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Comic Book / X-Man


X-Man was a Marvel Comics Comic Book series starring Nate Grey, a psychic of near-cosmic levels of power who was an Alternate Universe version of Cable of the X-Men.

The character first appeared in X-Man #1 (March, 1995), created by Jeph Loeb and Steve Skroce. X-Man was originally planned as a four-issue miniseries that was part of the Age of Apocalypse crossover. It was later promoted to an ongoing series thanks to Popularity Power. Initially written by Jeph Loeb, it changed several writers before Terry Kavanagh came aboard; he wrote the book for most of its run. The series lasted for 75 issues (March, 1995- May, 2001).

Nate was created by his universe's version of Mister Sinister using DNA taken from Cyclops and Jean Grey (in the main universe Sinister had to manipulate Cyclops into marrying a clone of Jean Grey to achieve the same result) his final goal being the same: to create a being powerful enough to destroy his nemesis, Apocalypse. Nate was one of four beings that were accidentally transported from the Age of Apocalypse reality to the main Marvel Universe after it was destroyed due to a combination of changes to history and the explosion of a Cosmic Keystone. (The other survivors being Sugar Man, Holocaust and Dark Beast- all villains.)

The book followed Nate's exploits at finding his own place in this new world as well as dealing with various villains trying to manipulate him for his vast superpowers. In 2000 it was heavily Retooled and a year later cancelled because Joe Quesada thought that there were too many X-Books. Nate was killed off in the last issue and stayed "dead" until a point during Dark Reign where he under went a Unexplained Recovery and went up against Norman Osborn and his team of Dark X-Men, before being captured. After Osborn's defeat, he was captured again by Sugar Man but rescued by the New Mutants and then joined the team.

As of Marvel NOW! he seems to be at a loose end, with a brief appearance in Fearless Defenders and a mention in All New X-Men being the only hint that the Marvel editorial staff even remember that he exists.

This series contains examples of:

