X-Man # 58

Issue Date: 
December 1999
Story Title: 
The Heart of Darkness

Terry Kavanagh (writer), Mike Miller (penciler), Bud Larosa (inker), Mike Thomas (colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s JL (letterers), Jason Liebig (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

X-Man wakes to find an apparently pregnant Threnody being overwhelmed by zombies. He grabs his old friend, and flies out of the darkness, past the zombies. Belatedly he notices that Threnody no longer appears pregnant at all. They are under a pier, and eventually escape it, with X-Man causing it to collapse on the zombies to prevent them from following him. They take refuge in a church and Nate swears to Threnody that he will never let anyone hurt her again. Threnody reveals to Nate that she never just “disappeared” like he thought, but in fact she was murdered - by Madelyne Pryor. She reveals how she came back to life, and how she has been following Nate for some time. Nate feels bad, while Threnody assures him that she needs him now. Nate tries to talk to Threnody about the zombies, and explains to her that she is addicted to death. At that moment, the zombies burst into the church, so Nate flees with Threnody, unaware that someone is watching and monitoring him. Nate and Threnody spend days holed up in a yacht in the marina, as Nate tries to get Threnody through her addiction to death. But things take a dramatic turn when Threnody reveals to Nate that she has always fed off him - and is still feeding on him now, as he is like nothing she has ever tasted - that his death-energies and life-energies combined is what she loves - not him. Threnody then leaves, telling Nate that is all she ever saw in him from the start. Zombies swarm the boat, and follow Threnody. And while Nate leaves, Threnody returns to the pier, to collect her baby.


Full Summary: 

‘Nate…?’ a voice utters from the darkness. ‘Wake-wake, Nate. It’s been a week already, maybe longer. ‘C’mon, lover - come t’mama…’ the woman called Threnody utters, while, all around her, zombies chant her name. ‘Hurry, baby - please -’ Threnody utters, as the zombies reach out for her, calling to her more urgently. There is darkness, then the zombies can be seen swarming over her. ‘Please -’ a heavily pregnant Threnody calls out but the zombies completely engulf her.

‘Thren…? THRENODY!’ Nate Grey utters as he sits up. He is wearing his new blue and yellow costume and he sees the zombies clambering over Threnody. Nate thought that the whole thing was a fever dream of some sort, his own mind playing tricks on him while he struggled back to consciousness. But as he walks over to Threnody, he sees that the corpses are real enough and Threnody is buried in them. He has no idea where he is or how he got here, as usual. He starts pulling the zombies away from Threnody, and recalls the last thing he remembers is taking down some creep called Mysterio, and jump-starting his telepathy in the bargain, before passing out in the alleyway, again.

As Nate tosses another zombie aside, he realizes that he is not running at one hundred percent yet, but decides he can’t expect to find Threnody telepathically, as he never could thanks to the psi-bafflers that Sinister made her wear. Nate also isn’t sure that Threnody wants him to find her. ‘Last time I saw Threnody she was - UGGH!’ Nate exclaims as he breaks an arm off one of the corpses, before remembering Threnody was walking out the door all on her own and she never even stopped to look back.

Suddenly, he sees her, ‘Nate…’ Threnody utters, only now, she doesn’t appear like she was ever pregnant at all. ‘Help me, Nate…please…’ Threnody asks. Nate pulls her towards him while the zombies continue to call out to her. ‘I’ve got you now…I’ve got you…but if that really was you I saw earlier…I don’t understand, you seemed so…bloated, almost as if you were -’ Nate begins as the zombies appear agitated and try to reach for Threnody once more.

Threnody looks scared, so Nate takes flight. Holding on to her, he asks ‘What’s going on here, lady?’ and as two zombies latch on to Threnody’s legs, she tells Nate that it is she they want, and that she can’t make them stop. One of the zombies falls off, as Nate flies under a pier. ‘I can’t make ‘em stop…’ Threnody utters, as Nate slams the remaining zombie into the pier wall. Nate knows that Threnody is a mutant, a victim of a random genetic twist that feeds off the energies of the dying - and the dead. Zombies rise up from the water under the pier, they continue to call out to her and follow her and Nate. No one chooses this life. It is an accident of birth.

Nate looks horrified as a hand bursts through the pier above, while Nate tells Threnody that he can’t get a grip on their minds, that there is nothing there at all. He adds that he is slowing down already, losing his initial momentum, and explains to Threnody that he needs to catch his breath, get some good, and fast. But looking ahead all he sees is more poles standing up in the water holding the pier overhead. ‘So how do we get out of this place, girl? Where are we, anyway?’ Nate enquires. Threnody explains that they are under the Seattle Piers, not far from where she found him last week. Nate is a mutant as well, born to an earth that failed to survive its own hatred and bigotry, now serving as host to a seemingly limitless cauldron of psionic energies - he is a telekinetic and telepath without peer. But still, he’s only human.

More zombies burst forth from the water, they continue to call out to Threnody, but up ahead, Nate sees their way out. ’We. Are. Outta here!’ Nate exclaims as he knocks against the side of several posts, causing the pier to collapse, preventing the zombies from following him and Threnody as they make it into open air above the water.

