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X-Men: Magik: Storm & Illyana

X-Men: Magik: Storm & IllyanaX-Men: Magik: Storm & Illyana by Chris Claremont
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My favorite member of THE NEW MUTANTS was always Illyana Rasputin, Colossus’s little sister, a.k.a. Magik. Aside from my obvious adolescent crush on her, I was drawn to her mix of mutant and mystical abilities. Sure, she can summon “stepping discs” that allow her to teleport anywhere (and sometimes even through time), but she also has a cool “soulsword” and magical armor and a repertoire of spells at her disposal! Coupled with her constant internal battle against the dark, demonic side of her nature, how could I NOT be obsessed with her?

I read this four-issue miniseries when it first came out in 1983-4 to learn how she got those mystic powers during her years in Limbo with the demon Belasco. Trailers for a movie adaptation of THE NEW MUTANTS reminded me how much I liked the miniseries, so when I found a used trade available for a reasonable price, I snatched it up and dove right in. I was not disappointed! The story still holds up as an enjoyable, gothic adventure through a dark mirror-world of magic and demons. Back in the day, I found the alternate versions of the X-Men Illyana encounters in Limbo, twisted by Belasco’s dark magic, to be deeply disturbing, especially Kitty Pryde’s transformation into an unhinged human-cat hybrid. Today I found them equally disturbing.

Only two things keep me from awarding MAGIK five stars. The first is that the writing is ridiculously overwrought, particularly Belasco’s dialogue. This is not unusual for comic books, especially comics in the 1980s, but as a more discerning reader now it really stuck out for me. Second, it feels rushed. Had the miniseries gone for six or eight issues instead of only four, it wouldn’t have had to rely so much on exposition told through narration boxes across the panels and would have had room to show us more of what Illyana was experiencing in Limbo. It would have allowed time pass a little more organically, too, even with Limbo’s strange temporal properties.

Overall, this was a very fun read, and one I’m glad I revisited after all these years. Illyana Rasputin will always hold a special place in my dark little heart, and so will this miniseries!

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