X-Man #42

Issue Date: 
September 1998
Story Title: 
Rainbow’s End

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: 

After losing his telepathy while searching for Threnody in the psi-plane and being struck with a curious psi-pulse, Nate Grey discovers that Madelyne Pryor has abandoned him yet again. Two weeks later, now in Ireland, Nate considers using his telekinesis to fly himself across the Atlantic and back to the United States, intent on finding the X-Men, as he senses they are somehow connected to the psi-pulse which deprived him of his telepathy. Nate hesitates, though, dreading the prospect of his telekinesis giving out as well, while on midflight above the Atlantic. Just before he departs, Maddie once more reunites with him, claiming she was away to put herself together. Before they talk much, an earthquake occurs and a giant fissure opens, forming along the ground and fast approaching the nearby town of Clifden. Nate manages to halt the destructive wave and saves Clifden. However, his intervention causes an avalanche at the nearby mountain. Nate and Maddie join forces, minimizing the impact of the avalanche and again saving the town. Later, the pair has some fun in a Clifden inn, mingling with the locals, before a strange fire breaks out in the inn. Nate finds it impossible to contain, oblivious to some strange, mechanical creatures fanning the fire. Amidst the commotion, Ness finally finds Nate, after weeks of seeking him. However, Nate must deal with the blaze first and comes up with a desperate plan. He flies to the rainclouds in the sky above and hyper-agitates them, causing them to rain down and thus stopping the fire. Overexerting himself, he collapses to the ground. However, when Ness and Maddie go to where he collapsed, he is nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, the strange creatures return to their hideout in the mountain, bringing back their reports of all the various catastrophes they provoked in the area and depart with a spider-like robotic vehicle.

Full Summary: 

The western coast of Ireland

A dejected Nate Grey is standing on a cliff’s edge, gazing at the vast expanse of the sea ahead of him. He can’t take this anymore. He can’t take feeling so broken. He could still move a mountain with his mind, no doubt about that. He can still feel those psionic energies churning, burning him up from within – now, more than ever, for some reason – but his telepathy’s gone.

Two weeks now and counting. Two weeks since the psi-dimension came crashing down around him and he woke up in Switzerland, cold and alone – again. Nothing was the same, all of a sudden. Nothing’s even been remotely recognizable since then, except that last fading echo of the X-Men. New York. Again. He has done this ocean and then some, without ever breaking a sweat before… but mindblind like this, with no way to reach out ahead and touch the horizon, everything seems so distant, so flat and lifeless. In sharp contrast to his emotional condition, a rainbow sets high in the sky.

Nate thinks that this obsessive focus on what’s missing, instead of what’s here – right in front of him – might have more than little to do with Maddie Pryor, with not knowing what happened to her after the psi-crash and all. Same sort of hollow, barren feeling he got from Paris, ever since Madelyne first slipped away from him there all those months ago. The same way the Swiss cabin felt when he woke up there without her again just two weeks ago. The way the loft in New York always felt when Threnody walked out on him. Or maybe this nagging new hole in his gut is just an old-fashioned fear of death, finally. A very real fear of a death he knew would come, sooner, not later. But a death he now knows, which he has seen with his mind’s eye, that will take half the population of this precious planet along with him.

So, Nate continues his morbid musings, if he doesn’t survive this now, for some reason… if his telekinetics gives out like his telepathy halfway across the Atlantic… Or he could stand here till the cows come home – which might just be any minute now, considering what he stepped in to get this far. But nothing’s going to change. The X-Men are still his only lead, his only real hope of figuring out what happened to him. His last chance. Nate hesitantly takes a leap of faith – both literally and figuratively – and jumps off the cliff, telekinetic levitating himself in the air, ready to embark on a flight across the Atlantic and back to the States.

In timely fashion, he hears a voice behind him, pleading him not to go on account of her – she just needed some time to pull herself together. Nate Grey turns to face the speaker – and it is, of course, none other than the missing Madelyne Pryor. “You know how that can be, right…?” Maddie asks, pleading with her smile for his understanding. “Cheap shot, Maddie,” Nate crossly retorts. He told her he was leaving up north… he told her he had something he wanted to do in private… and she…

“Fell apart when the psi-dimension blew up in my face. Gimme a break, already,” Maddie snaps. “Enough with the dramatic entrances then, lady, and more exits,” Nate demands. No more dipping in and out of his life, dancing back and forth, in and out, back and forth, in and out… Madelyne foxily remarks it doesn’t sound too bad to her. Aloof to her banter, Nate continues nagging: always in and out of his life on her terms… “Even better,” an unfazed Maddie quips. She stresses she’s here for the long run now – here to stay. If he wants her…

Suddenly, the ground beneath them shudders and gives way, prompting both of them to remain aloft in the air. Madelyne is taken aback: earthquake?! Tearing across the mountain, heading straight for… “Clifden!” Nate finishes her phrase, as he notices a giant fissure cracking open in the ground below them – a fissure that’s about to hit the small nearby town of Clifden. Flying frantically towards the area, Nate observes that the fissure is about to rip through the construction site at the outskirts of the village.

