Adventures of the X-Men #3

Issue Date: 
June 1996
Story Title: 
Child’s Play

Ralph Macchio (writer), Ben Herrera (penciler), Mike Miller (inker), Michael Higgins (letterer), Matt Webb (colorist), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

After the mutant-hating organization known as the Friends of Humanity is informed of the presence of a mutant boy, Adam, in an orphanage in New York, several of its members protest outside the orphanage, demanding he is handed over to them. Fortunately, Beast and Gambit are also notified of Adam’s existence and, together with Spider-Man, they intervene, rescuing him from being lynched. Not trusting the two X-Men, Spider-Man decides to have Adam examined by his good friend and biologist, Dr. Curt Connors. In Connors’ lab, Adam demonstrates his impressive pyrokinetic abilities for everyone to see. Keen on acquiring the boy for his own scientific research, Mister Sinister also visits Connors’ lab under the alias of a geneticist, claiming he wants to examine the boy’s abilities. During a display of Adam’s powers, Sinister pushes him to let his powers run rampant. Under Sinister’s negative influence, Adam attacks Spider-Man and initiates a fire in the lab. Convincing Adam that he is his only true friend, Sinister leaves with the boy, also taking the unconscious Spider-Man as his captive, theorizing he may also be a mutant worthy of research.

Full Summary: 

An orphanage is under siege on New York City’s Lower East Side, attacked by a violent group called The Friends of Humanity, a growing organization whose sole aim is to separate from society – by force if necessary – those born with special abilities… mutants. Wavering placards with anti-mutant libels, the protesters are quite vocal about their stance. One of them warns the orphanage to give them that stinking mutie kid or they’ll burn this dump down! Another one screams that they know he’s in there and swears they’re taking him!

Inside the orphanage, the children are watching the protestors in terror. They fear that they may rip a man apart and wonder what they’re going to do. Some of the protesters hurl stones through the windows. A boy goes hysterical. He asks that someone make them stop; make them go away! They don’t want them any trouble! One of the adults urges the children to get away from those windows and run into the interior rooms. He promises the grown-ups will deal with this.

Outside, another member of the Friends of Humanity demands they get the mutie out there! Another guy vows that no lousy mutie is hiding from them; they’ll get him no matter what! Yet another rock is thrown into the building. One of the kids asks his peers to follow him. He argues that if they want Adam, they can have him! He’s a creep, anyway! He urges them to go; Adam’s probably hiding in his room upstairs!

The kids soon burst into Adam’s room. “Awright, wimp!” one of them addresses him. He’s the cause of all this – he’s going out there! Tearful and all curled up in a corner of his room, Adam supplicates them not to send him out – they’ll kill him! He never did anything! He’s just like the other kids – honest! Why can’t they just leave him alone?

Just then, Adam takes flight and storms into the corridor. The other kids go after him. Stranded in another corner of the building, Adam warns them to stay back! Another kid is incredulous: he’s warning them?! What is he going to do if they don’t listen? Adam insists he means it! He can’t help himself… can’t be responsible for what’s going to happen! He begs them to get lost while they’ve still got the chance!

The kids suddenly discern that Adam’s eyes are glowing! They realize that Adam doesn’t even look human anymore! “Man, this is bad!” one of them remarks. “Stay baaaack!!” Adam screams at them. The other children flee in panic, seeing Adam just moving his fingers and having some kind of flame wall shot up in front of them! One of the kids surmises he’s got to be a pyro freak or something!

After all his peers have fled in fear, Adam opens a window and watches the crowd gathered outside, all waiting for him down there. Kneeling on the ledge, he shouts at them that they almost made him hurt his friends! “You creeps really want me that bad, huh?” he scoffs at them. If that’s what they want… here he comes! “Get ready to catch!” he announces his imminent jump. One of the protesters below urges him to quit stalling and jump!

