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WARNING: There are unmarked spoilers on this sheet for all comics before Age of X-Man: Alpha #1 (i.e. anything published before February 2019).

Nathaniel "Nate" Grey / X-Man

Notable Aliases: 19X, Destroyer of Worlds, Greyspawn, Manhattan Marvel, Mutant X,

Nationality: American

Species: Human Mutant

First Appearance: X-Man #1 (March, 1995)

Nate Grey 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) 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 was at a loose end, with a brief appearance in Fearless Defenders, a mention in All New X-Men, and a mention and an appearance in two issues of Cable's 2017 run being the only hints that the Marvel editorial staff even remembered that he exists. This, however, changed when he returned in 2018's Uncanny X-Men, which leads into an X-Event in January 2019 called Age of X-Man.

X-Man appears in:

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X-Man provides examples of the following tropes:

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  • '90s 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.
  • A God I Am Not: Despite veering into A God Am I territory in the run-up to Age of X-Man, pointing out that by any reasonable metric, he does have the power of a god, and given that he's capable of creating his own reality, something explicitly more than just a parallel timeline, it's hard to argue the point. However, as he points out in both the Shaman and Lifeseed era, he's fundamentally human and flawed (and the latter was just a pose to try and save the world by force before he died).
    "My ways aren't mysterious enough."
  • All-Loving Hero: Has shades of this throughout his solo run, particularly during his New York hero/street prophet era, culminating in his Shaman era and again after his return from apparent death. Norman Osborn regards this attitude as amusingly quaint. However, this should not in any way be mistaken for 'soft' or even, for that matter, 'good'.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: The Protectorate (heroes of an alternate earth) to The Authority. Curiously, several members of the former were actually versions of pre-existing Marvel characters.
  • Alternate Timeline Ancestry: He and his counterpart Cable are considered basically the "same" person, despite the fact that that Nathan's mother was a clone of Nate's mother.
  • Always Someone Better: To Legion] as shown in the 2018 Uncanny X-Men run - while both aren't entirely sane and are immensely powerful Reality Warpers with a basis in Psychic Powers, Nate is implied to be the stronger. Not only that, but he has far better control of his powers and since he's Crazy Sane, is a far more coherent schemer, meaning that Legion's best efforts to thwart him tend to repeatedly backfire. This is ultimately demonstrated when Legion overcomes his fear of Nate and faces him head on. He successfully traps Nate in his for about five minutes (though to him, it feels like months). Given that it's in a construct of the Age of Apocalypse, Nate is not pleased when he notices A Glitch in the Matrix and promptly curbstomps Legion in five seconds flat, effortlessly bodyjacking him.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Initially to Cable, who occasionally tried to help him, even risking his life to save Nate, being determined that he'd get the chance to live his life. Nate, partly suffering from an inferiority complex and mostly just wanted to be left alone, and to have nothing to do with Cable. It didn't help that being close to each other or getting into telepathic contact was physically painful, at least at first, and Nate softened over time, even trying to protect Cable during a flashback in the Metus arc of Cable's 2017 series.
  • Arch-Enemy: Apocalypse by design and philosophy, being irrevocably opposed to everything that he represents (and given how far he can go in the opposite direction, that's not necessarily reassuring). Thereafter, a case could be made for either Sugar Man or Holocaust, with Dark Beast being a close runner up. His return in 2018 pits him against Legion, the two being portrayed as different sides of the same coin, and in broadly the same situation, a comparison that Nate makes himself (they're both "grandchildren of the atom" with vast Reality Warper powers).
  • Armour-Piercing Question: Gets one in Uncanny X-Men (2018), from Armor, fittingly, after he explains his motives (he's dying, so he's trying to save the world before he goes, and Utopia Justifies the Means) which is more or less the only moment where he's actually caught off-guard.
    How do you know that the pain and hurt you're causing is worth it? How do you know you aren't making things worse?
  • Back from the Dead: Madelyne Pryor, and eventually Nate himself. Twice.
  • 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.
  • Badass Boast: When riled up, he gets very free with these, varying from the extremely hammy to the cold and understated.
    • As the Purple Man finds out when Nate turns the tables on him...
    My body's only vulnerable, Killgrave, until my mind decides otherwise.
    You will break against me like waves against a stone.
    • On discovering that rather than being powerless and in the Age of Apocalypse, he was instead trapped by Legion (in his mind), he gives a calm, cold one that merges into a Breaking Speech.
    I know what you are, David. But I'm afraid you have no idea what I am. Your father failed you. To soothe your broken mind he told you that there is a real you buried in there. He told you that the mind is the self. What you are. I know the mind is but a tool. And tools can be taken away. This is my mind now.
    • This one, however, takes the cake for hamminess, just after pulling a Grand Theft Me on Legion.
    Your plan to destroy your God has failed, X-Men. Now it's your God's turn.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Or rather, Extreme Powers, Extreme People in his case. The fact is, very rarely do superheroes get power on the scale that Nate wields it, and for good reasons from a storytelling point of view (read more on that in the Story-Breaker Power entry below). While Nate's powers are not intrinsically bad, most of the characters at Nate's power scale are villains—and Nate himself has a track record of going for rather over-scale solutions. After years of struggling to write situations and villains to challenge a character as powerful as him, writers finally gave up in 2018 and put him through a Face–Heel Turn, though it at least didn't come out of nowhere and was both somewhat in character and moderately sympathetic. He's dying—again—and desperate to prevent the 616 universe from going the same way as his reality while he still can (in Age of X-Man, this is modified to 'I'm trying to give you [the X-Men] a chance to break out of your Theory of Narrative Causality mandated cycle of struggle and heartbreak'.).
  • Barefoot Sage: He has shades of this during his "street prophet" period.
  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: Against Ares himself, no less.
  • Benevolent Boss: In a strange sort of way, to the Horsemen of Salvation. They're all brainwashed to follow his commands and share his desires, but he's polite and respectful to all of them and refuses to let them fight the X-Men alone for his sake. So, they quite justifiably don't want to be his minions (Angel possibly excepted as Nate is helping him with his Archangel problem), but he treats them well while they are.
  • Berserk Button: He has quite a number.
    • Trying to control or manipulate him. He really, really does not like it... Which makes his own habit of Mind Control more than a little hypocritical, as is occasionally pointed out. His internal monologue in Age of X-Man notes how much he hates doing it, so he isn't entirely lacking in self-awareness.
    • Mutants abusing humans or humans abusing mutants.
    • He got pretty pissed at both Mystique and Osborn for making him think that his mother was alive. Osborn was barely incidental to Mystique's choice to take that form, and it was still Nate's biggest bone to pick with him after driving mutantkind into exile.
  • Big Brother Mentor:
    • Peter Parker takes on this role to him and speaks up for him to Captain America after his return.
    • And Nate in turn takes on this role to Franklin Richards.
  • Breakout Character: Arguably the most popular character to come from the Age of Apocalypse, as even Blink (the other big Breakout Character from that series) didn't get a solo title so popular it lasted a whole six years, much less a Bat Family Crossover. Though, Blink did get adapted into the live-action X-Men: Days of Future Past (a young version of Nate may or may not have had a couple of brief cameos in the same film as the 'Mutant Scavenger' who later appears as a student in the restored timeline, but it's ambiguous), so her fans might argue that she had the last laugh.
  • Bullying a Dragon: This happens to him fairly often in his solo series, as his extremely high power level combined with his unassuming appearance and inexperience makes him a dragon very few see coming. The bullies range from people who know full well what they're getting into (Holocaust, Dark Beast—though as Nate gets older and more controlled, Dark Beast wisely becomes absolutely terrified of him) to the more traditional jerks who just come along with no idea of the power they're messing with (the Purple Man and Mysterio being among the jerkiest).
  • Casual Danger Dialogue:
  • Cape Busters: The 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.
  • Cassandra Truth: During the Onslaught Saga he sensed very early on that something was wrong with Professor X (as this was in their first meeting, this led to a distrust of the Professor and his X-Men in general) and tried to warn the Avengers. They more or less brushed him off, even if they were polite about it... and considering that they knew Xavier well (or thought they did), and didn't know Nate at all, this isn't entirely surprising. They quickly regretted it as the Onslaught persona assumed full control and seized control of New York.
  • Character Development:
    • Nate gets a lot of this, 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 (albeit one with a somewhat odd point of view). 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.
    • Following his return, with full powers, in Uncanny X-Men (2018) and Age of X-Man, he seems to have become a Well-Intentioned Extremist, with his occasional messiah complex apparently having gone up to eleven. Part of it is an act. How large a part that is, however, is ambiguous. By the end of Age of X-Man, he's become more thoughtful and realised that trying to break all connections/relationships, and trying to force peace, just doesn't work.
  • Charm Person: His high-order telepathic powers make him very capable of this, though he only ever uses it unconsciously. This is still more than enough to turn him into a Chick Magnet.
  • The Chessmaster: Like his father and older brother before him, Nate develops into one who even Apocalypse admits is "brilliant". For context, Nate had anticipated conflict between Apocalypse and his X-Tracts in Age of X-Man, and reversion to his past personality, so left a menorah from the prime reality in a perfectly convenient position to be used as a weapon against him by Kitty Pryde that he couldn't defend against. The Rule of Symbolism didn't hurt, either.
  • Chick Magnet: Whether by accident or design, most of Nate's supporting cast of characters were women, and a good chunk of those women were attracted to him. This becomes especially pronounced in his "New York street messiah" phase, where a Power Trio of party girls all fall for him and move in with him, helping him to manage his newfound fame, and a Fair Cop (one of the party girls' parole officer, no less) hits on him. Nate tends to be endearingly oblivious to this, and later swears off relationships entirely.
  • Child Soldier: He started out as a Laser Guided Tyke Bomb and quickly grew into this during his time with Forge's Outcasts.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: He hides it well behind his Knight in Sour Armor attitude, but when push comes to shove Nate will never stand by and not act when an innocent person's life is in danger. Even when he becomes an Anti-Villain, it's driven by a desire to do something good, to save the world.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: None of the members of Nate's supporting cast were ever seen or mentioned again after the series ended, save for the very thin exception of Threnody who was given a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo as a potential recruit in Avengers: The Initiative, before finally popping up again in 2018 in an issue of Deadpool as part of the New Orleans Assassins Guild. And of course Madelyne Pryor appeared again, but she was also an established character long before Nate himself arrived on the scene.
  • Clone Angst: Played with.
    • He's the artificially created son of Scott and Jean, and a counterpart of Cable. Though also technically his half-brother, as Cable describes him — while Cable's mother was a clone of Nate's mother, they're technically sisters rather than the same person; however, Nate and Cable fill the same purpose in the designs of their respective timelines' Sinisters. 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.
    • Amusingly, Nate is the source of this trope for another Summers family clone, Stryfe. Essentially a flawed clone of Cable (who is himself flawed compared to Nate due to Cable's techno-organic infection limiting his powers), Stryfe regards Nate's existence as the ideal form as something of a personal affront, and wastes no time capturing him and hooking him up to one of Doctor Doom's power siphons upon his return in order to steal Nate's power, which he believes to be rightfully his. To further heighten the irony, Stryfe's scheme is largely derailed by Madelyne Pryor, who is herself a clone and frequent sufferer of Clone Angst.
  • Compelling Voice: Occasionally, he's capable of controlling people with just his voice, as an extension of his psychic abilities.
  • Covert Pervert: Occasionally. For instance, when he's chatting with Franklin Richards about the Avengers, and Franklin brings up that one of his favourites is the Scarlet Witch, Nate's immediate assumption is because — like him — Franklin likes her current spectacularly Stripperific costume. Franklin, being a little young for this, casually dismisses it, instead referencing the fact that she's a mutant and that she learned magic from Agatha Harkness, his babysitter.
  • Crazy Sane: By the time of his Shaman period, when a character told him that he was insane, his matter-of-fact response is "quite possibly." It fades out once he loses most of his powers, then comes back with a vengeance with them, suggesting that the two are possibly connected.
  • Deadly Gas: Coldsnap-9, a Canadian concoction stolen from Department H by the Brotherhood and Nate. When Nate discovers what he did, be impulsively busts open the canisters, killing himself. Nate being his mother's son, it lasted about two pages.
  • Deadly Upgrade: His powers were designed to kill him from the beginning, but in X-Men: Disassembled, it transpires that his powers were restored and boosted by a Life Seed, but it failed to heal him/restored his genetic degeneration problem.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Whenever he's not acting petulant, his dialogue tends to end up like this. This has increased exponentially since he lost most of his powers and joined the New Mutants, with practically every other line of dialogue being snark. He tones it down a bit in Uncanny X-Men (2018), though he still gets a couple of good jibes at Jean.
  • Defiant to the End: To the Crusader, after Nate's powers betray him and the other has him at his mercy, and tells him to make his peace with 'whatever false deities you worship' (having got it into his head that Nate is some tool of Satan—the Crusader is not known for logic or sanity).
    Nate: Get... stuffed...
  • Depending on the Artist:
    • How old he actually looks during his solo series—he's meant to be about 17, and later, his late teens/early twenties. However, some artists draw him built along Cable's lines (while they're counterparts, Cable's had a lifetime of extensive physical training to bulk him up, while Nate's still a kid, and even if Sinister designed him to be in peak physical shape, you'd expect some disparity) and looking closer to his late twenties, while others draw him more slender and looking more like his actual age, and others still draw him looking about 15, at most. However, some degree of athletic build is a constant, with his frequently being referred to as 'Muscles' or similar.
