Nate Grey is about to become a major presence in the Marvel Universe once again as the upcoming weekly Uncanny X-Men relaunch enters the “Age of X-Man.”
As if the potential premise of that story weren’t murky enough on its face, the enigmatic nature of its titular mutant means that guessing exactly what’s coming would require, well, mutant powers. Fortunately, decoding the history of Nate Grey/X-Man – and the implications of everything we do know about “Age of X-Man” – is well within our abilities.
So who the heck is Nate Grey?
Nathaniel Grey is, more or less, an alternate reality version of Nathan Summers, A.K.A. Cable. Aside from their genetic parentage and mutant abilities, Cable and X-Man’s histories are wildly different (and both incredibly complex, in the style of the X-Men). What is most important in their relationship is that they’re both the son of Scott Summers and Jean Grey (or, in Cable’s case, Jean’s genetic clone – again, typical X-Men stuff) and they both have incredible psychic potential. Like Cable, X-Man has incredible telekinetic powers – however, unlike Cable, X-Man isn’t subject to an intense Techno-Organic virus that hinders his abilities (though he has occasionally had them tampered with in other ways).
Their divergence is all in the details, though. While Cable is a mainstay of the mainstream Marvel Universe with many spin-offs, alt-universe versions, and time-tossed duplicates himself, X-Man is a transplant to the Mainstream Marvel U, having crossed over from the alternate reality tale “Age of Apocalypse."
Ok, so … what the heck is “Age of Apocalypse”?
Long story short, the “Age of Apocalypse” is an alternate timeline that was created when Professor X’s son Legion went back in time and killed his father, resulting in a world where Charles Xavier never became a mutant leader – and in which Cable’s arch-enemy, the ancient mutant Apocalypse, is the supreme ruler of the world, which is populated by slightly shifted versions of numerous X-Men and other Marvel characters.
In the “Age of Apocalypse,” Nate Grey is a genetic child of Scott Summers and Jean Grey, created by Mister Sinister. Nate (who is almost never actually called “X-Man” on the page), was instrumental in defeating Apocalypse and restoring the mainstream Marvel timeline through the use of the M’Kraan Crystal – a reality altering artifact that also allowed Nate to survive the “Age of Apocalypse” universe’s destruction and cross into the Marvel Universe.
Once he made it to the Marvel Universe, X-Man anchored his own series again for years – a run that culminated in Nate Grey taking on a messianic role as a kind of mutant shaman. However, Nate apparently died when he merged with a powerful alien enemy that dissipated his consciousness across the Earth. He’s since returned a few times, with his biggest revival yet about to come in “Age of X-Man.”
Now what the heck is “Age of X-Man”?
Marvel’s mutant flagship title Uncanny X-Men is on the verge of a relaunch as a weekly series with a story titled “X-Men: Disassembled,” which will quickly enter a chapter called “Age of X-Man.”
Exactly what the “Age of X-Man” is remains a mystery – but here’s what we know. It all starts with what solicitations for Uncanny X-Men call a “return to the Age of Apocalypse,” and results in “the end of the X-Men.” Nate’s specific involvement hasn’t yet been revealed, but covers have shown him wearing a version of his mutant shaman outfit, standing over a heap of defeated X-Men. We also know Nate’s not coming back alone – he’s bringing his own version of Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen, in this case called the “Horsemen of Salvation.”
Comprised of Magneto, Blob, Omega Red, and Angel, the Horsemen of Salvation seem to be X-Man’s servants in his mission as a kind of mutant messiah. But what is his mission exactly?
It’s hard to guess – X-Man seems to be presenting himself as a savior, but he also appears at odds with the X-Men themselves. Nate Grey is an Omega-level mutant with powers so strong that, when they go unchecked, he can telekinetically cross into other realities, and manipulate the Astral Plane. Thanks to his first “death,” he’s also got the power to reassemble himself from death on a psychic level – and a potential psychic connection to every living thing on earth. All of that could spell disaster for the X-Men.
There’s also the matter of the younger Cable that’s running around, who, while specifically identified as an alternate version of Nate Summers, shares Nate Grey’s shock of red hair with a white streak – meaning that once the dust clears on the current Extermination series and the young Cable takes the lead of a new X-Force series, he may play an important role as well as the only other current alt-universe version of X-Man running around.
The whole story kicks off with November 14’s Uncanny X-Men #1.