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Jul 16

New Mutants #27 annotations

Posted on Saturday, July 16, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

NEW MUTANTS vol 4 #27
“The Labors of Magik, Book Three: Begin at the Beginning…”
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artists: Rod Reis (main story) & Jan Duursema (flashbacks)
Colourists: Rod Reis (main story) & Ruth Redmond (flashbacks)
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

COVER / PAGE 1: A rather unpleasant looking hare leads the New Mutants down a rabbit hole. I guess by a process of elimination that’s either Maddie or young Illyana in the background.

PAGES 2-3. Flashback: little Illyana reads a story to dead Colossus.

Colossus. In Uncanny X-Men #160 (1982), the story where Illyana is abducted to Limbo, the X-Men visit Limbo and, thanks to its wonky rules of time, encounter versions of themselves from an alternate future in which they have tried and failed to rescue Illyana. For the numbering enthusiasts among you, this timeline is apparently Earth-8280. Colossus appears in that story as a skeletal corpse, with serious damage to his chest, and said to have been killed by S’ym. However, since the second flashback scene tells us that Illyana “rais[ed] a shade of [him]”, this is presumably not the same Colossus corpse (and indeed, in Uncanny #160, Wolverine tells us that Colossus seems to have died as an old man). Belasco suggests on page 15 that he has met many alternate Piotrs, so it might be a completely different one, or just a slightly botched illusion.

Illyana. Thanks to Limbo’s weirdness, the main story intersects with the flashbacks in this issue. We visited Illyana’s future last issue, and now we’re doing the past. I’ll come back to where this fits into the Magik miniseries.

The Mad Hatter. Illyana’s story is obviously inspired by Alice in Wonderland, which would indeed have been a recognisable reference point in Russia. (There was a Russian animated version of it in 1981, for example.)

PAGE 4. Recap and credits. “Begin at the beginning” is an Alice in Wonderland quote: “‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said, very gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'”

PAGES 5-6. Magik wakes in the past.

Young Illyana has tried to cast a spell to go home, but has wound up turning Limbo into Alice in Wonderland instead. Belasco is of course cast as the Red King. Illyana’s main message for her younger self is that magic is morally neutral; that learning it is not in itself corrupting; and that Belasco is not evil because he’s a sorcerer. Basically, she’s encouraging her younger self to stick with the magical learning that will eventually lead to her defeating Belasco.

There’s an obvious parallel here with Illyana being inspired by her future self in the previous issue, and inspiring her younger self in turn here.

PAGE 7. Data page: Illyana’s spell, with details wisely obscured lest anyone try this at home.

PAGE 8. The rest of the cast settle into their cells.

PAGE 9. Colossus is magically brought to Limbo.

Colossus. At this point in continuity, Colossus is being mind-controlled by Chronicler on behalf of Mikhail Rasputin, but there’s no mention of it in this issue. It may simply be that, since Chronicler has had no occasion to give Colossus any directions for this scenario, his more-or-less normal personality applies.

His Russian dialogue reads “Sweet merciful—!”

PAGE 10. Data page: a scene between the prisoners that was evidently deemed Not Very Visual. We’ve covered all the continuity references in earlier chapters of this arc.

Euthyphro. The title relates to Madelyne questioning whether the laws and morals of Krakoa are arbitrary. Euthyphro was a dialogue by Plato, in which he sets out a dilemma about the basis of morality: do the gods approve of things because they are right, or are they only right because the gods approve of them? In other words, does morality exist independently of the gods? In a monotheistic context the problem becomes rather more pressing, since the options appear to be (1) that God is not the source of morality, or (2) that morality is nothing more than the arbitrary choice of God, neither of which is terribly satisfactory. A classic Christian answer is that this is a false dilemma because God does not act arbitrarily, but rather is constrained by his inherent nature; whether this is a satisfactory answer, or just a way of rephrasing option (2), is another matter. More broadly, the Euthyphro dilemma illustrates the point that moral rules have to be capable of rational justification in order for them to be satisfactory.

PAGE 11. Story book page. Obviously, the Little Goblin is young Illyana, the Mad Hatter is the older Illyana, and the Steel Knight is Colossus.  (There’s no Steel Knight in Alice in Wonderland, though it does have a White Knight and a Red Knight.) The narration – which is the same passage that young Illyana was reading in the opening flashback, confirming her as the narrator of these scenes – treats Magik and Colossus as somewhat estranged, and we certainly haven’t seen them spend much time together in a while. This could be read as both of them being aware on some level of Colossus being compromised, though it seems unlikely that Magik would fail to act on that.

PAGES 12-16. Belasco is defeated.

As Madelyne says, the actual immediate threat gets resolved remarkably quickly, but then it’s not really the point. Rahne’s point is reasonable: since Magik ends with Illyana defeating Belasco as a rookie sorceress, it surely follows that the current Magik can defeat him easily. Although isn’t the premise of this arc that Magik is wandering Limbo because her powers are impaired right now…? This is presumably what Belasco means when he says her “energy is potent, but diffused somehow” and ascribes it to self-doubt. Apparently, confronting her arch-enemy addresses some of that doubt and allows her to access her normal magical powers.

Illyana’s complaint that Belasco is not “original” is literally true, since the character is a stand in for Satan from Dante’s Inferno.

Colossus seems uncertain whether to get involved at all, but that may be just out of a reluctance to tread on his sister’s toes in what’s clearly her story; he certainly seems happy enough to act once she gives him permission. Dan

PAGE 17. Story page. Mad Hatter Magik defeats the Belasco dragon, and wipes his memory of events (but doesn’t defeat him entirely, because that would invalidate her personal timeline and cause all manner of trouble).

PAGES 18-21. Illyana resolves to stick with her personal timeline.

Peter is happily reunited with little Illyana, even though he’s had access to the older Illyana on Krakoa all along; this, of course, is the version of Illyana where he still feels that he plays the traditional older brother role, and she reciprocates.

Peter’s dialogue in Russian is “I love you so much, little snowflake. And no matter what happens, I always will.” This, of course, is a sentiment he does not express to Magik directly.

“I tried and tried, but I could never get an acorn to work.” In Magik #1 (1983), Illyana spends some time living with Ororo (the alternate version stranded in Limbo) in her Limbo garden. At the centre of the garden is an oak tree; Ororo says that it grew from an acorn which was “the first thing I created when I built my sanctuary – my oasis of life amidst the desolation of limbo”. In Magik #3, Illyana tries to create her own acorn , and initially appears to succeed, only for it to explode into black gunk two panels later. The dialogue clarifies that this is because the acorn is “rotten and corrupt inside, like [Illyana]”. She tries again several times in issue #4 with the same result, and eventually succeeds in creating her Soulsword instead. The point is that she succeeds with the sword where she failed with the acorn, partly because she’s being herself rather than imitating Ororo – which would normally be a moment of growth and realisation, but is tainted because “being herself” involves something less pure and more destructive.

In this issue, young Illyana says that she has tried this several times, with a footnote to Magik #3. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to work. The acorn scene in Magik #3 leads directly into her leaving Belasco’s castle for good, But young Illyana here is clearly still a ward of Belasco, which means the latest possible gap in the action is between Magik #2-3 (which is a two-year gap). The idea might have been that Illyana had tried and failed with the acorn repeatedly during that gap, but Magik #4  specifically says that she’s only done it once before (i.e., in issue #3). One possible solution is that Illyana makes several totally failed attempts between Magik #2-3, and Magik #4 is simply saying that she only once got as far as actually making a (short-lived) acorn. Another would be that the earlier attempts somehow get erased from memory by the fluid nature of time in Limbo.

PAGES 22-23. Flashback continued.

Illyana clarifies here that she’s writing down her story in the immediate aftermath of this encounter with her older self, before her memories of the event fade.

PAGE 24. Trailers.

Bring on the comments

  1. Michael says:

    I thought it was Belasco in the background.
    Still no more hints on who S’ym’s patron is, although it probably isn’t Belasco, since he was defeated so easily. It might be Maddie’s imprint but Illyana suggested the imprint was created a few weeks after S’ym turned Maddie into the Goblin Queen- which raises the question of how the imprint knows spells that S’ym doesn’t.
    Dani admits that having Sinister on the council is a bad idea but says that at least the other council members are keeping him in check- yeah, Dani, the other council members are doing a GREAT job of keeping Sinister in check.
    Dani also says Krakoa won’t work unless all the former villains not only stop hurting people but try to make amends for the harm they’ve caused. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions like Graycrow, we haven’t seen any of the former villains trying to make amends.
    Ayala doesn’t really seem to get that Maddie used to be one of the X-Men, or at least, isn’t making use of it. Maybe we’ll see more of that next issue, when Maddie interacts with Colossus.

  2. SanityOrMadness says:

    Paul> Peter’s dialogue in Russian is “I love you so much, little snowflake. And no matter what happens, I always will.” This, of course, is a sentiment he does not express to Magik directly.

    Presumably, he should remember what that sort of thing led to in Gillen’s Uncanny… (which has been largely ignored since, of course – but, then, Gillen’s back in the picture now. And notionally Colossus’ regular writer, although not much has happened with him in IXM yet.)

  3. Michael says:

    @SanityOrMadness- Although Gillen did have Destiny see a vision of an evil Illyana…

  4. Joseph S. says:

    Have we seen any Magik/ Colossus interactions since the resolution to their story with the AvX/Phoenix Five?

  5. Luis Dantas says:

    IIRC, present day Magik interacted with a possible future Colossus during the later stages of the 2013 “Battle of the Atom” crossover.

  6. Tony says:

    They made up in Bendis’ final issue, Uncanny 600, and then they were teammates together throughout the Extraordinary X-Men run

  7. Mike Loughlin says:

    The panel in which Belasco puts his hand on young Illyana’s shoulder is one of the creepiest I’ve ever seen. Rod Reis changing the color palette from the fairy-tale reds to stark naturalism brought made Illyana’s predicament more real while implying awful things without being explicit. The rest of the issue was good, but that panel is what’s stayed in my head since I read it.

  8. Joseph S. says:

    Oh right. In 600 Piotr just accepted that she wasn’t a little child anymore, IIRC, and they made peace. But I’m Extraordinary I don’t remember much interaction. I don’t really feel any desire to reread that run, I do remember Illyana had some good arcs, with Sapna getting stuck in her sword and all this. But didn’t Colossus spend a good chunk of that run stuck in the future with Anole and Rockslide?

  9. Tony says:

    Yeah, Colossus was sidelined/brainwashed most of the run. I remember them being kidnapped in the opening arc by Sinister, right? They must’ve had sufficient interaction during that

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