Nate Grey

Nate Grey
Nate Grey from his first appearance in X-Man #1
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance X-Man #1 (1995)
Created by Jeph Loeb
Steve Skroce
(based upon Cable by Louise Simonson and Rob Liefeld)
In-story information
Alter ego Nathaniel Grey
Species Human Mutant
Team affiliations Brotherhood of Mutants
New Mutants
Partnerships Madelyne Pryor
Notable aliases 19X, Shaman of the Human Tribe


  • Telepathy
  • Psychometry
  • Precognition
  • Ability to exist incorporeal as living psychic energy
  • Cross-dimensional travel

Nathaniel "Nate" Grey (X-Man) is a fictional comic book superhero appearing in books published by Marvel Comics, in particular those related to the X-Men franchise. Created by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Steve Skroce, he first appeared in X-Man #1 (March 1995).



X-Man is an alternate version of the regular Marvel Universe hero Cable, hailing from the "Age of Apocalypse" (Earth-295) reality. He is the biological son of his dimension’s Scott Summers and Jean Grey, born of genetic tampering by Mr. Sinister. His first name is derived from his creator; Mr Sinister's real name: Nathaniel Essex and his last name from his genetic mother Jean Grey. Due to not being infected by a techno-organic virus as Cable was, X-Man achieved vast telepathic and telekinetic powers and was one of the most powerful mutants in existence during his lifetime.

X-Man was originally a four-issue mini-series replacing Cable during 1995’s “Age of Apocalypse” alternate reality storyline. However, Marvel transported Nate Grey to its regular shared universe after the storyline ended. Although derided by some for a concept perplexing to anyone not a diehard X-Men fan, the series ran until 2001, during which Nate struggled with being the most powerful person in a strange world. The series ended with his seemingly sacrificial death.

Despite his name, X-Man was only briefly a member of the X-Men, both in the Age of Apocalypse reality and in the regular reality. Initially the character was referred to only by his real name, both in the Age of Apocalypse and the primary Marvel universe. Shortly before the Onslaught crossover event, Nate began to be sporadically referred to as X-Man, without explanation for the in-universe origin of the code name.

Fictional character biography

Age of Apocalypse

In the parallel reality known as "The Age of Apocalypse", Mr. Sinister, an underling of the High Lord Apocalypse, artificially created Nate, at the time Nathan Christopher, from genetic material from Cyclops and Phoenix. Sinister created Nate as the ultimate mutant and hoped to use him in his own bid for power against Apocalypse.

However, Cyclops, in his many subversive raids on Sinister's pens, helped Nate escape Sinister's hideout, neither knowing their connection to the other. Somehow, Nate wound up under the tutelage of Forge and several other mutant outcasts. Forge began the long process of teaching Nate how to control his powers as well as the benefits of being a "good guy". Nate also began to see the horrors of Apocalypse's world firsthand, and was determined to bring him down.

This alternate Forge was killed by a disguised Sinister who was following Nate's progress, and Nate then battled him, learning of his true nature and mortally wounding Sinister. Nate then left to battle Apocalypse, although that particular slugfest occurred during a time when the alternate X-Men were beginning their final gambit—defeating this reality with the M'Kraan crystal. Holocaust interrupted Nate's battle with Apocalypse as the X-Men’s plan succeeded and the Age of Apocalypse was washed away. In response, an angry Nate impaled Holocaust with a shard of the M'Kraan crystal. The consequences of that act were unexpected and far-reaching, as Nate and Holocaust were both transported to the actual reality when it reasserted itself.

A New World

Nate arrived in Switzerland, and in his confusion, unconsciously resurrected Madelyne Pryor in his subconscious attempt to reach out to his "mother". Pryor helped Nate adjust to this reality, but they were both separated soon after. Nate wandered the earth, being contacted and confronted by many who would want to be his ally -- Dark Beast, Sugar Man, Professor X, Nathan Summers, Exodus, Moira MacTaggart, Mr. Sinister—only for his own suspicious nature to prompt him to drive them away. During this time, he unintentionally contributed to the eventual manifestation of Onslaught when he sensed Xavier spying on him in astral form and dragged him into the real world,[1] this feat -something that Xavier had believed impossible- 'inspiring' the aspects of Onslaught in Xavier's mind to create a psychic body for himself, resulting in Onslaught manifesting an independent body. Eventually, however, Nate began to find himself (with the help of Sinister's old underling, Threnody) (who helped save from the Marauders and who helped him defeat Holocaust in a rematch) and took refuge in New York following Onslaught's defeat. Believing Threnody to be dead, Nate took up a firm if tentative friendship with Spider-Man, helping the web-slinger battle such foes as Morbius the Living Vampire and Electro.

When Zero Tolerance troops attacked Xavier’s mansion in Westchester and downloaded Cerebro’s files, Nate was telepathically alerted by Cable that he was the only one close enough to rescue the children of Jean’s sister, Sara Grey, from the Prime Sentinels. Nate did as requested and left Joey and Gailyn in the care of their grandparents, as the Sentinels were curious about the unidentified telepath and still searching for him.

During the next few weeks, Nate kept a low profile. One night, he went clubbing with the three girls and many people recognized him from his performances in Central Park. Nate was asked to sing with the band and, surprisingly, he did quite well, though he never had been on stage before. However, the show was interrupted by the arrival of Jackknife, who was hunting down and killing every single person that Nate had contact with. Jackknife was actually Jack Cole, one of the many misfits belonging to the Abomination’s group. Turned out that, during Nate’s battle with the Abomination, he accidentally unlocked Cole’s latent psychic powers. Jack could not handle himself and became psychotic, blaming Nate for the voices in his head. In direct battle, Nate defeated the mentally imbalanced misfit when the police arrived. They asked him to surrender, but the crowd who witnessed the battle intervened, claiming that Nate was a hero. The next day, Jam lost an arm in a motorcycle crash. When Nate, Bux and Marita visited her in the hospital, something strange happened. After touching Nate, one of the medics in the hospital developed the ability to heal and Jam's arm was restored. The miracle boosted Nate’s popularity even more and Nate was now admired by hundreds of followers like some kind of messiah.

Still not knowing what happened to Threnody, Nate would have been surprised by the events in New York over the past months. Shortly after her body had been brought to the morgue, the corpse rose and Threnody walked out. In her wake, several dead reanimated themselves too, following Threnody and chanting her name. She made her way to the loft that she and Nate had lived in and kept track of Nate’s activities through the news. Over time, her appearance slightly changed as her belly grew from pregnancy.

Nate visited his "parents," Scott and Jean, who were at the time recuperating in Alaska. The strength of the newly forged bonds between Nate and his “parents” was shown when, soon after, as the X-Men had been disbanded, Nate (alongside Archangel, Wolverine and Cable) was one of the few people Jean and Scott called for help, as they needed to defend the new race “the Mannites” from the mysterious “Death”. After meeting with the Fantastic Four, Nate would then be captured by a re-villainous Caliban, upon orders of Apocalypse who planned to use Nate as the new host-body for his soul, during the "Twelve Saga". However, Cyclops ultimately sacrificed himself instead, in place of his "son", an act that would eventually have many significant repercussions much later in time for the rest of the X-Men.

Nate would go on to have further adventures along with his travelling companion, Madelyne, who eventually returned to his side after growing bored with the Hellfire Club (the pair were implied to even have consummated their mutual attraction and become incestuous lovers, as at this point, the pair had already long learned of their biological relation to each other as alternate reality aunt and nephew); as well as Ness, a member of the secret human/demon hybrid race, the Hellbent, who had a dream-vision that Nate would soon be responsible for the destruction of the planet. Nate would also finally meet with Blaquesmith, who had finally learned to accept the fact of his existence after long considering him an evil anomaly, and even helped Nate defeat Holocaust for a third time. Nate and he and Maddie then had a family reunion with Cable, Nate's 'half-brother' who was also Maddie's son by Cyclops, as they confronted the resurrected Stryfe, who was Cable's clone and thus yet another sibling/counterpart of Nate, during the "Blood Brothers" crossover. It was revealed that it was Stryfe and not Nate, who would be responsible for the end of the world, but Cable and Nate were able to stop his plans for global cataclysm. Nate would go on to have additional rematches with fellow AoA refugees Dark Beast (who had teamed up with Gene Nation against Nate, who had teamed up with Generation X), Sugar Man and Holocaust (now calling himself Nemesis), as well as reunite with a now-villainous Threnody, who had fully evolved into a mutant death-goddess and had already given birth to a baby, who may have been Nate's child.