  • Adorkable: starts off with No Social Skills (like his father), but with all the warmth and passion of his mother (though, at first, it can be a little difficult to find) and, on his arrival in the 616 'verse, is a Fish out of Water.
  • All-Loving Hero: has shades of this in his Shaman era and on his return from apparent death. Norman Osborn regards this attitude as amusingly quaint.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: The Protectorate (heroes of an alternate earth) to The Authority. Curiously, several members were actually versions of pre-existing Marvel characters.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: was this, in some respects, to Cable, who occasionally tried to help him, even risking his life to save Nate, seeing him as being the kid that Cable could have been and therefore being determined that he'd get the chance to live his life. Nate, partly suffering from an inferiority complex and mostly just wanting to be left alone and have nothing to do with Cable - and it didn't help that being close to each other or getting into telepathic contact was physically painful - at least at first.
  • Arch-Enemy: Apocalypse by design. Thereafter, a case could be made for either Sugar Man or Holocaust, with Dark Beast being a close runner up.
  • Badass: Norman Osborn explicitly notes that he could go toe to toe Dark Reign era Sentry, a Physical God with Reality Warper powers. On the other hand, Nate himself remarked that Sentry would kick his ass. So, this judgement all depends on whether or not Nate was a) lying, b) accurately judging the Sentry. In any case, it's all theoretical and when Nate was 17 years old, his power levels were matched only by the Dark Phoenix.
  • Badass Adorable: As a physically five or six year old child, he casually displays the sort of psychic powers that would challenge Jean Grey at her Non-Phoenix peak.
  • Back from the Dead: Madelyne Pryor, and eventually Nate himself. Twice.
  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: against Ares himself, no less
  • Berserk Button: Trying to control or manipulate him. He really, really does not like it.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Peter Parker takes on this role to him.
    • And Nate in turn takes on this role to Franklin Richards.
  • Breakout Character: from the Age of Apocalypse.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: the Dark Avengers and Dark X-Men don't particularly faze him and when both teams attack him at once, he proves more than capable of holding them all off while verbally dissecting their powers and explaining why they won't work.
  • Cape Busters: Gauntlet, a team of low-level telepaths dedicated to taking down Nate. They proved to be formidable enough threats thanks to psi-blocking armour and the fact they didn't care much about casual victims or collateral damage.
  • Character Development: Nate gets this in pretty epic fashion, going from scared Fish out of Water with far too much power under too little control, his powers flickering on and off near at random, who regards most issues as not being his problem, to a Knight in Sour Armour hero and cocky teen, still very aware that he's nearing the point where his body is going to burn out, to an incredibly powerful, controlled, kind and rather messianic hero. Then, after his De-Power, his Deadpan Snarker tendencies resurfaced, coming to terms with his drastic loss of power, find somewhere he belonged and trying to do some good along the way.
  • Charm Person: is capable of this, though only uses it unconsciously.
  • Child Soldier: started out as a Laser Guided Tyke Bomb and grew into this.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: All members of Nate's support cast were never mentioned after the series ended.
    • Except Madelyne Pryor.
  • Cloning Blues: sort of. He's the artificially created son of Scott and Jean, and while he doesn't noticeably angst about it - he saves that for his Living Weapon status and justified fears that he's accidentally going to rewrite reality in his sleep - his lack of life experience informs his character.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Whenever he's not acting like a teen, he tends to end up like this.
    • This has increased exponentially since he lost most of his powers and joined the New Mutants.
  • Destructive Saviour: his fights tend to have a high collateral damage quotient - for instance, he once practically levelled Dublin.
  • De-Power: Nate has gone through a lot of these at one point or another. The most spectacular happened after his resurrection, he is captured by Sugar Man and used as a power source to the point of being nowhere near his previous abilities.
    • And it looks like it's wearing off. Slowly. Very slowly.
    • Or it was until Marvel NOW! At present, he was last seen as a minor character in Fearless Defenders #9 and mentioned in All New X-Men #31.
  • Dimensional Traveler: At the height of his powers, after the Shaman Reboot, he can achieve this, with almost insulting ease.
  • Divided We Fall: The first encounter with Professor Xavier (who had been long dead in his universe) going bad led Nate to keep his distance from the X-Men for a long time.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: following the Shaman reboot. This becomes a problem once he undergoes a De-Power and can no longer just levitate over mud and stuff like that.
  • The Dreaded: To many of the people in the 616 universe, at first. Since he was outright stated to be equal to Dark Phoenix in power while he was still a teenager, and isn't the world's most stable individual, this isn't overly surprising.
    • Dark Beast is terrified of him. With good reason.
    • Sunspot explicitly states in Unfinished Business that he's not too keen on finding Nate because he finds him scary. Considering that he's seen Nate on more than one bad day, this is not entirely surprising.
  • Energy Being: Has become one on several occasions.
  • Expy: technically speaking, of Cable. Also might have spawned one in the form of the New 52 version of Super Boy, who has the same power set, the same Living Weapon backstory, the same development from nigh sociopathic Reluctant Hero with mild kleptomaniac tendencies into a genuine Nice Guy (though Nate was a fair bit nicer to begin with, if grumpy), the same difficult relationship with his elder counterpart and the same nature as The Dreaded to most of those he encounters.
