X-Man #2

Issue Date: 
April 1995
Story Title: 
Choosing Sides

Jeph Loeb (writer), Steve Skroce (pencils), Sellers, LaRosa, Conrad, Hanna (inks), Mike Thomas/ Digital Chameleon (colors), Starkings/Comicraft (lettering), Lisa Patrick (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Forge trains Nate in hand-to-hand combat, trying to make the boy see that he cannot solely rely on his powers. However, he only succeeds in getting the boy mad and pushing him towards Essex, who insinuates himself with Nate and teaches him to fly. Essex also suggests the rebels’ next target, a factory of Apocalypse where allegedly experiments are conducted on humans. Reluctantly, the group checks out the place and finds only corpses, but are in turn discovered by the Madri. A battle ensues, where Nate, after taking some lumps, uses the new appliance of his powers. Later, Nate takes his and Theresa’s astral bodies to the place he’s been before in his dream and finally realizes it is the headquarters of the X-Men. This makes him wonder why Forge wants to keep him away from Magneto. Brute realizes Essex’s true identity and is murdered. Forge starts an argument with Essex, wanting him to leave. They are interrupted by Domino’s assassins, who have been looking for Nate on Apocalypse’s order.

Full Summary: 

Apocalypse’s assassin, Domino, fights Rossovitch from the mutant underground for information about the mysterious telepath they are looking for. Rossovitch refuses to help, certain he is able to kill one lone, hapless female. Domino dodges his tentacle strike easily with a somersault, informing him her boss doesn’t make any mistakes. And who said anything about her being alone?

Grizzly (former serial killer) attacks him wildly, informing him he had his chance. Now it’s killing time! Rossovitch tangles him up, announcing in Russia they eat bears like Grizzly for breakfast. Death to them all!

A woman’s work is never done, Domino sighs. She stabs him in the stomach as she remarks with a grin that she is the best at what she does. Ever was. Ever will be.

With Rossovitch disposed of, she calls the third member of her band, Caliban, to come out of hiding. He wasn’t exactly hiding, the tracker replies with a smirk. Merely holding himself back, waiting for the most opportune moment to strike. Someone with his talent shouldn’t waste it.

Grizzly threateningly informs him he’d make a good toothpick. Domino breaks up their argument. She reminds them they’ve been in the field for more than a week looking for this unknown telepath. Apocalpyse wants them to either hire him or fry him. But they can’t do squat unless they find him. So let’s finish that gig!

In the meantime, Forge trains Nate in hand-to-hand combat, watched by their troupe as well as newcomer Theresa aka Sonique, the girl Nate saved.

Overconfident, Nate urges Forge to come on. He tries a drop-kick on Forge who slams him down, and reminds the boy that if this were a real battle, his cockiness would get Nate killed. Again and again, the boy is beaten until angrily he lashes out with his TK power and then demands why he needs fighting skills anyway? Forge answers that he can’t always rely on his powers. He can’t be so overconfident when he is dealing with Apocalypse.

Nate angrily storms off, accompanied by Theresa. Brute warns Forge that he may be too hard on the boy. Forge somberly replies that he is afraid that without wanting to he is pushing him towards Essex.

Indeed, Nate has gone to their new companion, Essex, who tells him that he understands his desire to explore his powers and urges him to use them. Forge still sees him as a boy.

Essex had introduced himself to the band as a bioengineer, who used to work for Apocalypse, but eventually turned against him. With the exception of Nate and Theresa, though, the rest of the troupe remains wary of him.

Theresa defends Forge’s caution, reminding them she knows firsthand what Apocalypse would do if he found them. Nate points out that he psi-scanned Essex and thinks he is telling the truth. If he trusts him, the others should too! It’s so weird, he muses, Forge has been like a father to him and yet, in such a short time, Essex has managed to get him more. Curious that Forge never discusses Nate’s real father with him, Essex mutters and then asks Nate if he has never considered using his powers to fly?

Nate tries and succeeds with Essex’s prompting. Essex glories in Nate’s display of his powers. As Theresa mentions that Forge wants them to keep a low profile, Essex – his eyes glowing red – tells her that Forge is myopic. How else could he not see the glory of Nate’s power? Yeah, right, Theresa replies, not convinced.

Nate pushes himself too much with the new use of his powers and ends up exhausted, with a nosebleed and a headache. Essex suggests they keep this session a secret from Forge as he doesn’t want the boy training on his own.

In the evening, the band discusses their next move. Soaron, who was injured during the last fight, wishes to lay low, reminding them how he sacrificed his wing during their last fight. Forge however states he fears they will all have to make even greater sacrifices. He’s gotten word of a route the Infinite patrols use…

Essex interrupts, offering a better target – a factory, where experiments on humans are conducted. On Nate’s urging Forge agrees on a recon mission. Brute, in the meantime, feels that he knows Essex somehow.

And so, some time later Nate, Essex, Brute and Forge check out the factory. As they sneak inside, Forge too is starting to have his doubts about Essex, specifically considering how well he knows his way around.

The four discover a place of horror. Essex explains that Henry McCoy, Apocalypse’s chief scientist, had the theory that from the bone marrow of otherwise discarded human corpses enough DNA might be extracted to provide a worthwhile supplement for Alpha Class mutants. Fortunately, McCoy’s theory had a ratio of nearly one hundred humans to a gram of extract, making the feasibility of the project less than attractive. The matter was dropped, the project was scrapped. Or so the world was led to believe, in the light of the Kelly Pact. What the four see here, proves the world was wrong, that thousands of humans were butchered in that place and that the Madri are now supposed to cleanse the factory, destroying the evidence.

Essex and Forge want to draw out, but Nate angrily demands they “level this joint.” They are discovered by the Madri and battle ensues. Nate uses his newfound flying power, but is hit by one of the Madri’s blasts.

While Forge tries to order the group out, Essex stands almost transfixed, staring at the beaten Nate, muttering he was defeated so easily.

Nate recovers in time to shut off two of the Madri who threaten him. Another of them watches and intends to inform Apocalypse about this powerful telepath.

The others join Nate and Brute carries the still woozy boy. Is this what Essex wanted? Forge hisses at him. The boy pushed himself too far! What could he possibly have gained by pushing Nate too far? Essex asks innocently.

Later, while the others are asleep at an abandoned farmhouse Nate sneaks out, but is discovered by Theresa who asks what’s going on with him. Something changed in him. Nate explains that he’s sick of being spoon-fed information by Forge, he wants to find out himself. Will it be dangerous? she asks. Probably, Nate replies. She insists on his taking her along.

He telepathically transports both their astral bodies to the Westchester mansion of the X-Men, where he’s been before, unaware of its meaning. He just knows Forge doesn’t want him there and he wants to find out why.

They see Magneto at play with his young son Charles. Despite Nate’s assurances to the contrary, Charles can see them. Magneto cannot, but trusts his son and goes into full attack mode. Nate wants to explain, but Theresa breaks the psilink, transporting them home. Nate realizes, the man was Magneto, the central resistance leader and wonders why Forge was trying to keep him away from him. He keeps saying Nate is destined for great things. He wants to know when!

In the meantime, Brute confronts Essex in the stable. Brute wasn’t slow-witted before he was experimented upon by Sinister and he has realized that Essex, despite his different appearance, is his former tormentor. So revealed, Essex aka Sinister kills him.

Shortly afterwards, unaware of what happened in the stable, Forge asks Essex to leave. Essex asks whether Nate agrees with this and tells Forge that he has no idea how much Nate is worth. Their heated discussion is cut short as Domino, Caliban and Grizzly confront them.

Characters Involved: 


Brute, Forge, Mastermind, Soaron, Sonique, Toad (Forge’s resistance band)

Essex/Mr. Sinister

The Madri /Multiple Man

Domino, Grizzly, Caliban (Apocalypse’s bounty hunters)


via astral plane:


Charles Lehnsherr

Story Notes: 

Soraon’s wing was hurt last issue.

In the Marvel Universe, proper Rossovitch is the mutant Omega Red.

Issue Information: 

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