X-Man #71

Issue Date: 
January 2001
Story Title: 
Fearful Symmetries – part one

Steven Grant (writer), Ariel Olivetti (artist), Christie Scheele (colorist), RS & Comicraft/ TP (letterers), Jason Liebig (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Nate tries to help a blind nun with nightmarish visions. He finds that the visions originate from a parallel world and takes her there. That world is under attack by Qabiri, a being from a higher plane of reality who intends to destroy all worlds that have developed superbeings capable of crossing between parallel worlds. The world’s premier superhero team has for the most part already fallen when Nate and Sister Perpetua arrive. Of interest is that the nun and the team’s leader, Nikola Zeitgeist, look identical. 30 years ago in Kansas, a couple found a spaceship with something horrible in it that killed them and detonated a huge chunk of the field.

Full Summary: 

Earth 616, our Earth, Kansas, 30 years ago. A fighting jet makes contact with an unidentified flying object that is hurtling towards the ground. There is no atmospheric friction, no detectable transmissions. The pilot informs control that it is likely to be only a meteorite. Then the object changes its course and destroys the plane.

On the ground in a wheat field, two elderly people in a car are necking. Theirs is an illicit affair. She’s been married to another man unhappily for 12 years, because her parents wished it, believing that her lover, Jeremy, would never come back from the war. They stop kissing as they see the object hurtling towards the field and crashing nearby. Curious, they go to check it out despite Margo’s bad feeling.

The thing has left a giant crater and Jeremy explains that he has seen rocks from space. That thing is no rock. Could be it’s worth enough they’ll never have to worry about her husband again.

They hear a sound like a baby crying and Jeremy jumps into the crater, walking towards the black round object. They hear the crying of a child in their minds. Jeremy touches the ball, trying to comfort whatever is inside with the words that everything is going to be all right. The sphere opens and he catches a glimpse of… something.

Horrified, Jeremy runs towards Margo and orders her to run as well. They cannot abandon a child, she protests. It’s not a child, you stupid woman! he shouts at her. He grabs her by the wrist and drags her onward… The glow coming from the sphere encompasses them and they crumble like dust. The energy takes the entire field.

30 years ago Kansas burned.

In a church, a praying nun is a visit by Nate Grey. Addressing her as Sister Perpetua, Nate introduces himself and informs her that he has come to heal her if he can. She informs him that he is disturbing her prayer and asks him to leave.

Nate replies that he knows why she prays. He’s heard her in his mind a long way off. She has visions, of worlds in pain, sometimes dying. It becomes her pain. Her pain is no concern of his, the nun retorts and turns around. Where her eyes should be are only empty sockets.

It is, Nate insists. He is a shaman. Mutants are his responsibility. She is a mutant. She is not, Sister Perpetua insists. She has been sleeping, Nate replies and touches her forehead with his finger. Time to wake up.

A little later, sitting on a bench, Sister Perpetua recalls how, when she was a little girl, she fell asleep in church. Her father cut off her eyelids so she’d never do it again. But she put out her own eyes when the visions started coming, Nate adds. It’s all beneath the surface of her mind. He reads minds? she asks. He explains that some like hers are so loud he can’t help it.

What else can he do? she asks. Move things with his mind. Can he destroy things with his mind? she asks. Yes. Should she be afraid of him? That’s up to her, Nate replies. He’d rather she weren’t. There are so many barricades in her mind already.

She’s ashamed she mutilated herself for nothing. Blindness didn’t stop the visions. Nothing does. Would she like to see what the angels see when they look down on Earth? Nate asks. She can’t see, Sister Perpetua reminds him. Use my eyes, Nate offers.

A little later, he uses his powers to keep them both aloft in the air, telling her he won’t let her fall. This isn’t an illusion? she asks fearfully. She is really doing this. He tells her to look down and she is awed by the sight. Tell me about the visions now, Nate asks.

They’re evil, Perpetua simply states. She’s seen mankind crushed by demon shadows, by merciless creatures of power. By its own humanity. Many visions, all different, all of the triumph of cruelty and death and the end of beauty and peace… She’s evil, she continues. She must be. The visions are her punishment. She’s prayed and prayed, but they’re stuck in her head and she just wants them to stop.

Nate protests that there is nothing evil about her. He believes she is a receiver. He thinks she sees other Earths. Those places… exist? The nun wonders. Nate admits he doesn’t know and needs to find out. He asks if he may trigger a vision. She shakes off his hand and asks him to get away. He has no idea what torture they are. Nate understands. But the only way he can cure her is by finding out what exactly is going on.

He can cure her? Perpetua asks hopefully. Possibly, Nate admits. But he knows she can’t go on like this. That’s true, she admits, and urges him to do it. Nate promises he won’t let her be hurt, as he touches her forehead and triggers a vision. He telepathically joins her.