Soon, Nate and Threnody take refuge in a church as the night sky blankets Seattle. The moonlight shines through a stained glass window, creating a glow across Nate as he holds Threnody close to him. Threnody tells Nate that those zombies are gone, but that there is another one burn every minute, as long as people keep dying. ‘I’ll never be safe in the dark again’ she utters. Nate tells Threnody to shush, and assures her that he won’t let anything hurt her, ever, and that he will never abandon her now that he has found her again. ‘I swear’. As Threnody rests against Nate’s chest, he asks her why she abandoned him, why she just took off on him in New York when they had made all those plans. ‘Never happened, lover’ Threnody replies. She tells Nate that she didn’t just “take off”, that she must have known that, and she hadn’t been swept back up into Sinister’s fold, either.

‘Although I’m sure that’s what you suspected’ Threnody continues, revealing that she was cut out of the picture completely when Nate’s gal-pal Madelyne Pryor murdered her. ‘Maddie - my Maddie - killed you?’ Nate gasps in horror. He tells Thenody that he is sorry, and holds her tight, repeating over and over how sorry he is.

Sometime later, ‘Where…? Thren -?’ Nate asks as he wakes and looks around, but doesn’t see Threnody. She is standing by the stained glass window, and bids him afternoon, adding that there is no sense wasting another week in dreamland. ‘Must’ve caught up on all your shuteye by now…and I haven’t felt this relaxed in a long, long time, personally’ Threnody explains, adding ‘Death becomes me, don’t y’think?’ Her eyes are glazed over, completely white as Threnody tells Nate that his little witch’s ambush set her back a bit. ‘She killed me pretty good, no doubt about that - I actually remember feasting on my own death-scream for one bitter, brief moment - but it didn’t take’.

Flashback images

With all the lingering death-energies in that morgue, who could stay horizontal? But something was different, though, Threnody knew that right away - she felt it in her bones, she had a taste for the dying, obviously, but now the dead have developed a taste for her. At first they were harmless, strange as that sounds, and Threnody missed Nate so much, she was so afraid of being alone again, but she was more afraid of Nate’s precious Maddie, so she and the zombies who followed her took shelter in an old Morlock tunnel under Manhattan, near where she and Nate first spent time together.

But the Dark Beast was working the area by then, and the hidden lab they found was the very least of that monster’s nasty, nasty secrets, so Threnody relocated herself and the zombies to the vacant loft in Soho where she and Nate lived together at the end. But by that point, the zombies lost their charm, even for Threnody, and the loft seemed even emptier than those tunnels somehow - until Nate suddenly popped back in, completely out of left field, with Threnody’s murderer hanging on his tail. So when thy came to the loft, Threnody could not say a word, she couldn’t reach out to him.


‘But I had your scent…’ Threnody declares. Nate reaches up to Threnody, who takes his hand, and he pulls her down to him, suggesting she come down from the windowsill. Threnody informs Nate hat she caught up to him in Alaska, at the Summers house in Anchorage, and followed him south to here, waiting to make just the right connection. ‘Whoa…maybe I’m not recovering from that tussle with Mysterio as quickly as I thought’ Nate replies, before telling Threnody that he really is sorry, sorry he wasn’t there and didn’t find her when she needed him. ‘I… I need you now, Nate’ Threnody responds, and they kiss.

There is a scratching at the window, and Threnody tells Nate that there is something he needs to know about her, about death. Threnody pulls away from Nate and explains that it is not just an absence of life, not a passive condition - in fact, it is a very, very active one. ‘Death is a force unto itself, believe me’.

Threnody tells Nate that just the same as there is life-energy, there is death-energy, constantly creating, constantly destroying. ‘I feed off that darker energy, physically… I crave it. My body needs more. My body needs more now’ Threnody explains, adding that if she can’t get it from the recently dead, she will get it from the dying again. ‘What are you trying to tell me?’ Nate asks. Threnody replies that she can use her mutant powers to incite anyone ever-present death-energies to a boil, she doesn’t know if he knew that, and that is exactly what she did on the night she walked out, she sucked the Empire State Hospital terminal ward dry. ‘I’m pretty sure you didn’t know that’ Threnody remarks.

Nate tells Threnody that she is scaring him, really, really scaring him. He pulls her close and tells her that he didn’t realize, that he had no idea what kind of shape she was in, how much she was hurting, but that he can see it all there in her eyes now, he can feel her shivering and sweating, ‘You’re sick, girl. We’ll deal with the consequences of your actions sooner or later, no way to avoid that, but first we’ll deal with your addiction. That’s what it is, Thren… no sense denying it any longer - taking around it instead of talk about it - you’re addicted to DEATH!’ Nate declares. Threnody replies that she has been addicted forever - ‘And the living dead - are addicted t’me!’ she exclaims as zombies burst through the stained glass window, chanting out her name. ‘Behind me, Thren - now - and stay close no matter what happens!’ Nate exclaims as the zombies continue to chant Threnody’s name.

The zombies reach out, ‘God, no - no - there’s more of them than ever’ Threnody utters, while Nate points out that there are more of them coming. He punches one of them and declares that he can slow them down, but he can’t stop them. Nate tears the head off one zombie, and he shouts ‘They don’t feel any pain at all - ‘cause they’re all dead…already!’ Nate exclaims as the zombies swam over him, their chants increasing. Nate then grabs Threnody and takes flight, ‘Enough of this! I’m losing steam again - fast - so it’s time to put my foot down, once and for all… and let gravity do the rest!’ Nate exclaims as he hovers over the zombies after firing a charge of energy at them.

But the zombies are relentless, and Nate is running on empty. ‘But I won’t let them have you…’ Nate utters as he starts to fall, but at the last minute he flies out of the smashed stained glass window. ‘I promise’ Nate tells Threnody.

The cadavers are nowhere in sight now, lost of the shadows of the church below. But as the two terrified teens cling to each other, limping off into the night…something watches them from the shadows. And waits.

The days pass slowly, days spent hiding below the decks of Seattle’s finer pleasure boats, scavenging from their well-stocked galleys. Nights spent drenched in sweat and spittle and so much worse. ‘You always did take me to the best places, Grey…’ Threnody utters as she sits slumped against a wall. ‘And this is the best place for us now, Thren’ Nate replies. He admits that it is no rainbow room, but that neither of them are in any condition to go another round with her zombie fans yet, and the water might prevent them from tracking her here. ‘It won’t…and I can’t do this, Nate, I’m not strong enough…I need to feed. I can’t take this…’ Threnody utters, getting to her feet in preparation to leave, but Nate gets up and puts a hand on Threnody’s shoulder, ‘You have to’ he tells her. ‘You’re over the hump already, showing more color in your skin every hour now, and cold-turkey’s the only way you - we - can do this. And we will do this, Thren’.

Nate tells Threnody that he won’t let her give up on them, but Threnody starts to climb the ladder up out onto the deck, and tells him that he can’t help her anymore. ‘Hang on, lady!’ Nate exclaims, grabbing Threnody by her arm. ‘You’re not going anywhere without me now. I may not be up to taking on a dozen hordes of hungry zombies… but you’re not going anywhere at all for a while’ Nate declares. But Threnody spins around and lashes out at Nate: ‘No…you don’t understand! I am over the worst of my withdrawal, true, but it’s not total! Not even close! I’ve been feeding off you all along, Grey! I’m still feeding off you… I’ve always fed off you!’ Threnody reveals. Nate looks shocked as Threnody announces that he was the best she has ever had, real special, different - like nothing she has ever tasted.

‘No other buzz I know. I couldn’t stop myself if I wanted to - any more than I could stop breathing - that’s why you’ve been getting weaker every minute with me. And you’ll keep weakening quicker, as long as we’re together’ Threnody explains, turning away from Nate, revealing that Nate’s death energies are all tied up with his life energies somehow, that living energy really is killing him - and she loves it. She turns back towards the ladder and reveals that lately, it is even better, as there is less blood in Nate’s heart than he might imagine, but far more on his hands than he could ever dream of. ‘You helped wean me from the zombies, Nate, broke me out of that vicious circle. I couldn’t have done that without you…and I can’t do this with you. It’s no good for either of us. It is time for cold-turkey’.

Threnody hangs her head, and Nate tells her that he loves her. ‘And I’ll help you even if it kills me’ Nate announces. Tears fall from Threnody’s eyes, but she doesn’t turn to him. ‘You…you just don’t get it, do you, Grey?’ she snaps. ‘I said I love what I got from you, what I could get from you. And that’s all I ever wanted from you in the end - all I ever saw in you from the start…’ with that, Threnody climbs the ladder without so much as a parting glance. Nate stands with his head hung, and suddenly, zombies burst through the hull of the boat. They swarm around him, but move past him as water fills the cabin and they climb up the ladder as if to follow Threnody. Nate steps out of the broken cabin as the water pours in, unaware that someone is watching and waiting. The figure hidden by shadows is confident in the knowledge that it cannot be seen or heard by mortal men, and it has a very unhappy Nate in its target.


‘I’m here babe… home sweet home’ Threnody calls out as she returns to the Seattle piers. Skeletons are scattered around her feet as she approaches a green cloth. ‘Needed some time t’shake a few monkeys off my back. Just like I promised when you first came along. But everything’s gonna be okay now, sweetie - c’mon, baby…come to Mama’ Threnody smiles as she picks the bundle up, ‘We have to go now… before we lose the last of the dark’ Threnody utters to her baby, who makes a strange RRRRR sound in reply….

Characters Involved: 



Threnody’s child


Unidentified figure


In flashback images



Madelyne Pryor



Story Notes: 

Nate fought Mysterio last issue. During that battle his telepathy was restored, and he collapsed afterwards, where he was found by Threnody.


Threnody was murdered by Madelyne Pryor in X-Man #25.


When Nate returned to his old apartment in X-Man #51, Threnody was there but he didn’t realize it.


Threnody sucked the terminal ward at the Empire State Hospital dry in X-Man #24.


Threnody has not appeared since this issue.

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