Standing among the crowd are also two members of the X-Men, Beast (disguised in a hat and a trenchcoat for camouflage) and Gambit. Gambit surmises that their friend that’s working here at the orphanage alerted Xavier about the mutant staying here just in time. Beast agrees that so it would seem. He’ll bet dollars to daffodils these charmers are charter members of the infamous Friends of Humanity sect they’ve encountered so often in the past. Remy assumes they got wind of the boy staying here and figured on drawing him into the open.

Pointing at young Adam perched precariously on the ledge, Hank deduces he must be their quarry. Remy realizes the boy’s going to jump. They’ve got up there and save him! Hank agrees: time then to shed the confining raiment as circumstances dictate and effect the nigh impossible rescue in his inimitable fashion! “Drum roll, please, maestro!” he exclaims. Jumping over the amassed crowd, Hank exclaims that this has the seeming of a joyful Sunday in the stands at venerable Giant’s Stadium! “Ahh, the memories!” he sighs nostalgically. As he leaps upwards, he suddenly sees in horror that the lad has been struck by a hurled rock; he’s been dislodged from the ledge! If he isn’t intercepted in scant seconds...

Unfortunately, a rock hurled by someone hits Beast on his head and knocks him off course. In panic, Hank realizes that he now can’t reach the boy in time! Falling off the building, Adam screams for help. He begs Hank not to let him fall!

Suddenly, Spider-Man cuts in and grabs Adam to safety. Beast is aghast: a gaudily-costumed figure has swung into the fray the snug the lad hastily! Spider-Man tells the kid that he’s got him now and advises him to go limp and leave it all in the webbed hands of “your friendly, neighborhood, Spider-Man!” He decides to better set down on a roof fast – he discerns this kid’s terrified.

Gambit angrily turns to the gathered protesters and tells them to back off; the party’s over! He releases some kinetically charge cards on them, hoping that these are going to get them packing! One of the protesters realizes he’s another blasted mutie – and he’s throwing some exploding cards at them! “Let’s get him…” he urges his companions and then scream “Yikes!” as one of the cards bursts very close to his feet.

Hank jumps down on the masses of mutant haters, remarking that he’s never heard echoed a less inspiring call to arms. What they need is a real threat to rally around! And who better than the blushing Beast to provide for them, he jests, as he grabs a couple of the protesters with his feet and hurls them against their peers. “How clumsy of my peripatetic pedal extremities!” Hank jeers in his usual scholarly style of speech.

At the rooftop, Adam asks Spider-Man if he can help him. Peter tells him to just stay right here and he’ll be right back. “Okaaaaay,” Adam hesitantly complies. Swiftly, Peter enters the fray against the protesters. He scoffs that if they call themselves “the Friends of Humanity”, then let them be friends! Just because he’s got the proportionate strength and speed of a spider, doesn’t mean he can’t crash this little lovefest of theirs! With this, he kicks at some of them!

One of the protesters watches in horror: now there are three muties in the fight! One of his companions realizes the muties are going to get the boy now! A third one suggests they split! Watching them flee in panic, Spider-Man jokingly wonders if it was his breath who did it. “Alas, no,” Hank remarks – they were most probably tardy for a finishing school appointment.

Shortly afterwards, Spider-Man recapitulates what Gambit and Beast have told him: they are mutants, students at some academy in Westchester County, where they try to help other mutants assimilate into society and deal with their powers. Adam is a mutant, too, and they were out to rescue him from the Friends of Humanity when Spidey himself popped in. Gambit tells him he got it right. Peter retorts that he only has their word for it and he’s not sure he wants to just release this child into their custody. “You sain’ you don’t trust us?” Remy snaps. They’re the X-Men – the real thing! Hank intervenes, trying to lower the tension: “Gambit, I’m sure…”

Spidey insists he didn’t mean offence. He has an idea that may put all their minds at ease – even Adam’s. There’s a biologist he knows at Empire State University, Curt Connors, who may be able to help Adam. He’ll contact him and they can all go over there. Hank finds it reasonable – and the chance to rub elbows with a fellow biochemist of Connors’ repute is tempting. “What say you, Cajun?” he asks Gambit. “Good as done,” Remy concurs. He tells Adam to stick with them. “Everyt’ing gonna be jake,” he assures him. Adam asks Gambit if he will show him some cool card tricks. Carrying him on his shoulders as they all leave, Remy assures him he’s going to be a riverboat gambler before Remy is through with him!

Watching from a distance, Mister Sinister realizes they are off to Connors’ lab. It’s time he called ahead to let him know of his own arrival. Xavier is not the only one whose attention has been drawn to that youth, Adam. Before that day is out, Sinister vows that the young mutant will be his.

Curt Connors’ lab, Empire State University

Connors hears a knock at them; it must be them. He welcomes Spider-Man and, seeing Beast and Gambit, nervously remarks that when he said he was being accompanied by some friends, he never imagined… “Quite a group, I know,” Peter replies. Shaking his hand, he says it’s good to see him again. He presents him with the boy, Adam, he told him about on the telephone. And these gentlemen are Adam’s ‘guardians’, members of the mutant group, the X-Men. He introduces Remy LeBeau from the Big Easy and Dr. Henry McCoy, the noted biochemist.

Connors reciprocates how good is to see Spider-Man again. He’s anxious to help this lad. Of course, he’s heard of Dr. McCoy. He assures him that his facilities are at his disposal. Hank thanks him: it is a veritable research wonderland. “Man, look at all this neat stuff!” Remy remarks.

Connors first wants to perform some routine tests to Adam. They’ll take some blood from him and look at under the microscope. In short order, they do, and Beast examines the blood. Platelet count, in order. Proteins, globulin and albumin, stable. Salts, sugar, uric acid and creatinin, all in proper trace amounts. Leucocytes, fine. He tells Connors they’re all within normal parameters. Connors suggests they proceed with a more detailed examination. A battery of tests is performed on Adam, measuring heartrate, respiration and body temperature.

After these tests are over, Connors tells Adam he’s healthy as a horse. Now, he wants to taste the extent of his special abilities. Placing three objects in front of him, he tells him that, first, he wants him to ignite the piece of paper, then, the same to the piece of wood, and finally, try and melt the metal bar. He tells him to concentrate. Without any indication of effort, Adam instantly incinerates all three objects, as asked.

Hank gasps that he is definitely not the child to deprive of his allowance! Connors is impressed that he set them all afire… in seconds! “Noticed that, didja, Doc?” Peter banters. Rubbing Adam’s head, a smiling Hank promises that the next weenie roast hosted by him will have Adam as the guest of honor. Excited, Adam asks him if he means it.

Gambit announces he has to leave now. There’s some… “paperwork” that has to be done back at the orphanage. He promises he will back soon. Peter says it was good meeting him; he’s got to split, too. He hopes Connors won’t let the boy burn the place down. Connors gives him his word he won’t. There is still much more to do. He tells Pete to take care.

Leaving the lab, Remy thinks that the boy has power that someday will rival any of the X-Men’s. He just hopes he isn’t going through the suffering they did. Simultaneously exiting the building through the window thanks to his webs, Spider-Man thinks that spider powers are one thing, but the ability to set things on fire… that’s the kind of great power that really creates some heavy responsibility!

Later, at the orphanage, Gambit thanks an employee named Philip, for alerting them to Adam’s presence here. “No problem, Gambit,” Philip replies. As a member of Charles Xavier’s underground, it’s his duty to keep tabs on anyone they suspect may be a mutant… for their own safety. Like Cerebro isn’t enough for picking up traces of new mutant types, Remy sarcastically observes. Philip has heard that Xavier’s got people like him everywhere… even the government. Remy assures him they leave no stone unturned. He confesses, though, that sometimes Xavier’s a little spooky.

Uptown, in Dr. Connors’ lab

Someone is knocking at the door. Connors explains that must be Dr. Essex. He’s a visiting geneticist from Eastern Europe who called him a bit earlier, and said he was coming by. Connors mentioned Adam to him.

Dr. Essex, an elegantly dressed man with a cane, walks in. He greets Connors and admits it was most kind of him to invite him here to see this remarkable young man. Connors introduces him to Dr. Henry McCoy, a well-known biochemist here in the States. Essex shakes hands with him. Hank realizes that something is distinctly familiar about the good doctor Essex. However, he cannot place his furry finger upon at the moment.

Essex turns to Adam and proceeds to shake his hand. Beaming with joy, Essex recalls how Dr. Connors said that Adam possesses some extraordinary abilities. Would he be kind enough to provide an example for Essex’s… amusement? “Splendid,” he remarks, without even waiting for the boy’s consent. Essex then asks Connors if he has the results of the prior tests.

Hank presents Essex with a file with the rather astonishing results of Adam’s pyrokinetic prowess. They were just about to test the lad’s abilities on a lead bar. As Essex surely knows, lead has a higher melting point that most metals. “Yes, yes,” Essex impatiently agrees. Shall they get on with it then? All three men wear special safety glasses and sit behind a console. Connors asks Adam to concentrate to the cylinder in front of him and do as he did before. He asks him to try to melt it, but to do so carefully and control his ability.

Adam concentrates for a while, his eyes glowing and finally stops. Connors explains that Adam didn’t melt it, but he got the lead red hot. Essex retorts that this boy has come nowhere near exhibiting his full potential. He suggests they continue. Hank respectfully reminds him he’s not in charge here. His eyes suddenly glowing red, Essex gloats that indeed he is. Realizing that something’s wrong, Connors wonders what’s going on and rushes towards Essex… but comes short of approaching him further, as if suddenly blocked by an invisible wall. “That should keep you for the nonce!” Essex snarls. Hank realizes that both he and Connors are trapped in some sort of stasis field. He’s unable to move… can’t even speak!

Turning to Adam again, Essex assures him he can do better! He tells him that Connors and Beast are just like all the others. They don’t really want him to tap into his power. They want him to feel weak, under their thumb. But Essex knows what’s best for him! He is his only friend! He urges Adam to melt the lead! Fueled by Essex’s infectious aggressiveness, Adam concentrates hard and finally succeeds in melting the lead. “Marvelous!” Essex relishes. He tells the child to feel the power surging through him!

Suddenly, Connors warns Adam to not go any further – things behind the lead are catching fire! “Stop it!” he pleads. Beast notices that Essex is changing – undergoing some physical transformation. Now he knows why his bearded countenance smacked Hank of the familiar! In reality, the suave, sophisticated sirrah is… Sinister! Towering over Adam, now in his true colors, Sinister tells him there’s no need to fear him. He is as much the same as Adam, he assures him. A world of inferior humans hate them because they are different… better than they are. But Adam will learn from Sinister. He will discover how best to use his abilities and turn the tables on any who would oppose him! He sees a great future for Adam – a glorious future at Sinister’s side!

Hank realizes that Sinister has lost control of the stasis field momentarily. Time for Henry McCoy to take advantage of the situation and stop the scintillating shenanigans! He immediately attacks Sinister. Would Sinister be so kind as to swivel his shiny, simonized self around toward Hank’s approaching appendages? he mocks him. He jests that the Super Heroes Handbook expressly forbids rending adversaries asunder from behind! “A loquacious bore… as always,” Sinister remarks of the Beast.

Back at the orphanage, Gambit is informed that Adam’s parents are still alive. Philip confirms they’ve had contact with them from time to time. They are interested in the welfare of their son, but they know his “special” status makes him a problem child in unforeseen ways. Like other parents in their situation, their fear outweighed their parental love. Remy assures him that problems like these are what the X-Men are all about. That’s why they’ve got to get the child up to Xavier and in their custody.

Curled up outside the window of Philip’s office, Spider-Man has overheard everything. He’s not sure he likes the sound of that. He recalls he left Adam with Dr. Connors and… McCoy the Beast. He suspects there’s something fishy about this bunch of renegade mutants. Which is why he’d better get back to Empire State University fast, before the boy gets kidnapped or something. He quickly reaches the university. Soaring high above the building, he sees Connors’ window just below. He immediately realizes something bad is happening here: spider-sense tingling like mad!

Inside the office, Mister Sinister gloats over his victory over the now unconscious Beast. Hank’s bestial acrobatics were no match for Sinister – as if they ever were. Now, Sinister has other matters to attend to. Watching everything from the window, a shocked Spidey wonders who the metallic Frankenstein is, and what he’s doing here. Hopping in, he asks Sinister if he wants to come along peacefully or if this going to get messy!

“Another annoyance?” Sinister puffs. Pointing at Spider-Man, he tells Adam this is just another bad man who wants to take him away and hurt him! He tells Adam to stop him now! The now easily convinced Adam begins glowing, all the while aggressively making it clear to Spidey that he doesn’t like him.

Peter jumps away in time, just as the kid looks nasty at him. The wall behind Peter explodes in flames. If Adam grows up to be a super-villain, Peter thinks he’s retiring early! Suddenly, his spider-sense is warning him that Sinister is rushing toward him. He immediately leaps upwards, causing Sinister to angrily demand he stand still! What manner of a creature is he?! Spidey quips that at least he doesn’t look like he washed his face with toothpaste this morning! He then strikes Sinister from behind, while hanging upside down from the ceiling, before he realizes he almost broke his hand by that metallic hide of the villain!

Peter then notices that Connors and McCoy, both unconscious, are really close to the flames. Their only chance is if his special liquid webbing can douse the fire. He has to do it fast or he’s sitting duck for Sinister! Releasing his liquid webbing, he realizes it’s working. Beside him, Sinister notices an interesting machine just above Spider-Man. He tells Adam he can stop the bad man; he just has to melt the cables on that machine over his head. He urges him to do it! Adam sheepishly complies, thinking this will stop the bad man. Despite Spider-Man’s spider-sense warning him, he can’t get out of the way in time, and the machinery collapses right on top of him.

Seeing how Spider-Man is still barely conscious, Sinister decides to “ease” his burden. He promises Spider-Man will not feel the weight on himself after this and then thwacks Peter with rage, knocking him out. Sinister then tells Adam he did well. They stopped the bad men who wanted to hurt him. Adam can see how well they worked together; did he like it?

“Okay…” Adam hesitantly replies… but did they have to hurt them so bad? He doesn’t like hurting people. Sinister assures him that he doesn’t like it either. But he only did what had to be done so they wouldn’t hurt Adam. Does he see now? “I guess so,” Adam responds. Looking at Spider-Man, Sinister conjectures that he may be a mutant, too. He’d best take him and investigate his genetic structure when the opportunity arises.

Sinister announces that they must leave now. Some bad men will come here shortly and take the unconscious men away, he assures Adam. They must not be here when they come. Seeing Sinister carrying the senseless Spider-Man, Adam asks him why he does that. Sinister explains that he heard Spider-Man is not as evil as the other two. There is a chance that they may turn him to their side, make him as good as they are. Wouldn’t Adam like to have another friend? Wouldn’t that make him happy? Adam admits he doesn’t have any real friends; it might be fun. Taking Adam by the hand and exiting the lab, Sinister agrees that one might describe it as… child’s play.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Gambit (both X-Men)


Mister Sinister/ Dr. Essex


Dr. Curt Connors

Philip (Xavier’s connection)

Members of the Friends of Humanity

Other children at Adam’s orphanage

Story Notes: 

The story continues in Adventures of Spider-Man #3.

This series takes place outside the main Marvel continuity. It is set within the same continuity of the X-Men animated series (1992-1997) and the Spider-Man animated series (1994-1998). This series chronologically follows the three volumes of X-Men Adventures, which were comic book adaptations of the animated series.

Spider-Man commits a very common error when he refers to Mister Sinister as a “metallic Frankenstein,” owing to his freakish appearance. Frankenstein was actually the scientist and main hero of Mary Shelley’s eponymous novel, rather than the infamous creature created by the scientist. However, many people have confused the two characters’ names over the years, referring to the creature of Frankenstein by the name of the doctor.

Issue Information: 
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