X-Man #48

Issue Date: 
March 1999
Story Title: 
The Blood of the Righteous

Mark Bernardo (guest writer), Luke Ross (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (letterers), Mike Thomas (colorist), Glenn Greenberg (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

In Ireland, the religious hero called the Crusader is reborn after learning about Nate Grey, who some call the second coming, being in Ireland. The brothers at the monastery where the Crusader was residing are unable to stop him leaving, as he departs to find Nate Grey. Nate currently sits in a telekinetic bubble hovering over London, the rain pouring down, he thinks about his current situation, what and who he has left behind in New York, and wondering about his destiny, when he notices a young woman standing on a ledge of a very tall building, preparing to jump. Rescue services are trying to talk her down, but without his telepathy, Nate is unable to command the girl to stop, so she falls, plummeting towards her death, until Nate flies down and grabs her. He flies over the city, despite the girl protesting, and returns her to her apartment, where, hours later, she wakes. Nate listens as the girl, Colleen, reveals her story to him, her troubles with her parents, before she realizes that he is Nate Grey, and asks him to cure her mind of her troubles. But when Nate explains that he can’t do that because of the disturbance to the psychic plane, she gets angry and storms off. Worried that Colleen might try to kill herself again, Nate knows he has to go after her. But, while Nate is looking for Colleen, the Crusader is on the warpath in his search for Nate. Nate tries to look in all the sorts of places he thinks an alternative girl like Colleen would visit, when he sees a television recording of the Crusader, publicly challenging Nate. Nate finds the Crusader attacking police officers in an area where the police have tried to contain him. Nate confronts the religious hero, who is adamant that Nate must be killed. They battle in a building, each challenging the other with words and power. Colleen sees the battle and crosses the police barricade to help Nate. A ceiling starts to collapse on her when the Crusader knocks out a support beam. Nate is able to put a telekinetic shield around Colleen to protect her, but the Crusader is horrified by his actions, for Colleen is not much older than his own daughter. He rushes over to her, but Nate has some angry words for him, and uses his telekinesis to destroy the Crusader’s weapons and armor. The Crusader begs the Lord for forgiveness, while Nate picks Colleen up and flies away with her. The brothers from the monastery arrive to take the Crusader back with them, while Colleen thanks Nate for saving her life, twice.

Full Summary: 

In a secluded monastery in Northern Ireland, a lonely man sits in solitude…as he has the previous night, and the night before that. Lightning crackles as a thunderstorm rages outside, seeming to reflect the turmoil in his own restless soul. In the months since he has sought refuge here among the order, he has been at peace. At peace with himself, and his tortured past. Why, then, does tonight seem different? What, he wonders, is the reason for the anxious feeling that the new life he has found here is on an inevitable collision course with his old life? He frowns, but no amount of prayer and reflection has brought the answers, so he sits and waits… for a sign. Suddenly, there is a screeching noise, and a crash. He looks up and races out of his room into the stone corridor, where other men dressed in brown robes are rushing down the corridor. ‘Brothers… that crash - what happened?’ he asks them. One of them replies that there seems to have been an accident outside, and calls the solemn man Brother Blackwood. ‘We will… take care of it’ he assures him. Another brother tells Blackwood that there is no need to concern himself, that he should just remain inside.

The brothers rush into the rain, and see across the road, where a delivery truck of some kind has swerved off the road and into a tree. One of the brothers suggests that the driver must have lost control on this horrid rain-slicked road. ‘Is he all right?’ another calls out. One of the brothers opens the door and announces that he is alive, that he seems to be relatively uninjured, but possibly in shock. He tells another brother to contact the hospital in Dublin, before calling out to the driver, asking him if he is all right. The driver replies that he is, but he banged his head on the windshield. One of the brothers asks him if he remembers what happened, and the driver replies that he works for a European distributor of American publications. ‘Y’know, Yank newspapers, magazines and the like…’ he begins, adding that he was heading for the distributor with the latest batch when his truck started sliding all over the road and smashed into the tree.