  • Fashion Dissonance: While the whole shirtless leather jacket thing might have worked in the early noughties, it generally leads to Nate being the butt of jokes about his fashion sense.
    • His Age of Apocalypse leathers got this treatment too, back in the nineties, with Peter Wisdom calling him an 'MTV clone'.
  • Femme Fatale: Madelyne Pryor.
  • Fish out of Water: Nate.
  • Forgot About His Powers: From time to time Nate forgets about one of his powers or another.
    • Considering the sheer number of them, this is far from surprising.
  • Freudian Excuse: Not a villain, but between Madelyne Pryor, AOA!Jean, 616!Jean and Queen Jean, he could quite easily be the poster child for this trope.
  • Generation Xerox: everyone's reaction to him are comparable to their reaction to his mother Jean and the Phoenix Force, with emphasis put on his destructive potential underlined by his power readings matching those of the Dark Phoenix.
    • A What If? reveals that he will grow up to look exactly like Cable, leading to an elderly Sunfire mistaking the two.
  • Genius Bruiser: When he gets past his temper, he's actually very clever and very resourceful, using his power creatively and effectively. On his return, he proves that he's very much Cyclops's son by promptly out manoeuvring Norman Osborn, the entire Dark Avengers and Dark X-Men, teams including Karla Sofen, Daken, Mystique and Ares and very nearly ends Dark Reign in the space of a couple of issues. If he hadn't misjudged the Goblin persona, he'd have won. And this is with a plan that he came up with on the fly.
    • He also knows, it seems, everything there is to know about reality warping and dimension jumping. He's certainly done enough of it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Nate dispersed his essence to every living being on Earth to prevent an alien parasite from consuming them killing them both.
    • It lasted eight years real time, surprisingly enough.
  • Holding Back the Phlebotinum: With no TO virus like Cable, keeping him from using his immense power to solve problems in a flash requires his powers to frequently be burned out, somehow blocked, or on occasion held back by having him pick up the Idiot Ball.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: as epitomised by his 'Greyville' fantasy under the influence of Mysterio.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: as a small child. When he's older, during one of his rare moments of wonder and joy, they look like this.
  • Invincible Hero: by the end of his series, it takes a planetary or universal (even multiversal) scale threat to challenge him or an outright sucker punch. On his return in the Dark X-Men miniseries, he can singlehandedly assault a HAMMER complex and take a moment to stop and tell a HAMMER Agent that yes, she should take that UNICEF job she's considering, and take on the Dark Avengers and Dark X-Men simultaneously without breaking a sweat and explaining why their attacks won't work all the while.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: even at his most dickish, it's very clear that Nate inherited heroism from both parents, particularly his mother's compassion.
  • Kid From The Alternate Universe: Nate for Cyclops and Jean Grey.
  • Knight In Shining Armour: To Threnody in particular.
  • Knight in Sour Armour: for much of his series, at least until he met Peter Parker, he was fully convinced that people, human and mutant alike, sucked. Since he was regularly persecuted, never thanked and most people were utterly terrified of him, it's hard to argue against this. But he still saved people, because that's what heroes do.
  • Laser-Guided Tykebomb: Nate was created by the Sinister of the Age of Apocalypse timeline, for the express purpose of killing Apocalypse, who Sinister currently served as a Horseman.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Nate's acquaintance with characters from the main Marvel Universe usually started from trading blows.
    • Not overly surprising since his power levels made him The Dreaded (something Cable notes) and he had, at least at first, a rather nasty temper.
    • Notably averted with Spider-Man. When Peter finds the 'street prophet', Nate picks him out, calmly walks up to him and suggests that they just talk things through. Peter accepts.
    Nate: I know it's practically a requirement in situations like this but is there any chance we could pass on a gratuitous fight?
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: mostly averted - he has his mother's power set, her compassion and her explosive temper (the latter being most obvious). On the other hand, he also has his father's cynicism, snark and tendencies towards being The Chessmaster.
  • Messianic Archetype: every now and then, though it really comes in when he gets the Shaman upgrade.
  • Mind Over Manners: frequently early on, though he gets called on it frequently, including by himself and discards it as part of his Character Development.
  • Mind over Matter: his telekinesis is probably his go-to ability.
  • Momma's Boy: positive example. Nate gets on with his father fairly well, but unlike his 616 counterpart Cable, he's closest to his mother. They only meet briefly in his native universe and don't realise who they are to each other, but this is sufficient to form a connection which leads to him subconsciously reaching out on arriving in the 616 'verse and resurrecting Maddie Pryor. He and 616!Jean develop a close bond and she's the one who inspires him to be a real hero. Needless to say, he is pissed on his return to find out that his mother is dead and that Mystique had been impersonating her.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: the Quito incident. Specifically, while under the control of Queen Jean, he flattens Quito.
  • Name's the Same: The Gauntlet, a bunch of psychic Cape Busters are not the same as the Gauntlet, a group of psychic mutants who use their powers for their own gain.
  • Nature Versus Nurture: his encounters with Cable generally explored this.
  • Nice Guy: after his character development. Even early on, he shows signs of this, pulling a Moses for Wolfsbane just to show her the sunken ships that she dreamed about seeing, even though it hurt him to do so.
  • Nineties Anti-Hero: surprisingly, (especially considering that his 616 counterpart, Cable, was pretty much the Trope Codifier) not all that much. He's never had much compunction about killing, and even as a teenager he's so built that it's perfectly obvious that he's Cable's brother, but even at his worst, he's just been in a Knight in Sour Armour.
  • Nom de Mom: He is Nathan Grey while Cable is Nathan Summers. Unsurprisingly, he's always been much closer to his mother.
  • No Shirt, Long Jacket: rocked this look during his return in the Dark X-Men miniseries, before returning to his previous leather jacket.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The people controlled by Threnody.
  • Papa Wolf: Cyclops seems to have developed a degree of this towards him after he was rescued from the Omega Machine, making it clear that Nate is family and that he is coming back to Utopia whether Captain America and SHIELD like it or not.
  • Parental Incest: Although combined with Fridge Logic. Nate had a relationship with Madelyne Pryor who is a clone of Jean Grey, an alternate version of the woman whose DNA he was created from, making her essentially his genetic mother. The relationship mercifully lost its romantic overtones once Nate found out who she was, at least on Nate's part. And it got worse when she was killed and impersonated by Jean Grey from yet another alternate universe.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Nate was considered to be the most powerful mutant in the world with Dark Phoenix-level power.
    • If his powers had killed him as planned, it would have wiped out a quarter of the planet.
    • He says that he was born to destroy planets. The being he is fighting at the time does not dispute this.
  • Planar Champion: As part of the 'Mutant Shaman' retool.
  • Popularity Power: after the Age of Apocalypse ended, he was sufficiently popular to get a self-titled series that ran for 75 issues, a key role in the Onslaught crisis crossover, essentially a miniseries of his own in Dark X-Men (albeit after an eight year real time gap), then a spot on the New Mutants.
  • Power Degeneration: Nate's power put a huge strain on his body and would kill him before he turned 21. This was eventually revealed to be a fail-safe put into place by AoA!Sinister, because he didn't want Nate to be around to destroy him after he took out Apocalypse.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: famous for this.
  • Reality Warper: prior to his Shaman upgrade, was perpetually worried that he might accidentally rewrite the world around him, even in his sleep. This was not unwarranted.
  • Shout-Out: Harvester's arrival to Earth is very clearly a twisted reflection of Superman's. First his spaceship destroys a military aircraft. Then an elderly couple who are married (but not to each other) witnesses its crashlanding and goes to investigate. They are turned into stone. Yeah, what we have here is the opposite of a saviour.
  • Skunk Stripe: his lock of white hair is probably his most notable distinguishing feature.
  • Super Weight: mostly operates at a Type 3 level at first owing to a lack of experience/control/one of his powers switching off/genetic degeneration, spiking to Type 4 more and more as he gets better control of his powers. Grows into a Type 5 following the Shaman Reboot, then drops down to borderline Type 2 following his De-Power.
  • Take a Third Option: The Gauntlet explained to Nate that they refused to side with Professor Xavier or Magneto because they were not interested in mutant politics, and because they believed that both sides had worldviews that were too narrow. Given that they were able to operate for God knows how long without either side learning about them, the Gauntlet may have had a point.
  • Tall, Dark and Handsome: he takes after his dad.
  • Tangled Family Tree: part of a particularly tangled bit of the Grey-Summers family tree. This is lampshaded when a therapist comments on Hope's attitude towards Nate.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Takes several. At his first appearance in the 616 universe, he's basically a scared kid in an adult's body. Thereafter, he pulls off a whole bunch of insane feats When he comes Back from the Dead, he immediately takes on all of the Dark Avengers at once. The only one who even slows him down is Ares, and even then, he still has the time to verbally dissect the abilities of the entire team and explain why they won't work on him, while being surprisingly polite about it. He then pulls a Batman Gambit worthy of the trope namer in possessing Norman Osborn and is only beaten by misjudging the rationality of the Green Goblin persona.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: steadily grows nicer throughout his ongoing series. The Shaman reboot just cements this.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: one alternate reality comic set in the future shows that he'll grow up to look exactly like Cable, to the point where an elderly Sunfire mistakes him for Cable. Conversely, a deaged Cable looks exactly like Nate, Skunk Stripe and all.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Not a villain, but it is a little startling to contrast his Knight in Sour Armour personality to his very first appearance as a kid no more than five or six years old who manages, without saying a word, to elicit a little bit of Cuteness Proximity from Sinister himself!
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: After the retool, his standard outfit becomes a open jacket with no shirt.
  • When He Smiles: it's rare, but when he does genuinely smile, it is absolutely adorable.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: is, or was, this to an extent. He's under absolutely no illusions about what humans and mutants are capable of, but he believes in a better world and is absolutely horrified by what he missed, i.e. Civil War, Secret Invasion and the beginning of Dark Reign. Norman Osborn remarks on it and mocks him. Considering Siege, it looks like Nate had the last laugh on that one.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: becomes very, very good at this.
  • Younger Than They Look: Despite being for all intents and purposes in his late teens Nate actually is only a few years old due to accelerated ageing by Sinister.