X-Man #12

Issue Date: 
February 1996
Story Title: 

John Ostrander (writer), Steve Skroce (pencils), Bud Larosa, (inks), Mike Thomas/ Graphic colorworks (colors), Richard Starkings/comicraft (lettering), Jaye Gardne (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Following Rogue’s suggestion, Nate Grey intends to seek out Dr. MacTaggert’s help but, due to a misunderstanding, gets beaten up by Excalibur. Moira runs to his aid and apologizes. Later, she examines him, stating that he does not suffer of the Legacy Virus as he had feared but there are still some odd readings she has to examine further. Nate spends some time with Moira’s foster daughter, Rahne, while Moira informs Xavier of her test results: she has come to the conclusion that Nate’s own immense power is killing him. In the meantime, Nate snoops round the complex and finds Excalibur’s prisoner, the mutant fanatic, Spoor. Spoor awakens doubts about Moira’s helpfulness in Nate. He goes to confront her, learns that she has been talking to Xavier and believes that Nate will die. Angrily, he lashes out with his powers. Elsewhere, Mr Sinister calls his prisoner/aide, Threnody, ordering to seek out information on Nate Grey. Thren has already secretly done that for reasons of her own. She believes Nate will be the key to her freedom.

Full Summary: 

Still on the Scottish mainland, Nate Grey stares at the nearby Muir Island, thinking hard. It is the foremost genetic research center into human mutation, run by Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Dr. Moira MacTaggert. Nate prays she has an answer for him. He is still new on this confusing world and finds he has many questions about his powers. Recently, he met a woman named Rogue, who suggested he go visit Dr Moira, who may help him. Nate intends to do just that, as he takes off via Muir Island.

He does not get the welcome he expected, however, as Britannic meets him the air and brutally hits him. Nate feels the blow in spite of his telekinetic shield. He falls, only to find himself victim of another blow as he nears the ground, this time courtesy of the Russian powerhouse Colossus.

Nate grows irate, as his right eye flare off. He wasn’t looking for a fight but, if these people want to attack him, he’s game. He lets loose a telekinetic blast at Colossus. Suddenly, a girl comes up through the ground, passing right through him. As Shadowcat distracts Nate, Nightcrawler teleports right onto him, finally taking Nate out with a practiced kick to the face. They are joined by Moira MacTaggert, who angrily asks them if they are all mad. This is the boy Rogue rang her about; the one Charles Xavier wants them to help. What made them decide to attack him, she asks accusingly.

Britanic explains that he didn’t know about any of that. They just saw him as an unidentified intruder. And, with some terrorists recently destroying the Houses of Parliament… That was the bloody Hulk, Moira impatiently interrupts him, which he’d know if he monitored the newscast. She orders the heroes to help her carry the boy to the infirmary and then get lost before he wakes up.

Having checked his vitals, Moira patiently waits at his bedside until he snaps awake. Still believing this to be a battle, he powers up, threatening her. Calmly, Moira apologizes, telling him that Excalibur overreacted. She asks him to sit down and the confused boy complies, asking if she is Doctor MacTaggert. Moira tells him that Rogue called her and told her about him, but she’d not time to tell the others of him. Now, how can she help him? Nate explains that he’s heard about the Legacy Virus killing mutants and, sometimes, he’s got these painful headaches and his powers blink on and off or he has trouble controlling them… Moira tells him they’ll find out, but first he needs something to eat.

Elsewhere, a young woman named Threnody reluctantly listens to a holo-transmission of the man she is forced to serve: the mad scientist, Mr Sinister. He asks the young woman what they know about one “Nate Grey”. Threnody feigns ignorance. Sinister decides that they will prepare a search when he returns. He has to be found. As the transmission breaks off. Threnody relaxes in a chair, surrounded by screens showing… Nate Grey. She realizes that Sinister suspects, but is sure that he won’t act on his suspicions yet. She will be free and Nate Grey will be her ticket to getting and staying that way.

Back at Muir Island, Mora conducts all kinds of tests on Nate, who is strapped into some apparatus. The young boy has to fight the urge to strike out, as the machine reminds him of the slave pens, which held him captive for his entire life. But he restrains the impulse, reminding himself that this is not that world and that Dr MacTaggert is trying to help him. He forces himself to relax and trust.

Moira, on the other hand, is confronting an unknown being. Although his bio-signature resembles Cable, she has to believe Xavier’s assurances that the boy is neither Cable nor his evil clone, Stryfe, who is responsible for the Legacy Virus that is slowly killing her. However, Nate reminds her o her own son, Kevin, Proteus, who was consumed by his immense power. She tells herself that Nate is not Kevin, but what she sees makes her fear. Meanwhile, outside the lab, Excalibur’s youngest member, Moira’s foster daughter, Wolfsbane, watches in amazement: she s visibly attracted to Nate.

Moira asks Nate to step down. While he clearly isn’t suffering from Legacy, there are still some readings she cannot figure out. She’d like to run some more tests the next day. An angry Rory Campell, Moira’s lab assistant, walks in and tells Rahne to leave. Moira told all of Excalibur to stay clear of the lab. Stepping outside, Nate senses something else and asks what is behind the locked door. No business of his, Rory grimly states. Moira asks him not to mind Rory and asks him to take a walk with her. There’s something she’d like him to see.

Moira brings him out to see the sunset, but it’s Rahne sitting in the sunset that draws Nate from Moira’s side. Nate introduces himself and sits down beside her on the cliff, asking her if this is a favorite spot of hers. Rahne ells him that, when she was younger, Mora would sometimes bring her here to tell her all kinds of ancient tales about shipwrecks and lost treasures. It’s funny how she could believe in those stories then. Sometimes she’d close her eyes and see it in her mind what it would be like to discover such a treasure. Would she still like to, Nate asks and offers her hand. Hesitatingly she takes it and holding on to her Nate takes off.

Moira watches them sadly. Nate reminds her so much of her own son. So much power wasn’t meant for one so young. She wonders if she will be able to help him any more than she could help Kevin. She doesn’t know if she can bear having her heart broken a second time, but she will try.

At the bottom of the sea, Nate concentrates separating the masses of water around them. Rahne notices that his nose is bleeding from the strain. He tells her it is nothing and points out the shipwreck. Rahne transforms into her human shape, as she gazes in wonder.

As evening steals in, Moira finishes sifting through her data. Having come to a disheartening conclusion, she calls Charles Xavier to discuss her findings with him: Her readings indicate that Nate is going to die! Maybe he’ll last until he’s 21, but not with the kind of stress he keeps on putting on his body. His power is eating him alive and there is nothing anyone can do about it. All the more reason to try and help him, Xavier decides. He cannot do it, as Nate does not trust him, so it must be Moira. He hates to ask this of her given her pain over, Proteus, Phoenix, her own failing health… Moira agrees as she cuts off the transmission. It’s a hard path but one she knows very well. She’ll do what she can.

Nate, in the meantime, is snooping around in the areas of the complex they didn’t want him to see. He felt another mind tapped in there and intends to check this out. Telekinetically, he bypasses the security measures without tripping any alarms. Alarms, however, go off in Nate’s mind, as he sees a row of empty cages. He is reminded of the mutant-holding pens from Apocalypse’s world that still haunt his dreams and his heart sickens. All the cells are vacant, save one; the one housing the former Acolyte named Spoor. Nate asks why he’s here. Spoor offers he’ll tell Nate if he lets him out. Nate wants information first. Spoor senses that Nate knows what it’s like to be a prisoner. He hints that there are lots of cells down here – what does Nate think they were used for? The place is a mutagenic test facility and he is the last lab rat. They experiment on mutants till there is nothing left to experiment on.

Nate’s confused. Spoor is not being totally honest and, yet, he senses that he isn’t completely lying either. Spoor continues, claiming that Excalibur are sell-outs who are preying on their own kind to keep their skins intact. They got him and they’ll get Nate too, unless they help each other.

Nate wants to hear MacTaggert’s side of it and goes to face her in the lab. Angrily, he tells her that he has seen Spoor and demands what this place is really about. Before Moira can answer, Nate simply forces himself into Moira’s mind. He finds traces of her most recent memories and concerns and they explode in him like a bombshell. Moira begs him to let her explain. Angrily, he powers up crying “Explain what?” That she’s been talking to Xavier? Reporting on him? That she’s afraid of him? That she’s saying he ‘s going to die now? She’d said before that he was going to live! She’s betrayed him!

Moira tries to explain: she’d only told him that he didn’t have the Legacy Virus. This is something else. She tells him that he only caught a glimpse in her mind and asks him not to lose control. Sitting outside, Colossus and Nightcrawler rise in shock as Moira’s lab explodes.

Characters Involved: 

Nate Grey /X-Man

Moira MacTaggert

Britannic, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, Wolfsbane (all Excalibur)

Rory Campbell



On the screen

Professor Xavier

As holographic transmission

Mr Sinister

Story Notes: 

This story is continued in Excalibur #95.

Sinister is currently busy in Cable #28

Sinister took Threnody in X-Men (2nd series) #27

Nate met and had a huge misunderstanding with Xavier in X-Man #10. Their psychic battle ended when Nate believed he had killed Xavier.

Rogue suggested Nate seek out Moira in X-Man #11.

The story of Proteus, Moira’s all-powerful mad son, and his death are told in X-Men (1st series) #125-128.

When Xavier refers to Moira’s pain about not being to help Phoenix, he is presumably referring to the Phoenix force (who pretended to be Jean), not Rachel or the real Jean, as Moira was also trying to help Phoenix with her power, but was too late to stop her change into Dark Phoenix.

Moira is the only non-mutant suffering from the Legacy Virus.

Rory Campbell lost his leg to the security systems when he was trying to treat Spoor in Excalibur #90. Ever since, he’s been afraid of becoming the mutant-hater Ahab, a possible future self of his.

Issue Information: 
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