X-Man #56

Issue Date: 
October 1999
Story Title: 

Terry Kavanagh (writer), Mike Miller (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), Mike Thomas (colorist), Mark Bench (letterer), Jason Liebig (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

In Greyville, Nate and his friends Spider-Man, Madelyne and Threnody are at a drive-in cinema one evening before school starts back, when they are attacked by a large red goo. A woman called Violet appears, apparently a SHIELD agent, and in commando of the goo, which sucks Spider-Man inside of it after the girls clear the civilians, and Nate dropped the cinema screen on the goo. Nate goes into the goo to rescue his friend, and learns that it is some sort of swarm. He manages to pull Spider-Man free, and Violet is taken out, and later arrested. The next day, Nate and his brother, Cable, and parents Forge and Jean are in the barn on their farm. Nate hears a news report about the infamous Ruby-Rosarios being stolen, but Jean tells him that it is not his problem. They are then attacked by Sinister, who murders Jean, then Cable and then Forge, wanting to reclaim his creation, Nate. Nate attacks Sinister, destroying his armor and revealing a small old purple-skinned man underneath. Nate flies up over Greyville, and reality around him appears to change. In Seattle, Threnody is still tracking Nate down. She appears somewhat different - but surrounded by zombies. Nate examines his new surroundings, and notices purple smoke coming out of the volcanoes that surround a bunker on the strange island he hovers over. He recalls the woman Violet from Greyville, and how Sinister had a purple man beneath his armor, and decides that the Purple Man is responsible for these strange goings on. He flies towards the bunker, recalling how the Purple Man destroyed his life earlier, but is being watched on a monitor by someone holding the Ruby-Rosarios, who decides that he has to cut his losses, and turns the screen off.

Full Summary: 

Greyville Illusion:

Greyville Drive-In cinema, an almost empty lot, late at night. The stars shine down over the large drive-in cinema. ‘Gimme a break, G… this creaker’s not even colorized’ one of the patrons remarks as they look up at the large screen ahead of them. ‘I mean, “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” - on the last Saturday night of the summer - whose lame-o idea was this, Grey?’ Spider-Man asks as he reclines on the hood of a convertible car, arms resting behind his head. ‘Mine, I guess. Must’ve heard something good about it… somewhere…’ Nate Grey, wearing his new blue and white costume, replies as he looks up at the screen, a little confused.

Threnody leans into Nate, telling him that it worse for her. ‘Any excuse to hang with the gang before school starts again is fine. Not to mention the long ride home later, just you and m-’ she begins, before Madelyne Pyror, sitting between Nate and Spider-Man, asks handing a bag to Threnody. ‘Sure, Maddie… for the sake of Spider-Man’s rep, if nothing else. Wouldn’t want his girlfriend wearing any more butter on her lips than you are already -’ Threnody declares.

Spider-Man tells Threnody to leave him out of this - permanently, when suddenly, the ground beneath the drive-in cinema opens, and a large red goo surges forward, knocking cars aside. ‘Holy… run - run for your lives!’ someone calls out. ‘It’s… it’s Ecco -’ another person exclaims as people leap from their cars. ‘ECCO - the sludge that swallowed Secaucus!’ someone declares as they run from the muck.

‘For real…?’ Nate asks as he flies towards Ecco, deciding that he can’t let the slime spread another inch, he uses his power to topple the large screen down towards the goo. ‘No… Grey’s toppling the whole screen…’ someone calls out. ‘With just a thought, believe it or not… while the rest of us are working up a serious sweat! As usual!’ Spider-Man declares as he swings by, picking up two civilians, and moving them from danger, while alerting Madelyne to the fact that others are in trouble. ‘Keep swimming, Spider - don’t stop now - we’re right behind you!’ Madelyne assures him as she casts a teleport spell that surrounds herself and two others, just in time as the screen lands with a loud KROOM, covering the goo, Ecco. ‘Ain’t teleportation grand?’ Spider-Man jokes, while Nate calls out ‘Smooth, folks. Maximum team-work, minimum damage’.

