X-Man #24

Issue Date: 
February 1997
Story Title: 
First Noel

Terry Kavanagh (writer), Roger Cruz (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), Richard Starkings and Comicraft (letters), Mike Thomas (colors), GCW (separations and/or enhancements), Jaye Gardner (editor), Bob Harras (chief)

Brief Description: 

Peter Parker is spending Christmas with Mary Jane and Aunt Anna. He senses something in his neighbors’ garage and investigates, only to find Nate Grey there. There is something different about him, and Nate explains that he’s been attacked. Peter deduces the assailant was Michael Morbius, and he promises Nate that he’ll help. They take off in search of Threnody. Meanwhile, Threnody uses her powers to steal the death energies from terminal patients at a hospital and later does the same to some people living in an abandoned tenement block. As she walks the streets, she is watched from the shadows by Michael Morbius. She makes her way to a graveyard to visit her mother, and there she is approached by Morbius, who feels they have much in common. Nate and Spider-Man turn up as well but, when they try and take out Morbius, Threnody defends him. She fights Spidey, whilst Nate manages to overcome Morbius’ hold over him and forces him to flee. Nate then informs Threnody that he knows what she’s been doing, and she must decide whether she still wishes to be with him. Once he has gone, Madelyne Pryor turns up asking if she’s seen anyone matching Nate’s description.

Full Summary: 

(Empire State hospital, Manhattan, Christmas Day)

Threnody strolls through the terminal cancer ward, using her mutant power to siphon the energy from the dying; a strange form of euthanasia. As the nursing staff rush to their stations, a glum-looking Threnody wishes them a Merry Christmas.

(Forest Hills, Queens)

Peter Parker and Mary Jane are being treated to presents from Aunt Anna. Among the presents, Peter receives a hideously bright yellow shirt with a flower pattern, whilst Mary Jane gets a teardrop and a new star for the tree. MJ feels it’s nice to have the family together, now, when they need them the most. Peter feels the same way. He doesn’t know what he’d do without MJ. Between his class schedule, his work for the Daily Bugle and his web-swinging, he can’t do this alone anymore. Never could, he guesses. ‘Aunt May’ helped him see that for himself last night. Something about the dream he had, so soon after Nate Grey’s visit…

His spider-sense begins to tingle, as he senses something in his neighbors’ garage. He wanders off and takes a look down there, and instinctively leaps to the ceiling when he comes across Nate Grey. Something is different about him. He looks feral and grins insanely. He whispers Peter’s name before doubling over in pain. He asks Peter to help him, but as Peter drops to the ground, Nate asks him not to touch him. He can’t fight the bloodlust… not that close. He then apologizes to Peter and says he shouldn’t have come back, but it started last night after dinner at his place.


Nate explains that he was on his way home, thinking about the evening he’d just spent with Peter’s family, when something hit him out of nowhere. It came hard and fast. It was blue and red and all teeth. It sure wasn’t Santa Claus.

Peter knows exactly who it is - Morbius: the Living Vampire. He doesn’t think it makes any sense. Michael Morbius began as a very human bio-chemist, attempting to treat his own rare blood condition with the plasma of a vampire bat. The cure turned out to be worse than the disease. He’s not supernatural, he adds, and his bite isn’t supposed to create other vampires. Nate figures his own telepathic abilities are probably to blame, in that case. It hardly matters, though - he’s infected.

Peter assures him he’s there to help. Nate may have started as just another photo opportunity, but he’s turned out to have much more in common than Peter expected. Nate gave him a gift last night, and he’ll never be able to thank him for that. He won’t walk away now.

Nate looks up and tells Peter that he needs Threnody. Peter asks where she is. Nate admits that he doesn’t know. His powers and perceptions are changing subtly, and her psi-bafflers seem to be blocking his tele-sweeps. Peter suggests that he try calling out to her, like he called out to him. His little mindtouch was nothing like his normal telepathy. It was something very different. Nate says that came from somewhere deeper, and much darker.


On board the boat, Madelyne Pryor knows that the truth is out there. She recalls her fight with Tessa, and thinks about how it ended prematurely, before she could get to the heart of her memories. She remembers her time with the X-Men all too well now, and her cruel joke of a marriage to Scott Summers before the miraculous return of Jean Grey. She remembers the theft of her son from her arms, but there’s something else, something even worse…

Sebastian Shaw appears behind her and places a cloak around her shoulders. He asks Madelyne what her mistress, Selene, will say when she discovers that she returned without her. She replies that Selene was merely her introduction. She and her little toady, Fitzroy, hardly need to share every intimate detail of their lives. She brushes her fingers against Shaw’s cheek, and using a little of her power, removes his scar as if it were never there.

Shaw is surprised, but Madelyne tells him it’s a promise of what they might accomplish together – one on one. Shaw isn’t quite convinced yet, but he’s willing to see more. Watching them disappear back inside the boat from the deck is Tessa. She knows that Shaw will be convinced, even if it destroys them all.

(the Lower East Side, New York)

Inside yet another abandoned tenement block, Threnody is still wandering. She tries to kid herself that she’s doing these people a favor, but knows she’s lying to herself. The hospital was a feeding frenzy: this place is a dessert. The homeless, poor and addicted sit around, almost oblivious to her presence as she siphons energies from them. She hasn’t eaten any real food in a couple of weeks, yet she’s feeling stronger and stronger the longer she spends among this slow, lingering decay. She feels that this is where she belongs now.

She questions why she feels like this. What is she doing? As soon as she starts to get close to someone like Nate and has any kind of normal relationship, she runs. Nate was just beginning to trust her, just like she wanted. She lowers her head as she figures it’s just what Sinister wanted. She leaps from the tenement’s window and lands in the alley below. Threnody wonders if she’s running from Nate or Sinister now. Protecting Nate from the mad doctor’s schemes and scalpels, or herself? Picking herself up, she wanders back towards the street, asking herself if it really matters anymore. Does he even miss her? Unseen, she is watched from the shadows by Michael Morbius.


Peter Parker is in his Spidey costume and swinging through New York City. Nate is flying beside him, using his telekinesis to keep up. Nate can sense a woman on the street below. He finds himself using senses he doesn’t normally utilize, thanks to the bite from Morbius. Spidey thinks he’s got the best of both worlds now. His own powers and Morb’s perceptions.

He asks Nate if that means he’s eradicating his taint, or if his body is learning to live with it. Nate replies, after mentioning Peter’s real name by mistake, that he was considering something else entirely. Spidey says that if Nate can’t trace Threnody’s thoughts and he’s not getting any answer from his psionic hotline, what exactly are they following to find her? The dying, replies Nate; the scent of the dying… all the way to those long dead.

(St. Raymond’s Cemetery, The Bronx)

Threnody visits the grave of Judith Jacobs, her mother, and begins speaking to her. She admits that she’s in trouble. She ran from Sinister once and for all, but she’s not really sure how far she’s got. There’s this boy she likes, but her mother probably wouldn’t. But, she continues, she hoped he could help change things for her. She even started to think that maybe she and Nate might be able to turn things around for each other. He’s got his own troubles too. Then, she went and screwed everything up… again.

Michael Morbius appears at her side and squats on the gravestone. His pallid features make his red eyes stand out even more as he whispers, “Yesss, you are the one. The one on his mind. Practically in his blood. In my blood now, under my skin.” Threnody warns him to back off, far and fast, if he knows what’s good for him. Morbius informs her that feeding from her Nate Grey turned out to be quite the enlightening experience; almost a symbiosis of sorts. He can sense that Nate didn’t know half of what Threnody is about. He doesn’t see the overwhelming hunger; the unceasing, unquenchable thirst. He had no appetite for it, like they do.