Nate was also being continually being hunted by Operation: Gauntlet, a special task force of the United Nations, who had been especially ordered deputized to target and destroy him specifically, as the potential single greatest threat to all life on Earth. During their final confrontation in Ireland, Ness was killed and Madelyne was presumed to have died as well. However, she had merely been drained of her life energy during the intense battle to the point that she was now physically extremely aged, and secretly chose to abandon Nate rather than let him see her in such a condition.

Shaman to the Mutant Tribe

Madelyne Pryor eventually returned some time later, but she was manipulating Nate in his sleep and making him destroy things. She finally revealed that she was a Madelyne from another dimension, who had killed the original Madelyne shortly after her last meeting with Nate in Ireland. This alternate-Madelyne needed Nate to do something for her and showed him how to shift between parallel earths or alternate realities, and she had Nate take them to the alternate reality that she was from.[2] She wanted to use Nate's vast power to help her rule her Earth. Nate rejected her, and was located by that alternative reality's version of himself, who was a broken version of Nate Grey (meaning he could never reach his full potential in power) and was slightly insane from his experiences; he also considered himself a shaman to the people of that Earth.[3] Nate read the mind of his alternate self to learn the intricacies of alternate realities. Nate also learned how Madelyne would take each Nate Grey from these alternate realities hoping to find "fully functional" ones to use as weapons to rule. He also showed Nate how to talk with a dead man so that they could get information from him about Madelyne; the dead man was that reality's Forge, who was at one time Madelyne's lover. Forge revealed that Madelyne was really an evil Jean Grey from another parallel Earth and was an impostor posing as Madelyne who at one time ruled that world. That reality's real Madelyne had died, but it was said she would return again. Forge also told them how this alternate Jean Grey had used him to make her a machine so she could travel from parallel world to parallel world. At this point, they were attacked by Madelyne's personal bodyguard, Mr. Scratch and in the process, merged parts of themselves to throw him off. Mr. Scratch's mutant power was that no other mutant power had any effect on him, so the Nates had to literally change characteristics to fool him.

After the merger, only one Nate remained, so Mr. Scratch crippled him and brought him back to Madelyne, who quickly realized that Mr. Scratch had the wrong Nate. The broken version of Nate told Madelyne he sent Nate somewhere she would never find him. She killed the broken Nate and began to power her parallel world device to find Nate again, but Nate returned and put an end to her world conquering days. As a result of the merger of the two Nates, a black x-shaped tattoo appeared on Nate's chest to act as a genetic brand - passed on to him from the alternate version of himself - that prevented his powers from killing him as they had threatened to do from the start.[4]

After the defeat of this evil "Queen Jean", Nate set out to make a difference in the world and considered himself a Mutant Shaman, a teaching he embraced from the alternate version of himself. Nate became immensely powerful, and had few qualms about using his power to mete out justice to his fellow mutants.[5] He then dealt with and stopped the madman Qabiri from destroying all alternate earths on the Spiral of Earths. Qabiri was a being from an alternate Earth far upspiral, he wanted to destroy every earth below his on the Spiral of Earths because he feared that someone from these lower earths would one day invade his earth and bring it to ruin. Qabiri succeeded in destroying several alternate earths before Nate was able to stop him.[6]

Finally, he confronted the Anti-Man, an alien sent to Earth to inseminate his genetic code into all living cells on the planet so that his people could harvest the resulting energy. To save the world from destruction, Nate merged himself with the Anti-Man, in essence "poisoning" the cells of Earth with his presence, and dissipating both of them across the globe.[7]

Dark Beast commented that the peculiar circumstances of X-Man's demise would theoretically allow him to be restored to life.


Nate resurfaces once more, in a small town, where his presence causes several of the inhabitants to dreamwalk and continuously repeat "I'm an X-Man." Norman Osborn sends his team of X-Men, consisting of Mimic, Weapon Omega, Dark Beast and Mystique, to investigate and to raise public opinion.

