New Mutants #25
In 1989, an Inferno swept through the pages of Marvel comics. A hell dimension called Limbo had been taken over by Madelyne Pryor, a clone of Jean Grey, and with that power she threatened to destroy the world. To fight fire with fire, a young mutant that had been raised in Limbo named Illyana Rasputin tapped into her fully demonic powers in order to push the forces back where they came from. Both characters were changed forever, and are now coming back into each other’s lives with New Mutants #25, written by Vita Ayala, drawn by Rod Reis, with the flashbacks drawn and colored by Jan Duursema and Ruth Redmond.
Warning: This will be a spoiler review discussing the full issue. Read on at your own risk.
The prologue of the issue takes place in Limbo, where a shadowy figure is giving the demon S’ym a potion that makes a magical weapon come out of his body. This shadowy figure looks and talks a lot like Belasco, who was the one that trapped Illyana in Limbo and abused her for years.
We then see our first fantasy style page of the issue. The border and caption blocks are reminiscent of a storybook, but the image is filled with horror as a young creature runs for their life as devilish shape grins behind her. There are more of these pages throughout the issue, and they seem to depict the “Labors” that Illyana, Madelyne, Rahne, and Dani will be going through in this arc. The end of the issue reveals that this is a book that young Illyana has found in Belasco’s library. There seems to be some sort of time loop happening like in the Magik mini series, and the final pages evoke a similar art style to that series.
In the present of Krakoa, we are thrown into the middle of an argument Rahne and Dani are having with Illyana about trusting Maddie. It’s unclear if Magik fighting them both blindfolded is specifically to prove that she knows what she’s doing, or if that’s just a regular exercise she does as a War Captain, but either way it’s badass while also showing how dangerous she was forced to become in order to survive growing up. The three agree to take Madelyne to Limbo together in case she tries anything, but so far it’s not the former Goblin Queen they need to worry about.
Once the group is in Limbo, the panel borders turn into rough black lines, mirroring the dark and unstable nature of this realm. Here we get a conversation between Illyana and Madelyne that is truly heart wrenching stuff from Vita Ayala. Illyana falls into old patterns of speaking in Limbo, and talks about how every breath she took was controlled by Belasco. Even though she has dominion over this place, it is still the source of her trauma, and she is trying to let go of it. We learn that she picked Madelyne because she has had her own trauma to deal with, and that the strength in surviving it is what’s needed to rule Limbo.
Dani and Rahne still aren’t convinced, and Madelyne argues that she’s been giving a clean slate along with every other mutant villain. Before the argument can escalate, S’ym and a legion of demons invade. He holds up his new weapon, and his pose is the only one of the issue that breaks out of the frame it’s in, foreshadowing the amount of power he holds. And soon enough, he has shattered Illyana’s soul sword in battle, and our group must flee. The issue ends with them unable to leave Limbo, and worried that if they die there, they might not be able to be resurrected correctly. And so begins The Labors of Magik.
This issue was promoted as being a new jumping on point for readers who hadn’t read this series yet, and though it does reference past stories, Vita is creating something fresh and exciting here. Illyana is a fan favorite character and seeing her try to leave her hellish past behind is so cathartic to see. I also can’t wait to see where the character of Madelyne goes. Her being resurrected on Krakoa was a huge step in the mutant community recognizing her as her own person and not just a copy of someone else. It will also be interesting to see if Rahne’s religious background or Dani’s history as a Valkyrie will come into play in this environment.
The biggest advantage of there being so many X books right now is the room to tell these personal stories that feel like they are decades in the making while also being the foundation for things we’ve never seen before. I have no idea what to expect for the rest of this arc, but what we have so far is a perfect start.