X-Man #11

Issue Date: 
January 1996
Story Title: 
The X-Cutioner’s Song

John Ostrander (writer), Steve Skroce (penciler), Bud LaRosa & Rob Hunter (inkers), Mike Thomas (colors), Pat Brosseau (letters), Graphic Color Works (separations), Jaye Gardner (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Rogue is relaxing on a North Carolina beach to try and find a degree of normality after taking leave from the X-Men. She notices Nate Grey flying overhead, and he crashes into a cliff, as his powers are out of control. She offers to help him, but he reacts with an instinctive telekinetic blast, which floors her. He takes off but faints, crashing into the sea. Rogue can’t let him drown, so she saves him and knocks him unconscious, hoping he’ll have better manners when he wakes. Blaquesmith has left Xavier’s mansion and Charles has plenty of questions about him and his connection to Cable. He calls Moira and tells her about Nate, and mentions that he’ll have everyone look out for him. Nate wakes, with better manners, and he and Rogue come to trust one another. Their conversation is broken by the arrival of the X-Cutioner, using weapons acquired by FBI agent Fred Duncan. He wishes to kill Rogue for her having killed Cody Robbins years earlier. Nate defends Rogue and blasts the X-Cutioner, before launching a strong physical attack on his new armored foe. As Rogue takes some children to safety, the X-Cutioner gets the better of Nate but, as he gloats over his victory, he doesn’t see Rogue arriving from above. She puts him down, but he manages one last stand before teleporting away. With nowhere to go and not trusting Charles Xavier, Rogue suggests Nate try Moira MacTaggert in Scotland. He sets off, and Rogue warns Moira of his imminent arrival.

Full Summary: 

(Washington D.C.)

Within the hidden corridors of a federal building, a secret chamber exists, with access available to only one man. Inside the chamber is the weapons collection of Federal Agent Fred Duncan. The weapons, such as the Shi’ar psi-lance, also come with detailed files on who they were used by and who they were used against. Now, these files belong to his successor. Duncan’s biggest mistake was misjudging mutants, and that got him killed. Carl Denti won’t make that mistake. He shouldn’t be misunderstood: he doesn’t think all mutants are bad but, when a mutant goes rogue, when they kill, how are you going to bring them to justice? They’ve got so much power.

Carl Denti utilizes the weaponry available to him in his role as the X-Cutioner; a mask concealing his identity. He checks a small device for coordinates on his next target and uses a teleporting machine he patched together to get him there. He intends to get justice.

(North Carolina)

Rogue takes a swig of water from a bottle. She is kneeling on the beach in her bikini and relishing this downtime. Her kiss with Gambit almost took his life and right now she wishes only to pass for normal; though deep down she knows that normal is one thing she can never be. Things have been crazy lately, and she can barely tell what’s up from down.

She arches her neck and looks to the sky to see a boy flying overhead. What’s a girl gotta do to get some peace around here? She watches him flapping hopelessly, crashing straight into the side of a cliff and coming to ground not far from Rogue on the beach.

All Nate wants is to find someone who can be of help after his battle with Charles Xavier. While he crawls from the pit he has created, Rogue approaches and asks if he’s all right. Nate tells her to stay away from him. He’s a mutant and, right now, he has no control over his power. Rogue is determined to help but, in her thoughts, Nate sees only a jumbled mess and uses a telekinetic blast to hurl her away. He immediately realizes his error. She was just trying to help and he nearly killed her. He heads to the sky once again before he hurts anyone else but, as he arcs away from the beach, he comes over all light-headed and returns to the sea with a splash.

Rogue is a little dazed. She felt that. She doesn’t really want to use her powers again; that’s why she wanted to get away from the X-Men, but she can’t just let the boy drown. She flies over the beach and grabs Nate’s collar, lifting him from the sea. Nate turns to her and asks her to leave him alone, so Rogue throws him to the beach and says, “Sugah, once and for all…lie still.” Nate is knocked unconscious and Rogue hopes that, when he wakes, he’ll have more manners.

(The Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Westchester)

Blaquesmith has vanished and Professor Xavier searches for him. A quick psi-scan shows that he isn’t even in the mansion anymore. There are more than a few questions Xavier has about him, and his connection to Cable. However, dealing with Nate Grey is a far more pressing concern. Charles is certain he isn’t their enemy, Stryfe, but then who is he? Where does he come from?

Charles contacts Moira MacTaggert at her Muir Island facility and her face appears on a large screen. He asks how she’s feeling and she replies that like anyone with the Legacy Virus, she has her ups and downs. She asks if this is why he’s called. Charles knows she’s taking this harder than she’s letting on. It pains him to hear it in her voice; a deep sense of vulnerability.

He tells her that’s part of it. He explains that he had an encounter with a very powerful new mutant; a very bad first encounter he’s afraid. The boy is about seventeen, and psionic. He’s probably the strongest he’s ever confronted, and he was able to pull his astral self into reality. Moira says that even Phoenix couldn’t accomplish that. Charles tells Moira that he’s alerting everyone, including those in his underground, to be on the look out for the boy. He’s extremely powerful, barely in control, and very very dangerous.

