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A History of NEW MUTANTS’ Magik and Her Deadly Soulsword

After literally waiting years, the full trailer for Josh Boone’s New Mutants has now arrived. And this preview shows a lot more footage and character moments than the previous one did. Perhaps the biggest highlight comes at the end of the trailer, when we see Anya Taylor-Joy’s character of Illyana Rasputin — known in the comics as Magik — face down a supernatural nasty with her legendary weapon the Soulsword.

Anya Taylor Joy goes full mystical warrior in the latest trailer for New Mutants.

Twentieth Century Fox

With Magik seemingly set to steal the show in her live-action incarnation, let’s dive deep into her crazy comic book backstory, as well as the history of her kick ass weapon of choice.

Illyana Rasputin, better known as Magik, wields her Soulsword in the pages of Marvel's New Mutants comic.

Marvel Comics

Most of the X-Men characters have pretty wild comics histories you can’t sum up quickly. You’ve all heard of Jean Grey, right?? But right up there with Jean in terms of wild back stories is Illyana Rasputin. She first appeared as an unnamed child in Giant Size X-Men #1 back in 1975, the issue that revitalized the entire X-Men franchise. We saw her in just a few panels, when her big brother Peter turned his skin into metal and saved his younger sibling from a runaway tractor trailer.

The very first appearance of Illyana Rasputin, in the legendary Giant Size X-men #1.

Marvel Comics

This was how fans met Colossus, a later mainstay of the X-Men. His young sister eventually got the first name Illyana. She’d appear only sporadically over the next few years. But in 1983 she got a major character upgrade, and a power boost that made her more powerful than most of the Marvel mutants. And ultimately, gave her one of the coolest weapons in all of comics — the Soulsword.

Illyana’s transformation from kindergarten-age adorable sibling to teenage sorceress began in Uncanny X-men #160 in 1982. Belasco, one of the demonic lords of the Limbo realm, kidnapped the young Illyana. At age six, she still had not developed her mutant powers. Although she is gone for only a few minutes of “Earth time,” it’s actually a full seven years in the Limbo dimension.

One of the earlier renditions of The New Mutants' Magik, as drawn by the great Bill Sienkiewicz

Marvel Comics

There, she develops her mutant ability of creating teleportation discs. Her dimension’s version of Storm trains her in the ways of magic; Limbo’s version of Kitty Pryde trains her in swordplay. The demon lord Belasco also tutors Illyana in the art of black magic, although he also attempts to corrupt her soul in order to create a series of magical “bloodstones.” She eventually gets free of Belasco, and goes back home to Earth, at the exact same time she left it. Only now, she’s 13 years old and not 6. She quickly becomes a one of the main cast of New Mutants.

Magik in her full demonic mode, as the ruler of Limbo.

Marvel Comics

During her years in Limbo, Illyana develops the power to create a magical weapon out of her own being called the Soulsword. Since Illyana created the Soulsword while she briefly ruled Limbo, whoever else wields the weapon also rules that dimension. On occasion, when tapping into the full power of the sword, Magik even gets horns and tail; really rocking an ‘80s heavy metal album cover look. This version of her was “the Darkchylde,” a perfect name for a metal band.

The Soulsword extends mystical armor on Illyana's body in the pages of the comics.

Marvel Comics

So what can the Soulsword do, aside from look hella cool? It actually has plenty of fun features that Marvel writers have extrapolated on. The energy blade could disrupt all known magical energies it came into contact with. It also has the ability to cause harm to ethereal beings like spirits and ghosts, and can wound them as if they had flesh and blood bodies. This looks to be what is happening in the movie version.

If an ordinary mortal is possessed or controlled by some magical powers, a strike from the Soulsword can also break that spell. This mystical weapon eventually extended into a form of armor that would cover Magik’s arm and shoulders. It’s something else we see in the film version. In the comics, the sword has changed shape as well. It goes from a thin blade to a giant monster of a sword with little explanation. Aside from “it’s all magic.” Or should we say magik?

The larger version of Magik's Soulsword, as seen in more recent Marvel Comics.

Marvel Comics

Among those others who have also been the wielder of the Soulsword besides Illyana are her best friend Kitty Pryde, and for a longer period, the sorceress Amanda Sefton. So why exactly did other mutants take a hold of this magical weapon? That’s because like most X-Men characters, there were several times when Illyana was either de-powered or dead. She lost her powers when she used the Soulsword to close the portals to Limbo. She reverted to her six year old self, with no memory of her time as Magik. Her brother Colossus returned her to Siberia to live with their parents and have a normal childhood.

After turning into a child again, Illyana grew ill and died. Her friends Kitty Pryde and Jubilee at her bedside.

Marvel Comics

Sadly, that happy second chance at childhood didn’t last long. Her parents were killed by Russian government agents, and soon the orphaned child came to live at the X-Mansion with her elder brother. But soon after she contracted the deadly Legacy Virus, and subsequently died. Illyana stayed dead for the better part of a decade, which is how others like Kitty were able to take possession of the Soulsword for a time.

Eventually, a living memory of the older Magik would be discovered in the Limbo dimension, although this was more of a copy of Illyana and not the real thing. This copy would later bond with the soul of the true Illyana, allowing for Magik to return to the world of the X-Men for good. And she’s stuck around ever since. And she always carries her Soulsword with her, as an extension of her magic-meets-mutant power.

Magik returned to life and to her teenage body, and once again held the Soulsword.

Marvel Comics

We don’t expect the big screen version of Magik to have anywhere near as complicated a backstory as her comic book counterpart. And we would be surprised if her connection to Deadpool’s Colossus was even mentioned. Although a cameo would be super nifty. But it looks like at least in the broad strokes, we will see Magik come to life in a way that would make longtime Marvel fans happy.

Featured Image: Marvel Comics