X-Man #10

Issue Date: 
December 1995
Story Title: 

John Ostrander (writer), Steve Skroce (pencils), Jan Duursema and Casey Jones (additional pencils), Bud LaRosa, Ian Akin and and Rob Hunter (inks), Mike Thomas and Matt Webb (colors), Malibu (separations), Comicraft (letters), Jaye Gardner and Lisa Patrick (editors), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

During a storm over the sea off Carolina, Nate is struck down by lightning and taken to safety by the local towns’ sheriff. There, he awakens in a police cell and is taken for breakfast by the seemingly friendly sheriff. He is very hungry and impresses the waitress with his enormous appetite. Over in Westchester County, Charles Xavier interrupts Blaquesmith, who has managed to enter the mansion undetected by Forge’s sensors. However, Charles himself noticed Blaquesmith as soon as he entered the mansion. He asks why he is there, and Blaquesmith explains that he has news that should make him very afraid. He proceeds to inform Charles about Nate Grey; a mutant who’s bio-signature bears a close resemblance to Cable’s. He doesn’t know who he is, or why he is here, but he has enormous power and needs to be found. They use Blaquesmith’s ship’s computer to track Nate to a town called Skunk Hollow in North Carolina. Charles feels that the quickest way there is to travel through the astral plane. Over in Skunk Hollow, Nate notices a story about the Legacy Virus in a newspaper, and the sheriff makes a remark about the ‘mutie’ problem. Nate replies that he is a mutant. As the situation becomes intense, Charles arrives in his astral form, only to see Nate put the entire café to sleep, with the promise that, when they wake, they will not remember him. Charles follows Nate outside and tries to mind scan him, but Nate senses Charles’s presence and literally drags him from the astral plane; a feat that Charles didn’t know was possible. They enter into battle as Charles tries to explain his good intentions. Nate is too angry and frightened to listen, and Charles feels that his only course of action is to make Nate believe he has killed him. His astral form returns to the mansion and he tells Blaquesmith that his meeting with Nate was a disaster. They need to find him again, for the sake of the world.

Full Summary: 

(North Carolina)

Nate Grey hovers over the Atlantic Ocean, off the eastern seaboard of the United States. He sparks with energy, and thinks that maybe his battle with Dark Beast wasn’t a good idea, as it’s has left him in a weakened state. Around him, lightning strikes with ferocity, and it’s taking all his strength to stay aloft. He’s determined not to let himself be used; by Dark Beast, by Sinister or by anyone.

He notices two quite different craft down below him, and wonders what they’re doing. Before he can take a closer look, lightning strikes him and he falls helplessly into the turbulent waters below. Several hours later, he wakes up having been washed ashore. He manages to walk a few paces inland, but then collapses from exhaustion. Luckily, someone is there to help him.

(Xavier Institute for Higher Learning)

Today has brought an unexpected visitor. Sneaking around the mansion is the futuristic alien, Blaquesmith. He checks out at the Shi’ar technology that the mansion utilizes. In his future timeline, there were legends about this, and he can only marvel at its beauty. Before he can investigate it more fully, he is interrupted by Professor Xavier, who wishes him good morning. Blaquesmith turns with a start. Charles tells him that he’s impressed that he managed to bypass their security systems without a murmur. Forge will be very put out. He, on the other hand, was aware of him psionically the moment he entered the building. He asks why Blaquesmith is here.

Blaquesmith apologizes for the intrusion and assumes Charles has psi-scanned him already. Charles admits he made a rudimentary scan to determine if he intended harm or not. Blaquesmith introduces himself as a friend of Cable’s; well, not really a friend, but… Charles informs him that Cable isn’t around at present, but Blaquesmith isn’t here to see him. It’s Charles he wants to speak with. Charles knows that he does that reluctantly. He was able to read that in his mind; as well as fear. Blaquesmith replies that he is most definitely afraid, and tells Charles that he should be too.

(Skunk Hollow, North Carolina)

Nate wakes, and wonders where on Earth he is. He realizes that he’s in a jail cell, and the sheriff explains that he found him washed up on the shore, and brought him here. The sheriff introduces himself as L.B. Kellogg. He looks like a pile of laundry that needs ironing; but seems friendly enough. He hopes Nate doesn’t mind the cell. The hurricane means there’s a shortage of beds, so he had to provide him with what he had. He thinks Nate looks hungry and asks if he could stand a bite. Nate gets up and walks with him. He replies that he could eat two horses. The sheriff leads him into town.

(Xavier Institute for Higher Learning)

Charles doesn’t like Blaquesmith’s vagueness, but he replies that it’s from habit and necessity. He comes, like Cable, from a future. Cable has a destiny within that future, and his role is to help him keep track of it. In the ideal scheme of things, he adds, he and Charles should never have met. Charles asks if something has changed that. Blaquesmith explains that generally, he keeps track of Cable’s unique bio-signature. Recently, he discovered someone else with almost the exact same signature. He had to investigate.

What Blaquesmith discovered was a boy in his late teens, fighting a dark, beast-like creature. The boy nearly killed him. His first thought was that he might by Stryfe; Cable’s nefarious twin, injected into this timeline at some younger age for reasons he couldn’t begin to tell. However, according to his instruments, the boy’s sheer raw power may be even greater than Cable’s, far greater, and possibly even greater than Xavier’s. Charles realizes that the boy might account for the sudden psionic presence he sensed a few weeks ago. It was overwhelming but, as soon as it appeared, it vanished. It’s as if he’s shielding him from Charles.

Blaquesmith asks if he should be able to do that. Charles thinks it’s highly unlikely. The news Blaquesmith has brought him is most definitely alarming. Blaquesmith produces a device with which he can track Nate. He can tap into his ship’s computers and track his bio-signature. It should give them a rough location. Charles wonders how they pinpoint someone that is being shielded from them. Blaquesmith smiles, and replies that they look for a gray area; a point that registers nothing. That should be him. They begin immediately, and Blaquesmith begins his calibrations.

(Skunk Hollow, North Carolina)

Nate is devouring food like it’s going out of fashion. The waitress, Amanda, is impressed. She likes a man who likes to eat. A fellow diner stands, and leaves his newspaper as a tip for Amanda. He suggests she use it to find some new recipes. As he departs, Nate grabs the paper and reads the headline. There is a photograph of Moira MacTaggert, and a story about the Legacy Virus.

He reads it out loud. The Legacy Virus was thought only to attack mutants but, now, Moira MacTaggert has been affected. Nate seems to recognize her name. The sheriff is surprised that Nate knows nothing of the virus, and points out that the virus can take all the mutie scum it likes; “But when it starts attacking decent folk…” Amanda asks him to hush, and points out the hypocrisy in a statement like that. She is black, and as such knows that not so long ago it was her people that took the brunt of such comments. The sheriff says she knows what he’s getting at. The muties are trouble. Nate inadvertently scans the minds of people in the café, and their thoughts on mutants are less than benevolent. “What are you talking about?” he asks Kellogg, “I’m a mutant.” Everyone stops what they’re doing, and they stare at Nate.

(Xavier Institute for Higher Learning)

Blaquesmith’s tracking computers determine that Nate appears to be in a small town called Skunk Hollow in North Carolina. Charles realizes that time is of the essence, and the most efficient means of travel may be upon the astral field. Without a second thought, his mind leaves his body in the safe care of Blaquesmith, who wishes him well in his travels.

As his astral projection travels to North Carolina, Charles thinks that it’s exactly for these kinds of situations he formed the X-Men. They find new mutants and help them learn to control and perfect their powers, to help their kind and humanity to live together and create a better world. The boy, he believes, may have powers that surpass his own, which is certainly disturbing. He may have enormous, destructive capabilities, untrained and unchecked. He wonders that if it is Stryfe, returned from the dead; what he will do then? The impact on Cable, Scott and Jean will be staggering.

(Skunk Hollow, North Carolina)

Nate asks what everyone is scared of. Him? He used to help humans, he explains. The sheriff says he shouldn’t joke like that, telling people he’s a mutant. Some folks might take it serious. Nate becomes increasingly angry, and clenches his fist. “You think I’m joking? You want some proof?” The sheriff edges his fingers towards his holster and clicks it open, ready to reach for his revolver. He’s about to talk Nate down, but Charles appears just as Nate is about to show them some real power.

Luckily for them, Nate opts to simply put them to sleep instead, so they’ll forget about all about him when they wake up. He turns and exits the cafe. Charles is impressed by the ease at which he used his power, but also realizes that he didn’t appear to act without thinking of the consequences. He might easily have erased all their memories.

Charles follows him outside, still in his astral form. All he needs is to make the slightest mind scan to determine if it really is Stryfe. As he begins, Nate immediately notices his presence, and asks whoever it is to show themselves. Instinctively, he manages to not only sense Charles, but to actually draw him from the astral plane and into reality. Charles crouches on the ground, as Nate gives him five seconds to identify himself. Charles replies that he means him no harm, and that there are others like him out there, mutants with special gifts. They can help him; teach him to harness his powers. They are the X-Men, and he is their mentor, Professor Xavier.

Liar!” screams Nate. He knows Magneto leads the X-Men. He strikes at Charles who cries out in pain as Nate’s telekinesis causes the buildings around him begin to crumble. He warns Charles to leave him alone. No more mind games, he advises, or he swears the next person who comes after him will die. Charles realizes that Nate is becoming unstable, so he creates psionic armor to protect himself. As he blocks another strike from Nate, he tries to get through to the boy that he’s not there to hurt him. A defensive block throws Nate backwards, as Charles asks him just to listen.

Nate is sarcastic as he replies, “Right. And you have my ‘best interest’ at heart, don’t you?” He reckons Charles wants him to join his side, and fight his fights; make the world safer for ‘their kind.’ No! he adds, he’s heard it all before. He suddenly leaps, as energy courses through his clenched right fist. He’s not buying into Charles’s rhetoric; any more that he did Apocalypse’s. Charles is surprised Nate knows of Apocalypse. Nate strikes, but Charles manages to evade his blow. More of the town's infrastructure suffers as Nate launches a furious onslaught at Charles. People run away in fear and panic, as Nate warns Charles that there’s nowhere to hide. He’ll tear the whole town down if he has to.

As his assault continues unabated, Charles senses his raw, intense power and emotions, which nearly overwhelm him. The boy is clearly frightened and angry. Charles knows his body can’t take the strain he’s imposing, and knows he has to bring him down, now. The best way to do that, he believes, is to lower his shields and let him believe he has been destroyed. In a maelstrom of energies, Charles’s astral form dissipates, leaving Nate to believe that because there’s no longer any trace of Charles, he must be dead. The action over, he collects his thoughts, and walks away from the battleground. He needs to get outta there. If only his head would stop screaming.

(Xavier Institute for Higher Learning)

Charles’s mind arrives back in his body and he sits upright, facing Blaquesmith, who has had to wait patiently for his return. He asks if Charles is all right. He replies that physically, he’s fine, but mentally, he’s not so sure. He informs Blaquesmith that he found the boy, but the boy also found him. He was drawn into conflict with him and, in the end, the only way to end the battle was to let Nate believe he had finished him. The contact had been a disaster. Nate might distrust him and his X-Men completely now. He’s more dangerous than ever; to himself and to everyone around him. For the sake of the world, they must find him again.

Characters Involved: 

Nate Grey

Professor Xavier


L.B. Kellogg (town sheriff)

Amanda (waitress)

Other townspeople including Jed

(in flashback)

Nate Grey

Dark Beast

(in photograph)

Dr. Moira MacTaggert

Story Notes: 

The dark creature that Blaquesmith is talking about is Dark Beast.

Stryfe is Cable’s evil, more powerful clone. He ‘died’ in X-Force (1st series) #18.

Xavier sensed X-Man’s arrival in this reality in X-Men Prime.

The fact that Moira MacTaggert is the first human victim of the Legacy Virus was also revealed to the public in X-Men Prime.

Nate and Dark Beast fought on a ship in X-Man #9.

The reason Nate thought Magneto was the leader of the X-Men, and not Charles, is because this was the case in the Age of Apocalypse universe.

Issue Information: 
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