Friday, February 15, 2013

Mind Controlling Magik part III: Meanwhile In Between Time.

When we last left Illyana in 1982's Uncanny X-men # 160, she was about to fall prey to Belasco in spite of the X-men's best efforts. She only disappeared for a second or two before Kitty Pryde managed to pull her free from the demon lord Belasco's grasp. However,those scant seconds in Limbo added at least 5 years to little eight year old Illyana's life...

Yeah, Limbo will do that to ya...  An hour of our time could seem like a decade, century or even an instant there. So it would make sense Illyana could have gained all those extra years within the space of a few of our heartbeats. But, what had happened to her in Limbo during that time?

That particular question would be answered in December of 1983 with the release of Magik: Storm and Illyana # 1, a four part limited series by Chris Claremont and John Buscema that set out to tell Illyana's lost years in Limbo. 

In Uncanny X-men # 160, this particular scene ended with Illyana in Kitty's hands... However, Illyana didn't simply hang there for five years before getting pulled out. Belasco actually pulled her in and closed the portal, but the time that took in Limbo was less than a second on Earth. So, this entire series takes place during that brief moment...

Mindboggling, to say the least. Or in the case of Illyana: mind controlling. Belasco had something very special planned for the lil' one.

Ah, yeah, quick reminder, Belasco might seem like a pretty potent baddie all by himself, he was actually a high priest of even badder people known as the Elder Gods. These ancient terrors were ready to invade Earth and Belasco figured Illyana would serve as the ideal gateway.

The best conduit for evil is sacrificing innocents. That's why Belasco actively used his magic to corrupt the soul of poor, innocent Illyana. Lobbing off a piece of her purity, Belasco magically converted it into a ball of, as he claims, gorgeous energy. Let's see how he uses it.

"She is bound to me... body and soul... and through me, to my dread lords. Forever."

Yes, it *is* 1983, which means Chris Claremont favorite mind control related staple is over three decades old. It's withstood the test of time, but then again master Chris wás talking about *forever*, right?

So, where was the elderly Storm while all this went down? Having a lie down, actually... sending the X-men home while holding of Belasco and his forces proved too much for her. She was forced  to look on as the demon lord defiled Illyana's innocence in creating the first bloodstone.

Summoning up her last reserves of strength, she grabbed Illyana and teleported them back to her sanctum, a Belasco-free pocket of Limbo that Storm had turned into a lush, gardenlike glade.

There, Storm tried to teach Illyana the power of white magic in an attempt to train the young girl in fighting the dark side Belasco had awakened within her after consuming part of her soul. Alas, Storm was too old and feeble to undo Belasco's mark on Illyana. Luckily, she had an ally in Cat, better known as 'our' Kitty Pryde. However, decades spent in Belasco's realm had changed her considerably.  

Belasco had subtly used his control over Limbo to influence and change the X-men that had been trapped there trying to get Illyana home. They all had pretty much fallen prey to Belasco's domineering presence. Wolverine and Colossus died fighting, while Storm and Cat managed to break free... And as for Nightcrawler? Well, we'll get to that...

Cat had her own ideas about how to deal with Illyana...

Offering a way home, Cat took the young Illyana on a journey of discovery, unaware this was all part of Belasco's bigger plan, Cat dropped them off in a desert like part of Limbo. There, she decided to teach the young girl some crucial survival skills, often getting quite a kick out of watching how her young ward humiliated herself by failing over and over again.

Over the course of her training, Limbo's warped temporal laws cause Illyana to age... Now at least 14 years old, she reaches Belasco's citadel headquarters in the heart of Limbo, just in time for Cat to explain her plan to return home.

Y'see, Belasco built his keep on the exact spot the dimensional barriers between Earth and Limbo are the weakest. Cat figures that she can reach Earth by using her phasing powers, because, well, just cos, sheesh...

Before she was able to execute her plan, Cat had to deal with her former teammate Nightcrawler. After getting stranded in Limbo, Kurt Wagner ultimately succumbed to his dark side and became Belasco's merciless, depraved servant. However, Cat knew how to take care of him...

Seconds after Kurt's killing, Belascos shows up to take matters in his own, erm, hand... That is, not before he allows Cat to try her phase & escape plan which fails horribly... Just like he'd planned. Belasco had planted the illusion of hope in Kitty's mind, only to yank her proverbial chain back to him so he could exact vengeance on the Cat who cost him a pet.

Changing Kitty into an actual, unthinking cat thing, Belasco focussed his attentions on Illyana. It was time for a new bloodstone ritual, after all... But why not have a little more soul corruption while we're at it?

Just read those lines... Belasco revels in debasing Kitty Pryde to her most primal urges, while the young Illyana looks on. A little scared, yes, but also quite excited about the prospect lord Belasco is offering... Hopes and dreams that become even more alluring after Belasco corrupted another part of her soul while creating the second bloodstone.

Luckily, the already cursed child still had an ally in Limbo...

More on the corruption of the innocent and the imminent vengeance of the elderly in part IV of Mind Controlling Magik: Salvation Is But A Stepping Disc Away

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