Who the Clix? is a series of articles featuring information on comic book characters that have been made into figures for the popular tabletop game Heroclix. These articles are meant to help Heroclix players learn more about the characters behind their favorite pieces.
No, he’s not Cable but it’s easy to see why you’d make that mistake. He’s: X-Man
Appearances in Heroclix: Wolverine and the X-Men
First Appearance: X-Man #1 (March 1995)
Team Affiliations: Horsemen of Salvation, Brotherhood of Mutants, New Mutants, X-Men, Outcasts
Powers/Abilities: Ability to exist incorporeal as living psychic energy; Telekinesis; Telepathy; Teleportation; Energy and Matter Manipulation; Reality Warping; Psychometry; Precognition; Retrocognition; Astral Projection; Intangibility; Cross-Dimensional Travel; Cyberpathy; Power Manipulation; Chronokinesis
Created by: Steve Skroce – Jeph Loeb
In the alternate reality of the Age of Apocalypse, Mister Sinister uses genetic material from Cyclops and Phoenix to create Nathaniel Grey. Sinister hopes that Nate will be the penultimate mutant and allow Sinister to overthrow Apocalypse and supplant the ancient mutant as ruler of the world. Unfortunately for Sinister, Cyclops feels guilt for his part in the machinations of Apocalypse and regularly releases mutants from Sinister’s pens. During one of those raids, Cyclops helps Nate gain his freedom without ever knowing that Nate is essentially his son.
Once free of the pens, Nate encounters Forge and joins a rag tag group of mutant outcasts. Forge helps teach Nate how to control his powers as well as instilling a strong moral code. As Nate sees the horrors that Apocalypse has inflicted, he becomes determined to overthrow him.
Sinister eventually finds Forge’s group and poses as a drifter, calling himself Essex, to check in on Nate’s progress. This leads to Sinister killing Forge and battling Nate. Sinister opens his mind to Nate, showing the young mutant his origins as well as the future Sinister has planned for him. Sinister is left with a mortal wound while Nate travels to battle Apocalypse.
Nate attacks Apocalypse as Bishop and the X-Men attempt to use the M’Kraan Crystal to reset reality. Holocaust saves his father by attacking Nate. Enraged, Nate takes a shard of the M’Kraan Crystal and stabs Holocaust with it. Both Holocaust and Nate vanish just before the Age of Apocalypse is splintered off from the 616 universe.
Nate reappears in the Switzerland of the 616 universe where he is approached by an amnesiac Madelyne Pryor. Madelyne helps Nate adjust to his new reality but the pair are soon separated by Selene. Alone again, Nate begins to walk the Earth and encounter those who want to help and use him. At one point, Xavier’s astral form begins to investigate the young man which Nate can sense. In response, Nate causes the form to manifest in physical reality. This unwittingly leads to those dark aspirations in Xavier’s mind that would come to be Onslaught to manifest his own astral form, which leads to the physical manifestation of Onslaught.
Nate eventually meets Threnody, a servant of Sinister’s that wishes to be free. Nate rescues her from the Marauders and the two begin a friendship. This relationship is threatened when Onslaught kidnaps Nate to power his aspirations, but once Onslaught is defeated, the pair are reunited. Unwilling to tell Nate about her past, Threnody eventually leaves, allowing Nate to believe she is dead.
Nate forms a friendship with Spider-Man but is soon attacked by Morbius due to Nate’s connection to Threnody. Threnody is also drawn to Morbius and it is up to Spider-Man and Nate to try and resolve the conflict. Nate tells Threnody she is free to be his friend again, once she has given up on draining others’ life force.
Nate returns to Switzerland and comes across an unconscious Madelyn Pryor. Jean Grey arrives to see what her clone is up to. Madelyne immediately attacks Jean, which shocks Nate and doubly shocks him when he sees that they are nearly twins. Madelyne assumes Nate will side with Jean and attacks him as well. Nate joins forces with Jean and the two are able to read Madelyne’s mind revealing Nate’s part in all of this. When Nate first arrived in the 616 universe, he reached out to his mother and instinctively resurrected Madelyne. He tries to reverse this but Madelyne refuses to die, merely returning the psychic energy he used to bring her back. Jean offers Nate a place with the X-Men but he declines, only to discover his telekinesis is missing.
Nate journeys to Muir Island and learns from Moira MacTaggert that his telekinesis is still active but his body is suppressing the use of it for some reason. While there, Nate meets Havok and is invited to join the Brotherhood of Mutants. Nate helps the Brotherhood rescue Aurora from Department H and regains enough of his TK powers to fly again. However, all this good turns sour when he learns that Dark Beast, from the Age of Apocalypse, is a member of the Brotherhood and Aurora wasn’t the only thing they “rescued.” They also stole canisters of a deadly gas. Nate tries to free Aurora from the Brotherhood but learns she needs treatments that only Dark Beast can administer. Frustrated, he opens all the canisters of gas and vents them into the upper atmosphere.
This leaves Nate near death but he is cared for by three women. Soon after, Cable contacts Nate and informs him that he is the only one close enough to save Jean Grey’s niece and nephew from Operation: Zero Tolerance. Nate saves the kids and leaves them with their grandparents.
Nate continues to stay in the New York city area but is constantly coming into conflict with others. He battles Jackknife, thwarts a terrorist attack, and is being manipulated the whole time by the Purple Man. Purple Man intends to turn Nate into a modern messiah and then use the mutant’s powers to alter reality to his liking. Though Nate resists the Purple Man, the whole ordeal leaves him doubting himself and almost wiping all memory of himself from the citizens of New York.
Madelyne returns to him and the pair move to Canada for a time. Nate is plagued by nightmares that result in him battling three of the Great Beasts before Madelyne teleports him back to Switzerland. Madelyne begins to nurse Nate back to health but he considers a plan. Threnody may be able to drain his power to a controllable level, if he can contact her. While he attempts to locate her, Madelyne interferes out of jealousy. The interference results in Madelyne and Nate both losing their telepathy, temporarily.
The pair soon befriend Ness, a member of a human/hybrid race that believe Nate is going to destroy the world. They all travel to Dublin where they discover that Nemesis, formerly Holocaust, has been burning people. Madelyne and Nate are able to defeat the horseman. Blaquesmith has been sending Nate visions and tests to try and stop the destruction of the world. To this end, Nate and Madelyne are summoned to Latveria where they meet with Stryfe. Stryfe uses Doom’s power siphon machine to drain Nate’s power into himself. Cable arrives and helps Madelyne defeat Stryfe, as it is revealed that Stryfe was always the “Nathan” that was going to destroy the world.
Madelyne, Nate, and Ness are all hunted by Operation: Gauntlet. Gauntlet manages to kill Ness and drain Madelyne of so much energy that she becomes an aged woman who disappears rather than let Nate see her this way. Alone in the world, Nate goes on to have more conflicts with Dark Beast, Sugar Man and Nemesis. Nate then meets and forges a strong bond with his “parents,” Cyclops and Jean Grey. During the Twelve Saga, Apocalypse intends to use Nate as his new host body only for Cyclops to sacrifice himself in place of his alternate reality son.
Threnody also soon returns to meet with Nate and tell him what has happened since they last met. During the astral encounter, Madelyne actually killed Threnody but she was able to resurrect and evolve into a mutant death-goddess. This revelation irreparably ends their relationship.
An alternate reality Madelyne soon approaches Nate and attempts to pose as the one he knew. She eventually reveals the truth in order to achieve her true goal: teaching him to travel between realities so that she can return home. Once there, she attempts to use him to take over her planet only to be rebuked by Nate. He also meets the Nate from that reality and reads his mind to learn the history of the planet as well as how to travel between realities. They also manages to resurrect the Forge of that Earth, who was Madelyne’s lover. Forge tells them that Madelyne is actually a Jean Grey from another Earth, who posed as Madelyne to rule and take advantage of a legend that Madelyne would return from the dead. The pair are soon attacked by Mr. Scratch, an enforcer for Madelyne, and are forced to fake a “merger.”
The plan works, as the “broken” Nate from this Earth is brought to Madelyne while the powerful Nate is “somewhere Madelyne will never find.” As Madelyne begins to try and find Nate, he returns and defeats her. As a gift from that Earth, he gains an X tattoo on his chest that keeps his powers from growing too powerful and destroying him. This encounter leads to Nate to commit himself to doing good in the world as a mutant shaman. He soon encounters and defeats Qabiri, a being that attempts to destroy alternate Earths out of fear of them conquering his. Nate then comes into conflict with the Anti-Man, an alien that attempts to harvest the life force of Earth. To stop this, Nate has to merge himself with the Anti-Man, which poisons the harvesting process and results in both beings seemingly dissipating across the planet.
Nate resurrects in a small town, first as an energy form that results in the local townsfolk to dream walk and repeat “I’m an X-Man,” over and over. This leads to Norman Osborn sending his team of “dark” X-Men to the town to investigate. Nate drives Mimic and Weapon Omega mad, leading them to go on a rampage. He then manifests a physical body and confronts Dark Beast and Mystique, Mystique having shape shifted into Jean Grey at the time. Nate attacks Dark Beast but ignores his “mother,” giving the opportunity to distract him and save Dark Beast’s life. Osborn tasks his X-Men and HAMMER’s PSI-division to track Nate Down. However, when the PSI-division contacts Nate, he absorbs their mental energy and learns all that has happened during his “death.”
Nate arrives and confronts both Osborn’s X-Men and Avengers. He is able to defeat Sentry with a fabricated history between them, he has a conversation with Mimic on another plane of existence which is interrupted by Ares. When Nate seems defeated, Norman arrives to confirm the kill only for a flash of light to blind everyone in the room and Nate’s body to disappear.
Nate has actually taken possession of Norman’s mind. When Mystique realizes this, she tries to get Nate to remove the control collar that will kill her if she betrays Norman. When he refuses, this forces the X-Men to travel into Norman’s mind to save him. This also results in them freeing the Green Goblin personality, who gloats that he will kill them all. This all ends when Mimic is able to copy Weapon Omega’s powers and drain Nate of his powers. A powerless Nate is then tortured in front of the Dark X-Men as a “lesson,” before being taken away for execution.
When Cyclops learns that one of his “sons” is alive again, he organizes a rescue mission with the New Mutants. They find Nate in a HAMMER warehouse, hooked up to the Omega Machine. The Omega Machine is a device meant to open portals to other realities and Sugar Man is trying to use Nate to open a portal to the Age of Apocalypse. Just as Nate finally opens the portal, the New Mutants arrive to save him and hand Sugar Man over to Steve Rogers. Nate is brought to Utopia where it is revealed that most of his powers are burnt out, leaving only his telekinesis active. Cyclops tells Nate he will always have a home on Utopia and hopes he will stay.
Nate is soon frustrated by his lack of powers, which is noticed by Hope Summers. Hope sees Nate as a younger version of Cable, her “father,” and offers to teach him everything Cable taught her. Nate soon joins the New Mutants and even helps them journey to Hel to battle the Serpent’s undead soldiers. Nate remains with Cyclops after Wolverine takes some of the mutants/X-Men and reopens the Westchester campus. Nate lives with the New Mutants in their San Francisco home.
Nate joins the New Mutants on their trip to Paradise Island, though he expresses concern over Doug’s mental state. They battle the Ani-Mates and discover the Ani-Mator is attempting to return to life in virus form. During this adventure, Nate and Dani begin to admit their attraction to each other. After the Ani-Mator’s defeat, Blink decides to take the team out for a night in Madripoor. Nate feels awkward there and is eventually consoled by Dani, with the two sharing a kiss.
Nate’s powers begin to slowly return as he continues to aid the New Mutants. They help the Asgardians overcome the curse of Disir, he helps the X-Men defend Hope Summers when the Avengers come for her. However, the damage done by Dark Phoenix Cyclops is too much and the New Mutants end up disbanding. Though Nate and Dani contiue their relationship, Nate returns to his vagabond ways.
Nate eventually uses the Life Seed on himself, returning his powers to their zenith and also twisting his mind. Set on being a force for good, no matter the cost, he forces a number of mutants to become his Horsemen of Salvation. He invades every mind on the planet to try and spread his message and also tracks down and kills Sugar Man while almost killing Dark Beast. He shares all of this with Jean Grey, also admitting that his powers are killing him, so this is his last chance to change the world. Though she tries to reason with him, he pushes himself to the limit and reshapes the world into a “better” world.
Nate takes all the mutants to an Earth where everyone is a mutant and no one is persecuted for being different. He also tries to create false memories, so that no one will suspect the truth. This proves to be too much, however, as some people begin to remember their real lives and see through the illusion. Even as the truth forces itself through, not all of the mutants disagree with what Nate has done. Some would rather stay in this safe world where they are free to be happy.
Bishop tries to convince the others to stay where they are safe, warning of the future he grew up in. Eventually, Nate offers a simple solution. He hands the Life Seed to Magneto and allows the others return to the 616 Earth. Once they’re all through, Magneto will plunge the seed into Nate’s chest and this false reality will die.
Once they’re alone, however, Magneto and Nate have a discussion. Nate has created everything Magneto ever wanted and the former villain sees the value in that. Magneto hands the Life Seed back to Nate so that the Age of X-Man can continue and returns to the world. Once Magneto leaves, the Age of X-Man version of himself appears next to Nate. Perhaps, a piece of Magneto will get to live in Utopia.