‘Now the bloody books are all over the street getting soaked! My boss is gonna tear me a new one!’ the driver points out, before asking the brothers to pardon his language, as they help him out of the truck. Brother Blackwood arrives outside, and the others tell him to go back inside, that they have this under control. But Arthur Blackwood is already beyond hearing, much less heeding, the words, as his eyes and mind are fixed upon the publications strewn at his feet - and one particular image among them - a photo of Nate Grey on the cover of the “Daily Bugle” newspaper, with the headline “Washington Square “Faith Healer” sighted in Ireland. Is Nate Grey the Second Coming?” ‘This boy… Grey… the Second Coming?’ someone asks. ‘No…’ Arthur Blackwood replies, eyes narrowed. ‘NO!’ he shouts. ‘Saints preserve us! This is what I was afraid of!’ one of the other brothers remarks. ‘What’s your friend yelling about?’ the truck driver asks.

One of the other brothers explains that Brother Blackwood came to them many months ago, his soul troubled, full of anger and intolerance. The brother reveals that Blackwood wanted a self-imposed exile from the outside, secular world, while he found inner peace, and he has not had contact with that world for some time - because he wasn’t ready to deal with it. ‘So? Just lock him up again’ the truck driver suggests. The brother tells him that it isn’t that simple, as he doesn’t just have anger, he has power - power from a source that he dares not even try to understand. Suddenly, Blackwood throws his arms into the air, ‘Hear me, my ancestors! My eyes have been closed too long! I was a fool - a coward - to believe I could hide from the evils of the world! That I could forsake my holy mission!’ he declares.

Blackwood continues, boasting that the world is still ridden with sin, with blasphemers and unbelievers. He asks for his ancestors’ forgiveness and for the might to do God’s will once again. Suddenly, he is struck by lightning. ‘Brother Blackwood?’ one of the brothers calls out, but Blackwood’s brown robe is replaced by a chain-link armor costume, with red and a white cross, a red helmet, a long purple cape, and a sword and shield. ‘No brother…Blackwood was too weak to do what needs to be done. In a burst of heavenly lightning fortified by my ancestors, I have been cleansed - purified - and armed for war against unholiness! The Crusader lives again!’ he declares. One of the brothers looks up through the rain at Blackwood and begs him to turn away from this path. ‘Brother Charles…?’ Blackwood replies.

Brother Charles tells him that this is not God’s will, that his “mission” is one of madness and intolerance, not righteousness. ‘Have a care, old man. You have meant much to me the last few months…but I will not tolerate anyone questioning my sacred duty!’ the Crusader replies, announcing that this Nate Grey, this “Faith healer” must be dealt with. Brother Charles reminds Arthur that they have made so much progress, dealing with his anger, and points out that he made a promise to God, to his wife and daughter that the Crusader was dead. ‘Will you turn you back on that promise?’ he asks. The Crusader raises his sword into the air, and energy glows around it, as he declares that he will listen to no more of their twisted words. ‘If you stand in the way of my crusade, then you are a tool of Satan and I reject you!’ he declares, adding that he will find this Nate Grey, and that he is either the Almighty himself as these tabloids claim, or he is a heathen, like that other false god, Thor. The Crusader adds that if Nate Grey is truly his Lord made flesh, then he must kneel to him. But if he is the blasphemous impostor he believes him to be, then he must die. With that, the Crusader takes off into the rainy night.

Miles away, the rain also falls over the night-draped city of London, on the Isle of Great Britain… though the weather is the last thing on the mind of this very unique young man, currently floating placidly over the Thames River in a watertight bubble of telekinetic energy. His name is Nate Grey, and although you may not know it to look at him, he is one of the most powerful, and most potentially dangerous, beings on the planet. Wearing his red and black “psychic armor” Nate is slumped over inside the telekinetic bubble, and decides that London is certainly an impressive looking city from this angle - a lot different than the nightmarish place it became on the Earth that he grew up. The young hero tells himself to face it - being raised in a world where humanity was ground down under the heel of a tyrant like Apocalypse did not leave a lot of time to appreciate the scenery. ‘So it doesn’t make any sense that I should be homesick, right? But then, not a lot in my life has made sense recently’ he thinks to himself.