As he speaks, he finds a web thwapping onto his face, courtesy of the Wallcrawler. Two birds with one stone, comments Nate. He thanks Spidey for bringing him to the graveyard so quickly, but Spidey replies that it was a no-brainer. For a while, not all that long ago, he felt like he knew more dead people than living ones, and he’s not about to let Morbius add another innocent victim to his list.

Inexplicably, Threnody turns to them and releases a discharge of her explosive plasma, which narrowly misses Spidey. “Get away from him!” she screams. Morbius asks her not to hold back on his account. The Spider is all hers. Threnody continues to fire at Spidey, but his reflexes and spider-sense keep him from harm. He then webs her arms up and pulls, only for the agile mutant to flip over his head and smack him down with another discharge of plasma.

Unreal, thinks Nate, as he struggles to combat Morbius’ hold over him. Morbius can sense that Nate is almost his. He decides to finish him off and attacks, claws at the ready. He can sense a wellspring of mutant power ebbing closer and closer to the surface. Nate speaks out loud, asking when will they all learn that they can’t just sneak up on a telepath, twice?! He hammers a telekinetic blast into Morbius’ body, hurling him right across the graveyard.

Morbius decides that fleeing is the best option, and takes off. Nate knows that Morbius understands that it’s just a matter of time before his body fights off his influence completely. He wishes to follow, but Threnody asks him not to and Spidey agrees with her. Nate should take care of her, whilst he takes care of Morbius. He asks Nate to call out if he needs his help. Nate turns to Threnody and says that the same is true for her. She could have asked for help, anytime, anywhere.

Threnody assures him that he can’t understand but, for one brief moment there, she wasn’t alone. She finally found someone who shared the same lonely lust for death. She swears she didn’t want Morbius, but she sure needed him tonight. Nate disagrees. He tells her that she thought a soulless vampire was all she deserved. She thought she wasn’t worth any better. She walked the shadows between darkness and light for so long, she couldn’t see her way out again. So, she got in deeper, but if she could only see herself the way he sees her…

He knew that Morbius would come for her, like a moth to a flame. He knew that he would feel what he feels for her, burning in his veins. He was worried about her, about them both. He admits that he’s missed her. He was afraid that she would respond just the way she did, and now that he’s found her, and seen her face-to-face in this way, with these powers…

Nate then informs Threnody that he knows everything now. In this close proximity, her thoughts are like an open book. He knows all her dirty little secrets about where she’s been since she left him, what she’s been doing and to whom. He begins to float away. He knows that she preyed on the sick and the suffering… only those on the edges already, but he knows it’s still wrong. He also knows that she came to this graveyard because it was the only place she could think of with no one left to hurt. He knows she doesn’t want to be where she is, but she needs to decide to come back to him on her own, or he can’t help her.

Threnody slumps against her mother’s grave. Soon, a shadow falls over her hand and a voice from behind startles her. She looks around, and sees a woman wearing all black; her flowing red hair fluttering in the breeze. She says she’s looking for someone she believes passed through there recently. Tall, good-looking, white streak in his hair, built to kill… “Who?” asks Threnody. “Ring any bells?” asks Madelyne Pryor.

Characters Involved: 

Nate Grey


Spider-Man/Peter Parker

Mary Jane Parker

Peter’s Aunt Anna


Madelyne Pryor, Sebastian Shaw, Tessa (all Hellfire Club)

Tenement dwellers

Hospital staff and patients

(in flashback)

Nate Grey


(in Madelyne’s menories)

Madelyne Pryor


Story Notes: 

The credits don’t list the staff in their usual roles. Roger Cruz is listed as Anatomy and Richard Starkings as Speech Therapy, for instance, but they are all linked to their actual duties in some way.

This issue takes place the day after Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #420, in which Nate met Peter Parker and used his powers to have him dream of his Aunt May. It also follows X-Man Annual ’96. The Morbius story continues in Peter Parker: Spider-Man (1st series) #77 - 78.

Issue Information: 
Written By: