He May Not be Popular, but You’re only Thinking that Cause He’s Beating Your Ass this Instant; the X-Man, an Examination by Justin Ordonez
“X-Man, you say? Surely not, you mean X-Men, you comic book noob and total wannabe.” Actually, no, I mean X-Man, the short-lived, flame-out character of every comic book toting teenage discontent in the 1990s. You see, in 1995, Marvel had a problem, it’s successful X-Men franchise—which had found new life after Jim Lee kicked off the X-Men spin-off in 1991 and by having one sweet Saturday morning cartoon—was struggling to hold younger comic fans, who were siphoning off to Todd McFarlane’s Spawn and the hope that Angela, and her boobs, would make an appearance. When this happens in the world of comics, you have two solutions: Do a mega-crossover or completely reboot the series. Well, Marvel did both by creating a half-year mega-crossover that took place in an alternate universe known as The Age of Apocalypse, or if you’re a real dork, Earth-295.
(It is not okay to be proud of yourself for knowing that.)
The Age of Apocalypse entered my life at, of all places, the Target by my grandparent’s house in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. (At the time, this was the biggest store I had ever seen. Last Christmas, I shrugged when I saw it didn’t have a full grocery and said, “Wow, this place sucks.”) My grandparents were doing boring grown-up shopping, so I wandered the aisles and came upon the books/movies/music section, which in 1995 was still a well-stocked department of retail stores. I was looking at the magazine rack when I saw some X-Men comics. Normally, I’d ignore them. You know, you just get used to what Cyclops looks like (a douche), and what Wolverine looks like (not a douche), and you move on. But, that day I saw a cover where Rogue had the most bitchen haircut I had ever seen. It was shorter in the back and got longer to the front. (A haircut I may have—several years later—convinced a girlfriend to get under the premise of, “I don’t know, baby, I just think it might look cool.”) As well, Magento was there, except he had long silver hair and a modified mask that was really menacing.
I was hooked before I even opened it.
I read it while sitting in the floor, then I picked up the title beside it, entitled X-Man. The cover was a young character who had long hair that was silver at the front. Back then, I wanted hair like this. (Kinda Kurt Cobain resembling, which I really only wanted because I had a crush on a girl who was friends with a guy who had Kurt Cobain hair). The problem was my hair was so thick that whenever I grew it out, it went poofy everywhere. (In my 20s, my hair thinned and I was finally able to get that hair! The girl? Um, I know she’s on the Facebook and I think she’s doing alright). Also, the streak of silver hair reminded me of my Uncle Robert, a man who had traveled the world and, when he came to town, had so many cool stories. Also, his hair had gone prematurely silver—not gray, silver. His hair was always slicked back and it was silver and looked awesome.
At first, I saw X-Man as kind of a combination of the two.
I forced my grandparents to buy it for me, then proceeded to get sucked into the Age of Apocalypse, but primarily because I was so captivated by the X-Man.
Basically, the X-Man is Universe-295’s version of Cable. His name is Nate Gray and he was produced by a Matrix-style cylinder of goopy soup containing the DNA of Cyclops and Jean Gray, so Nate has unrivaled telekinetic powers. (Before you ask, the Age of Apocalypse happened when Charles Xavier’s son traveled back in time and accidently murdered his father before he—the son—had been conceived, so there is no Xavier to match Nate Gray. For more on this phenomenon, consult Back to the Future, Part II). To remind the reader of how powerful Nate is, he has a constant stream of yellow energy discharging from his right eye, indicating that he has so much power he basically needs a release valve. (Yo, when you have fail-safes in you that nuclear fusion generators need, you know, that’s power). Of course, Nate’s big disadvantage is that he is young, and he did not have proper parenting or love growing up, as he was part of a sort of traveling circus of mutants, and as a result, became a whinier version of Connor from Angel (hard to imagine, I know).
So, let’s review this here:
1) X-Man has great hair that a girl I’m crushing on possibly likes.
2) X-Man has phenomenal powers that appeal to a powerless teenager.
3) X-Man has immature, adolescent father issues.
No, I can’t think of any reasons why this character appealed to me.
