Magic: The Gathering lore nerds are having a rough time right now. The next set, Phyrexia: All Will Be One, follows a strike-team featuring some of the game’s biggest names as they make their way to the home plane of the body snatching, Borg-like Phyrexians. Unfortunately, stepping foot into Phyrexia is a death sentence, and five of the ten names won’t survive the set without being compleated.
Many are already mourning the loss of Magic’s power couple, with Vraska already compleated and Jace likely to follow by the end of the story, and Nahiri’s half-compleation is rife for speculation about how this arc will end. But one character is being severely overlooked. He’s nobody’s favourite, but Lukka was compleated early in All Will Be One, and is one of the biggest cases of wasted potential we’ve seen from Magic’s story since Greg Weisman’s War of the Spark novels.
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This article includes spoilers for Phyrexia: All Will Be One.
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It’s incredibly easy to hate Lukka. Introduced in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, he’s an anti-authoritarian (good) who decided the best way to deal with the oppressive Coppercoats was to set a horde of monsters on the entire city of Drannith by using his ability to bond to animals (bad). Driven mad by a mysterious crystal known as the Ozolith, he’s an angry, unpredictable dick who has had very few redeeming moments in his short history.
We next saw him in Strixhaven: School Of Mages, where his hatred of any kind of authority led him right into the clutches of the Oriq, a cult obsessed with destroying the Strixhaven school and summoning a being known as the Blood Avatar. While Lukka was firmly on the ‘wrong’ side of this conflict, Strixhaven fleshed out his character more by revealing that fellow Planeswalker Kasmina – up to then a mysterious figure assumed to be a good person – was at least partially responsible for everything that happened to Lukka in Ikoria.
Kasmina was revealed to be a member of a secret organisation whose modus operandi is forcibly igniting the sparks of latent Planeswalkers for some, currently unknown, reason. As this spark can only be ignited through severe emotional strain – usually trauma – their methods appear to be brutal, even if it might be for a greater good.
With the reveal that Kasmina and Lukka are connected, and that Lukka might not have ever even become a Planeswalker were it not for her, we had the start of a fascinating story arc beginning to unfold. I was hoping Lukka would get his moment to shine after the Phyrexian arc, as he began to investigate this organisation and exactly what happened with the Ozolith. Instead, he decided to bond with a Phyrexian creature and became compleated instead.
Compleation isn’t death, so we’re likely going to see more of Lukka, Ajani, Tamiyo, and all the other Compleated Planeswalkers in the sets to come. But it is the end of their individual stories as they become absorbed into the wider machine of Phyrexia. For most of the characters we’ve lost so far, it’s a good way to extend their stories that had mostly petered out – Ajani, Tamiyo, and Nahiri weren’t up to much, and Jace and Vraska’s relationship had years of development before this sudden betrayal.
Lukka’s different, though. His story wasn’t over; it hadn’t even had a chance to get started before he became swept up in Phyrexia. Now that he’s compleated, his story has become irrevocably linked to the Phyrexians, who are likely on the way out as the current big bad of the Magic multiverse. All that history with Kasmina and the Ozolith, that organisation, and why he needed his spark igniting in the first place is suddenly swept away to give a quick shock moment in All Will Be One.
The problem Wizards now faces is that they have three potential outcomes for Lukka, and none of them are all that satisfying. The first is that this really is it, and Lukka is now a pawn of the praetor Vorinclex. He’s effectively removed from the multiverse, with his fate intricately tied up with Phyrexia’s.
The second is that, somehow, the compleation is reversed and Lukka returns to normal. This does open up space for Lukka to pursue Kasmina again in the future, but compleation is such a radical story angle that reversing it would be a copout. As much as I want to see more of Lukka, and Ajani is my favourite MTG character, having them suddenly healed after a few sets on the dark side would be some comic book-level writing nonsense.
The third option is that, somehow, the Phyrexians and Lukka’s history are already tied together in ways we don’t know. Maybe the Phyrexians are the threat Kasmina has been sparking the Planeswalkers to fight, and this is the culmination of her plan coming into effect. With only two sets left to explore this, it wouldn’t feel all that grounded for a years-long mystery, but it would give Lukka some sense of closure before he’s offed for good.
With the rest of the Phyrexia: All Will Be One story to come, and March of the Machine after that, maybe Wizards will surprise me and the Phyrexian arc – which has, up to now, been one of the best stories MTG has done in a long time – will be closed out in a way that’s satisfying for every character it’s taken from us. We can expect huge things from March of the Machine, but I wish one of those things was a bit more time to explore a particularly angry man from Ikoria.