As Norman's X-Men investigate, both Mimic and Omega are overwhelmed with Nate's energies and go on a rampage leaving Mystique and Dark Beast alone with a patient that they were examining. Shortly Nate once more takes physical form, much to Beast's shock and horror, believing Mystique to be his mother Jean Grey, since she had taken her form.[8]

Nate angrily attacks Beast but does not realize that Jean is actually Mystique who manages to distract him long enough in order to save Dark Beast's life. Following that incident Osborn tasks his X-Men to hunt down and possibly capture Nate for experimentation and to feed Weapon Omega. In order to do that the Osborn's X-Men go to H.A.M.M.E.R.'s PSI-division, which has taken a cult like appearance. The PSI-Division manages to contact Nate only for him to absorb most of their psychic energies and to learn what has happened to the world and to the mutant race in his absence. Angrily he demands to know what they, presumably Osborn's X-Men, had done.[9]

Nate finally manages to materialize and confronts Norman's X-Men. He dispatches the Sentry by telling him of their mutual past, something that he claims to be the truth, which upsets Sentry so that he retreats in order to consider this. The other members of Norman's team do not fair better either, only Ares poses a threat. Since Ares is the personification of War, Nate is unable to perceive any future or probability that does not include Ares fighting him. Mimic still rattled by the vision he saw attempts to learn more only to drag Nate into another plane of existence. After a short conversation they are once more confronted by Ares, who has followed them and is overjoyed to have an opponent such as Nate. Ares finally manages to overpower Nate and while Norman attempts to confirm Nate's death, a flash of light knocks them all back leaving the room empty and Nate's body missing.[10]

Unbeknown to the Dark X-Men, Nate has taken possession of Norman's body, something that only Mystique notices. After trying and failing to persuade Nate to remove the tech in her body which is rigged to explode should she betray Norman, she recruits the rest of the Dark X-Men to invade Norman's mind and to confront X-Man. While Nate and Norman are engaged in a battle of wills Norman gloats that he and Nate are evenly matched. Yet Nate reveals that this was his plan all along and that while he and Norman are deadlocked his X-Men are free to roam the deepest recesses of Norman's mind. Which they do and by doing so they unlock Norman's Green Goblin personality which gloatingly states is about to kill them all.[11]

After a brief battle between the Green Goblin and the Dark X-Men within Osborn's mind, Nate is defeated when Green Goblin forces Mimic to replicate Omega's powers, turning the pair into a powerful siphon that drains Nate's energies. Now returned to the physical world, a powerless Nate is tortured in front of the Dark X-Men as an example to them, after which Norman asks him if he has any last words before he's "used as coal" in Dark Beast's Omega Machine, but a gloating Norman cuts off Nate before he has a chance to finish speaking. Nate is taken away to the machine, though his eventual fate is not shown.[12]

Rescue Mission

Learning that Nate Grey had returned to the living, Cyclops reorganizes the New Mutants roster under Danielle Moonstar's leadership and tells them to find Nate and bring him home. Nate is found in an abandoned H.A.M.M.E.R. facility in a sadistic scheme of the Sugar Man.[13] Sugar Man has Nate hooked up into the Omega Machine, a device built by Norman Osborn to open portals to other realities, hoping that he will open a portal to Sugar Man's home reality. Realizing that the only way Sugar Man will leave him alone is to give him what he wants, Nate uses all of his strength and willpower to open a portal to his home reality, but before Sugar Man can escape into it, he is defeated by the New Mutants and taken into custody by Captain Steve Rogers. Nate is taken to Utopia, where it is revealed that he burnt out most of his powers while opening Sugar Man's portal, and the only remaining power he has is telekinesis. Cyclops then welcomes Nate to Utopia, hoping he will make it his new home.[14]

Powers and abilities

Nate is an Omega-level mutant[9] who has the ability to tap into the enormous psychic resources of the astral plane in order to manipulate matter and energy at vast scales. This grants him incredible psychic powers including telepathy, precognition, and telekinesis. He can use his telepathy to read and control multiple minds at once and even read residual thought imprints left on objects touched by people (psychometry), communicate with others by broadcasting his thoughts, create illusions by altering the perceptions of others, fire psionic blasts that can scramble an opponent's thought processes (causing the victim either intense pain, or rendering them unconscious), project his mind into the astral plane and even pull the astral projections of other telepaths into the physical world, and sense dimensional rifts or anomalies. He once even used the photoelectric transmission of a Shi'ar hologram to psionically connect his mind with that of Lilandra over an unknown interstellar distance.[15]