‘So far, perhaps… but you have not yet faced Violet, Agent of SHIELD!’ a dark-haired woman in a white costume declares as she appears. Violet announces that her firm offered to buy the real estate of Greyville, but that its people refused them repeatedly. ‘A fatal error, I’m afraid’ she adds. Violet declares that her people do not take no for an answer - ‘We have need of these properties now, striplings - commitments to large-scale developers, pending air-rights, litigation, etc’. Ecco re-emerges from under the downed cinema screen, and it reaches out for Spider-Man. “We”? he asks, before Ecco latches on around his ankle. ‘No less than long-term tax-reductions are at stake here. And if you will not sell the land of Greyville… we’ve come prepared for a hostile take-over!’ Violet announces.

‘Look out-’ Spider-Man shouts, while Ecco reaches high into the air, surrounding Spider-Man. ‘Hang in there, Spidey - hang on -’ Nate calls out to his friend as he flies straight to the strange muck, ‘I got your back, buddy! I’m on - it…’ Nate adds, but finding himself inside Ecco, he is surrounded by darkness. ‘In it, actually. In it deep’ Nate thinks to himself. He decides that whatever this thing is, telekinetic shields are keeping it off him, and the dark is no problem, that’s for sure, as a flare of energy from his eye lights up his surroundings. But he notices a strange CHTCHT sound coming from everywhere, all at once - all around them.

Nate looks concerned when he sees Spider-Man’s hand nearby, and he realizes that Ecco is not the single, solid slick he thought it was - just one giant monster with a huge appetite. ‘It’s a swarm of thousands! Hundreds and hundreds of thousands - eating Spider-Man alive!’ Nate shouts.

While, outside Ecco, Threnody tells Madelyne that Spider-Man is on the brink, about to go over the edge. ‘But they’re still alive, both of ‘em! I’d know if it they weren’t! If their death energies had been fully released… my mutant power would’ve gone for the kill already’ Threnody explains. Madelyne announces that she will teleport in there blind if she has to. ‘We can’t just -’ Madelyne begins, when suddenly, Ecco is ripped open as Nate flies out of it, carrying Spider-Man. ‘Back off, you two! Now!’ Nate tells the girls. Nate informs them that Ecco is not what it looks like, not by a long shot, that it is a horde of some sort - a collective consciousness, really, and that it is under Violet’s control. ‘And the Spider…? His costume’s in tatters’ Threnody calls out. ‘What about his mask, through? How’s - his mask?’ Madelyne asks, smiling as Nate hands Spider-Man over to her, and although his brown hair is fully out of the mask, the rest of it is still covering his face. ‘Did what I could for it telekinetically’ Nate explains.

Ecco starts to surround the four, while Nate remarks that Spider-Man has a real thing about his “secret identity”. ‘I heard that…’ Spidey utters, wearily. ‘Great. Ecco’s regrouping, gang - closing in for another wave’ Madelyne alerts everyone. ‘Don’t panic, Red. If it lives, after all if they live - they can die! And that makes ‘em mine!’ Threnody declares. Her mutant power activates, and Ecco screams - as does Violent, who starts to collapse. Madelyne teleports over to Violet and grabs her.

Shortly, police officers have arrived and Violet is in handcuffs. ‘Looked like roaches, according to the kids - big, shiny cockroaches - but they scattered when the Queen Mother here passed out, Sarge. And no sign of a single one since then’ one of the officers reports. ‘Grey and his pals did real good tonight…  as always’ the other officer announces.

Later, the sun shines down over a barn on a farm, where inside, a shirtless Nate is casually holding a tractor up with one hand, while someone hidden in the shadows tinkers underneath it. ‘So, is that freaky, or what?’ Nate asks. ‘I don’t know, little bro. Everybody in Greyville lived happily ever after… right?’ a white-haired young man sitting on a chair in the barn replies. ‘Sounds like the same old story to me’ he adds, before the man in the shadows calls out ‘Cable’. ‘What? What’d I do now?’ Cable asks. ‘Not you, boy, the fuel line cable. I need Nate to snag a replacement from my workbench’ the man under the tractor explains. A red-haired woman smiles and touches Cable on the arm. While holding a plate with a sandwich, she tells the man under the tractor not to be silly. ‘He knows that well, of course… everyone everywhere knows that Nate’s the apple of our eye, Forge’. Forge steps out from under the tractor, ‘I hope so, Jean - I truly do’ Forge smiles, adding that they couldn’t ask for a better, braver son.

A radio is on in the barn, and the announcer reports some late breaking news about the satellite that crashed into a Seattle Savings Bank at 9:12 last night. ‘Nine PM?’ Nate remarks. ‘Weird. That’s right around the same time I was bringing the movie screen down on Ecco…’ he adds, while the radio announcer reports that it is confirmed no lives were lost, due to the late hour, and the massive vault is said to have taken the brunt of the impact, and initial reports suggest that the infamous Ruby-Rosarios are among the missing valuables. Jean uses her telekinesis to turn the radio off, and tells Nate that it is not their problem. ‘We’ve finally found a place for ourselves, built a strong family together, here in Greyville, where mutants are free to be exactly who and what they are - where that Spider-friend of yours can even bounce around with a mask on all day if he chooses’. Jean adds that that is a bad idea in this kind of heat, and suggests to Nate that he might like to talk to Spider-Man about that.

‘It’s a good life, she’s right about that’ Nate thinks to himself. He is still holding the tractor up, ‘And that’s exactly what’s wrong, somehow - all wrong for m-’ Nate starts to tell himself, when suddenly, energy beams are fired down at the four, and some of the earth around them is blown into large chunks. ‘Behind me teke-shield, guys! Fast! It’s an ambush…!’ Jean calls out as she throws a telekinetic shield up around herself and the men. ‘…from above’ Jean gasps as a blast of energy penetrates her shield, and strikes her. ‘Jean!’ Cable calls out, rushing over to her. ‘Mother dearest is the first to fall, boy…’ a voice mocks.

Nate and Cable look up to see a man on a mechanoid steed. ‘Sinister?!’ Nate shouts. Smoke and flames rise up around everyone from the scorched ground, as Sinister boasts that he will destroy the Greys completely - slaughter each and every one of their brood before their eyes. ‘To reclaim what is rightfully mine. What I created!’ Sinister declares. He reaches out for Nate, ‘Come to me, Nate. Come home’ Sinister orders. But Nate and Cable turn to Jean, who Forge is holding in his arms. ‘Jean’s dead? Dead! You killed her, monster! Just cut her down in cold blood -’ Forge begins, before one of Sinister’s fingers extends like a spear, and pierces Forge’s chest. ‘More to the poin, now, Forge… I killed you both’ Sinister declares.

‘Butcher!’ Cable roars as he leaps skyward and uses his cyborg arm to grab Sinister. ‘I’ll take you apart, Sinister - tear your head off with my bare -’ Cable begins, managing to push Sinister off of his steed, but the villain responds by grabbing Cable’s throat, ‘Actually, Cable… you’ll suffer an agonizing but mercifully brief electrical feedback from my personal force field… and die upon contact’ Sinister declares. ‘Consider yourself fortunate’ Sinister remarks as he drops to the ground, while Cable’s body plummets to the ground below.

Forge is still alive, and calls out to Nate, telling him to get help. ‘Your friend, Spider-Man… at home… wherever that is… I’ll make sure…Sinister can’t follow’ Forge assures Nate, as he extends his arm and forces his hand through the mechanoid horse. ‘My steed!’ Sinister shouts. ‘Die already, tin man!’ Sinister shouts at Forge, firing a blast of energy towards him. ‘FORGE!’ Nate shouts as Forge is taken out. ‘Nothing ties you here any longer, traitor child. You are free to run now… to honor your “father’s” last words… his dying wish for you…’ Sinister points out, as Nate soars swiftly towards him, enraged.