Another world. The White House is in shambles. Before it stands a woman with close-cropped blonde hair and military pants. On her com-device she calls for her teammates White Bird and Thor. Identifying herself as Nicola Zeitgeist, she reports that Washington is as good as gone and orders them to report. Is anyone left?

Sitting on a New York skyskaper one man, the Citydweller, replies. He is in what’s left of Manhattan, he reports. Professor X and Thor are attacking the Burning Tiger. White Bird and Nightfighter may be dying. He doesn’t know where the Technocrat is. He doesn’t think he can help anymore. He draws energy from cities, but all the cities are dead. They’ve had a good run, he muses. They saved the world more than once. Not this time. Earth won’t survive this time. He looks at a burning spot in the sky. Two of his teammates, Professor X and Thor, are about to attack it.

Flying upward, Professor X nervously asks if they shouldn’t have a plan. It’s a bit late for strategy, his teammate replies. Is it? the Professor wonders. Their foe appeared from nowhere and attacked. They don’t know how to stop him. They don’t even know what he wants. That’s obvious, Thor replies, and force is the only answer.

Ignoring his teammate’s warning, Thor flies toward the flying man, addressing him as Burning Tiger. If he must call him something, his name is Qabiri, the other man replies. Is that funny to him? Thor snarls. He doesn’t have a clue how dangerous they are. That’s true, he doesn’t, Qabiri replies condescendingly and adds he wouldn’t recommend what Thor is planning. Ignoring him, Thor flies straight at him, only to be burned to bits by Qabiri’s aura. And no, Qabiri adds, it’s not funny.

Ugh, I’ll never eat Bolognese sauce again, the Professor exclaims. Addressing him as Professor X, Qabiri remarks that he is one of those he was looking for. His comrade dies horribly and he jokes about it.

Because he’s scared to death, if he must know, the Professor replies. Realizing that physical attacks don’t work on his foe, Professor X creates an energy ball, intending to short-out Qabiri’s psyche. Calling him “Burning Tiger,” he threatens that that his killing days are over.

“Qabiri,” his foe corrects him and compliments him on the creation of his dreamball. He adds that this is all the Professor’s fault. He can travel up and down the corridor of worlds. He and the other, Zeitgeist? The Professor points the glowing energy sphere at him and the Technocrat emerges from it. She’s been analyzing the Tiger’s force field. It’s the purest energy she’s ever seen. From her flesh emerge scorpion-like robots, techno-toys intended to devour Qabiri’s energy. Qabiri destroys the sphere and with it the lower half of the Technocrat, as well as Professor X’s arm.

As he momentarily busies himself with the scorpions, he calmly explains that he isn’t there to fight. He’s there to erase their earth. From below, Nicol Zeitgeist attacks with an energy beam. Fighting it off, Qabiri manifests a burning sword and remarks that he’d have preferred to just kill her and the Professor. But he knows what their people are like. When one of them can do something, they all have to do it. That’s why their whole world has to die. They don’t know when to leave well enough alone.

On the roof of a ruined building, the Citydweller realizes that this is the end. They’re dead. A voice tells him not to give up hope. She’s not sure how, but they’ve come to help. Looking around, the Citydweller sees a woman who looks just like Nikola. Sister Perpetua. Believing she is Nicoal, he wonders what happened to her up there. What happened to her eyes?

The real Nikola is falling from the skies, her power broken. Desperate, she exclaims that she’s the world’s last hope. She can’t die! She won’t, states Nate Grey as he catches her. Nate? But he destroyed you! Nikola exclaims, and why does he look like that? Nate tells her to shush. They have to go now, for Qabii is about to attack again. Nate teleports them away and Qbiri is livid at seeing another worldwalker. This world must end now.

Nate takes Nikola to the rooftop, where the Citydweller Perpetua and the maimed Technocrat are waiting alongside the body of Professor X, Nikola’s dead lover. Technocrat demands to know who they are. Under the circumstances, they can’t afford trust. Looking at the burning spot in the sky, Nate remarks he understands, but only his questions are relevant now. He is coming. Tell me what I need to know or we all die.

Characters Involved: 

Nate Grey / X-Man

Sister Perpetua

Qabiri / Burning Tiger

On Earth 253:

Citydweller, Nikola Zeitgeist, Professor X, Technokrat, Thor

30 years in the past:



Story Notes: 

The sequence in the beginning is an homage to Superman’s origin. It will be followed up on in issue #75.

Nikola Zeitgeist’s team is an homage to the DC / Wildstorm superhero team “The Authority,” created by Warren Ellis.

Nikola Zeitgeist = Jenny Sparks

Citydweller = Jack Hawkmoore

Professor X = The Doctor

Thor = Apollo

Technocrat = Engineer

White Bird = Swift

Nightfighter = Midnighter

Issue Information: 
Written By: