X-Man #1

Issue Date: 
March 1995
Story Title: 
Breaking Away

Jeph Loeb (writer), Steve Skroce (penciler), Sellers, Smith, Larosa, Conrad (inkers), Mike Thomas (colors), Starkings/Comicraft (lettering), Lisa Patrick (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

In a dream, Nate vaguely remembers his escape from the pens with the help of Cyclops. The dream then shifts to Xavier’s Westchester mansion, where he witnesses a heated debate between Bishop and Magneto, before being psychically pulled back by his friend Forge. The next night, Forge and his rebel band stage a theatre play in front of a human community. As the humans become suspicious, Nate telepathically changes their minds, much to Forge’s chagrin. Later still, Forge’s band tries to prevent a culling. As a troop of infinites attacks them, Nate ignores Forge’s orders to keep out of the fight and enters the battle, easily beating the infinites, with the help of the girl Theresa, whose sonic powers just emerged. Following Nate’s wish, the rebels take Theresa with them. As they discuss the events, they are stopped by a man named Essex, who wishes to join them. In the palace of Apocalypse, Cyclops admits to his master that Sinister is missing, a fact which Apocalypse finds of little importance. However, when the Shadow King tells him of a new powerful telepath, Apocalypse sends out bounty hunter Domino to capture or kill the telepath.

Full Summary: 

(The Dreamscape:

In a dream, he remembers: A man with only one eye that glows red offers him his hand and a way out. Come with him if he wants to live!

Trusting his instincts, though, the teenage boy he is talking to runs away, breaking out on his own, instinctively using vast telekinetic power, while sensing his would-be benefactor’s feeling of envy, as he witnesses the boy’s escape.

The dream shift from memory to another scene. The boy finds himself in front of an old ruined mansion, a place of power, he senses, and enters it.

In it he witnesses a heated discussion between two men – Bishop and Magneto, both unknown to him, and neither noticing his astral form.

Angrily, Bishop urges Magneto that he should have told them the truth. And what is the truth, the other man retorts. An amalgamation of “what ifs” and “what coulds.” He has done the best he knows how and let no man judge his actions.

The boy tries to make himself known to them, but is prevented from that when a mechanical finger taps his back.

It is Forge, dressed in a hooded cloak and more machine than man. He uses the psi-link he shares with the boy to tell him they can’t hear him because he isn’t really here. He reminds him he warned him about pushing himself. It can be really dangerous. Forge orders him to com back. Now.

In the mirror, Magneto briefly catches a glimpse of the boy and Forge, but then chalks it up to a hallucination caused by strain.

The boy wakes up, surrounded by Forge and the rest of his small band of rebels, disguised as a theatre troupe: kind Toad, grim Soaron, loyal Brute and the mute Mastermind. Welcome back, Nate, Forge greets the boy.

They should have been there, Nate bursts out. Well, Forge was, sorta. He explains how he tried to find his memories and let out this big TK energy blast in the process.

The others already know. As Nate looks around, he realizes, he’s destroyed the entire area for several feet. Forge angrily tells Nate, that he’s supposed to stop with any unsupervised training. He’ll save the lecture for another time. They’ve got a show to do and not much time to do it. He guesses now isn’t a good time to ask him about that old mansion… Nate mumbles.

In the evening, the troupe plays “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in front of a human community in the Midwest. These are the survivors of the cullings ordered by Apocalypse himself to reduce the unnecessary human population. The ones who did not flee to Europe where humans still enjoy their freedom. Men and women who stayed out of fear, poverty and, some say, ignorance. What could be worth leaving the safety of their locked doors to brave the night? Only a little laughter in their otherwise humorless lives.

Some humans, the prelate and his guard, become suspicious of them, due to their strange looks. Forge politely assures them they are only actors playing parts. The guard believes they are mutants. Suddenly, Nate telepathically influences them, convincing them that there is nothing to it.

Forge angrily chides him, that wasn’t very smart. Nate first plays innocent, but Forge calls him on what he just did. Nate doesn’t see the problem. So what if he gave their minds a little telepathic whack? He got them out of hot water. Besides it’s not much of a gift if he can’t use it to help his friends.

As always, his heart is in the right place, Forge agrees, but he hasn’t thought it through. Forge reminds him that when Nate came to him, he realized the boy had extraordinary power. Then why won’t he let him… Forge tells him to let him finish. Power that might one day even rival Apocalypse himself. And power alone might win them some battles, but it will not win the war!

He watches the days go by and sees Nate growing into a man and maybe he is being selfish… he knows Nate is destined for greater things than helping a ragtag band of rebels disguised as a theatre troupe. But he cannot meet his destiny if he is dead! Every time he uses his telepathy, he runs the risk of being discovered by Apocalypse.

Meanwhile, in the palace of Apocalypse, Cyclops informs Apocalypse that Sinister has fled and probably turned against his master. Lovely, Apocalypse replies. Cyclops “fears” Sinister has turned against Apocalypse. Why would he fear that? Isn’t that to be expected? Haven’t his teachings meant anything to him? In the Survival of the Fittest, one should expect a culling from within. Although he pities Sinister. For, alone, he’ll never pose any threat to his power. No one has the power of Apocalypse!

Apocalypse’s pet telepath, the disembodied Shadow King chimes in, states that is not necessarily the case. He is aware of an immensely powerful telepath, who each time he uses his power creates a ripple in the psionic plane like no other. Apocalypse scoffs he exaggerates and then dismisses Cyclops.

Apocalypse orders the Shadow King to tell him more, not because it is of any real consequence, but because it amuses him.

While he walks away, Cyclops muses that telepaths are rare enough as it is, but one who rivals Apocalypse’s powers might help him in his plans….

The Shadow King admits he cannot pinpoint the telepath’s location, only that he or she is in the Midwest areas and on the move. Fascinated, Apocalypse orders the Shadow King to keep him informed.

He turns to a woman dressed in tight red armor. She overheard, of course, he states. Why doesn’t she put together a band of hunters? See if she can collect this telepath? Perhaps she can convince that mutant to work for him and if he or she refuses – kill it! Love to, Boss, Domino replies with a sadistic smile.

In Kansas, a town finds itself under attack by the Infinites. The people who lived in that town had prayed that this would never happen. The cullings had stopped. Perhaps Apocalypse had seen the error of eradicating the entire human population. They had heard about other cities where humans were herded together and shipped off for “testing.” But surely those places had done something to deserve it. Surely, it could not happen here….

Amidst the chaos an old man ties to protect a young woman with a long red ponytail – Theresa Rourke – in vain. Within hours, the entire town is emptied. Theresa too is brutally thrown on a train and locked in.

Forge and Nate are watching from the bushes. Just this once, let him go with them, Nate begs. Forge orders Nate to keep out, reminding him they’ve been over this and over this. Nate’s role in this is critical enough as it is. He is to keep watch and if he scans even a hint of Infinites, he is to contact Forge over their psi-link. Under no circumstances is Nate to directly engage them. And so Forge’s group begins their attack.

The arrogant Soaron disables the train and the others free the prisoners. When the enraged Brute tries to beat up a guard, Forge holds him back, reminding his friend that beating the man for only doing his job makes them no better than Apocalypse’s hoodlums.

Toad frees the people while Mastermind keeps them from panicking by filling their minds with soothing images. Suddenly, however, an Infinites patrol intervenes and injures Soaron’s wing. The patrol threatens to overrun them, intent on killing the humans.

Watching a helpless father and child about to be butchered, Nate has had enough and unleashes his raw telekinetic powers on them. Those who witness what happens here can only watch in awe of Nate’s raw power unleashed. It is as though after hearing all their lives that no one would ever come forward from the darkness that Apocalypse had plunged them in here stands before them a ray of light.

Nate himself is actually unsure of what he’s doing but reminds himself those guys deserve it. This is a war. He doesn’t notice one Infinite sneaking up behind him.

Theresa does, though, and as she tries to warn him, her own mutant sonic powers are unleashed on the Infinite. Exhausted, she sinks into Nate’s arms.

Forge’s group has gathered and Forge orders Nate to leave the girl. They are moving out. Now. Nate demands they take her along and Forge reluctantly accedes, but he warns Nate they will talk about this later.

Later, as the two are still discussing the events and Nate’s actions on their wagon, they run into a fellow traveler, a tall, red-eyed man with a small red diamond mark on his forehead, who introduces himself as Essex and offers his help.

Characters Involved: 

Nate Grey/X-Man


Brute, Jason Wyngarde/Mastermind, Karl Lykos/Soaron, Mortimer Toynbee/ Toad (Forge’s resistance band)

Apocalypse, Shadow King, Essex / Mr Sinister, Domino


Theresa Cassidy


in Nate’s mindscape_

Magneto, Bishop (both X-Men)

in Nate’s memory:


Story Notes: 

The ruined house is the X-Men’s Westchester HQ.

This is the first mention of Mr. Sinister’s name of Essex, which will later be revealed to be his actual surname. This fact and that of his first name being “Nathaniel” is later revealed in the following year’s mini-series “the Further Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix.”

The opening line from Cyclops, "Come with me if you want to live," is the one Kyle Reese spoke to Sarah Connor in the first Terminator movie.

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