soul. Possessing the same abilities as the regular soulsword, it was simply a smaller version due to the fact only a part of Pixie's soul was taken. As more of Pixie's soul was later taken, the soul dagger grew more powerful, and presumably it would have manifested as a soulsword once her entire soul was gone. Despite the fragments of Pixie's soul eventually being returned to her, she has been able to summon the soul dagger on subsequent occasions.

Other versions of soul weapons have appeared recently, with the demon S'ym wielding a soul mace, and Madelyne Pryor creating a soul scythe.