His telekinesis is so powerful he can move massive objects with his mind, fire blasts of psychokinetic energy that can shatter steel, create mental barriers that can stop most attacks, levitate his body, and fly at supersonic speeds. He is powerful enough to single handily defeat Tundra of the Great Beasts and was even able to psionically isolated the planets gravitational pull on the two other Great Beasts Lolomaq and Somon.[16] He also crushed the whole town of San Francisco de Quito, Equador while asleep in Buenos Aires, Argentina over 2600 miles away.[17] His control over his telekinesis was so acute he can create holograms by mentally manipulating water molecules and dust to refract light, bend security lasers to avoid detection, and even move the atoms of a wall around his form so that he passed through the wall like a ghost. He can use his telekinesis to bend the Earth's magnetic field and create electromagnetic pulses. His telekinesis extended to at least a molecular level, and he could imbue himself his super human physical attributes by focusing his telekinesis inwards. Though he is not a real teleporter he can traverse alternate realities by breaking the barriers between universes and once teleported multiple people all over an alternate version of New York into a completely other dimension.[18] Since he is able to connect any point in another dimension with any point in the dimension he resided in he can theoretically also use this to cross fast interstellar distances by traveling back and forth.

An alternate version of Jean Grey, "Queen Jean" described Nate Grey as the ultimate telekinetic with the statement: "It is what all Nate Greys have been on every earth".[19]

Upon examination by Moira Mactaggert, she suggested his psionic powers rivaled that of a Phoenix Force-imbued Jean Grey.[20] In another instance, he was measured as having a psionic energy output matching that of the Dark Phoenix.[21]

Since his return, Nate has displayed further abilities, which include precognition, the power to view and transverse higher planes of existence, to reconstitute his body from astral energy in a similar manner as Onslaught and to transform his physical body back into astral energy.

Nate lost most of his powers after using nearly all of his strength and willpower to open a portal to Sugar Man's home reality, a process that gave him acute nerve damage, which effectively burnt out his power set. The only ability he has remaining is telekinesis, though the degree of its power has not yet been defined.

Relationship to Cable

Nate Grey (X-Man) is the Age of Apocalypse version of Nathan Christopher Summers (Cable). Both are descended from the genetic material of Scott Summers and Jean Grey: Nate was grown in a laboratory in an alternate dimension by Mr. Sinister from the genes of Scott and Jean, and Cable was born to Scott and Madelyne Pryor (a clone of Jean Grey also created by Mr. Sinister). Due to their genetic similarities- although it should be noted that the two are not explicit alternate versions of each other, due to such factors as their different mothers and their births being under different circumstances and in different times-, Nate and Cable have identical psychic profiles, resulting in a painful feedback to both parties when they are in close proximity to each other. Both are physically quite similar, with the same glowing left eye and blanched hair (though to different degrees due to age). Moreover, when Cable was de-aged in Cable and Deadpool, he greatly resembled Nate Grey.

However, Nate and Cable are distinct in a number of ways. First, Nate, having done no time traveling, is much younger than Cable. Second, Nate is much more powerful than Cable, as Cable's techno-virus infection means that he must continuously use most of his power to keep the virus at bay where Nate has full access to his mutant abilities. Finally, Cable possesses extensive military and weapons skills as a result of being raised in a war torn future ruled by Apocalypse, while Nate primarily relies on his considerable mutant powers.

The juxtaposition of the two characters allowed writers to address issues of identity and nature versus nurture and explore the complex nature of family relationships in the X-Men world.

In other media

Video games

  • X-Man is a hidden character in the PSP version of X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse.

Trading card games

New Generation Trading Cards.


  1. ^ X-Man #10
  2. ^ X-Man #66
  3. ^ X-Man #68
  4. ^ X-Man #69
  5. ^ X-Man #62-65
  6. ^ X-Man #71-74
  7. ^ X-Man #75
  8. ^ Dark X-Men #1
  9. ^ a b Dark X-Men #2
  10. ^ Dark X-Men #3
  11. ^ Dark X-Men #4
  12. ^ Dark X-Men #5
  13. ^ New Mutants, vol. 3 #25 (2011)
  14. ^ New Mutants, vol. 3 #27 (2011)
  15. ^ X-Man #62
  16. ^ X-Man #40
  17. ^ X-Man #67
  18. ^ X-Man #66
  19. ^ X-Man #68
  20. ^ X-Man #12, Excalibur #95
  21. ^ Cable vol. 1 #29

External links

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