X-Man #41

Issue Date: 
August 1998
Story Title: 
Outta Nowhere

Terry Kavanagh (writer), Roger Cruz (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), RS/Comicraft/AD (letters), Mike Thomas (colors), Glenn Greenberg (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Following his victory over the Great Beasts, Nate Grey collapses as energy pours out of him profusely. Acting as his guardian angel, Madelyne Pryor teleports him to the chateau in Switzerland where they first met and treats him. When Nate comes to, he remembers the vision he saw in which he inadvertently destroyed half the world and becomes stressed again. After Maddie leaves the room, it occurs to him to seek the help of Threnody, his former girlfriend and the only mutant who could potentially drain his destructive, deadly energies due to the nature of her powers. Nate’s psi-form exits his body and travels through the psi-plane, looking to establish a telepathic contact with the missing Threnody. Instead, Nate encounters an angry Madelyne in the psi-plane. She was expecting him there, having indiscreetly read his thoughts. After she confronts him over using her and hurting her, the jealous, possessive Madelyne fails to deter him, as he storms off, moving further along the psi-plane in pursuit of Threnody. However, Nate suddenly feels a curious pulse rippling through the psi-plane – one which feels connected to the X-Men. When the vibration reaches him, Nate’s psychic form is shattered and he is forced back to the corporeal world, his psionic powers crippled. In Yukon, the expedition researchers who were rescued by Nate are held hostage by the three Psi-Ops of the Gauntlet, who intend to piece apart the people’s minds to glean information about Nate’s whereabouts. Thankfully, Ness, who also pursues Nate, reaches the camp and successfully bluffs that he is about to broadcast live the terrorizing activities of the Gauntlet, leading the agents to immediately depart.

Full Summary: 

The man known as Ness kneels down, amidst a razed, snowy area in the Canadian Yukon. Ness thinks it reeks of him here – Nate Grey. Just a single set of tracks leading away from the “Ground Zero,” though. Grey is still alone, from all indications. Ness has to find him fast and deal with him, before anyone else does.

Several miles away from the area, the French-Canadian excavation researchers that Nate saved from the Great Beasts have gathered in their tents and try to assess what happened. One of them announces that the l’officiers are back from base. “If you can still call it that, doctor,” a fellow researcher, a woman named Salange, replies to that. Nothing left of the long-distance vehicles or the battery-boosters, she’s afraid. Those abominable snowmen or whatever they were didn’t leave enough of the base-camp for kindling, so they’re going to have to make this field-site work for all of them until the next scheduled supply run comes through. Still, she points out that Morelle Pharmaceutique will be expecting a return of their investment. And so far, they’ve got nothing but one heck of a story.

And one red-hot piece of evidence right here in front of them, Salange’s husband, Philippe, reveals as he uses a device to examine the metal they’ve extracted. He warns Salange to keep her distance. Sound advice, Doctor Hidoshi agrees as he uses a similar device for measuring. As their doctor l’officiel can see for himself, the Rotigen-count is running off the scale, indicating extremely high levels of radiation. Salange asks him what it is: gamma, hydrogen, quantum? Pre- or post-half-life? Ambient or trance equivalents? Exactly what kind of radiation are they talking about here? Hidoshi admits it’s hard to say. It’s like they’ve ever seen before, conforming to no known parameters of… Salange cuts him off and sneers at him: so he can’t confirm that it’s dangerous then, either? Hidoshi sighs: no, he supposes he can’t…

Suddenly, they hear explosions outside their tent. “Step aside, eggheads…” an authoritative voice commands them. Three individuals dressed in highly sophisticated, electronic full body suits appear before them – the Psi-Ops of the Gauntlet. One of the intruders announces they have precisely five seconds to deliver the alpha-side codenamed X, aka the boy who calls himself Nate Grey. The intruder starts counting: “Four.”

“The b-boy…?” a terrified Hidoshi manages to stutter. Mustering his courage, Philippe reveals the boy is gone. They’re just a commercial expedition team, sent to recover more of this strange metal, he explains – and presents them with said metal on a table. “Gone where…?” the Gauntlet agent asks with regard to Nate, before he adds “Three.” A second later, he relentlessly resumes his countdown, “Two.”

Elsewhere, Nate Grey slowly – and with effort – wakes up. “M-Madelyne…?” he murmurs as he opens his eyes. He finds himself laid on a sofa, resting his head on Madelyne Pryor’s legs, his lower body covered with a blanket. Having a look around him, Nate instantly realizes he is in the cabin… the chateau in Switzerland, where he and Madelyne first met… “H-how?” he wonders. “Don’t ask, Nate,” Maddie solemnly replies – not yet. “But these people…” Nate weakly protests. She wouldn’t help him… help these people. Resting her hand on his left arm, Maddie clarifies she’s here for him – always.

In the field-site, Philippe recounts to the menacing Gauntlet soldiers that they’d just discovered the artifact, hadn’t even freed it from the ice completely, when the Beasts appeared on the horizon. The boy saved their lives, sent those giant creatures straight into space somehow and collapsed at their feet, leaking energy like blood. Like blood and something else… someone else… And as quickly as this energy form – Madelyne Pryor – came, she was gone again…

“… with the boy,” the Psi-Op known as Vise finishes Philippe’s phrase. The hapless man moans with pain, connected as he is to a wire that is attached to Vise’s suit. Indignant, Salange burst out that they told them all that already… they told them all they know! She demands they leave Philippe alone! Who are these lunatics? What do they want? What in God’s name are they doing to Philippe?

One of the three soldiers – Barone – explains they’re Gauntlet. Top of the class Psi-Operatives, since she asked. And they’re tearing the answers they need, details Salange’s husband may not even be aware of, directly from his mind. Which is more than any of these researchers will remember when this is over, unfortunately. Fellow Psi-Op Cinder Fontaine, though, has her objections over the way Philippe is treated. She points out they won’t get anything from a dead man, and the range of neural risks from Vise’s cyber enhancements…

Barone retorts that he gives the orders here. He decides what actions do or don’t fall within the scope of the mission objective. He commands her to see to the hostages. Fontaine has no choice but to comply.

In the chateau in Switzerland, Madelyne allays Nate’s fears. All those precious people he was so worried about are just fine now. Nate beat the big, bad monsters and saved the day all by himself. But she stresses she’s there for him when it counts. She’s proved that much already. And she’s here now – a mutant and his mistress, if he will. Can’t that be enough for tonight, at least? Who knows what effect they’ll have on each other, given time? she suggestively adds.

Grabbing the mug of hot chocolate Maddie is offering him, Nate admits there’s so much to say… he just needs someone to listen. Of course, Maddie readily agrees. Nate reminds her she was there, she saw what he saw… she shared his vision of the future… the not so distant future, from what he could tell… of his battle with that other… so familiar somehow… even hidden behind his armor… a battle leading to the end of the world as they know it… Nate has been hearing for so long how his own power – his own mind, really – is killing him, slowly but surely, he’d almost gotten used to the idea, somehow. But knowing that he’s destined to take half the world with him in one critical overload of deadly energies at the very end… now he can’t think of anything else…

“Threnody!” he just then spontaneously – and unexpectedly – brings up the name of his former girlfriend. “Excuuuse me?!” a vexed Madelyne exclaims at the exclamation. Disgruntled, she gets up. Weak – he is still weak, she decides. He needs food, a lot more than they have here… she’ll be back.

“Uh-uh, whatever…” Nate murmurs as he’s left alone in the room. He can’t believe this didn’t occur to him before now. He was just so hurt from the way Threnody vanished from his life without a word before Maddie showed up last time – but Threnody’s an energy-leech. She is a mutant who feeds on the energies released in death, draining them, drawing them in herself. A mutant who just might be able to drain Nate’s own equally lethal energies.

He contemplates the possibility she might just have been doing exactly that for all those months they were together. She may have been keeping his powers in check for the master she secretly served, the mad geneticist known as Sinister. It makes sense actually, considering how much damage he’s done since then… and what’s still to come, unconsciously, without control, without Thren around. It makes a lot of sense. Only one way to find out for sure, though, one person who might know the truth. But the psi-bafflers that protect Threnody from madness – from the deafening noise of all those souls she’s sipped – also screen her from direct contact telepathically, especially over any kind of distance.

Nate decides to try another route instead: straight through the psi-plane. His psi-form leaves his body and enters the psi-plane, an innerverse of sorts, where all minds meet as one, according to his old mentor, Forge – without physical restrictions, without limitations, where there is every bit as close as here. Flying along the psi-plane, he is confident that in the deepest shadows of the darkest corner, he’s bound to find the shade…

“…Madelyne?!” he suddenly exclaims in shock, as the vague feminine figure he was seeing ahead of him turns out not to be Threnody, but rather his current companion. Madelyne is visibly mad with him. “Expecting someone else, Natey…?” she snarls.

Back in the camp in Yukon, the unfortunate Philippe drops to the floor, grunting incoherently, his devoid of sanity. “Oops,” Vise comments in a matter-of-fact way, “I forget how easy they break sometimes.” Philippe has only whetted her appetite: “Next…” she suggests, ready to tear apart someone else’s brain. Barone instructs her to slow down. He reminds her that the hostages are non-combatants, and their authorization extends so far into the civilian community. To that, Vise counters that he knows the full score here – they all know what’s at stake if one of these “innocents” doesn’t point them to Grey in time. Undeterred, she grabs Salange, who’s still reeling from the shock of seeing Philippe left in this condition.

“Stay away from her!” Doctor Hidoshi screams at Vise. “A mistake, Doctor Hidoshi, isn’t it?” Barone remarks and fires at him. He warns him it will be a fatal one, if he even attempts to move another muscle in their presence. They are sanctioned for full response to any or all immediate threats. To the squad, or the mission itself…

Just then, Ness catches them off-guard, driving the ice-drill inside the tent!

In the psi-plane, Madelyne confronts Nate. He’s talking to her, using her, and the whole time he’s reaching out to someone else. To another woman. Nate is startled: she read his thoughts?! Maddie insists they have no secrets from each other. His mind, his life, is an open book to her – as hers has always been to him. She suggests he steps right in and see for himself. One favor first, though – if he can promise her he won’t try cutting ahead to the last chapter anymore. No need to ruin the ending for her, too.

Nate refuses to go there again – not into her mind. Not after what happened last time with… “With the real Jean Grey,” Maddie finishes for him. Nate’s mother. “A dimensional alternate of my mother,” Nate corrects her. Of his genetic donor, really. He promises Madelyne he won’t hurt her like that again. Maddie lashes out: doesn’t he get it? Hasn’t he be listening? He is hurting her… he never stopped hurting her!

Meanwhile, pandemonium prevails in the tent in Yukon. Vise shouts at her companions to hit the deck: the ice-drill’s out of control… Before she finishes her phrase, she is trapped in the gears of the drill. Barone realizes it isn’t just out of control: they’re under attack! Taking advantage of the distraction the uncontrollable drill offers, Ness approaches the astonished researchers and tells them to get away from the machine – now. Cinder Fontaine reports to her superiors about the attack: Vise is down already. Down maybe, but definitely not out, Barone retorts and manages to lift the machine off of Vise. Barone points his gun at Ness and tells him to hold it right there. Who is he? What is he doing here? What could he possibly have hoped to gain from this stunt?

Ness replies that all the same could be asked of them – by all the world, in fact. Now that he’s had the chance to insure that this ugly little scene is being broadcast live. Impossible, Barone doubts him. Their people are in position directly above them, jamming all transmissions to and from these coordinates. “Not on my personal frequency,” Ness insists. Not through his personal satellite. He’s locked open a one-way channel, meta-linked to major media networks globally. How do they feel about going public with murder number one? he challenges them. Vise believes he’s lying. Probably, Barone remarks – but command won’t let them take that risk. So, they’re out of there! In a flash, all three agents teleport away.

Not lying. Bluffing, a relieved Ness contemplates – bluffing with nothing but a dead radio and a salvaged battery. After he heard enough to know that these self-styled soldiers call themselves Gauntlet, and their organization’s after the same thing Ness is: Nate Grey.

The researchers are trying to catch a breath. A worried Salange checks on her husband. Philippe reveals he’s fine… just a little headache… Ness deduces that this means one of the other Psi-Ops used his or her apparent talents to trick Philippe’s interrogator somehow, deceiving one of their own, at the end. To protect them possibly, or more likely to…

The researchers finally ask Ness who he is. Why did he save them all? How can they thank him? Ness introduces himself and reveals the boy is his sole concern now. His trail led straight to here, ending abruptly in the snow outside, but if they have nothing more to tell him about where… where he…

His attention suddenly focused on another thing as he notices the strange metal they excavated, he gasps that it can’t be! That metal shard… it’s distinctive… “Where did you find it?!” Ness bursts out and blasts it in smithereens with his gun. A breathless Salange reveals they found it almost forty yards northeast and thirty feet deep, but he can’t just… Ness asks if any of them touched it. Does any of them know the taste of the tainted shasteel now? Salange explains that the others wouldn’t let her. Ness replies that they owe them their life then. “Be well, all,” he wishes them and abruptly takes off, leaving everyone speechless.

In the psi-plane, Madelyne’s hands stretch out and elongate and reach for Nate, to snatch him possessively. She implores him not to do this to her again… His own psi-form equally liquid and pliable, Nate evades her attempts to grasp him and replies he’s not doing anything to her. He’s doing this for him; for them; for everyone. Maddie, nevertheless, enlarges her hand to a monstrous degree and seizes him in her first. Nate’s body dissolves into incoherent liquidness and rematerializes intact away from Maddie’s fist. He stresses that Threnody might be the salvation to them all.

Now turning his back on her, his psi-form glowing in bright red, Nate promises he will back; he promises her that much. “No, Nate… please…” Madelyne begs him and makes to seize him again. But Nate perseveres and now moves further along the psi-plane, in quest of Threnody. He is sort of surprised Maddie didn’t follow him across the border, after all that, but he isn’t complaining. He needs to see Thren alone first, try and figure out what happened between them, how everything went so wrong…

Weird, he suddenly muses. He feels some kind of vibration, almost a pulse, rippling, surging through the psi-plane itself… building with each wave… tasting of the X-Men, no less. Of Jean Grey…

And then, without warning, he howls with anguish, as he feels the pulse piercing through his psi-form, shattering it in million fragments, forcing Nate violently back to the corporeal world. And with just that, and nothing more, all hope dies, as Nate’s contact with the psi-plane is severed – as he loses his psionic powers.

Characters Involved: 

Nate Grey/ X-Man

Madelyne Pryor


Barone, Cinder Fontaine, Vise (all Psi-Ops of the Gauntlet)

Doctor Hidashi, Philippe, Salange and other expedition researchers

In flashback images:

Nate Grey/ X-Man

Madelyne Pryor

Doctor Hidashi, Philippe, Salange and other expedition researchers

In Nate’s memories:

Nate Grey/ X-Man


Mysterious armored man

Story Notes: 

Nate Grey fought the Great Beasts in the previous issue.

Nate saw the vision in which he destroyed half the world in X-Man #39. The vision foreshadows events that will occur in X-Man #47.

Unknown to Nate, Threnody did not abandon him. She was murdered by Madelyne in X-Man #25. Thanks to the nature of her powers, she was able to feed from the energy of the dead and revive herself in issue #29. Nate and Thren will nevertheless reunite in issue #57.

The debacle with Jean Grey took place in X-Man #25.

Nate’s mentor, Forge, refers to the version from Nate’s homeworld, the Age of Apocalypse, and not the 616 Forge.

The psychic pulse is the result of a showdown between Psylocke and Shadow King in the astral plane, which temporarily deprived all telepaths’ of their psionic powers. [X-Men (2nd series) #77-78] It is curious why Nate mentions Jean here. Jean also lost her powers, like every other psi, and temporarily collapsed. [Uncanny X-Men #358]

Issue Information: 
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