A Skinning of Souls Part Three – Harvest of the Innocent
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Pennington, Wiacek, Panosian, Williamson (inkers), Joe Rosas (colorist), Bill Oakley (letterer)
Russian troops arrive with Illyana, as Colonel Vazhin tries to convince Colossus to let them use her powers against the Soul Skinner. Colossus fears that aging her to gain access to her powers could kill her. Soul Skinner arrives and reveals to Colossus that the troops killed his parents while kidnapping Illyana. When he looks into Colossus’ mind, he sees that they’ve lived with similar pain, and decides to use Illyana’s powers to kill himself and everyone around him. Colossus has Psylocke connect the town’s innocent children to the Soul Skinner’s mind, which overwhelms him and causes him to turn off his own mind. Colonel Vazhin then shoots his comatose body in the head.
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Psylocke and Cyclops are nude in bed together in her fantasy.
The Soul Skinner’s origin is revealed. He once had a normal life, until his daughter became gravely ill. His wife was a secret agent hired to monitor him due to his powerful mutant abilities. To keep her cover, she refused to use her government contacts to help save their daughter. When the Soul Skinner discovered this, he “shredded her body and soul” and turned to villainy.
According to the Soul Skinner, Colossus’ parents were killed because the government knew Illyana would die stopping him. This doesn’t make a lot of sense, unless he’s implying that they were killed so that no one would report Illyana missing (which doesn’t work either since these are government agents who could stop any investigation in the first place).
Beast implies that he’s about to turn thirty. For a few issues, he acts depressed, although the subplot goes nowhere.
The Soul Skinner arc finally concludes. This is a classic example of a story that isn’t interesting on it own merits and only exists to put pieces in place for another story. It seems as if no one cared how exactly Colossus’ parents were killed, they just wanted more bad things to happen to him to justify him joining Magneto in a few issues. This could’ve been accomplished in any number of ways, but it’s handled in the clumsiest way imaginable. Omega Red’s presence in the storyline is another disappointment. He seems to be there simply because the story takes place in Russia. He doesn’t contribute anything to the story, and is only in a few panels in this issue before disappearing behind the scenes. What exactly Soul Skinner is planning in the end, and how the X-Men recover from their vegetative state, are all unclear. And the less said about any plot point that depends on the “innocence of children”, the better. It’s a poorly done storyline, although I do like Soul Skinner’s origin. It was probably one of the most disturbing things I had read in a comic when I was a kid. Showing that the Soul Skinner is sympathetic towards Cyclops and Colossus is another nice touch.