    • From New Mutants onwards, he gets more consistent, being drawn as muscular and in his early twenties (though his growing skunk stripe and later beard make him look older).
  • 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. By 2018's Uncanny X-Men (2018), however, they're back, and then some (though he seems to lose them when transported back to the Age of Apocalypse, for some unknown reason... then it turns out that he's just inside Legion's head, and gets them back as soon as he realises this, flattening Legion in the space of about five seconds).
  • Despair Event Horizon: X-Men: Disassembled is all about the results of Nate finally crossing this, plunging into despair—typified by a conversation he has with Jean in the form of an old woman, where both agree that the world's messed up, but Jean retains optimism. Thus, he decides that he has to remake the world by force. Arguably, though, he doesn't tip over the edge until a minutes-that-feel-like-months stint in Legion's mental construct of the Age of Apocalypse without his powers, where he sadly reflects that while he originally thought that 616 was heaven to the AOA's hell, he's come to believe that it's just a more subtle form of hell. This ultimately leads him to Take a Third Option and create the Age of X-Man.
  • Destructive Saviour:
    • In his solo series. Due to his take-no-prisoners fighting style, and the power levels of his enemies, Nate's fights tend to have a high collateral damage quotient—for instance, he once practically levelled the city of Dublin.
    • He also makes one hell of a mess of the planet in X-Men: Disassembled.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: This is identified by Captain America as his main problem - a purpose other than "killing Apocalypse", to be precise. Following the Shaman reboot, with a hiatus when he lost most of his powers, it's a matter of saving the world—whether it wants to be saved or not - though he learns the error of his ways at the end of Age of X-Man.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?:
    • In one what-if tale he literally liquefies Apocalypse by mind-melding with Owen Reece the Molecule Man and forcibly unlocking the full potential of the latter's Reality Warper powers.
    • Apparently he and the Sentry took on Galactus and won. The context makes it ambiguous whether or not he was manipulating the Sentry by appealing to their past, but when Norman Osborn posits this and remarks that it's clever, his response is basically, "cleverness be damned, I just told him the truth."
    • In Uncanny X-Men (2018), he simultaneously has Apocalypse in chains and Magneto on a psychic leash, before taking out an entire team of heavyweight X-Men, including Omega Class mutants Jean Grey, Storm, Psylocke, and Iceman, with minimal effort. He also effortlessly flattens Legion.
  • Dimensional Traveler: At the height of his powers, after the Shaman Reboot, he can achieve this with almost insulting ease, treating the Multiverse as his personal stepladder.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • As of 2018, even Legion, one of the most powerful mutants ever, is scared of him. As it turns out, there is a very good reason for this: when the two finally go toe to toe in issue 8, Nate wipes him out in five seconds flat.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Possibly. It's notable that he's usually much more human when he's stripped of his powers for one reason or another, and generally kinder. Also, as Armour puts it in Uncanny X-Men, visibly and deeply traumatised.
  • Energy Being: Has become one on several occasions.
  • Expy:
    • Literally an in-universe one to Cable, as they are essentially the same person from different realities and they have an identical genetic makeup (though Nate's genesis was slightly different from Cable's and he is much more powerful, due to not being infected with the T-O Virus).
    • He also might have spawned an Alternate Company Equivalent 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.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Mr. Sinister is opposed to the schemes of both Apocalypse and Onslaught, and seeks Nate out to prepare him for both. Unfortunately, Onslaught beguiles Nate and abducts him before Sinister can do much for him.
    • The Purple Man is disgusted by the Terrorists Without a Cause of U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. and their leader Flag-Smasher, to the point of ordering Flag-Smasher to get out of his limo and commit suicide by stepping off a cliff.
  • Evil Mentor: Not so much 'evil' as 'on the wrong side of the Heel–Face Revolving Door that day', but Havok mentored Nate while he was in the Brotherhood, coaching him to regain enough of his telekinesis so that he could fly again.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Apparently in 2018's X-Men: Disassembled, of the Well-Intentioned Extremist variety, and not a totally surprising one in retrospect. Nate has always had a tendency to judge people, 'separating the just from the guilty', and an inclination to impose his will on the world (or at the very least, do everything he feels is required to prevent it from becoming another Age of Apocalypse). It is eventually explained that he's dying, thanks to a Deadly Upgrade by a Life Seed, and thus desperate to do what he can, while he can. When it's continued in Age of X-Man, he's revealed as an Anti-Villain, one who is genuinely desperately trying to help the X-Men and break them out of their pattern of suffering and conflict.
  • Fashion Dissonance: Nate's fashion sense is not the best.
    • 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, even back in the nineties, with Pete Wisdom of Excalibur calling him a 'horrible little MTV clone'.
  • The Fettered: Had a period where he begrudgingly became this by necessity due to his Power Degeneration literally putting his life in danger every time he used it.
  • Fish out of Water: Due to his forcible transition from the utter Crapsack World of the Age of Apocalypse to the comparatively more peaceful and sane reality of Earth-616.
  • Foreshadowing: In 2010's Heroic Age: Heroes, a one-shot in which Captain America assesses the various heroes of the Marvel Universe, he expresses some ambivalence about Nate, worrying that he might go the way of the Sentry thanks to his sheer power and the fact that he's Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life. While Cap's suspicion seemed a little unfair (though not totally unwarranted) in light of Nate's track record at the time, eight years later writers decided that Cap had the right idea after all, as evidenced by Nate's transformation into a Well-Intentioned Extremist as soon as his powers came back.
  • 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 (most of the time), but between Madelyne Pryor, AOA!Jean, 616!Jean and Queen Jean, he could quite easily be the poster child for this trope. It would go a long way to explaining why the Age of X-Man reality has a stern prohibition on interpersonal relationships.
  • Friend to All Children:
    • Something he shares with Cable, and that they both get from their mother. Despite his occasionally gruff exterior, he's particularly nice to and good with children, as best shown when he affectionately tickles a small baby that he'd just saved from a building that an arsonist had just set on fire (after downloading the baby's terrified memories of choking to death into the arsonist's head).
    • Also, during Operation: Zero Tolerance, Cable roped him in to protect the Grey family, which Nate did to the best of his ability—while his powers were more or less fried (again), and he was unable to save Sara Bailey (Jean's older sister) and her husband, he did manage to protect their kids, proving remarkably gentle and caring with two very traumatised young children. For instance, to keep one of them calm, he used the last of his powers to essentially conjure up a construct of her stuffed bear.
    • Even after his Face–Heel Turn of sorts in X-Men: Disassembled, he flattens the X-Men, but doesn't raise a hand to the Young X-Men when he realises that they're children, and instead happily explains his motives to them when they ask.
  • 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. Equally, whenever Cable is deaged/shown as a young man (particularly during Cable and Deadpool and Kid Cable), he looks exactly like Nate—allowing for the metal arm.
    • His ability to play Norman Osborn and his cohorts like a harp is highly reminiscent of his dad. Unlike Cyclops, however, he made a crucial mistake—he underestimated the Goblin personality's capacity for rationality. If he'd adjusted his plan, he'd have succeeded in bringing down the entirety of Osborn's Dark Reign in a matter of days—and considering that Osborn very quickly snapped and went full Green Goblin, in public, just as Nate planned, it's arguable that he had the last laugh on that one.
  • 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 maneuvering 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.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: Becomes disturbingly capable of this on his return in Uncanny X-Men (2018), thanks to being an immensely powerful telepath—something most aptly demonstrated with the Horsemen of Salvation, who, as Storm demonstrates, he can convert on the fly.
  • Glorified Sperm Donor:
    • Refers to 616 Cyclops as this, almost word for word, to 616 Havok. He's on better terms with him later—though he still likes his mother better.
    • He refers to his mother in similar terms in X-Men: Disassembled, rejecting her attempt to reach out to him, albeit in a less than convincing fashion. The finale of the arc makes it very clear that this was a sham.
  • Glowing Eyes: Almost always depicted with a golden glow in his left eye, representing his active powers.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: In the first year of his comic, whenever he uses his psychic powers, his left eye glows and he unleashes a telepathic attack.
  • A God Am I:
    • Occasionally, particularly in Uncanny X-Men (2018), declaring his intent to remake the world in his image—and the scary thing is that he more than has the power to back it up. How much of this was him playing the part of the god-like messiah out of perceived necessity is ambiguous, but it wouldn't exactly be the first time he's considered this.
    • To further highlight this, for his reinvention as an Anti-Villain in X-Men: Disassembled, as part of the run up to the Age of X-Man event, it was decided to give him a visual revamp, and, in a classic case of Marvel's idea of subtlety, they went with this. A God Is He indeed.
    • As he points out, with his raw power, there's very little difference between playing god and being god. Of course, it's left ambiguous how much he believes it, with Hope being positioned as the Mutant Messiah in Age of X-Man, with Xavier as the spiritual guide, while Nate is 'just' one of the X-Men. Age of X-Man: Omega has him explicitly deny it.
  • A God I Am Not: His more usual attitude, and one he confirms in Age of X-Man: Omega
  • Good is Not Nice: Initially, Nate's basically what you get when you give a grumpy and sardonic teenager Chronic Hero Syndrome, a raging case of PTSD, and a reputation as The Dreaded that means that pretty much everyone is scared witless of him. This trope is the unsurprising result. Later, he becomes more detached, judgemental, and ruthless.
  • Good Is Not Soft:
    • Early in the series, Nate is a hero through and through, but he can also be bullheaded and abrasive to the people around him. And when it comes to combat, he does not hold back, expressly rejecting the traditional Thou Shalt Not Kill philosophy of the X-Men due to coming of age in a much more hard and brutal world than the one they know. Later, he gets more polite and more morally ambiguous.
    • He's also got a bit of a Messiah Complex, which can be... worrying.
  • Graceful Loser: At the end of Age of X-Man, he calmly explains his genuinely well-intentioned reasoning behind the Age of X-Man itself (while also being forced to concede by the unconsciously created construct of Dani Moonstar, his ex-girlfriend that he's Not So Above It All regarding relationships), and acquiesces to the X-Men's demands to return to the 616 universe.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Nate's only video game appearance (as of 2020) in X-Men Legends II sees him play this role. Unfortunately, he only appears in the PSP version of the game.
  • 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.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: In the first few issues of his solo title, Nate was pretty much the only member of the Outcasts who didn't feel uneasy about the hulking, red-eyed Essex, who was of course Mr. Sinister in disguise, and who ended up killing almost all of the Outcasts save Nate himself. The experience was transformative, as not only did Nate never again extend any other villains such benefit of the doubt, he swung to the opposite extreme and became suspicious by default, which hurt his relationship with the 616 X-Men.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Inverted in X-Men: Disassembled, where Nate assembled a team called the Horsemen of Salvation. In place of Pestilence, Famine, War and Death, Nate has Horsemen of Life, Bounty, Wellness and Peace. The choices for this team fall straight into bizarre, though, as Nate chooses Magneto to be his Horseman of Peace (which Magneto promptly demonstrates his qualifications for by blowing up the X-Mansion) and for the other Horsemen he chooses Angel, Blob and Omega Red. While these are technically logical choices, when looked at in a mirror (Blob, famously gluttonous, becomes the Horseman of Bounty; Omega Red, a Poisonous Person, becomes the Horseman of Wellness; and Angel, famously the Horseman of Death, becomes Life), Nate had never actually met any of them bar Warren, briefly (though he was familiar with his reality's Magneto), or had any even remote ties to before this story — which is the subject of In-Universe bemusement as well.
  • Hypocrite: He hates being controlled or manipulated, but if he feels it necessary, has no compunction about doing the same to others — something which has been discussed from time to time. He escalates to full on Control Freak in Age of X-Man, because (in his eyes) the X-Men have a tendency to 'cut off their noses to spite their face', which he's not entirely wrong about. He eventually learns to let go, at the end of Age of X-Man, letting them go back to the real world and do as they wish, after straight-up explaining what he was trying to do/how he was trying to help them - and a number of X-Men admit that most of what he says makes sense, especially Magneto.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: During Age of X-Man, he muses on the mind-control he feels forced to do, and admits he absolutely loathes doing it.

  • I Just Want to Be Normal: A running theme of his, as epitomised by his 'Greyville' fantasy under the influence of Mysterio, where he's essentially the friendly neighbourhood superhero—alongside the original, his good friend Spidey. Even in the Age of X-Man, he eschews the messiah role and presents himself as simply a member of that reality's X-Men.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: His... odd fashion sense is a Running Gag.
  • Improvised Weapon: During one story arc late in the X-Man run when he fought the Crusader, Nate decided to fight him on his level and assembled a sword and set of armor for himself with his telekinetic powers.
  • Incest-ant Admirer: Maddie Pryor, eventually a textbook Yandere, to Nate's intense discomfort.
  • Incest Subtext: By the bucketload with Maddie Pryor, mother of Cable (his 616 counterpart) and clone of Jean (616 counterpart of his mother). To Nate's credit, he backed off fast as soon as he realised just how she was related to him. Maddie... not so much. It got to the point where they were the series' Fan-Preferred Couple.
  • 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. Thanks to the art of Roger Cruz, it's absurdly adorable.
  • 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 exactly why their attacks won't work all the while.
    • As of his return in Uncanny X-Men, he seems to be even stronger. He can communicate with everyone in the world without any discernible effort, and when Kitty questions the plausibility of this, Apocalypse flatly points out that he's got Magneto on a leash, turned off Kitty's powers with a word, and has Apocalypse himself in chains (who he's apparently just keeping around as a reminder of what he's working to prevent—though he does listen to him later on when he thinks he's got an interesting idea). It later turns out that, for whatever reason, his powers don't work in the Age of Apocalypse... then it's revealed that it's actually inside Legion's head, and once he figures that out, he effortlessly flattens Legion and body-jacks him. After that, it takes Jean, Psylocke, the Stepford Sisters, No-Girl, and Sage, along with a whopping great lightning bolt from Storm, to separate him from Legion—and even after that, he calmly carries on a conversation inside his head with Jean while all those psychics, Storm, the rest of the X-Men, and Magneto hammer away at his defences to absolutely zero real effect. The final issue reveals that his powers are back and boosted because of a Life Seed, which gave him his powers back but left him still dying, leaving him confused as to what he was meant to do, and inspiring his actions throughout the arc. Then he created the Age of X-Man.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Even at his most dickish and grumpy, it's very clear that Nate inherited heroism from both parents, particularly his mother's compassion. Even after his Face–Heel Turn in X-Men: Disassembled and Age of X-Man, compassion and trying to do something good — albeit through insanely extreme methods — are his driving motives.
  • Kid From The Alternate Universe: Nate for Cyclops and Jean Grey.
  • Knight In Shining Armour: To Threnody in particular, for whom he was a borderline Love Martyr.
  • 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 (and not entirely without reason), it's hard to argue against this. But he still saved people, because that's what heroes do.
  • Large Ham: Early on, it seems like he can't do anything without all volume control being off and, usually, a large explosion of power and a barrage of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness. Even after he calms down and evens out a bit, he still retains a penchant for dramatics. This makes a lot more sense when you remember that he was raised by resistance fighters undercover as Shakespearean stage actors.
  • Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb: 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. This compulsion has shaped more or less his entire life, with Captain America noting that he's Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: He's particularly adept at this, even early on, downloading the memories of a terrified baby who'd been caught in a blaze into the mind of the arsonist that set it. He also punished AoA!Domino, Apocalypse's assassin, by restoring her previously defunct conscience.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Nate's acquaintance with characters from the main Marvel Universe usually started from trading blows. This is't overly surprising since his power levels made him The Dreaded (something Cable notes), he had a rather skewed idea of who the good and bad guys were in 616 thanks to the differences in his world, as well as an initial Hair-Trigger Temper, and a very justified sense of a paranoia.
    • 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 the gratuitous fight?
  • Like a Son to Me: To the Forge of his home reality.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Rogue had a certain degree of Big Sister Instinct towards him, intermittently keeping an eye on him from a distance and trying to help keep him out of trouble. Since Nate was The Dreaded, a Weirdness Magnet even by X-Men standards, and none too eager to join up with the X-Men, there wasn't too much she could do—though she did give Bishop a memorable dressing down when he wound up picking a fight with Nate over concerns that Nate was an irresponsible threat to everyone around him. Nate, for his part, played the role of grumpy little brother to perfection (much as he did to Cable). Remarkably, she was also one of the few people who the Hot-Blooded Nate grudgingly listened to, and actually liked. Thanks to the fact that both had a skunk stripe and dark hair, they even looked a bit alike.
  • 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, looks, and tendencies towards being The Chessmaster.
  • Living Weapon: Created as one by Sinister, and my lord was it effective.
  • Long Bus Trip: Takes two; between the end of his solo series in 2001 and Dark X-Men in 2009 (which was mainly about his return), and between the end of the New Mutants run in 2012 and 2018 when he reappeared as an important part of the Metus arc in Cable's ongoing—albeit only in flashbacks. Following that, he's returning in the present as part of the relaunch of Uncanny X-Men and January 2019's X-Event is called Age of X-Man.
  • Love Triangle: With the introduction of Threnody one of these developed between Nate, Thren, and Madelyne Pryor. Nate himself was largely clueless of this, to the frustration of both women. Extra awkwardness would come from the In-Universe revelation that Nate and Maddie were related, even if neither of them knew this for a long time. As it turned out, while it bothered Nate, it didn't seem to bother Maddie in the slightest, who seemed to see him as a Replacement Gold Fish both for her ex-husband, Scott, and her son, Cable.
  • Messianic Archetype:
    • Every now and then, starting in the Age of Apocalypse when he's the one meant to destroy Apocalypse (which he does—or rather, beats him to a pulp and leaves him for Magneto to finish) and later during his days as the Street Prophet of Washington Square, in which he shows something of a knack for playing the messiah role. However, it really comes in when he gets the Shaman upgrade.
    • He fully embraces the role in Uncanny X-Men, though it's somewhat subverted by the fact that he's playing a part, and is mostly acting out of desperation because he's dying again and he's trying to do what he can in the time that he has, because that's what he thinks he's meant to do, thanks to the Life Seed giving him his powers back, but not his life. It's telling that in the follow-up Bat Family Crossover, Age of X-Man, he plays the part of an ordinary (if senior) member of the X-Men, and Hope is the (admittedly dead) Messianic Archetype instead.
  • Mind over Manners:
    • Frequently disregards this early on, though he gets called on it just as frequently, including by himself. He discards those tendencies as part of his Character Development.
    • He seems to have reverted on this score in Uncanny X-Men, as part of a Face–Heel Turn (albeit of the Well-Intentioned Extremist variety), casually using Magneto, Blob, Omega Red, and Archangel (and later Storm) as puppets—though at least in Archangel's case, he was apparently actually helping him with his Superpowered Evil Side. He also demonstrates his abuse of this to an extreme in Age of X-Man, though going by his internal monologue, he absolutely hates doing it.
  • Mind over Matter: His telekinesis is, initially, his go-to ability (his telepathy gets much more emphasis later on), and considering it is powerful enough to qualify him for Reality Warper status, it well should be.
  • Mind Rape: Generally avoids this, especially as he gets nicer. However, he's also capable of getting very nasty and very creative with the Laser-Guided Karma when pushed—note what he did to AoA!Domino, Apocalypse's assassin (restored her long withered conscience, reducing her to a catatonic wreck), and to a random arsonist during his New York hero days who had set fire to a building containing a lot of homeless people, including a small baby (transferred the baby's traumatic memories of choking to death to the arsonist).
  • Mirror Character:
    • He spends a long time distancing himself from Cable, but he turns out quite a lot like him, with the two going through nigh-identical character developments—Nate becomes a Shaman, while Cable goes through his 'Saviour Cable' phase (though in Cable's case, it was part of a complicated Genghis Gambit. For Nate, it was apparently genuine.)
    • Ultimately (and disturbingly), to Apocalypse through their shared God complex. However, Nate's is a touch more, well, complex: Apocalypse aspires to rule as a God-King, while Nate stumbles into this by being a compulsive Control Freak with vast telepathic powers who's desperate to prevent a dystopia, as demonstrated by the Age of X-Man. While on the face of it, it's a utopia in total contrast to the Age of Apocalypse, in many ways, it's just as awful — and in others, owing to Nate's vast telepathic and reality warping abilities, it's actually worse. It just doesn't look it. Unlike Apocalypse, however, Nate acknowledges his mistakes, and when reforming the AOX with AOX Magneto, one of the first things they do is to remove the secret police and mind-wiping.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Nate was not a team player, even less so than Cable, and usually preferred to do his own thing, prior to joining up with the New Mutants - and even that was initially mostly just a living arrangement. He was also widely feared for his unfortunate combination of monstrous raw power, frequent Power Incontinence, and an epic Hair-Trigger Temper. Plus his fears over how he was essentially dying from the moment of his birth, thanks to Sinister's genetic time bomb. However, he was also a Jerk with a Heart of Gold at worst, invariably kind to children, and an all round hero who mostly just wanted to help out every now and then, while being left alone to live his life. This would all generally work out fine if he wasn't a world-class Weirdness Magnet, and one who tended to get a bit... strange when without a Morality Chain or two. And even then, he's always trying to do the right thing.
  • Momma's Boy:
    • A 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.
    • She's also the one person who really manages to get through to him in X-Men: Disassembled, getting to the heart of his motives—part of his understated Motive Rant includes the line, "I tried to be the son you wanted me to be." Unfortunately, it's not quite enough.
    • Moira MacTaggert also served as a Parental Substitute, and she was one of the few people he listened to—on one memorable occasion, he was having a spectacular tantrum/freak-out following his paranoia getting the better of him. Moira then basically scolded him into submission (as Rahne put it "putting the hard word on him"), to the bafflement of Excalibur and seemingly, Nate himself. As Moira herself observed, due to his lack of life experience, he simply didn't know how to argue back.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
  • Mystical White Hair: At the end of Age of X-Man, his increasingly white striped beard and hair goes all white, and is initially paired with a beard (which, for some reason, vanishes towards the end of the epilogue).
  • Naïve Newcomer: When he first arrives in Earth 616 he is baffled by the prospect of a world that is largely at peace.
    • And neither of them have any relation to Gauntlet, the Dark Rider and one-eyed mutant mercenary.
  • Nature Versus Nurture: His encounters with Cable generally explored this.
  • Necessarily Evil: How he characterises his actions in X-Men: Disassembled.
    Utopia comes at a price.
  • The Needless: By the end of his series, he doesn't actually need to eat, drink, sleep or breathe (to the point where he doesn't even notice that he's in a cell full of raw nitrogen), and does human things mostly to reassure humans and mutants alike. However, following his depowering, he does seem to need to do all of the above.
  • Nice Guy: After his character development, all he really wants to do is help people. 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.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Nate means well, but his impulsive behavior has sometimes resulted in this.
    • When Nate first met Professor X, he forcibly dragged Chuck out of his Astral Projection state and into the real world. This was a feat unmatched by any psychic before him, and it inspired the nascent Onslaught dwelling in Xavier's mind to create a psionic body for himself.
    • Nate was also responsible for accidentally awakening the mutant ability of Jackknife, an abandoned member of the Abomination's Forgotten who quickly succumbed to With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.
    • Later still Nate unwittingly awakened three of the Great Beasts with an uncontrolled burst of his power.
    • His actions in X-Men: Disassembled, while well-intentioned, resulted in the passing of anti-mutant legislation and the roll-out of a mutant vaccine, while simultaneously the vast majority of the X-Men were trapped in the Age of X-Man.
  • Nom de Mom: He is Nathan Grey while Cable is Nathan Summers. Unsurprisingly, he's always been much closer to his mother, regarding his father with a certain degree of ambivalence—though he does warm up towards Cyclops when he joins up with the New Mutants.
  • Nonindicative Name: Nate's the X-Man, but save for one very brief instance, he's ironically never actually been a member of the team. This is rectified in Age of X-Man.
  • No Shirt, Long Jacket: Rocked this look during his return in the Dark X-Men miniseries, before returning to his previous leather jacket.
  • Not Quite Flight: He uses telekinesis to pick himself up and "fly". Most telekinetic characters can do this, actually, but Nate's better at it than most.
  • Not So Above It All: The mystery of the two Dani Moonstars, one in the real world and one in the Age of X-Man is resolved by the explanation that the latter is a subconscious creation of Nate's, something which shows that he's not so above the human connections and relationships as he liked to claim, leading to a Heel Realization.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • In X-Men: Disassembled he tries to act as if Jean (whom he's always been close to) is a Glorified Sperm Donor at best, and in Age of X-Man as if he's totally onboard with his own precepts of being separated from connections to others. In both cases, this is a sham, he's aware of the former—he admits to her at the end that he's just trying to be someone she could be proud of—but isn't of the latter, having subconsciously conjured up a version of his last girlfriend, Dani Moonstar, who gives him a gentle speech about how connections are a good thing, and what make people human.
    • Being trapped in a version of the Age of Apocalypse—in what turns out to be Legion's head—without his powers for what feels like months leaves him downright traumatised, as Armour points out. Considering that it's probably all his worst nightmares come to life (and that was before he was locked in a tube like the one that created him), it's unsurprising that he drops the calm, pleasant demeanour he'd had before and goes absolutely berserk.

  • Odd Friendship: With Peter Parker, as at first glance a cynical, brooding character like Nate doesn't seem like an obvious fit for the wisecracking and free-spirited Spider-Man. That said, both men have been forced by tragedy into growing Wise Beyond Their Years, and that common bond draws them together. Additionally, Nate honestly looked up to Peter as a mentor and older brother figure, while Captain America's Heroic Age file on him notes that Spidey spoke in his favour after he turned up again.
  • Offhand Backhand: Pulls a brutally contemptuous one on Cannonball in X-Men: Disassembled, that, despite his usual invulnerability while blasting, flattens him.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Morbius sees use as a Monster of the Week in issue 24. Unusually, while Morbius doesn't normally turn people, he does turn Nate—which Spidey and Nate both speculate is because Nate expects to be turned by a vampire bite, giving him a kind of psychosomatic version of vampirism. Eventually, he shakes it off.
  • 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.
    • The Age of Apocalypse version of Forge had this towards him, protecting him at all costs.
  • 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 an evil megalomaniac Jean Grey from yet another alternate universe for months. She later brought Nate to her reality, where she became the evil queen of Earth, and introduced him to that reality's version of Nate Grey, and it is all but openly stated that she made him—her own biological son for all intents and purposes—be her slave, which, yes, includes sex slave. Nate was later forced to kill her in self-defense.
  • Parental Substitute: Age of Apocalypse Forge and Cyclops in the father column, 616!Jean Grey and Moira MacTaggert in the mother column.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Nate was considered to be the most powerful mutant in the world with Dark Phoenix-level power, and increasingly verged on Physical God territory. If his powers had killed him as planned, it would have wiped out a quarter of the planet, and he states towards the end of the Shaman run that he was born to destroy planets. The being he is fighting at the time does not dispute this.
  • Physical God: His powers place him on this level when they don't cut out on him - certainly, he's strong enough even as a kid to swat Holocaust like a bug and dismiss him as the prelude to the main event - his showdown with Apocalypse. He promptly kicks seven shades of crap out of him, comfortably subdues him, and keeps him around simply as a living reminder of what he's working to prevent. He later takes out an entire team of X-Men featuring Jean Grey, Psylocke, Storm, and Iceman, four Omega Class mutants in their own right, in a very brief Offscreen Moment of Awesome.
  • 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, and then a leading arc in the new run on Uncanny X-Men and a full event in 2018/19.
  • 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. The Power Tattoo discussed below stops it... until the Life Seed gives him a Deadly Upgrade.
  • Power Tattoo: He received the traditional "X" symbol as a large tattoo covering the left side of his chest after assuming the role as Mutant Shaman. It was given to him by an alternate counterpart to stabilize his genetics. It works until the Life Seed gets involved.
  • Power Trio: Jam, Bux and Rita, a trio of streetwise party girls from Nate's New York hero period.
  • Primary-Color Champion: One of the costumes he wore the longest was a navy blue ensemble (boots, pants, shirt and jacket) with yellow trim.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: A frequent sufferer of these, as most psychics tend to be. In his case, however, it was usually a sign of degenerating powers.
  • Psychic Powers: His telekinesis makes him a Reality Warper at full blast, and his telepathy is strong enough that he curbstomps Legion and possesses him in approximately five seconds.
  • Put on a Bus: His greatest nemesis isn't Holocaust or Apocalypse, but Marvel's terminal inability to integrate high-powered characters into the setting on a regular basis. After his title's end (in which he was frequently depowered for the sake of drama), he was put on his first bus, one which he rode through most of the 2000s until 2009's Dark Reign. Following that title's end he found himself Norman Osborn's prisoner, and remained in custody for a few years until Cyclops finally got it in his head to rescue him. He then appeared in the then-latest incarnation of the New Mutants, but following that title's cancellation he found himself on his third bus. He was brought back after another few years to be the titular villain of the Age of X-Man, but afterward got placed on Bus #4, which he is still on as of 2024 - though he's occasionally mentioned in relation to the Age of X-Man, which had rather extended consequences.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Forge's Outcasts, the AoA group that took Nate in during the first few issues of his title.
  • Reality Warper: His Mind over Matter power is so great that it makes him this in all but name. Prior to his Shaman upgrade he was perpetually worried that he might accidentally rewrite the world around him, even in his sleep. As he had already restored a one-armed man's arm to him (completely subconsciously), literally resurrected Madelyne Pryor during a fever dream, and accidentally turned his clothes into his Age of Apocalypse gear in his sleep this concern was not at all unwarranted.
    • In Uncanny X-Men and Age of X-Man, he demonstrates that he's now a fully fledged version of this trope.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In Uncanny X-Men when using his powers (and when annoyed by Apocalypse)—unsurprisingly, this is following an apparent Face–Heel Turn.
  • Refusal of the Call: Early in the X-Man run he is met by Charles Xavier, who senses his enormous psychic presence immediately upon his arrival in Earth-616, and wastes no time tracking him down and making an offer to him to join the X-Men. Wary of men like him and not knowing that Xavier is alive on this world, consequently thinking that Xavier is feeding him a line, Nate refuses. Violently. Ten issues later, he refuses the call a second time, this time from Jean Grey.
  • Reluctant Hero: Madelyne makes it clear to Nate after they reunite that she does not see herself as a hero and is willing to help him and teach him, but not at the risk of her life. Despite this, she does actually risk her life for his sake in their fights against Holocaust and Stryfe.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: Aside from Morbius above, Purple Man (still a member of Daredevil's rogues gallery at this point), Flag-Smasher (a Captain America villain who would later transplant to Deadpool), and Mysterio (like Morbius, also from Spider-Man's rogues) all make appearances to menace Nate. And while he didn't appear in Nate's title, perennial Spidey Big Bad Norman Osborn also became a pivotal villain to Nate during the Dark Reign event (and would have gotten squashed like a bug by Nate had luck not been on his side that day - and given Nate's plan and the events of Siege, it's possible that Nate still got the last laugh).
  • Running Gag: A low-key one is Nate's perpetual lack of fashion sense.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Early on, he was very verbose, and a bit of a ham too. This probably had quite a lot to do with the fact that the people who wound up raising him were posing as a theatre troupe, performances and all, meaning that he picked up a lot, including showmanship.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Nate is hideously traumatised, with fairly textbook PTSD, as Armor points out in Uncanny X-Men. Considering how deeply twitchy he is for most of his solo series, and that in Uncanny it's shown that beneath the hyper-confident all-powerful messiah facade is a deeply depressed young man who, in his skewed mind, is desperately trying to do what he thinks is the right thing, she's not exactly wrong.
  • 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.
  • Story-Breaker Power: The main reason why he doesn't have very many appearances outside of his (admittedly long running) solo series and decades-later revival in the pages of New Mutants. Even in the pages of his solo title, almost none of the villains were anywhere close to his level of power and the only way for the writers to maintain a sense of dramatic tension was to either play on his Power Degeneration or have him be depowered (as evidenced by the sheer number of times he suffered from the latter). Writers finally decided the best way to keep him from breaking the story was to just turn him into a villain (albeit a sympathetic one), as seen by his 2018 Face–Heel Turn—and when he pulled a Heel–Face Turn at the end of that event, he was promptly Put on a Bus.
  • Tagalong Kid: Roust, a street-savvy kid from Nate's New York hero period.
  • Take a Third Option: The second Gauntlet (telepaths using their gifts to quietly enrich themselves) 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 by Dani Moonstar when a therapist comments on Hope's attitude towards Nate, and by Hope herself.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: Aware of it by Age of X-Man, and it turns out that the entire Age of X-Man is an attempt to defy it as much as possible on the X-Men's behalf—the results are a Crapsaccharine World, but he's trying.
  • Token Good Teammate: He was a member of the Brotherhood of Mutants for a very brief time (Havok and Dark Beast's version of the team, which they called simply "The Brotherhood") and during this time Nate was very much this.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Believe it or not, beating Apocalypse to a pulp is where he starts, with a long stint on 616 stabilizing his powers, teaching him a lot about how to use them, and confirming that barring a fully powered Franklin Richards, he is the most powerful mutant in the Marvel Universe. At his first appearance in the 616 universe, he's basically a scared kid in an adult's body. Many levels in badass later, he can comfortably take on opponents like Hybrid, Maddie Pryor, and the Great Beasts, who are historically threats to entire teams of X-Men. This level of capability is demonstrated 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 only loses because he misjudged the Green Goblin persona's capacity for rationality—and since Osborn went nuts, Goblin style, shortly afterwards during Siege, just as Nate had intended, it's arguable that he had the last laugh on that one.
    • And then, on his 2018 return, he takes out an entire team of X-Men—including Psylocke, Jean Grey, Iceman, and Storm—in a few moments offscreen, while also mentally controlling Magneto (who's historically very resistant to that kind of thing) and restraining Apocalypse.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In Uncanny X-Men (2018), where he's an outright antagonist, an Anti-Villain, a Well-Intentioned Extremist, and a bit of a dick. However, it's revealed that most of this is driven by desperation, because he's dying and desperately trying to change the world for the better before he dies. In the follow-up, Age of X-Man, he mellows out again.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Steadily grows nicer throughout his ongoing series. The Shaman reboot just cements this... mostly. He's a bit otherworldly and weird. Plus, if you cross one of his lines, he's even more uncompromisingly ruthless than before—and he wasn't exactly a devotee of Thou Shalt Not Kill before, either. He ends up becoming a jerk again in Uncanny X-Men, and sort of in Age of X-Man, before he takes a big level in kindness again, conceding his mistakes, learning from them (and opting to try and learn from 'his tribe' rather than 'teach'), also apologising to those members of the X-Men (like Nature Girl) who genuinely want to stay in his reality.
  • Tyke Bomb: Was created with one purpose and one purpose only: to kill Apocalypse. He did his best to fulfill it too, with the end result being a barely breathing Apocalypse whom Magneto promptly ripped in half. Unfortunately, he's not all that sure how to be anything else.
  • 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, something confirmed by Nate's white hair and beard at the end of Age of X-Man (though he still looks considerably younger than Cable). Conversely, a deaged Cable looks exactly like Nate, skunk stripe and all.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: He knows a lot of unusual tricks, courtesy of Forge, but he's got very little combat experience and tends to rush straight in, unleashing as much power as possible. This eventually changes after he spends time on Earth-616.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Not a classic villain (but definitely an antagonist in Uncanny X-Men and until the end of Age of X-Man), 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!
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: His primary motive in 2018's Uncanny X-Men, in the run up to the creation of the Age of X-Man outright stating, "Utopia justifies the means." However, this is later modified to Avoiding Dystopia Justifies The Means.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: After the retool, his standard outfit becomes a open jacket with no shirt. Even before that, he was prone to wandering around without his shirt off.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: He always had elements of this, thanks to a more ruthless streak than most heroes because of his origins, but it got dialled up during his Shaman period, and most recently in X-Men: Disassembled when he's entirely willing to kill off the X-Men, even if he does regret doing so, while also seeking to repair the world by force. When they reappear, he tries to talk them round, and only ultimately decides to get rid of them—presumably to the Age of X-Man—as a last resort. And as it turns out, the Age of X-Man was built specifically to help them, be a heaven for them, free of the Theory of Narrative Causality, which drives them to conflict and suffering. His explanation for his actions boils down to this one line, to Jean:
    I'm dying, mother. I just wanted to do something good before I go.
  • When He Smiles: It's rare, but when he does genuinely smile, it is absolutely adorable.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist:
    • 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. Avengers Disassembled, House of M, 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.
    • He also notes that he believes in Hope as the Mutant Messiah—which is pretty impressive, since he'd done the Mutant Messiah gig himself—and consequently takes Cyclops' side in Avengers vs. X-Men.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Zig-Zagged. Being a force-grown Living Weapon who first appears when he's biologically 17 and chronologically only a few years old, if that, he mixes this with profound immaturity. Early on, all he knows how to do is fight, and on Muir Island during one manifestation of his not unreasonable paranoia and his Hair-Trigger Temper, unleashing his vast power, how is he stopped? By Team Mom Moira MacTaggert giving him a loud scolding. As Wolfsbane noted, he just didn't know how to argue back. Moira herself said at the end of the issue that Nate had absolutely no life experience and worried for him.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The more powerful he gets, the more detached and, frankly, odder, he gets. He's strikingly different pre-Shaman and post depower, being 'just' a fairly normal, if snarky and somewhat traumatised young man. In Shaman mode, he's described as "an Omega-class mutant with social conscience, which can be... unnerving". It's suggested that he's learning to manage it better towards the end of Age of X-Man.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    Apocalypse: Cease this posturing. Accept your legacy and claim your rightful position at my side. You have earned this.
    Nate: Earned... yeah, I forgot your credo that only the strong deserve to survive. Well, meet Owen Reece, with me in his head— he's stronger than you.
    • This is reaffirmed in Uncanny X-Men in 2018, when Apocalypse is a bit annoyed at being imprisoned, but respects Nate's power and spells it out for Kitty Pryde (who was still in disbelief), and gives him honest advice for "a ruler who would be worthy of the counsel of Apocalypse", implicitly accepting Nate's superiority. Nate's attitude is a little more ambiguous, fixating on Apocalypse as his epitome of evil and eternal enemy - not unlike Cable, come to that.
    • By contrast, Apocalypse's son Holocaust wants to be this to Nate, but Nate consistently dismisses the psychotic little bugger as "small fry". Since every single fight between the two ends in a Curbstomp Battle in Nate's favour, malfunctioning powers and all, this is not especially surprising.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: He becomes very, very good at this after his Shaman upgrade.
  • 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.
  • You're Insane!: Nicola Zeitgest accuses him of this. His matter of fact response is that he might well be, but it doesn't make any difference to their situation.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: In Dark X-Men he freezes Venom by making him psychosomatically relive the experience.
    • Previously, he'd psychosomatically become a vampire after being bitten by Morbius: while Morbius' bites don't turn people, he expected to be turned, so was turned. It would seem that he got over it.
    • It gets to the point where even death is this for him—as in, he's only dead for as long as he either thinks he is or wants to be.
  • You See, I'm Dying: Revealed early on in his series. Then, long after it was apparently cured, it returned in issue 4 of X-Men: Disassembled, when he explains that he's dying and that's why he's acting as he is. As he puts it to Jean, "I'm dying, mother. I just wanted to do something good before I go."

Alternative Title(s): X Man