‘I heard the man, Sinister, believe me! I know exactly what he wanted me to do - what I’m supposed to do - but it’s not happening, sucker! It just ain’t me!’ Nate declares as he uses his mental power to shatter Sinister’s armor. As the spectacular armor breaks and crumbles to the ground, even Sinister’s head falls off - revealing a scrawny bald man with purple skin beneath. ‘No! No! No! No! No! No! Not fair! Not fair! Not fair!’ he complains. ‘Cheater! Cheater! Cheater!’ he shouts at Nate.

‘Unreal. All of it - everything I have here - everything I had… impossible. This isn’t happening - it can’t be - I refuse to believe it’ Nate thinks to himself as the flames burn around him, and the small man, Sinister vanishes. That is all it takes. A single desperate thought, still half-formed in the singularly powerful mind of this confused young mutant from another world - and all illusion shatters. Beyond repair. ‘Thren and Maddie. Peter. My whole… family here - my whole life - too good to last… too good to be true. All lies’.

Nate then flies high over the flames, and reality does the rest, as he stares down, he sees a few blocks of houses, and nothing but empty space beyond that. ‘I mean, “Greyville?” Where’d that come from, anyway? What was I - thinking…?’ he wonders, before pondering whether this is actually possible - did he finally do what everyone has been afraid he would do - what he has been afraid he could do? ‘Have I somehow recreated the world around me in my own image?’ Nate shouts.


‘Won’t lose me so easily, lover. Followed y’r scent all the way from Anchorage to here, and I’m finally close again… closer than you can image. Like they always say, though, “close” only counts in horse-shoes and - well - y’know the rest…’ Threnody’s thoughts trail off as she stands on a pier in Seattle, ‘I need you now, Natey…’

Threnody, her body looking a little larger than usual, utters as she looks out over the darkening skies. Suddenly, the waters around her start to splosh, and zombies emerge from it, calling her name. ‘…we need you’ Threnody adds as more zombies approach her on the pier.

Meantime, Nate hovers in the sky, and sees that Greyville has gone now - completely - that it just blinked out of existence. Same as its people - leaving nothing behind by but a strange bunker - dead center of the island. ‘Which is where, exactly? And how did I wind up here? When -?’ Nate wonders as he tells himself that with all he has seen of Earth since he found it - he has tried to see and learn, he has never even heard of volcanoes that spew purple smoke, like the ones around the bunker do.

Purple…?’ he utters. ‘Violet?’ he recalls the woman from Greyville. And then “Sinister’s” pallor, his puppeterring from the inside out, like that - the man was purple. ‘It’s so obvious now - Killgrave!’ Nate shouts. Nate remembers that Killgrave’s freaky pheromones give him total control over others, and he even used his mutant power on him once before, not to mention using Nate’s friends to set him up for something Killgrave never finished. ‘Until I showed him what it meant to challenge Nate Grey, what it costs’. Nate showed all of New York, and it cost him the life he had finally found there - the first real life he had begun to build for himself on this world - forever. ‘But not this time! I had nothing to do with all this here, now…it’s all on him this time - all on Killgrave, the Purple Man - and it’s all coming down on him!’ Nate shouts as he flies closer to the bunker, angry - and unaware he is being watched on a monitor.

The person watching Nate taps a key on the control panel before him. ‘I’d hoped for so much more, Grey. You failed to yield even the slightest hints to the so-called secret identity of Spider-Man. A major disappointment, I must admit…but  my misuse of your power has certainly proven profitable enough in other ways’ the mysterious being tells themself, holding a ruby red necklace in one gloved hand. ‘Time to cut my losses now, unfortunately. Game over’ the unknown being declares, and the screen suddenly goes blank.

Characters Involved: 




Unidentified figure

In Greyville:

X-Man, Madelyne Pryor, Threnody, Spider-Man, Jean Grey & Forge, Cable




Police officers

Written By: