Uncanny X-Men #18: The Final Fall of Colossus
For me, Uncanny X-Men #18 is only nine pages long. The rest of it is some wheel-spinning malarkey about Scott Summers being bitchy and showing us that, during the big fight in Avengers vs. X-Men #11, Scott and Emma Frost were also having a lovely dinner with each other on the astral plane wherein they were eating steak glazed with human blood. Whatever, yadda yadda, Phoenix Corruptus ad nauseum. It's all rendered very well by artist Ron Garney, but I've had my fill of Cyclops.
The nine pages I'm interested in, one of them is the opening page, which is a quick look at hotshot Utopia PR lady Kate Kildare, who is looking over the ruins of everything she was helping to build with the X-Men and helplessly pondering the impossible ways to spin all of this positively to the rest of the world. It's a nice little touch of hopelessness and grim defeat.
The other eight pages focus on the aftermath of Phoenix Five possession for Piotr and Illyana Rasputin, who were turned against each other by Spider-Man a couple of issues ago and have parted ways with the Phoenix Force. They are left to lament what they've done – something Peter excels at doing, and has often had occasion to do after the egregious mistakes he has made in his superheroic career. While UXM writer Kieron Gillen has, of late, made him a tragic figure by throwing himself on the curse of Cyttorak to spare his sister from it and thus sacrificing his relationship with Kitty Pryde, Jason Aaron has made him a pathetically stupid figure ("hurr, me thought whales might like legs, but me forget they don't breathe on land good") in his rush to hook Kitty up with Iceman over in Wolverine and the X-Men. At the time, I objected to Aaron's issue of WatX where Piotr tried to Phoenix-woo Kitty back and wound up going crazy and destroying any hope he had of reconciliation, because Colossus has always been my favorite X-Man, and I have strong "shipper" tendencies.
Now, however, I see that redemption is not in the cards for Big Pete at all, much less getting his girlfriend back. Gillen's plan, likely all along, has been to lead him down the path of straight supervillainy. And as much as it pains me, I have to admit that I can see why.
Let's take a brief tour of Peter's past issues with instability.
1.) He's always been extremely overprotective of his little sister Illyana, his "snowflake." His powers first manifested when protecting her from a runaway threshing machine, and that set the tone for his life's purpose of being almost single-mindedly self-sacrificial when it comes to her.
2.) His older brother Mikhail was a cosmonaut who was a hero to him, who died tragically – or so he thought, since he actually went to other dimensions and turned out to be an insane supervillain, although usually convinced he was doing the right thing.
3.) His horribly-written plotline in Secret Wars had him falling hard for this mysterious alien healer named Zsaji who never gave him the time of day, and he became obsessed with her to the point of breaking off his first awkward relationship with Kitty (back when the age gulf between them was a prickly issue), prompting his friends Wolverine and NIghtcrawler to let him get pounded in a barfight with the Juggernaut to pay him back for being a jerk.
4.) His first experience with murder was when he had to kill the non-corporeal mutant Proteus before he took over the world, and it messed him up. He would later kill one of Mr. Sinister's Marauders named Riptide out of righteous anger, meaning it was getting easier for him to cross that line. These days, the Marauders are cloned a dime a dozen and it barely means anything to kill one, but back then it did.
5.) His sister was taken to a hell dimension and aged artificially to her teenage years and turned into a demon and eventually died as a result of the dastardly Legacy Virus.
6.) His parents were brutally murdered by the Russian government, meaning he has no real home to ever go back to.
7.) When his sister died, leaving him without any family at all, he broke up with Xavier's Dream and converted to Magneto's Acolytes. He also had some debris lodged in his brain somehow that might have prompted that, but he stayed with the Acolytes once that was removed… although he did often try to be that group's conscience.
8.) When Magneto's way proved no better than Xavier's, Peter left them as well and tried to find Kitty once again, and when he found her, she was kissing her new boyfriend Pete Wisdom, and Rasputin was so mentally exhausted that he flipped out and beat Wisdom to within an inch of his life before he regained his composure.
9.) He killed himself in the memory of his sister in order to release the cure for the Legacy Virus to the rest of the world.
10.) He was mysteriously revived and held prisoner for a year or so by evil aliens, who kept him locked in a cell miles underground and tortured him regularly until the X-Men finally found him alive – having had no reason to believe he wasn't dead.
11.) Almost immediately after he had rekindled and finally managed to make his relationship with Kitty work, she sacrificed her life to save the world from a giant space bullet, causing him to grieve obsessively until he broke down and got a really shitty tattoo. I mean, come on, the man's supposed to be an artist, and he just gets a heart with KATYA written in it? Please.
12.) During the Colossus: Bloodline miniseries, he learned that he was actually descended from the Mad Monk Grigori Rasputin, who used to associate with Mr. Sinister (who likes to genetically tamper with mutants). As a result, most of the self-destructive actions taken by the Rasputin family are due to the fact that a portion of Grigori's consciousness exists as a constant whisper in the back of their minds, urging them to die, because when there is only one member of the bloodline left standing, Grigori will be reborn. His entire extended family all killed themselves or found ways to die. His brother Mikhail sacrificed himself to a limbo dimension where he would live eternally to prevent that from happening, but that voice should still be strong in his mind anyway. Not that the miniseries has ever been referenced anywhere else, but still.
13.) His sister comes back to life as a soulless half-demon darkchylde, but he insists on treating her as his snowflake, regardless of how she actually behaved. To the point where, during Fear Itself, she planned to take on the curse of Cyttorak's avatar of destruction in order to hope they had a chance against the Serpentized Cain Marko, but Piotr took on that curse instead, dooming him to have ANOTHER whispering voice in his mind – this time, one commanding him not to destroy himself, but to destroy everything else in the world.
14.) Oh yeah, a THIRD voice entered his head, and it was that of an all-powerful cosmic firebird making him take over the world, help his sister raise hell on Earth and feed Avenger prisoners to soul-eating devil worms.
After reviewing all that, it makes some sense that Piotr Nikolievitch might be teetering on the brink. The last straw comes in Uncanny X-Men #18, when he laments and regrets everything he did while in the thrall of the Phoenix – he'd hoped it would help counteract Cyttorak, but it just made it worse. He comes to the conclusion that he does not deserve to live, and his sister says "Finally."
She explains that she manipulated him into taking on Cyttorak's curse, because he'd wanted to understand her, and she knew he couldn't until he'd experienced what she had gone through, what damnation feels like, and how it destroys you."I had to show you. I had to make you finally see. There are no snowflakes in hell."
The realization that his little sister is insane and brought all of this on him out of self-service breaks him, and he calls what's left of her a monster and an abomination, goes FULL ON Cyttorak and tries to smash her. She was his last connection to anything, and there it goes. Colossus is gone. He is now just the Juggernautovich.
That is, until maybe he wanders to the Savage Land and finally learns that he has a son conceived in the threesome wherein he lost his virginity many years ago. Even then, I wouldn't wish that on Peter Jr. The entire Rasputin family is made up of madness. A land of savagery is more peaceful than this life of theirs.