(North Carolina)

Nate slowly regains consciousness. Rogue is now dressed and tells him it’s about time he woke up. She asks him if he feels better, and Nate says he is, asking if she’s okay. He didn’t hurt her did he? No, Rogue replies, someone already saw to that. Nate doesn’t understand her cryptic reply, but Rogue continues to inform him that what she didn’t get the chance to say was - she too is a mutant. Before she can reveal her name, he already knows it. “You’re Rogue! Leader of the X-Men, an' you’re married to Magneto!” Rogue giggles, but replies, “Magneto ?! Honey, not in this lifetime.” Nate understands that she isn’t the Rogue he once knew. Rogue adds that, as for the X-Men are concerned, she doesn’t really have anything to do with them right now, nor is she looking to have anything to do with them. Nate wonders why, but declines to intrude into her thoughts to find out.

He introduces himself and Rogue replies that she knows somebody else going by the name Nate. Nate informs her that he hasn’t been around here very long, and wonders if she can tell him anything about Muir Island, or Dr. MacTaggert, or indeed, the Legacy Virus. Rogue looks into his eyes and asks if he’s suffering from the circus. Before he can respond, they are thrown high into the air by a large blast. The X-Cutioner has arrived.

He stands and faces them, wearing a heavily armored suit and carrying the psi-lance, with which he made his first strike. He tells Rogue who he is, and that she is accused of causing the death of Cody Robbins. He is here to claim justice by ensuring her death. Nate stands and warns him that he’ll have to go through him first. The X-Cutioner replies that, if he has to, he will.

Rogue asks Nate to let her handle this. His power is too uncontrollable right now. She wonders what the heck is going on. Two strangers coming out of nowhere and one of them out to kill her. Nate’s left eye sparks with telekinetic energy as he grimaces at Denti. “Power?! You want to talk to me about power?!” He unleashes a burst of energy, which topples the X-Cutioner and sends him sprawling. As he lies on the ground, Denti knows the kid’s a major player, and his bio-reading suggests he is Cable, but that doesn’t make any sense.

He stands and rushes Nate, figuring he’ll take him down first and then analyze the remains. His approach is met with a telekinetically backed-up punch to the face. Nate then grabs the psi-lance and shoves it into Denti’s stomach. He then places the lance around the back of Denti’s head and shoves his head through it, with the help of his knee.

Rogue can’t believe Nate’s power. He has a lot more than she thought. Unfortunately, this pugilistic display has attracted the attention of a couple of kids. Rogue swiftly flies over and grabs them, removing them from harm. She then wants to return to fight her own battle. Nate, meanwhile, punches Denti again, but his next shot is weaker than the last. Denti can feel Nate’s power beginning to drain and delivers his own punishing uppercut to the chin, followed by a boot to the same place. A series of blows rain down on Nate and the X-Cutioner stands victorious over his flailing opponent. He tells Nate that the strongest guy doesn’t always win the fight. There’s always someone stronger. Nate, his face sweating from the exertion, looks up at Denti and says, “C-case in point, comin’ in…”

Denti looks up, but far too late, as Rogue descends from above. With her feet locked together, she mercilessly smashes his face into the beach. She then grabs Nate and tells her downed opponent that, just for the record, she never meant to hurt Cody. That happened when her powers first kicked in. It was an accident and she’s regretted it every day since. Nate doesn’t think he is listening. Suddenly, Denti leaps into the air and Rogue agrees with him. Denti prepares to attack with the psi-lance, but Rogue and Nate perform a double punch to the X-Cutioner’s face, which finally puts him down for the count.

Nate looks at their fallen foe and tells Rogue he put some TK into that. Rogue figured. She reckons the guy had one free shot at her and he blew it. Next time he comes looking, she won’t be so kind. Denti replies that, the next time, she won’t hear him coming. He flicks a switch on his wristband and teleports away, leaving the two youngsters in a swirl of pink smoke. Rogue figures he’ll be back again, but wonders what they’re gonna do now. Nate isn’t sure. He doesn’t exactly have a place to go.

Rogue tells him that the X-Men have helped her out when she needed it. She may have her reasons for staying away right now, but they are good people. She mentions Professor Xavier’s name, but Nate cuts her off. No way he’s going to Xavier. As far as he is concerned, he’s better off on his own. She asks him to calm down. She reminds Nate that he mentioned Moira MacTaggert earlier. They go waayyy back, and one phone call should sort him out.

She heads to a payphone and calls Moira at Muir Island. She informs Moira that Nate is dead set against going to Xavier for assistance, but he does need help. He set off for Muir Island while she tried to find a working phone. Moira thinks that the boy must be the one Charles was telling her about. It’s odd that he has run into both Rogue and Charles. She tells Rogue that Charles feels he might be very dangerous. Rogue replies that she thought he was kinda nice. Regardless, Moira had better prepare for him as he’s on his way.

Characters Involved: 

Nate Grey


The X-Cutioner

Professor Charles Xavier

Dr. Moira MacTaggert

Two children

(on screen)


Dr. Moira MacTaggert

Story Notes: 

Rogue kissed Gambit in X-Men (2nd series) #41.

Nate Grey didn’t have time to respond to Rogue’s question about having the Legacy Virus, but the answer would have been, no.

Issue Information: 
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