X-Man minus 1

Issue Date: 
July 1997
Story Title: 
Breeding Ground

Terry Kavanagh (writer), Roger Cruz (penciler), Bud Larosa and Wellington Diaz (inkers), Mike Thomas (colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Jaye Gardner (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

In the Age of Apocalypse, Sinister uses the advantage of a tempest to check on his secret pet project, the creation of an infinitely powerful mutant. He examines the young boy and is satisfied that he is developing well and names him Nathan Grey. As a transmission from Sinister’s colleague, the Dark Beast, is coming in, Nate uses this opportunity to slip away and examine the building. In an old classroom, he notices psionic echoes of the past, among them the life of his “father,” Scott Summers. Noticing him missing, Sinister angrily looks for the boy. After he finds him, he tries to impress on him the horror of life outside, as he shows the boy transmissions of humans being taken to the genetic pens. Nate transports their astral forms to that place and actually starts to reach out towards one of the Infinites, intending to stop him from hurting people. Horrified, Sinister uses an established failsafe to transport their astral forms back. As Nate is about to throw a tantrum, Sinister diverts him by creating for him a teddy bear. Sinister puts the child back into his nutrient bath and comes to the realization that the child is going to be too powerful and that he has to create some sort of failsafe to keep the boy in check.

Full Summary: 

Stan Lee tells an untold story from Nate Grey’s past…


In an abandoned orphanage in Omaha, Nebraska that serves as his secret laboratory, Nathaniel Essex AKA Mr. Sinister uses the opportunity of a tempest and the ensuing energy chaos – a chance to proceed to the next phase of his secret project without alerting the highlord’s North American energy grid manger to this most personal of projects – to spend time on his secret project to which he has been diverting precious resources. With time and two unwitting contributions from two very special mutant donors – theoretically resulting in the ultimate genetic coupling of their kind – his ambitions were realized.

A matrix chamber opens and an approximately six-year old boy steps out. Sinister examines the boy and is satisfied with his general development. When the child shivers from the cold, Sinister gives him a gown (that looks like a pair of polka dot pajamas), while planning to alter his thermo-tide sequences to make up for this.

Sinister also muses that the child needs a name to hang his identity on: He decides to name him “Grey” after his “mother” and “Nathan” after himself. The mutant pure Summers bloodline contributed his Y-chromosome, but for all intents Sinister is his father.

As a transmission is incoming, Sinister orders young Nathan to get out of sight behind him. The transmission is from the Dark Beast – Sinister’s colleague – who has noticed a slight transmission delay, due to the energy Sinister diverted. Sinister feigns ignorance and puts him off. As he turns around, he realizes that Nathan has disappeared. He cries out his name.

Young Nathan, is in the meantime, is exploring the building. Accelerated aging is not easy on the body. His body lies still for weeks, his mind dormant while his cells are artificially induced to mature at a far more rapid rate than normal. So each awakening is a rebirth. An opportunity to discover, to explore the boundaries of his expanding world, to test the limits of his growing body.

Entering a classroom, he catches psychic echoes from the past, where he sees several boys clowning around, among them a young Scott Summers. The others mock his brain damage. Children grew up here, Nathan senses, were used here.

Sinister enters the room, but Nathan has left again. He shouts out Nathan’s name. The echo reflects his shout, calling back “Nathaniel” – Sinister’s name. Sinister angrily throws a fit, warning Nathan, who suddenly turns up behind Sinster – all innocence – and apologizes, explaining that he got lost.

Apparently trying to impress on Nathan why obedience is important, Sinister shows the child on several screens the horror of life on the outside in Apocalypse’s world. They witness humans being shipped to a “processing plant.” The screen shows a young girl with a plush animal being manhandled by Infinites. While Sinister is still ranting, Nathan suddenly transports them to those gene-pens.

Sinister places himself between Nathan and the Infinites, but then realizes that Nathan only transported their astral forms – they cannot be seen, nor can they touch anything. Nathan, however, proves that idea wrong, as he grabs one of the Infinites by his belt, asking him to stop his attack.

Sinister worries that Nate´s TP powers are kicking in too soon and realizes that, to bring them back to the lab, he only needs to trigger an alpha-interference frequency already keyed to the high end of Nathan’s brainwave patterns, a failsafe contingency. And so they snap back to reality.

Nathan angrily demands, why he did that. Sinister wonders about Nathan’s reaction, but he also notices the child’s fascination with the stuffed toy the girl possessed. Sinister quickly programs one of his devices to create a teddy for Nate and the boy is mollified, happy with his new toy.

The night has ended and Sinister puts Nathan back into his nutrient bath, to be released when he has grown stronger and older. He wishes him a good night, and Nathan telepathically answers in kind – in spite of the PSI-disruptors in the lab.

Despite his satisfaction about Nathan’s growing power, Sinister realizes that the boy will be too powerful as eventually he might want to become independent. He needs control. He trusts that the boy will eventually burn out after having fulfilled his goal to kill Apocalypse but he needs another failsafe and plans to add it as a further DNA subprogram.

And if all goes as planned, this little time bomb will explode before young Nathan ever reaches critical mass…

Characters Involved: 

In a flashback :

Scott Summers, as a child

Story Notes: 

This is a Flashback to the AoA timeline, a few years before the AoA crossover took place.

The origin of Nate´s surname in this issue clashes with the origin of the name “Grey” given in X-Man #5, where he intentionally names himself after his “mother” Jean Grey. Presumably, he has forgotten the events of this issue and possibly subconsciously remembered the name “Grey,” urging his decision.

Considering he didn´t recognize Sinister in X-Man #3 & 4, this also seems to point towards the fact that either he forgot his “early childhood” or Sinister even made him forget these events for some reason.

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