Nate wonders if maybe he is just shaken by from that whole mess with Cable, Stryfe and Madelyne last week. He reminds himself that Cable and Stryfe are opposite sides of the same coin, and two different versions of what he could still become. He knows that they are all essentially from the same parentage - the same genetic template, only difference is that he was born in an alternate reality. ‘Is it my fate to end up like one of them?’ Nate asks himself. ‘Cable…a hard-hearted soldier, unable to get close to anyone…whose mission to save humanity is his very reason for existing? Stryfe… a man so driven by hatred and bitterness that his life is dedicated to causing chaos?’ He realizes that sometimes he thinks so much about things that he forgets the bottom line - that he is not going to live long enough to follow in either of their footsteps. ‘My mutant powers are still killing me a little bit every time I use them. I’ve known that a while. I’ve even learned to kinda live with it’ he tells himself.

Nate frowns and decides that perhaps the real problem is that he feels so ineffectual. He reminds himself that he swore he would use his powers to help people in the time he has left to him. ‘And what have I really accomplished? Back in New York, Threnody and I tried to help people…that whole “Miracle Worker of Washington Square Park” thing…and that ended up being a disaster’. He recalls that not long afterwards, Madelyne Pryor showed up in his life again, and he has no idea what her real agenda is. He remembers the mystery man, Ness, who claims that their destinies are somehow linked. Nate’s train of thought is interrupted when he hears a loud siren, and he turns to their direction - the bridge - realizing that it sounds like police and ambulance.

On one of the bridge towers, a young woman stands in the pouring rain, teetering on the edge of one of the platforms. What goes through the mind of a person on the brink of taking her own life? In Colleen O’Shaughnessy’s case, it is visions of all her idols - the legendary rock stars cut down in the prime of life and career - Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain. Maybe, she wonders, people will mark this night, this death and place her in that tragic firmament alongside them. Maybe and untimely end will make up for the comparable success she has yet to gain in the land of the living. She knows that it is a vain hope, though. Down below, on the bridge proper, police officers stand as the rain beats down on them, and one of them speaks through a megaphone, ‘Listen t’me, lass! Don’t jump! Just stay where ye are, and we’ll have rescue crews up there to get ye down!’ he tells her. But at this moment, she feels it is the only hope she has. Tears pour from the punk-like woman’s eyes. Nate’s telekinetic bubble hovers over the bridge now, and realizes that the girl wants to kill herself by taking a leap off London Bridge. He tells himself that he can’t float up here and watch that happen again. He sees cops and reporters on the bridge, and decides that thanks to the New York fiasco, his face, and the fact that he is a mutant, are known all over the world.

‘If I reveal my powers in public, my anonymity here is blown’ Nate realizes, deciding that it doesn’t matter. He regrets no longer having his telepathy, for if he did, he could just reach into the girl’s mind and make her stay still. Suddenly, lightning crackles and Colleen raises one foot off the platform. Ate can’t tell from his vantage point of Colleen is consciously taking a step off the bridge or if she is slipping on rain-slicked stone. But a fraction of a second later, the question becomes academic, and Colleen plummets downwards. ‘Time to stop daydreaming and move!’ Nate thinks to himself, using his telekinesis to propel himself down and match the girl’s terminal velocity, while slowing down her descent. ‘There’s two of ‘em up there!’ someone on the bridge shouts out. ‘Both falling?’ someone in the crowd asks. ‘No, one’s flying! One of them super heroes, y’think?’ another suggests. ‘Is it Captain Britain?’ someone inquires. ‘Nah, he’s still out on Muir Island, i’n’t he?’ another remarks.

‘He’s caught her!’ someone shouts out, as Nate reaches Colleen and takes her in his arms. ‘Bloody…! Who are you?’ the young punk woman asks. ‘Someone who’s seen too much death’ Nate replies. ‘Wh - what are you?’ Colleen inquires. ‘Tonight, I’m your guardian angel’ Nate explains. But Colleen snaps that she doesn’t need an bleeding guardian angel. ‘Did it look to you like I wanted to be saved?’ she asks him. She starts hitting Nate’s chest, telling him to let go of her. ‘I don’t care what kinda freak powers you have, it‘s my life! My decision! I just wanna die!’ she shouts. Nate grabs her by the wrist to prevent her hitting him again, and as the rain continues to pour down on them, he tells her that no one is dying in front of him if he can do something about it. ‘I’m just funny that way’ he tells her, before giving her a choice - she can either come with him to talk about this, or he can bring her back to those cops and she can talk to them. ‘Chose’ he asks. Colleen suggests that they can go to her flat in Sussex, and she can guide him there. ‘Won’t they know to look for you there?’ Nate asks. ‘Only if they had a clue who I am, which they don’t, I am just a nobody, after all’ Colleen replies, as they fly off through the sky.

Hours later, as darkness and rain give way to a new dawn, ‘What the…?’ Colleen utters as she wakes, to find a cup of coffee telekinetically hovering over her. ‘Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you’ Nate tells her as he holds the cup of coffee away from her, explaining that he thought that she might want a cup. ‘I think I figured out how to use the machine. Might be a little strong’ he admits. Colleen sits up in her bed and replies that strong is just fine. She adds that she did have a bit of the hard stuff last night. ‘Well that starts to explain why you pulled that stunt on the bridge’ Nate points out. Wide-eyed, Colleen asks ‘So it wasn’t a dream…you did fly up to me and break my fall’ before calling Nate “Mister Guardian Angel” and asking him if he has a name. ‘Nate. And you, Miss “Nobody”?’ Nate asks. Colleen introduces herself, and as she drinks the coffee, Nate asks her what could have been so terrible that would make her take a header off of London Bridge. ‘You…you wouldn’t understand’ Colleen replies. ‘Try me’ Nate tells her.

Colleen explains that she is a singer - actually, a bartender trying to be a singer, and that she plays in a rock band, they do punk, heavy metal, that kind of stuff. She adds that they are small time and have been playing local clubs and bars for a few years now, waiting for the big break, and for the fairy tale of the record executive in the audience to come over and sign them up to a contract. ‘Guess what, Nate? Fairy tales are exactly that’ Colleen declares, before informing Nate that she had a big argument with her parents before she left home. They wanted her to study law, while she wanted to be the next Alanis Morrissette. She explains that she told her parents she wouldn’t set foot in their home again until she was a success - and that was five years ago. ‘I haven’t seen or spoken to ‘em since’ she adds.

Nate asks Colleen if she thinks that means her parents wouldn’t feel awful if they found out she killed herself? ‘Sorry, but struggling for success doesn’t strike me as a reason to end your life’ he adds. Colleen glances out the window and explains that it is more than that, as she has mood swings. ‘This isn’t the first time I’ve felt like…ending it all’ Colleen admits. She states that a doctor friend of hers told her she had a manic depressive disorder. ‘You heard of those, right, smart lad like you?’ Colleen asks, pointing out that half the time, usually when she is up on the stage, she is on top of the world, like nothing can touch her. But the rest of the tie, when she has quiet time to think about things, she is just so low, so worthless - like last night. Colleen informs Nate that she has medication for it, but that she can’t stand what it does to her anymore, that it makes her feel numb, dead inside, so she figured the easiest thing for everybody was for her to just go away.

Nate listens intently and tells Colleen that just because something seems easy, it doesn’t make it the right decision, and asks her about her friends, the band of hers. ‘How would they feel?’ He asks her about her family, as it seems like she has given up on them, not like the other way around. Colleen replies that she has heard it all before. ‘Crikey, who’d’ve thought my guardian angel would be so full of platitudes…’ she mutters. But Nate tells Colleen that he cant believe so much of this is really about being a celebrity, being famous, and asks her if that is really so important to her. He takes her by her hands and announces that he will show her something he found in her mailbox while she was asleep. Nate holds up a copy of the “London Times”,. which has a photo of he rescuing Colleen and the headline “American Mutant Saves London Bridge Jumper”, while a second article is all about Nate, “Washington Square “Miracle Worker” Nate Grey”, and has a headshot of him.

Nate asks Colleen if it looks familiar - some bright reporter figured him out. ‘Fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, Colleen. I’m a walking media event. This is why I can barely show my face in public’. ‘Nate…Grey? My God…you’re…that one, aren’t you?’ Colleen gasps, wide-eyed. ‘The one who cures people…fixes minds!’ Colleen exclaims. She tells him that she figured he had to be a mutant, maybe one of those Excalibur blokes, but she didn’t make the connection. She grabs Nate by his arms and tells him that he can cure her, use his powers to give her peace of mind, wipe out her bloody depression. ‘You can make me forget I ever had these problems, right?’ she asks him. ‘Please, Nate…I’m begging you. I’ll do anything if you’ll do that for me!’ she exclaims. ‘Colleen, I…I’m sorry’ Nate begins, informing her that he can’t help her, at least not this way.
Nate tells Colleen that it is a long story, but he doesn’t have those powers anymore. He explains that there was a disturbance on the psychic plane, and it left him without his telepathy, so he can’t affect the minds of others anymore. He adds that even before that, the whole “faith healer” experience taught him that he was wrong to play God with his powers that way, as real strength has to come from within. Colleen scowls and declares ‘That’s a real cock-and-bull story, isn’t it, then? I suppose I’m just not worth wasting your precious powers on, right? Well, fine!’ She turns away from him and tells Nate to have fun hiding himself from the world, as she will take care of herself. Colleen then storms out of her apartment and slams the door behind Nate, who calls out to her, asking her to wait. He hangs his head and tells himself that it could have gone better. ‘For all I know, she’s gonna go try to kill herself again!’ Nate decides that he has to find Colleen, before the wrong people find out he is here.

Meantime, at a roadside newsstand, an elderly newsagent looks up as a tall shadow descends over him, ‘Er… can I help ye, Sir?’ he asks nervously. The Crusader looks down at the newsagent and announces that he would peruse these publications. ‘Be my guest. Uh…is that a real sword?’ the old man replies. The Crusader raises his sword overhead and clenches one of the newspapers, ‘So he is near…in London! The vision of my sainted ancestors have guided my steps well!’ the Crusader declares, adding that still this stripling flaunts his powers, his imagined divinity. ‘With dying breath he shall repent for this effrontery!’ The Crusader tells the newsagent that tomorrow, these headlines will sing of Nate Grey’s public execution by the Crusader. The Crusader drops the newspaper and storms off, while the old man calls out to him ‘Yer filmin’ a new Monty Python film, roit? Shouldn’t you have a dead chicken with ye? Where’s the cameras?’ he asks, before deciding that the bloke seemed serious - about as serious as you can get in that daft costume anyway. ‘I sure wouldn’t wanna be the poor tosser he’s mad at!’ the old man declares.

Hours later, Nate Grey is finding that downtown London is a good place for the right kind of person to blend into the crowd - a fortuitous thing if you’re trying to stay hidden…but frustrating if you’re trying to find someone. He walks down a busy street, sunglasses over his eyes and a trench coat covering his psychic armor, he tells himself that he has bee searching bars and clubs all night, and there is still no trace of Colleen. He thought for sure form what she told him that she might look for friends in one of these places. He wishes that he still had his telepathy, this could have been so easy. Nate wonders how normal humans deal with being mind blind every day of their lives. ‘To them, it must seem like I’ve lost some cool super-power…to me, it’s like one of my senses is just… gone. And I have no idea how much longer I have until somebody blows my cover’ he realizes.

Nate walks past some punks, and one of them points at Nate, while asking her friend what he thinks of that look. ‘Little too U2 circa 1989, luv’ the punk with colorful hair responds. Nate enters another pub, deciding that it can’t hurt to try one more. He approaches the bar and asks ‘Excuse me? Has anyone seen a girl with -’ but he is interrupted by a man who tells him to hush, as they have just interrupted the match for this news report. Nate looks up to the television, which shows an image of the Crusader standing on a rooftop, as the announcer reports ‘…bizarrely garbed individual appeared in the center of London’s Picadilly Circus, issuing a challenge to the American mutant Nate Grey…who was sighted just last night over London Bridge rescuing a still-unidentified jumper’. The patron sitting at the bar turns back to Nate, ‘Hmmp, what d’you make o’ that, lads?’ he asks. ‘How about you, mate? Y’gonna order a drink or just stand there looking - pretty?’ but the drunk patron gets no response, as Nate has gone. ‘Huh. Bloke musta forgot his ID’ he decides.

At that moment, police officers surround the Crusader, while a crowd of civilians has gathered around to watch. ‘I’m not tellin’ you again, mate - I don’t care if you’re on a mission from God, or just an escapee from the looney bin, put the sword down and let’s discuss this like civilized folks, a’right?’ one of the police officers calls out. ‘Who are you to dare mock me…to stand in the way of my mission?’ the Crusader respond. The police officer points out that he is an officer of the law. ‘And you are causing a public disturbance’ he remarks, aiming his pistol at the Crusader. The Crusader replies that he recognizes no law save that of Heaven itself, and warns the officers that if they oppose him, they are tools of the Devil and they too must be smitten by the Sword of Righteousness.

The Crusader blocks their gunfire with his sword, ‘I warned you, mate!’ one of the officers calls out. ‘And I - have warned you!’ the Crusader declares as he lunges forward, slicing a car hood off, and knocking the police officers aside. The Crusader holds his sword overhead, and explains that it is no ordinary blade that he wields. ‘As I have destroyed your conveyance, now I shall -’ he begins, before a voice calls out ‘Hold it right there, lunatic!’ and the Crusader looks up, to see X-Man hovering before him. ‘If it’s me you’re looking for, then here I am!’ Nate declares, adding ‘You’ll have to forgive me if I have no clue as to why! I’ve never seen you before in my life!’ ‘No clue? So it is as I suspected!’ the Crusader replies, announcing that his Lord would never feign ignorance of him or his mission. ‘You are a pretender… a blasphemer…and thus, you have sealed your doom!’ he declares.

The Crusader hurls the motor from the car towards Nate, ‘Are you insane? I’ve never made any such -’ Nate calls out, before realizing that the Crusader tore the engine from the car with his bare hands, so it looks like he is not just dealing with an everyday nutcase here. Nate uses his telekinesis to reduce the car motor to its component molecules and disperse it away from the crowd. He wishes that he knew what has set this guy off. The Crusader tells Nate that his powers are impressive, and though he does not know from what unholy source they are derived, they will avail him naught against a true soldier of Heaven. Nate is too slow to fly backwards as the Crusader leaps at him, and slams into the young mutant, his shield pushing through Nate’s telekinetic force field, and Nate falls back into an office building, shattering the window.

The Crusader follows, and pins Nate to the ground. The Crusader holds his sword close to Nate and tells him to make peace with whatever false deities he deems holy, as his final judgment is at hand. ‘What is this about? Who are you?’ Nate calls out to his foe. The Crusader explains that he is this age’s crusader against sacrilege and immorality. ‘I am the appointed executioner of false prophets and charlatans such as yourself’ he boasts. Some office workers look on, as the Crusader starts to strangle Nate, who wonders what this is all about. He decides that this is unreal, for even with his reduced powers, he should be able to shatter the Crusader’s sword to pieces with a thought, and psi-blast him halfway to Belfast. The Crusader asks Nate if he wants to know more, and reveals that years ago, on the night he was expelled from the seminary by short-sighted complacent fools, he had a vision.

The Crusader continues, explaining that it wasn’t a vision, but an epiphany, as the ghosts of his ancestors appeared to him and bestowed upon him their legacy - these weapons and this armor - and charged him with carrying on their holy wars in this corrupt, modern era. He announces that as long as his faith I strong, his power is limitless, his weapons impregnable. ‘Against that you have no hope!’ he tells Nate, when, suddenly, a car is telekinetically flung into the office, and slams into the Crusader’s back. Nate drops to the ground as the Crusader is pushed forward. ‘Maybe not - but I can still use my TK to hurl that police car over here…and give myself some room to breath’ Nate points out. The Crusader curses Nate, ‘Like every tool of Satan, you fight without honor!’ he exclaims as he tries to get to his feet.

Nate starts to telekinetically lift various objects around him and replies ‘Yeah? I didn’t see much honor in terrorizing innocent bystanders to lure me here, either’, while telling the Crusader that he guesses he has the right to decide when the end justifies the means, too. Nate tells the Crusader that if he wants a fair, one-on-one fight, he has got it. Nate uses the objects - shrapnel, actually, to telekinetically form his won sword, and he stands ready to combat the Crusader, who tells him that neither his youthful bravado not his devilish powers impress him. The Crusader moves forward, sword raised overhead and declares that Nate has made a fatal mistake, boasting that he was a master swordsman years before he became the Crusader. ‘The charming personality came with the change, though, right?’ Nate jokes. ‘Arrogant pup! Your brash challenge has signed your death warrant!’ the Crusader booms. The Crusader brings his sword down against Nate’s telekinetic sword, ‘Have at thee!’ he calls out, as Nate proves no match. ‘Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time’ Nate thinks to himself as he ducks the Crusader’s sword.

Outside, the wide-eyed crowd has increased in number by one, as Colleen, who was nursing a pint of Murphy’s Stout in one of her favorite uptown haunts when she saw the news, joins the crowd gathered outside. She is not sure if she was drawn to the battle by sheer, morbid curiosity, like the majority of this throng, or genuine concern for the young man who just last night saved her from a certain death she claimed to crave. A police line has been erected between the crowd and the building where Nate fights the Crusader. Colleen rushes towards it, despite being told that she cannot go any further. But to the crowd’s surprise, Colleen leaps over the police barricade. ‘Somebody get after her!’ a voice calls out. ‘Heh…right on, babe’ a punk tells Colleen.

Back inside, ‘Hah! Your weapon of evil shatters against my holy shield!’ the Crusader declares, before he kicks Nate backwards, boasting that the strength of his faith will outmatch any unearthly power that Nate an bring to bear. ‘Now…we shall end this!’ the Crusader exclaims. Nate didn’t want to believe the Crusader, but realizes that he is right - he is just getting stronger, while Nate is starting to feel drained and weak. Nate looks up from the ground as the Crusader raises his sword overhead once more, ‘Nate Grey, you have blasphemed against the Almighty. I beseech you, at least face your death with dignity. Do you repent?’ the Crusader asks. ‘Get… stuffed’ Nate replies. ‘So be it! Let that foolery be your epitaph!’ the Crusader warns Nate, as he brings his sword down, but Nate ducks just in time, however the Crusader’s sword slices right through a building support beam.

A whole section of the ceiling is starting to come down, and Nate sees someone in the building - ‘Colleen?’ he calls out, while, an inner voice seems to whisper to Colleen O’Shaugnessy as rubble falls down around her: ‘Here is death, it taunts…certain and final. And this time you’re absolved of any responsibility. This time, death is rushing toward you, instead of you rushing toward it. This time, all you have to do…is stand there. This is what you want…isn’t it?’ And with that, a tear falls from Colleen’s eye. The Crusader looks confused, ‘What deviltry? You aim your beam past me?’ he asks Nate, whose psi-beam indeed moves past the Crusader, ‘That’s right, maniac… to prevent your “holy quest” from claiming an innocent life!’ Nate calls out, as a telekinetic shield suddenly appears over Colleen, protecting her from the rubble and dispersing it at the same time.

The Crusader looks on, shocked. ‘That girl…not much older than my daughter!’ he gasps. He goes over to Colleen and crouches down beside her, asking her to forgive him. ‘I did not see you! Are you injured?’ he asks. Nate flies towards them, ‘Not so sure of your cause now, are you, Crusader? Well, that’s fine with me… ‘cause I’ve never been more convinced of my own!’ Nate calls out, hovering over the Crusader, Nate states that he never claimed to be his god or anyone else’s - and he never wanted the notoriety that his powers brought him. He points out that at least he used those powers selflessly, to try to help people. ‘You’re the one who comes wrapped in all the holier-than-thou trappings…and all you want to use your powers to do is kill, destroy, shed blood!’ Nate exclaims.

Nate tells the Crusader that he is a hypocrite, and a bigger blasphemer than he could ever hope to be. ‘And I’ve had more than enough of you!’ Nate adds, as he crushes the Crusader with a telekinetic charge. ‘No…my weapons…armor…gone! My strength…ebb…!’ the Crusader utters. He collapses to the floor, muttering that his ancestors have abandoned him. ‘Forgive me, Lord…forgive…your servant…’. Colleen is quiet, before asking ‘So…um… what’s his deal, then?’ X-Man flies over to her and tells her that he is no longer a threat, and that he will tell her the rest later. Nate tells Colleen to come on, as the cops will be storming in here when they realize the fight is over.

Nate takes Colleen in his arms and he takes flight, telling her that he doesn’t think either of them wants to be here when they arrive. ‘Y’saved my life’ Colleen remarks. ‘Twice, actually. But who’s counting?’ Nate replies, adding ‘You’re welcome, by the way’ as he flies over the city.

Shortly, as both physical and emotional wrecking begins to be sorted through, the Crusader - Arthur Blackwood - is once again wearing his brown robe, and is in police custody outside the building. ‘So you say you know this man, father?’ one of the officers asks Brother Charles, who confirms that he does, and implores the officer to release him into the custody of his order. ‘A conventional institution could not hold him, and would not help him. He needs guidance’ Brother Charles explains. One of the police offers replies that it is not their decision to make, as there are legal channels to deal with. ‘Then I shall deal with them’ Brother Charles assures the officer. Blackwood hangs his head and tells Brother Charles that he is sorry, that he was wrong and he will face whatever punishment that awaits. ‘I only beg your forgiveness…and God’s’. Brother Charles hugs Blackwood, and reminds him that forgiving is a large part of God’s job. He assures him that he will pull through this, if he has the strength and the faith.

On a rooftop, Nate and Colleen set down. Nate tells Colleen that she has to get to a hospital, and points out that he has to leave. He adds that noticed that Colleen’s arms as the rubble was falling - that she was trying to shield herself. Colleen replies that she supposes she really wasn’t ready to die - that when she was staring it in the face, when it wasn’t on her terms. ‘Especially when you - a stranger - were willing to risk yer own life in that battle to save mine’. Colleen thanks Nate for saving her life - twice, and kisses him on his cheek. Colleen tells Nate not to worry about her, as she is going to be okay, that she is going to keep working for her dream - because if this day has shown anything, it is that for good or ill, a little faith can go a long way. With that, Nate takes flight and leaves.

Characters Involved: 


The Crusader II / Arthur Blackwood

Colleen O’Shaughnessy

Charles and other brothers

Truck driver

Police officers




Patrons at pub


In Nate’s Thoughts:


Madelyne Pryor

Story Notes: 

The Crusader fought Thor in Thor (1st series) #330-331 (not #332-333 like the footnote this issue indicates).

Following his Thor appearances, the Crusader then appeared in Avengers Spotlight #39 and Cage #17.

The Crusader next appears in New Avengers (1st serries) #2.

Nate’s dealings with Cable, Stryfe and Madelyne took place in the last two issues and Cable #63.

Issue Information: 
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