X-Man #37

Issue Date: 
April 1998
Story Title: 
Breaking Point

Terry Kavanagh (writer), Chriscross (pencils), Bud LaRosa (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Mike Thomas & Mark Bernardo (colors), Jaye Gardner (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Spider-Man tries to talk Nate Grey out of erasing everybody’s memory of him. Nate ignores him and begins erasing the memory of him from the friends he recently made. When Spidey tries to stop him physically, Nate’s energies go wild, mixing with Spider-Man’s memories and creating an avatar of the Age of Apocalypse version of Gwen Stacy. That moment they are attacked by armored men. While Nate fights them, Gwen falls and Spider-Man tries to save her but she fades away. A furious Spider-Man returns to the roof shortly after Nate has been subdued and carried to their ship.

Full Summary: 

Don’t even think about it!” Spider-Man orders Nate Grey. Seriously, in his case, with all his powers, he means that literally. Don’t mess with their heads!

How did he know what he was going to do? Nate asks. Isn’t this why he telepathically called for him? Spider-Man asks. Because he knows him. He wouldn’t be here otherwise. This is the bridge where Spider-Man lost her years ago. Where he watched a part of his heart called Gwen Stacy slip away and break forever. So he doesn’t come here anymore without a real good reason. And he’s trying not to go out in costume at all these days, what with a murder charge hanging over Spider-Man’s head. But when he heard about Nate—

X-Man interrupts that Peter doesn’t know him. Pete was born in this world, a normal human, later gifted with his power. Nate was created by a madman to be the most powerful mutant on Earth, the most powerful mutant psionic imaginable, even if it eventually kills him. And it will. Soon. Peter is innocent of all charges. Nate is not.

According to whom exactly? Spidey asks. As a freelance photographer to the Daily Bugle, Peter has witnessed Nate’s rise and fall, recorded everything from the psycho Nate took down outside the limelight, to the girl he healed at E.S.U., to those suicidal terrorists who… Who ended up taking along a lot of innocent people, once Nate was finished playing with them, Nate finishes.

And he still doesn’t know half of it. He doesn’t know how Nate gave birth to that psycho Jacknife without even trying. He can’t know about the children he disappointed these past few weeks. And the girl at the hospital was a friend. Another friend he failed.

Nate begins to glow with energy. Spider-Man touches his shoulder, telling him enough! Nate’s power pushes him backward. He really, really thinks they’ll all be better off without him! Nate announces. Nate’s power crackles out towards Manhattan.

Back in the Soho loft, Nate shared with his three friends he finds the girls mourning. Nate is here only in mind and only Jam sees him. The friend he failed who lost her left arm until Nate gave it back to her. Only to discern that the limb was not his to give. She lost her hope in Nate. He offers her the chance to forget about him whereas he forced the rest of the city. A tempting offer which she refuses. She will not sacrifice a single piece of her ever again, even a painful memory.

He leaves her with her friends who forget. Bux will never have the chance to forgive herself for the way she was used to betray him. She will only forget. Marita will never know what she and he might have missed together. They leave.

Bye, Nate says unheard and telekinetically cleans the place up. The loft hasn’t been the same since Threnody left him. Maybe it was her spark all along. The excitement she felt being here with him, the excitement he felt for her. He disappears and hungry black mouths rise from the ground.

His astral form touches everyone in New York when suddenly he senses Threnody in the tunnels underground. He wonders why he didn’t pick up her psi-scent before this and why it suddenly seem to be coming at him from all sides.

Spider-Man touches his shoulder, still trying to snap him out and finally punches Nate in the stomach.

In the meantime, unnoticed, an airship closes in.

Is he nuts? Nate protests. Spidey apologizes but he had to stop him. Look at the blood coming out his nose. He’s killing himself! Firing a psi-bolt at him, Nate asks why would he think he cares anymore.

Spidey dodges the blast and asks even if he succeeds in making New York forget about him and lives, what does he plan then? Do the same to all the commuters from the suburbs who read about him? The couch potatoes who saw him on TV?

Why not? Nate asks. Why not erase his entire existence from the minds of everybody, X or otherwise, everyone who’s ever heard of him? Peter tells him he can’t do this. Nate apologizes, but Peter doesn’t understand!

Spidey notes his spider sense tingling. Nate’s out of control again, but he can’t touch him in the maelstrom of energies swirling around him. Amidst all the psychic energies taking on a life of their own Spider-Man suddenly sees a familiar blonde taking shape… Gwen Stacy dressed like a freedom fighter, holding a gun.

Where is she? Gwen asks confused. She points her weapon at Peter, asking who he is.

This is the Gwen of another Earth, of Nate’s world, where innocence never really stood a chance.

Peter recalls his Gwen, the sweet girl that he loved in some brighter time, until she died at the hand of his best friend’s father, the Green Goblin. And a good part of Peter followed Gwen right down into that shadowy night. The best part, he believed. But when he finally looked up again, Mary Jane Watson saved him, the light in his darkness.

Spider-Man sees immediately that she isn’t the same Gwen, but he can’t take his eyes off her.

Nate apologizes. He didn’t mean to do this. But a stray thought from Peter shaped Nate’s reality. That’s all it took. That’s all she is. This is what he’s been trying to tell Peter.

Spidey warns him they’ve got incoming. The airship fires at them from above. Nate is surprised. He didn’t sense its approach and cannot “read” anybody aboard.

“Gwen” believes it is one of Apocalypse’s slave ships and fires at it. Fearing they are mutants there to collect her for the slave pens, she tries to fire at Spidey, but a concussion blast from the airship hits her.

Two armored flying beings come attacking. Nate can’t get a grip telekinetically. He stumbles against Gwen who falls off the edge of the building. Not again! Spider-Man moans. Never again! He jumps after her.

Nate raises a TK shield. He creates a psi-flare to take the ambushers apart, but isn’t successful against them.

Spidey shouts at Gwen to give him her hand.

Nate notes the two tin soldiers are hitting him from both sides to keep him off-balance. And they seem to be immune against his psionics directly. He tries the indirect approach, telekinetically grabbing some bridge cables.

Spidey grabs Gwen by the hand. He realizes she doesn’t know him, but promises her she can trust him. She suddenly recognizes him as Peter.

Nate, in the meantime, manipulates the steel cables to trap his attackers. However he is attacked from behind. A third armored being – Gauntlet – announces he’s been neutralized and flies Nate to the ship.

Spider-Man notes how tricky that was. He just hopes they have a few thousand more of those shiny ships, he really does, because they just cost him a dream come true and two of them won’t be anywhere near enough to take this out on!

Characters Involved: 

Nate Grey / X-Man


Bux, Jam, Marita

Gauntlet and other Psi-Ops (unnamed)

Psionic avatar of the “Age of Apocalypse” Gwen Stacy

Story Notes: 

Peter's insistent that Nate not alter the minds of others for his convenience is ironic, considering he made a deal with Mephisto years later to do almost the same thing in the controversial Spider-Man story "One More Day."

Issue Information: 
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