X-Man #23

Issue Date: 
January 1997
Story Title: 
Crash Course

Terry Kavanagh (writer), Roger Cruz & Manny Clark (pencilers), Bud LaRosa (inker), Richard Starkings and Comicraft (letters), Mike Thomas (colors), Jaye Gardner (editor), Bob Harras (chief)

Brief Description: 

Nate Grey has many questions about the love of his young life, Threnody. He doesn’t know the full extent of her ties to Mister Sinister, and doesn’t entirely trust her. This leads to friction in their relationship, and she heads out of the apartment for some time alone. As he sleeps, Bishop enters the apartment and wakes him up. Nate is understandably upset, but his telekinetic assault is reflected back at him. Nate charges at Bishop, who tries to explain that he’s just there to talk, and they crash through a window, saved from the fall by Rogue. She explains that Bishop is concerned for him, as he’s lived a similar life to Nate’s before coming to this time. Nate isn’t interested in hearing what he has to say and, although Rogue manages to keep him calm, he still believes that the X-Men are not to be trusted. When he returns to his apartment, he feels some sort of energy pressure, and his world changes around him. Meanwhile, Madelyne Pryor on behalf of Selene takes on Sebastian Shaw’s fighter, Scribe for the position of Black Rook of the Hellfire Club. Madelyne produces the goods and is handed the title willingly by Shaw.

Full Summary: 

(New York City)

Nate has a lot on his mind, but for the time being he is content to lounge around, aimlessly watching television. He flicks through the channels, not really focusing on anything in particular. He is still settling into this world, and at present he is doing so with Threnody in a long-vacant apartment. He has a lot of unanswered questions about the young woman, and her offer to take him out to see some new hotspots cannot raise much enthusiasm. Threnody is a little frustrated by his apparent lethargy, and heads out by herself, asking him to call her when he figures it out.

Nate watches her leave. This is hard for him. The only thing worse that what he knows about her connection to Mister Sinister is what he doesn’t know. He could follow her easily enough, and she’d never know, but that’s not what he wants. For all he knows, Sinister planned their relationship all along - another attempt to manipulate him and his genetics. But, he does have real feelings for Threnody. He just doesn’t know what to do with them anymore.


Earlier, they had chatted after moving in to the apartment. He asked her outright if she was still working for the mad doctor - keeping tabs on him until he was ready to take another shot. He figured that it could be something more subtle than that. Maybe he was exerting some kind of indirect control, possibly through the neuro-locks that kept her powers in check. Was she a pawn or a player?

She hugged him, and asked if it really mattered. Did he need all the answers right away? Nate didn’t have time for games, and Threnody realized he needed to know the truth. She allowed him inside her head to take a brief telepathic glimpse. He discovered that she didn’t know the truth herself, which confirmed what he suspected all along.


Threnody doesn’t understand the extent of their roles in each other’s lives, or Sinister’s part in them any more than Nate does. He needs her more and more, but he can’t trust her. Of course, considering the way in which he’s lived since coming into this world, ducking and hiding for the most part, he’s not so sure if that’s her fault, or his. With his mind concentrating on other things, Nate doesn’t register a large man carrying a gun on his back outside his apartment.

(Liberty Island)

Madelyne Pryor is destined to be the Hellfire Club’s new Black Rook. The Inner Circle is reforming. At its heart is Sebastian Shaw with the loyal Tessa at his side. Seeking the rank of Black Queen once again is Selene. With her is her current consort, Trevor Fitzroy. Madelyne is to face the Red Rook in battle. Her name is Scribe. As the two women prepare, she asks Madelyne what she’s waiting for. Madelyne replies that she’s never felt better than she feels now; never more jazzed by a place or a presence.

Scribe removes her cloak as Madelyne moves in to attack. Instead of grabbing Scribe, Madelyne passes right through her as if she was a ghost. Selene tells Shaw that she’s a little disappointed in his choice of rook. She doesn’t look like she has a drop of life in her. Madelyne will be so disappointed. Shaw replies that she’s being presumptuous as always. He had good reason to bail Scribe out of jail after the London debacle. She is not without her charms.

Madelyne turns to see Scribe moving towards her, claws at the ready. She strikes. Fitzroy thinks that Scribe is untouchable and far too fast for Madelyne. They have to do something. He powers up his bio-armor, but Selene just smiles. She knows Madelyne doesn’t need their help. Madelyne kicks off her own cloak and licks the blood from her cherry red lips. She charges at Scribe, who flips acrobatically over her head. Scribe admits that Madelyne’s quicker than she looks, and undoubtedly stronger, but speed and strength are nothing compared to skill of wit and will. She grabs Madelyne’s hair and yanks it back hard.

Trevor Fitzroy realizes that Scribe will go for her throat and wants to end it. Sebastian Shaw warns Fitzroy not to force him to stop him. Fitzroy complains that there’s something going on with that freak of his; something inside her, something else… Scribe’s ferociousness scares Madelyne, and it evokes a fear in her beyond anything she’s ever known. This fear suddenly stokes flames of passion and betrayal; burning embers of another, earlier life, unloved, into a roaring raging fire to end all fires.

Madelyne plunges her hand into Scribe’s chest. She then pulls out the body-jumping Mountjoy, causing Scribe a great deal of pain. It’s the first time Mountjoy has been torn free of his unwilling host without warning or consent. Selene smiles, asking Sebastian if he’s stacking the decks these days. Two big bad mutants against… “Our newest rook,” adds Shaw, completing her sentence for her.

Meanwhile, back in SoHo, the mystery figure has climbed the walls of Nate’s apartment and entered quietly. Nate stirs as the large shadow creeps up his bed and he sits up with a start. “Who…?” he asks. The shadow belongs to Bishop, and he asks Nate to think of him as his conscience. Nate replies that a spot-scan reading is totally clean. There’s no psi-signature at all, anywhere in the room. But how? Bishop tells him he is impressed he picked him up at all, considering the training and technology brought to bear to insure otherwise.

Bishop asks Nate to sit down as they need to talk, but Nate asks him to get lost. “Artificial psi-shields won’t protect you from a T.K. shove halfway up…” Bishop interrupts, replying that he has a few other tricks up his sleeve, including the mutant power to echo any and all kinetic energies, with a vengeance. Nate’s telekinetic shove is reflected back at him and he is sent flying across the room. Nate is on his feet in a second and charges at the big man. He sends them both crashing through the window.

Nate suddenly realizes that there are people below, and there’s an awful lot of shattered glass in freefall. Bishop tells him to sweep the glass and metal together, but Nate doesn’t think he can do that without tearing Bishop to shreds in the process. He can retrieve the shrapnel shard by shard, but it takes a lot more focus that the big scale stuff. He figures it’s every man for himself. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Rogue swoops in and collects them both. Even Bishop seems surprised to see her.

Rogue lands on a roof and puts the two men down. She berates Bishop. This is exactly why she asked him to wait for her before making contact. Bishop begins to apologize, but she reminds him that this isn’t his future where mutants battle mutants in the street just to survive - not yet at least. And the X-Men aren’t cops. This X.S.E zest of his in the wake of the professor’s loss just doesn’t wash here.

Bishop acknowledges his mistake. He saw no risk to anyone. He was simply scouting ahead of their rendezvous as agreed. “Scouting?” Nate remarks. “Sneaking is more like it. Snooping if you prefer, into my life and my apartment.” Bishop figures the person paying the rent might take issue with him thinking it’s his apartment. Rogue informs him that his Washington Square appearances attracted attention. Nate deduces that Bishop must be the one he sensed watching him yesterday. Rogue adds that Bishop is the one most concerned about him.

Bishop tells Nate that he knows the world he comes from. He lived in it too, in his own time. He’s lived through worse, even, in his own time. He adds that he sympathizes with his doubts and his very real fear of failure, but he can’t accept them as an excuse. He feels Nate has no sense of responsibility towards this Earth. Nate disagrees, asking him how he gets off thinking he knows how he feels or what he’s trying to do here; helping people in the park. Maybe if Bishop tried talking to him instead of about him…

Rogue suggests they step back inside where they’ll attract less attention, but Nate says no. X-people really annoy him, and they don’t get it either. He’s not one of Saint Xavier’s precious little students or fawning acolytes. He never will be. He thought that maybe they had come to some kind of understanding after the Onslaught nightmare. Rogue assures him that they have, but they never agreed to ignore each other’s existence and pretend they didn’t care. They were worried. “About me, or the rest of the world,” replies Nate.

Rogue wishes he’d stop lumping them all together, like one unit with one agenda. That’s not what the X-Men are about and never has been, she explains. They’re family sure enough, with some mutual goals, but it’s also about having someone to help pick up the pieces. She grabs Bishop and takes to the air, asking Nate to come and see them at the mansion sometime. “You might even like it. Trust me.”

Nate phases himself through the roof and into his apartment. To him, trust is the problem; his problem, and he’s the only one who can do anything about it. But, he doesn’t have to do it alone anymore. As he lands, he senses some kind of weird energy pressure. Suddenly, something awfully familiar washes over him, and his world will never be the same again. “It c-can’t be. It can’t be…”

Characters Involved: 

Nate Grey


Bishop, Rogue (both X-Men)

Innocent bystanders

Trevor Fitzroy, Mountjoy, Madelyne Pryor, Scribe, Selene, Sebastian Shaw, Tessa (all Hellfire Club)


Nate Grey


(on television)

Basketball player and reporter


Rock band

Baseball player

Story Notes: 

This issue precedes the X-Man Annual ‘96.

Professor Xavier was taken into custody after the Onslaught saga, and ended up in the clutches of Bastion.

Issue Information: 
Written By: