Colossus: The Broken X-Man

In ‘Amazing X-Men #15’, fans were shocked to see the anger with which Storm treated a fellow X-Man – namely, Colossus.  Sure, Storm’s grieving and lashing out, but some fans remembered the closeness between the two and felt something was wrong.  Ironically, I think something was very right.  Because I don’t think that fans have quite connected with Colossus’ story…

I’d argue that Colossus was redefined in the late 1980s.  The X-Men went through a dark time; they were believed dead by the world, but things just kept going wrong.  Rogue was lost in the mystic Siege Perilous; Storm was believed dead, apparently killed by Havok.  Psylocke, sensing that the X-Men were soon to be attacked and slaughtered by the Reavers, cheated death by persuading the last few members into entering the Siege Perilous, where they would be transformed.

For Colossus, his mind was erased and he lived a new, satisfying and fulfilling life – that of the artist Peter Nicholas.  Unfortunately, as we learned in ‘Uncanny X-Men #279’, Peter Nicholas was found by none other than the Shadow King, and was turned into a puppet, to be used against Professor Xavier.

Colossus Berzerk
Oddly enough, this was actually one of the first X-Men comics I read. The sheer power and fury of a rampaging Colossus is breathtaking!

Xavier’s only defence was to penetrate the mind of Peter Nicholas, and use his formidable psychic powers to unlock Colossus within him.  And this is the key moment, the one that we should never forget; because, for all Xavier was successful, we are explicitly told that Colossus resisted him.  Colossus loved the simple life of Peter Nicholas, and had found peace in it; reborn as an X-Man once again, from this moment on he would know no peace, only loss.

As a member of the Gold Team, Colossus was shocked when his brother – who he had long believed dead – returned.  Unfortunately, Mikhail was skirting the edges of insanity, and ultimately committed suicide.  Given how Colossus had hero-worshipped his brother, this was a terrible shock.  Colossus travelled out to Russia with the Blue Team in order to tell them the sad news.

Mikhail's death
Mikhail’s death was a wrench to Colossus’ heart.

That was when things twisted even more for Colossus, as, in ‘X-Men #18‘, his parents were cut down in a hail of blaster-fire.  Even worse, his little sister – his ‘Little Snowflake’ Illyana, otherwise known as Magik – contracted the Legacy Virus.  Hers was a long and protracted death, and when she finally passed away in ‘Uncanny X-Men #303‘, Colossus had lost all the things he most loved in the world.

Magneto intruded in Illyana’s funeral in ‘Uncanny X-Men #304‘, and – abandoning hope and, I suspect, on some level holding Xavier responsible for his ‘rebirth’ to this pain – Colossus betrayed the X-Men, siding with Magneto.

Colossus betrays the X-Men
Ouch. That’s gotta hurt.

Now, you have to understand that Colossus was no villain, even when he joined the Acolytes.  Instead, he provided a moral conscience to the team.  He was also the one who disabled the security of the space-station Avalon in ‘X-Men #25‘, allowing the X-Men to enter; when Magneto was left mindless, Colossus accepted the responsibility of looking after him.  It’s telling that Colossus chose to remain on an orbital space-station, separated from the rest of the world, shielded from the hurt that caring could bring by sheer distance.

It didn’t last, of course.  Avalon was ultimately destroyed in battle between Holocaust and Exodus (X-Men #42-44‘) and Colossus – struggling to deal with being back on Earth, and with having lost once again – found his way to Muir Isle in ‘Excalibur #92‘, looking for his old flame Kitty Pryde.  When he found her with current boyfriend Pete Wisdom, he almost killed him!

Ultimately, Colossus returned to the X-Men, and it was then that Beast found a cure for the Legacy Virus in ‘Uncanny X-Men #390‘.  But there would be a cost to this cure; a single mutant had to die.  Colossus chose to embrace death, taking the cure and sacrificing himself in order to ensure nobody else lost what he had lost to the Legacy Virus.  He no doubt looked forward to seeing those he loved once again.

Death of Colossus
A tragic issue.

There’s a tendency to remember this as an act of heroism, but it was as much an expression of loss as anything else.  Colossus had lost everything, and – while he would never have chosen a meaningless death – the reality is that he chose death as much out of loss as anything else.

Of course, the death didn’t stick.  Colossus was resurrected by the science of Breakworld, and was held captive – experimented upon, in experiences that seem analogous to torture – for months.  Freed by the X-Men in the first arc of ‘Astonishing X-Men‘, he found real joy once again, not least in the relationship with Kitty Pryde.  That was tragically cut short when Kitty sacrificed herself to save the world in ‘Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1‘.

Kitty's Sacrifice
Kitty Pryde – world-saver.

When Colossus learned that fragments of Magik’s soul had been gathered by the demonic Belasco, coalescing into the Darkchylde, he devoted himself to saving her.  Magik ultimately joined the X-Men, but was to prove an untrustworthy ally; her quest to recover her soul literally led to her risking all of reality in a war with the Elder Gods, and she was held prisoner in Utpia’s brig.  Meanwhile, Kitty’s return meant that Colossus at last had something more to life once again, and the two resumed their relationship.

Then came the events of ‘Fear Itself’.  With an enhanced Juggernaut storming towards San Francisco, Colossus and Magik travelled to the Crimson Cosmos in an attempt to draw away some of the Juggernaut’s power.  In ‘Uncanny X-Men #543‘, Cyttorak offered the power of becoming his avatar, and – while Magik was minded to accept it – Colossus chose to take it on, sparing her further evil.

What is happening to me
Tormented by the evil of Cyttorak, Colossus fought against his destructive urges.

The power of the Juggernaut tainted Colossus, introducing a darkness that sought destruction.  Walls were raised between Colossus and Storm in particular, as he betrayed her in favour of Cyclops; Colossus’ relationship with Kitty fragmented under the strain.  He had himself incarcerated in the brig with Magik, and struggled to keep control, never more so than when he became host to a fifth of the Phoenix Force.  Ultimately, he and Magik began to fall, and – in ‘AvX #8‘ – turned against one another, literally knocking the Phoenix out of one another.

Neither of you wants to see that
Spider-Man – the hero who coaxed two of the Phoenix Five into fighting one another!

Emotionally scarred by what had happened, Colossus and Magik had a ‘heart-to-heart’ – in which she revealed she could have removed the taint of Cyttorak all along, and finally did so.  She had wanted to teach him an insane lesson about her own character, and her betrayal shook Colossus to the core.  Again, he tried to retreat from humanity.

Instead, Colossus was approached by Cable, and in ‘Cable and X-Force’ wound up a key part of X-Force.  It’s worth remembering that the team’s first mission ended in tragedy, and Colossus saw men he had aimed to protect die around him.  Worse still, the Avengers thought that X-Force were responsible!  Colossus chose to turn himself in, but left the cell to help X-Force.  He then headed his own way, but ultimately rejoined the X-Men.  And here is Storm’s attitude to it:

Storm's words
Ouch!

You can see why Storm doesn’t trust Colossus.  Since his rebirth from the Siege Perilous, he’s constantly warred with his own sense of loss, and his decisions have been tainted by grief and pain.  Whether it be Magneto, Cyclops, or Cable, he’s continually been drawn into places of darkness and loss.  Emotionally, he’s been a mess pretty much since Xavier restored his psyche, and I actually feel sorry for him.  But were I Storm, I really don’t think I’d trust him.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. London says:

    Ok, you sold me on why Storm doesn’t wish to be her little brother’s keeper. But, I still fail to understand why she, Kurt, Kitty, or any other X-Men close to him don’t try to intervene and change his path or heal his grief.

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    1. Truthfully, I think that side of it is no compliment to Storm – I think her own grief and loss risks turning her inward, so she simply can’t handle things. I got the impression in AXM that Kurt is closer to Peter than Storm, though – he implies he knew Domino was in the School, for example. And as for Kitty, she’s at a different school! 😀

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  2. Iñigo says:

    I liked the recap about Colossus´ life (you should do more of them for other characters!) but I still see no justification. Good that you mention that old Excalibur issue. It was written by Warren Ellis and even though it´s a fine run I think it was way out of carácter for Colossus to almost beat Wisdom to death. He had already lost his parents, his brother Mikhail, and Illyana (twice!). He even had to cope with losing Callisto and I know he has to act human but beating Wisdom just wasn´t him. Some writers have chosen to wirte Colossus as a bad guy, beating guys and girls alike like it happened with Storm in X-Men a few months ago. He was supposed to be the noblest of the X-Men not the angriest. Losing so much in his life was a demonstration of how good he was, willing to sacrifice for the common good.
    In realtion to Storm, I´m willing to give she´s mad at Peter for treating her the way he has but then Storm snaps at Kurt for no reason at all. That´s not her, she is supposed to be the best leader and if she´s mad over losing Logan and fighting with Piotr, she can perfectly handle her feeling and not let them get in the way of things. Just what I think based on what I´ve read.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the bio! 😀 It has been a while since I’ve done one – got another planned for next week, hope you enjoy that one too!

      I have to say that recent characterisation of Storm hasn’t impressed me much; and the Warren Ellis issue of Excalibur always amused me, actually. Ellis always likes to have a few heroes who seem to be, shall we say, ‘patterned’ on himself, and it’s no coincidence Pete Wisdom was dating his childhood crush Kitty Pryde. So to me that particular story was… just silly, and him being a fanboy lol. So characterisation wasn’t exactly solid :p

      I feel sorry for Colossus; he just never seems to get a break. Well, except one – tune in next week :p

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      1. PH says:

        The good thing is that Ellis admitted for writing Colossus out-of-character.

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      2. Oh, did he? Glad to hear it!

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  3. Quinzy says:

    I have a question, not pertaining to the wonderful Colossus bio you did, but more in line with the original Juggernaut, Cain Marko. Where has he been during this whole Will and Testament of Charles Xavier? What has happened to him since being removed as the Avatar of the Cyttorak? Kudos again on this bio. Looking forward to the next installment.

    Like

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! 😀 Cain’s kind of dropped off the map since Fear Itself – but with the current Amazing X-Men plotline being Juggernaut-based, we can rest assured he’s about to turn up again! 🙂

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      1. loz says:

        He’s in the preview for the next Amazing X-men. He’s been in Utah getting his garden on.

        Like

      2. I was avoiding posting spoilers, Loz :p

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      3. loz says:

        Whoops. Apologies.

        Like

  4. Apolinar says:

    marvel now really does not make much sense, I do not think anyone thinks that colossus fell to fenix or Cyttorak by weakness if it were necessary circumstances that saved the x men from destruction and the Avengers.

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  5. ss4 says:

    It seems to me that the crew over at marvel have done this character (my favorite by the way) a disservice and also to Xmen in general. Peter was/is the noble one of the group, the shield and the protector to his FAMILY in the Xmen. He was always there for them. It seems that marvel is doing everything in it’s power to tear down this concept and the FAMILY concept for that matter. This was one of the reasons I was so drawn to these characters. At one point and time they would fight tooth and nail for one another. Now it seems the standard quota is betrayal and caring seems more of a word when they use it with no meaning behind it.

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