X-Man #8

Issue Date: 
October 1995
Story Title: 
Hitting Bottom

Jeph Loeb (story), John Rozum (guest script), Steve Skroce & Scott McDaniel (pencils), LaRosa, Miller, Russell, Pennington & Ryan (inks), Mike Thomas & Malibu’s Hues (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Lisa Patrick (editor), Bob Harras (chief)

Brief Description: 

Having lost Madelyne to Selene, Nate gains employment working on a sea cruiser to help take his mind off her. A guest flirts with him, but he has his orders not to mingle too closely. His predilection for food takes over, as he enters the dining area and downs a bottle of champagne, releasing a wave of energy during the head rush. This is sensed aboard a derelict frigate, where Blaquesmith is monitoring energy outputs. The readings are off the scale and they seem to match Cable’s. Nate follows up his drink by demolishing a chicken dish, asking for more when he’s devoured the entire plate. A crewman thinks he’s had enough but, already drunk, Nate warns him that he’ll say when he’s had enough. He realizes he’s acted stupidly, and goes to sleep. Meanwhile, Rex appears and boards the boat. He confronts a crewman and slaughters him in cold blood. Nate wakes and sees a reflection in the mirror of himself, looking pale and gaunt. He smashes the mirror, but feels something is clearly wrong here. He makes his way to the deck and finds it ripped apart, the crewman lying dead. Before he can psi-scan the boat, Rex attacks him, but Nate responds with a huge telekinetic blast. Blaquesmith’s equipment sparks, as a result, and he knows a power this great cannot go unchecked. He pilots his own craft out of the frigate and heads off into the night sky. Nate and Rex fight, but Nate’s fluctuating powers fail him at the most inopportune moment. Rex is about to shoot him, but then falls lifelessly to the floor. Behind him stands Dark Beast and he has some answers for Nate.

Full Summary: 

(The S.S. Wendi)

Having lost Madelyne Pryor to Selene’s clutches, Nate has taken a job aboard a sea cruiser as a handyman. As he takes a break from painting, he looks out over the sea, taking in the smell of salt air and the blue, cloud-filled sky. He is blissfully unaware that he is being watched. He wishes Maddie were there with him, but then halts that train of thought. He took this job just so he could stop thinking about her; about Paris. He couldn’t leave Paris fast enough. He trusted her and she left him.

Two passengers on the cruiser relax on the deck. A young blonde sits beside an older woman, with horrendous earrings. The young woman, Susan, complements Nate on the fine job he’s doing; praise that the older woman takes as being overly flirtatious. Nate’s been trying to keep a low profile. Maybe what he actually needs is a little fun to help take his mind off things. She asks him his name, and he replies that it’s Nate. She then asks where he’s from, and he tells her it’s no place she’d ever want to visit. The older woman leaves, but her parting shot is to tell Susan that it’s beneath her to flirt with the hired help. Susan ignores her bitching and stands close to Nate, telling him that these cruises can get pretty boring. He doesn’t have to be… alone. Nate replies that it’s very nice of her, but the captain said that he can’t.

He heads to the dining area and feels that she doesn’t understand. Everyone he’s ever gotten close to has ended up dead. Also, he’s getting a familiar feeling, a part of him that he cannot control, driving him from inside out. He grabs a bottle of champagne from a crewman and takes a swig. He is overwhelmed by his desire for nourishment, but the buzz hits him harder than he thought. His head tingles.

(Baltimore, Maryland)

Hidden aboard a derelict frigate, sits Blaquesmith. He looks at a huge screen, dominated by a huge burst of psionic activity. It’s not the first time he’s seen this, but he does not like it. The readings are off the scale and the energy pattern matches his. He was warned this day might come.

(The S.S. Wendi)

Nate tucks into a plate of chicken, disregarding the impression this behavior has on the guests. Between mouthfuls, he swigs from the champagne bottle. The food is incredible and he can’t get enough of it. He’s ravenous. He asks if there’s any more food, but one of the crew tells him he thinks he’s had enough. Nate turns on him and raises him into the air using telekinesis. “I’ll tell you when I’ve had enough,” he snaps.

The man stares back at him, obviously frightened, and Nate tells him not to look like that. He isn’t going to hurt him. “Just back off,” he adds. The situation is out of control and he takes mental command of the entire room, catching them all in his telepathic thrall. He doesn’t want to do this, but he can make them forget everything they’ve just seen. He looks around and sees the terror in their eyes. He’s seen those looks on the faces of people before. “What have I done,” he cries, before collapsing in a drunken stupor.

Night time moves in, and an ominous figure breaks the surface of the placid waters around the boat. Nate, his prey, lies oblivious to the arrival. The newcomer is part of what Nate is trying to get away from. He crawls onto the deck wearing a diving outfit. It’s Rex. Selene slowed him down, but he doesn’t stop. The fun’s over and he has a feeling this is their last round. He removes the outfit and begins searching for the boy.

In his cabin, Nate finds that sleep doesn’t come easily to him. The bad dreams won’t let him rest. On deck, one of the crew questions Rex, asking if he’s one of the guests. Rex removes a dagger and mercilessly slices the crewman. Down below, something awakens Nate and, though his head is groggy, he manages to reach the sink. Splashing water from the tap over his face, he tries to bring himself around. Nate has seen far too many deaths in his young life, reflected in the eyes of people he cares about. He looks in the mirror and sees a pallid, emaciated version of himself staring back. Is this visage part of his nightmare, or a foreshadowing of things to come? He smashes the mirror with his fist and screams.

He looks into the broken shards and sees his familiar reflection. It must have been a trick of the light, he thinks. For a moment, it looked like he was dying. He exits the cabin and wanders through the ship, not noticing the blood sticking to his boots as he ascends the staircase leading to the deck. He hopes to make the crew understand his actions but, as he emerges on deck, he realizes his priorities have changed.

Just a few short hours ago, Nate was marvelling at the peace, tranquility and beauty surrounding him. Now, thick pools of blood ripple from side to side, keeping time with the rocking of the boat; shredded sails flapping in the wind. The dead crewman hangs half over the side, with ropes entangling his blood-splattered corpse. Nate knows he must make sure everyone else is okay, but first he has to deal with whoever did this.

Nate knows he must still be aboard and he can’t hide for long from a telepath. Before he has time for a sweep of the ship, Rex leaps from the rigging and lands a two-booted kick in Nate’s face. As he collides, he apologizes for simply doing his job, but it’s his hide if he doesn’t deliver him to Sugarman. Nate stands with gritted teeth. “Listen mister, I don’t know and I don’t care about Sugarman. An innocent man is dead, and you’re gonna pay for it.” Nate unleashes a telekinetic blast, which hurls Rex backwards, shattering one of the wooden walls on deck.

(Baltimore, Maryland)

Blaquesmith shields his eyes with his arm, as his computers fizzle and spark; a result of the backlash of Nate’s enormous telekinetic output. He thinks it doesn’t seem possible, but the bio-signature is almost identical to Cable’s, but without the dampening effect of the techno-organic virus. The time for mere observation is over; a power that great cannot go unchecked. He flicks a red switch on the console and climbs into his ship’s cockpit.

Grabbing the control stick, a whirl of hydraulics reveals the true nature of the derelict ship. The ship’s entire bow opens up and Blaquesmith’s craft takes off vertically. It is sufficiently deserted in the harbor for no one to witness these events, as Blaquesmith pilots the ship away. The frigate resumes its inconspicuous form, as if nothing untoward had occurred.

(The S.S.Wendi)

Rex, battered, hauls himself to his feet, asking Nate what’s the matter. “Still missing the redhead? I know the kind. Trust me, they never stick around.” He emerges in front of Nate, his skin blistered and still smoking from the telekinetic assault. He holds one dagger in front of him and tells Nate that he isn’t fooling anyone. He compares himself to Nate. They both love power. He remembers what Nate did in Switzerland, ready to take him out.

Nate rushes Rex, who holds a second dagger in his other hand. No, Nate thinks to himself; he’s nothing like Rex. He crunches his fist into Rex’s jaw, forcing him to drop the knives; his punch assisted by a little telekinesis. As he strikes Rex, Nate wonders what gives. His powers seem to be getting weaker. Rex strikes back, landing his own blow and taunting Nate that he’s losing it. He avoids Nate’s next swing by squatting and doubts he’ll even bruise from Nate’s love taps. He acrobatically swings his legs over and cartwheels his feet into Nate’s face, smashing him against a wall.

With Nate down and lacking energy, Rex pulls out a gun hidden in a holster behind his back. Rex says that it looks like he found Nate too late. His powers are burned out already and he’s no use to Sugarman or anybody else for that matter in this state. Nate remembers his face in the mirror. Rex grabs him and puts the gun to Nate’s chin.
They face each other face to face. Rex chides him for wasting his time, so now he’s gonna waste him. Nate’s eye shows the spark of power, but is it too late?

Rex’s trigger finger begins to gently squeeze. “So long, Nate. Time for you to… die.” In the blink of a moment, the life is snatched from Rex’s eyes. He drops to the floor and the hulking, grinning figure of Dark Beast is revealed. In one hand, he holds a strange contraption holding a green liquid, with which he injected Rex. “I think the time has come for you to understand why you are on this planet, and why everyone is so eager to have you, wouldn’t you agree?”

Characters Involved: 

Nate Grey



Dark Beast

S.S Wendi guests including Susan

S.S Wendi crewmen

Story Notes: 

Several inkers and a couple of artists worked on this issue - and it shows.

Strangely, when Rex attacks Nate, the soles of his boots have yellow smileys, only his are grimacing. Later, when he is blasted by Nate, the faces appear to look shocked. Reacta-situation boots? A little artist humor, one might suspect.

Dark Beast is the fourth and final survivor of the Age of Apocalypse to appear in the 616 Universe after Nate, Sugarman and Holocaust.

Issue Information: 
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