Following Nate at an equal pace, Maddie believes they’re not going to make it. Not physically they’re not, Nate agrees. But psionically… His left eye glows in response and he exerts telekinetic energy on the fissure on the ground below. However, he quickly realizes he can’t stop it, not from here… he can barely even slow it down… it’s like trying to close a zipper from behind! Landing on the ground, right ahead of the incoming wave of destruction, Nate explains it did buy him just enough time, a few priceless seconds, if nothing else, to push out in front and slam on the brakes!

Indeed, the wave of fissure comes across Nate, just as he tries to constrain it and push it back, hoping to finally halt it with his telekinetic powers. Eventually, Nate succeeds in putting the brakes to it and the destructive wave ceases. Unstoppable force meets unmovable object, Madelyne remarks as she lands on the ground. Shouldn’t have worked, of course. That kind of pressure… Nate guesses he’s just lucky.

All around them, the terrified residents of Clifden slowly come out of their hiding places and scrutinize their saviors, trying to place them. One of them thinks they are friends of the McMurphys. “Which McMurphys…?” another villager asks. “Widow McMurphy,” someone suggests. Some misunderstanding ensues on who this “widow McMurphy” is, until the villager clarifies he meant. “River widow McMurphy,” the one who lives in the west bank – or he could be wrong at that.

Nate surveys the damage. If the construction site had been manned at this hour, or if the quake had slashed another few feet into town… He then pauses, as he notices Madelyne being distracted with something. Maddie explains she almost thought she heard something under the rubble there. Some sort of chittering or…

At that very instant, the mountain, at the foot of which Clifden is built, begins collapsing. “Avalanche?!” Nate and Madelyne gasp in unison. Without thinking twice, they soar towards the collapsing mountain. Maddie grumps that she knew it – she knew Nate’s telekinetic “cease and desist” on Mother Nature would have repercussions. The underground pressure-stop he created had to find release of some sort. Nate demands she give him a break already – there a couple of thousand lives depending on them right now!

The pair reaches the collapsing parts of the mountain and begins telekinetically pummeling them into smaller, more manageable pieces. Madelyne urges Nate to save the locals. She’ll cover him… as usual. Nate advises her to take the big ones first, try and deflect them into each other before… Maddie cuts him off: she wasn’t exactly born yesterday. “Real funny, lady… ‘cept we’re the only ones who get it,” Nate replies. Maddie clarifies it’s called a private joke.

The pair finally makes it through, having broken most of the collapsing parts into smaller pieces, while Nate was telekinetically shielding the houses below. The crisis past, Maddie notices that Nate’s hurt – his nose is bleeding. It looks like minimal property damage for a change, though, so they should be able to find some place more civilized to finish this. Without asking Nate, she spirits them both away. In the fused area, below, shadows of conical-shaped creatures emerge.

Shortly, Nate and Madelyne are having a dance in the Fox Run Inn, in Clifden. The inn is stuffed with guests and customers, many of them dancing at the sounds of the music played by a live band. “Never a dull moment, Nate, that’s for sure,” Maddie remarks with a smile. This kind of stuff, earthquakes and avalanches and all, does it happen to him a lot? “To tell you the truth, Maddie… yeah,” Nate admits. Maddie admirably notes he can waltz, too. Nate explains it’s thanks to the instant lessons he psi-lifted from the minds of New York’s best and brightest, moves borrowed without a second thought at the time, a souvenir of one very special night at the Rainbow Room. Unfortunately, it’s the only dance he lifted, and this band isn’t playing a waltz. He asks Madelyne what they are doing here, anyway. He needs to find out what happened to his telepathy, use it to track down Threnody, see if her body’s mutant ability, its demand for energies released in death, can somehow prevent his own fatal overload before…

Maddie stresses he needs another meal, maybe three, and a good night’s sleep away from the rest of the world. He needs to take care of that body of his. Looking him deeply in the eyes and bringing her face closer to his, maybe to kiss him, she asserts that everything he needs is right here…

Then, the moment they had is gone, as one of the young ladies in the inn pushes Nate away and brings him over to her clique of girlfriends. The forceful gal tells them to take it up a notch or two – it’s payday! The girls circle Nate and one of them instructs him in dancing: shake his shoulders and loosen the hips. “Dangle, boyo, dangle,” the other girl urges him. Hard as he might try, Nate can’t really synchronize with the rhythm of the music. One of the Irish girls giggles: she urges Nate to swing with the beat. Embarrassed, Nate claims that he is usually a lot less stiff than this… really… he’s a just little off its game these days… The girls giggle flirtatiously.

Three guys are grumpily watching the girls courting with Nate. They are still trying to figure out who the stranger is. One of them has heard he’s cousin of the McMurphys. “Mac McMurphy?” another guy asks. “Mick McMurphy,” the third guy clarifies. “Mickey’s Mick…?” the other guy asks for further clarification. Madelyne intrudes in their group and advises them not to get mad – get even. The three boys are stunned by Maddie’s beauty.

A bit further, the innkeeper, a man named Ronan, is recounting to some of the customers that there wouldn’t be a single soul left in Clifden to pay for the pints now, if not for the new McMurphys. “Mutants, wouldn’t ye know. The good kind, sure,” he adds. One of his customers is of a different mind. Next Ronan will be telling them it’s the work of the wee people themselves, causing all the troubles in the first place just to spite the factory, cursing their expansion into the foothills. Unbeknownst to all, scores of the cone-shaped creatures gather outside the inn, peeping inside with glowing eyes.

Meanwhile, the local boys are flirting with Madelyne. “Miss McMurphy…?” one of them addresses her. A smiling Maddie corrects him: “Ms., but…” Another guy asks her if there would be a Mister McMurphy. Nearby, Nate awkwardly tries to come through the joyous, dancing girls.

Suddenly, much to everyone’s shock, fire bursts out of the fireplace and begins engulfing everything in flames. Staff and customers rush out of the inn, in panic. Nate thinks this is getting ridiculous, even for him. Tackling the fire, he notes it’s easy enough to smother the core of the blaze telekinetically, but sparks are popping left and right, and most of this wood is steered in alcohol, so the embers are easily fanned, bursting into full-fledged flames. High above, the strange creatures, assembled in the skylight, spray the flames with some rays. Amidst the commotion, Nate hears Maddie’s voice calling him. Nate wonders where she is – what is going on here? How is this inferno spreading so fast?! He’s telekinetically filtering enough air to breathe, no problem, but the smoke’s thick already, and the crowd’s panicking, logjamming the door…

A hand rests on his shoulder. Nate turns, only to face a silver-haired man – Ness. Calling him an “exile” –suggesting Nate’s status as a refugee from the Age of Apocalypse – Ness announces that he’s been after him for quite some time now. Nate ironically suggests he takes a number and… Studying him more carefully, he suddenly recognizes Ness: he knows him. Perhaps, Ness cryptically replies. He most certainly knows…

Watching their interaction, Maddie also peruses the strange man, his yellow eyes… She interrupts their conversation and reminds Nate that they’ve got a situation on their hands here. Ness agrees: “Yes, Nate Grey. Heads up”. He asks him to think bigger – think broader.

Nate takes heed of this advice and flies outside the burning inn, a new plan in his head. He soars straight into a mass of rainclouds, high up in the sky, charges himself with psionic energy and agitates the clouds. A second later, a thunder crackles – and a downpour ensues. The shower quickly extinguishes the fire below. Incredibly strained from his effort, Nate flies himself down, but eventually collapses to the ground.

At the foothills, the mysterious creatures gather. They appear to be synthetic beings, comprised of metallic armors and drill-shaped helmets. They pause before another mechanical being, one designed like a spider. The spider-like robot reports the findings of its operation: “Impulsive ceasure of regulated earthquake… ignoring consideration of geo-stress release… Direct result: localized avalanches. Increased danger to community. Regulated fire scenario results: contained by uncontrolled. Testing complete. Results… troubling.” The ‘drill-heads’ embark on the spider-like vehicle, which proceeds to leave.

In Clifden, Ness and Maddie head out of the inn. Ness, clasping the remains of one of the strange creatures, notes that the locals can handle the last of the flames now, but the boy… It must have cost him so much energy, hyper-agitating the rain-clouds like that… And he fell so far…

Maddie tells him he’s seen this before. She’s seen Nate riddled with holes, energy pouring out of him, like blood. Ness claims he’s seen Nate worse. Maddie suddenly puts two and two together and recognizes him from Nate’s vision: that’s it, isn’t it? Ness was the one hiding in the shadows, lurking at the edges of Nate’s vision of the future at the very end, right before…

Just then, they finally reach the point where Nate approximately collapsed. He is nowhere to be found. He is gone, just gone…

Characters Involved: 

Nate Grey/ X-Man

Madelyne Pryor


Townspeople in Clifden (all unnamed except Ronan, the innkeeper)

Strange creatures (Tech-Gnomes)

Story Notes: 

Nate Grey left Maddie to go up north, in Yukon, Canada, and subsequently saw the vision in which he died, destroying half the world with him, in X-Man #39. Ness shared this vision and began pursuing Nate in the same issue.

Nate was in the psi-plane when he felt a pulse rippling through the plane and shattering it, also crippling Nate’s telepathic powers. [X-Man #41] Nate is correct to assume a connection of this incident with the X-Men: the pulse was the result of a battle in the psi-plane between Psylocke and the Shadow King, which temporarily deprived all psis from their telepathic abilities. [X-Men (2nd series) #77-78]

Madelyne’s inside-joke of “not having been born yesterday” alludes to the fact she was reborn relatively recently, when Nate unconsciously reconstructed her psionic ghost in X-Man #5.

Madelyne first abandoned Nate when she was lured away by Selene while in Paris in X-Man #7.

Nate “took” telepathic dance lessons in X-Man #21.

The mystery behind the drill-head shaped creatures is explained in X-Man #45.

One of the songs the band plays in the inn is Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”

Issue Information: 
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