X-Man #21

Issue Date: 
November 1996
Story Title: 
Open Case

Terry Kavanagh (writer), Roger Cruz (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s AD (letters), Mike Thomas (colors), GCW (enhancement), Jaye Gardner (editor), Bob Harras (chief)

Brief Description: 

Nate Grey and Threnody wander through Washington Square Park and come across a group of con artists fleecing unsuspecting customers. Nate gets involved and soon forces them to pack their table away and move on. They then meet a student fleecing customers by pretending to be a palm reader. After Nate proves more adept than she at her game, the audience starts asking questions, and he is forced to grab Threnody and depart. Madelyne Pryor sees him leave, and is lost in her conflicted thoughts for a moment. They head to the Rainbow Room at the Rockefeller Center, where they dine, seen by everyone as famous celebrities thanks to Nate’s telepathic manipulations. Afterwards, they dance, but Nate forgets himself and they begin to float over the dance floor. The crowd takes them for muties and begins to panic. Nate calms them down and wipes their memories before leaving through the window. High above New York City, Nate tells Threnody that he could try and remove Sinister’s psi-bafflers if she wanted. Threnody leaves it for now, and they kiss instead. Meanwhile, Trevor Fitzroy is introduced to Sebastian Shaw, who knows of his future pedigree. Also on board his boat is Selene, who suggests uniting the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle once more.

Full Summary: 

(Washington Square Park, New York City)

It’s a beautiful day, as Nate Grey and Threnody wander through the park. Nate wonders how the people of this city can be so calm in the wake of Onslaught, but Threnody figures that it’s because they’re New Yorkers. They won’t even look twice at their leathers. Nate can guarantee they won’t. All it takes is a little telepathic twist and they’ll see exactly what they want to see. He’s hungry, and so is Threnody.

The park is bustling and, amongst the crowd, they discover a con game going down. A table has been planted where a group of men are engaging the crowd in Three Card Monte. Threnody explains to Nate that the game appeals to the baser instincts; greed usually. A shill is working the crowd, making them believe that it’s possible to win, and a punter takes his chance. Of course, he loses. The dealer asks Nate and Threnody if they’d like to play. The shill even offers to pay for their first wager, so Nate duly obliges. The hand is dealt and he picks the card on the left. He draws the ace, which means he’s won. The sharks look at him, bemused. Soon, Nate soon wins eight in a row and is raking the money in.

A couple of joggers run past and one of them informs the team that the cops are just around the corner. The team packs up, much to the audience’s dismay. Threnody feels the chumps finally got the right idea, but Nate tells her that the cops are nowhere near. The joggers are in on the act, too. They’re just cutting their losses; a backdoor out of a losing hustle. Threnody asks how he did it. Nate explains that the money card was never far from the dealer’s thoughts, so…

Nearby, a palm reader is doing the same trick, playing on people’s naivety. She tells a punter that he’ll have four kids and be a millionaire many times over by the time he’s thirty. Before she finishes her sentence, he replies that he’s thirty-two today. “Five,” she replies. “By the time you’re thirty-five.” She asks for her six-fifty and for the next hapless punter. She spots Nate and thinks he looks interesting; an easy read even from where she’s sitting. She figures that, with a body like his, the attitude and the bristling energy, things will come easy for him. She takes him for a model. He’s had an easy life, without struggle or strife to speak of. He’s known no loss. She couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Nate feigns laughter, before turning the tables on her. He informs the crowd that the palm reader wants to be an actress - already is if you ask him. He adds that she is also a psychology student at E.S.U. and her rent is $458.62 a month for two and a half rooms. Her name is Emily O’Hare, and she has exactly $122 left to her name. “Beneath the bathroom sink in Brooklyn, in fact, hidden behind your spare box of extra-large…”

Emily interjects and asks how he could possibly know all this. Nate replies that it’s easy enough when you know how. He turns to a bench where a young woman sits alone and a guy is reading the paper. He knows that they know each other but neither realizes it. He prompts a reintroduction between the two old friends and then turns his attention to a younger man wearing a baseball cap. Nate suspects he is needier than most and ambitious to a fault. He tries delving further into his mind, but the guy calls for him to back off before shuffling away.

The crowd are amazed at Nate’s abilities and, as a passing Madelyne Pryor witnesses what’s just happened, the crowd ask Threnody what he’s called. On the spur of the moment she smiles and replies, “Nate the Great!” Suddenly, Nate is swamped with questions from people believing he is some kind of mystic. Threnody tries to act like his manager, drawing them in and suggesting they make donations. Nate grabs her hand and they take to the air. “Let’s talk,” he grins.

Down below, Madelyne Pryor is sorry to see him leave. Ella wants to get Madelyne back to the hotel. Under Selene’s instructions, they were not supposed to leave it in her absence. Madelyne informs Ella that the guy who just flew away was really Nate Grey. He’s there in New York. Ella asks who the woman was, in that case. Madelyne doesn’t know the answer to that, remaining silent as she is lost for a single, solitary moment in feelings of inexplicable loss and fury. All is not right with the world.


Trevor Fitzroy is driving a speedboat and he approaches a larger vessel. He doesn’t like this one bit. One minute, he’s working the backstreets of London chatting up a ripe piece of red meat for the taking, and the next he’s running interference for the witch of ages herself. It could have been worse, he guesses, considering the repeated unravelling condition he last left her in.

He climbs on board and is greeted by Tessa, whose hand he kisses. Tessa is unimpressed, but tells him that Sebastian Shaw is waiting for him. Sure enough, Shaw, dressed in a small green gown, is waiting and he asks Trevor why he should be at all interested in what he has to say to him. Fitzroy explains that they have a mutual problem by the name of Operation: Zero Tolerance. Ring any bells? The things these people plan to do would put Shaw’s worst nightmares to shame. Shaw replies that his nightmares might surprise even him.

Shaw knows of Fitzroy’s future pedigree, and he is sure he could tell him much of Bastion and his international task force. But, what can he do about him? Fitzroy replies, “That’s where she comes in; the one I represent…” Shaw knows of whom he speaks; his twice-failed mistress. Tessa interrupts him telepathically and informs him that the witch is aboard, in the shadows. They turn to see Selene emerge from them.

She tells Sebastian that the solution to Bastion and his gathering storm should be obvious. These are the times that will only be survived together by mutants of such means and power as they, collected within the new Inner Circle around the Black King and Queen, united as one. Shaw removes his sunglasses and tells her he is disappointed once again. Considering the results of her previous attempts, he hopes she is not suggesting what he thinks she is. Selene replies that she has an offer he cannot refuse.

(Rockefeller Center)

Nate and Threnody head for food at the Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow Room. The maitre’d takes one look at them and point blank refuses them entry, claiming the restaurant is full. Nate throws him a quick telepathic change of mind and asks him to check again. This time the maitre’d sees movie director Quentin Tarantino and model Naomi Campbell. He offers his humblest apologies and asks them to follow him. The diners are aghast, wondering if Tarantino is making a movie with her. Nate thinks these two characters must be heroes to receive such attention from the public. Threnody tells him she’ll explain later.

Soon, after a sumptuous meal, Nate says he’s impressed with the food almost as much as the company and asks where to next? Threnody replies that they need to get as far from there as possible. Nate places his hand on hers and reminds her that they can run, but they cannot hide; not from Sinister. Not as long as she wears his psi-bafflers just to survive.

Nate still cannot escape his words. The names Sinister called him echo within his mind, especially there in the bubble above the world. “Grey-spawn… Summer-seed.” Threnody understands and says that, as long as they are who they are, men like Sinister will always haunt their lives if they let them. Threnody seems almost annoyed with herself at tying Nate down now he has found so much freedom.

Nate hears a tune and asks Threnody to dance. They move to the dance floor and begin to smooch but, as the song progresses, Nate forgets his surroundings and the pair begin to literally float on air. The guests are astonished that Tarantino and Campbell are floating, and someone quickly surmises that they must be “MUTIES!”

In a second, there is blind panic, as everyone rushes for the exits. Nate calls for a time out, telekinetically halting them in their tracks. He takes Threnody and they fly through the window, leaving the guests remembering nothing about their presence there tonight. All they know is that they appear to have been fleeced of their wallets and jewels.

Outside, Threnody counts the cash, and calls them stupid. She reckons humans thinks they’re so far beneath them… who needs ‘em? Nate replies that they’re scared, and with good reason. In the face of Onslaught, even he was scared, but the humans rise above their fear anyway. That’s what they do, somehow. Nate would like to help them in any way he can. He opens Threnody’s hand with his mind and the loot falls from it, down to a family below who have fallen on hard times.

Nate tells Threnody that things need to change between them. The thievery has to stop. No more cheating and no more lying. Nate promises to learn to curb his displays of power if that’s what it takes to walk among them instead of above them. He faces Threnody as they float in mid-air, lit by the full moon. Nate asks her to understand that on his word, in his time, this was all gone. All of it was lost to Apocalypse, as if it never existed in the first place. Mutants, for all their powers and amazing abilities, they attained these heights only to tear them all down again.

Nate points to a nearby skyscraper where a man works at his desk even at this late hour. He says that mankind shoots for the sky with nothing more than the most basic of nature’s gifts as their birthright, every day and in every little way. These skyscrapers are just the beginning. Their achievements and accomplishments are astounding - too many to count and too far to see. They are the truest wonder of all, and as for Threnody, he tells her she is a miracle in the making.

Nate adds that he isn’t afraid to go back into her head again. If he could reroute her synapses, she wouldn’t need Sinister’s psi-bafflers. He leaves her with that choice. Up there, all alone, nobody else will be at risk. He could tear the bafflers away and destroy them forever. They can deal with the consequences, explosive or otherwise, together. “Or…?” asks Threnody. “Or not,” Nate replies, as he embraces Threnody and kisses her, floating next to the Statue of Liberty’s torch.

Characters Involved: 

Nate Grey


New Yorkers and street entertainers

Card cheats

Emily O’Hare

Midge Marder, a Daily Bugle editor

Jeffrey Raines, formerly with the Boston Pops

Ella, Trevor Fitzroy, Selene, Sebastian Shaw, Tessa (all Hellfire Club)

Madelyne Pryor

Rainbow Room maitre’d, waiting staff and customers

Story Notes: 

Trevor Fitzroy was seen in London in X-Man #17.

Trevor placed Selene in an unravelling chamber in Uncanny X-Men #301. It was a torture device that unravelled her, piece by piece, and then sewed her back together again. It was painful to say the least.

Quentin Tarantino is a movie director, most notably for Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown. Naomi Campbell is a catwalk model.

Issue Information: 
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