Anyhow, one has to fully understand what a telekinetic is before that person can lay down their admission that my superhero is clearly more powerful than their superhero. In the X-universe, Nate Gray is known as an Omega-level mutant, which basically is a scientific way of saying “bad ass mofo.” He is—without doubt—more powerful than Professor X, and has more power than the Dark Phoenix. To surmise the Wikipedia article, Nate Gray’s powers allow him, “enormous psychic resources [that] he can use to read and control multiple minds, read residual thought imprints, create illusions by altering the perceptions of others, fire psionic blasts that scramble an opponent’s thought processes, and sense dimensional rifts or anomalies. His telekinesis can move massive objects, fire blasts of psychokinetic energy that shatter steel, create mental barriers that [protect against] most attacks, levitate his body, and fly at supersonic speeds. His can create holograms by mentally manipulating water molecules to refract light, bend security lasers, and move the atoms of a wall around his form so he can pass through [it]. He can use his telekinesis to bend the Earth’s magnetic field and he can traverse alternate realities by breaking the barriers between universes.”
“I hate you, Dad! And I’m going to the party anyway! Just try and stop me!”
When you’re the most powerful telekinetic on the planet Earth, nothing is really beyond your doing. It’s kinda like being Akira at the end of the movie Akira. Your body, modern physics, conventional weapons—none of it has an affect on you. Are you gonna put Superman on the X-Man? I suppose you could try. Superman probably flies faster than the X-Man. He’s probably stronger than him to. Both shoot stuff from their eye, but Superman shoots stuff from both eyes. Still, you’re thinking only in terms of the physical world, not the space of the mind, of consciousness. As Charles Xavier said to Wolverine in X-Men United, “Logan, continue smoking that in here and you will spend the rest of your days under the belief that you are a six year old girl.” What is Superman going to do when Nate finally informs him that he’s wearing his underwear outside his pants?
That’s right. Superman’s gonna cry so shamefully even little girls are gonna be like, “Dude, really?”
Here are some examples of Nate’s power. In the Age of Apocalypse, Nate is responsible for the death of Mister Sinister, a genetically altered being who, along with being virtually invulnerable to age and injury, is a super-genius who shoulda been able to out-wit Nate, but couldn’t because you cannot overcome Nate’s raw power. As well, in the Age of Apocalypse, Nate is responsible for the near destruction of Holocaust, a super-killing machine who’s immortal. (Later, in Universe-616, Nate does kill him, I believe). Speaking of such, this really only happened because Apocalypse was interested in making Nate an ally. Yeah, that’s right. In much the same way Voldemort tried to tempt Harry Potter or how Darth Sidious went after Anakin Skywalker, the most powerful being alive, Apocalypse, wanted Nate for himself. (This only happens when you are the most powerful of powerful beings). After escaping Earth-295 and joining Earth-616, Nate Gray is partially responsible for creating a mega-villian, Onslaught, when he pulls Charles Xavier out of his astral form and reforms his body in reality. (Something even Xavier thought was impossible). During the title’s run in the 1990s, Nate’s power is so fantastic that several people, by simply being in proximity to him, develop powers themselves.
He hands out superpowers to people like God.
About Nate’s only weakness is that his powers can be reduced if over-exerted, but this effect is temporary, and hey, if you should actually get him to the place where his powers are failing him, he can just transport himself across the f’ing universe to recharge, then from his sofa a galaxy away, in his underwear with his fingers sticky from a bucket of chicken wings and slightly buzzing from three or four beers he’s downed, he can send a mental order for you to break your own neck, and you will happily do so, thinking with your dying breath that somehow this makes sense, and this means you won.
“Alright, as soon as I’m dead, I’ll going to kill that guy!”
Look, Nate is never going to be Mr. Popular. Nor is he going to get the love-fest reserved for extremely human characters like Batman. But, be serious—you’re in seventh grade, the gym teacher just selected you to be captain of a basketball team and with your first choice you can pick your best friend Batman, a stout, yet clearly lacking over-achiever, or you can pick the one kid in school who’s already 6’10”, 310lbs and has been sporting a five o’clock shadow since half-way through third grade. The kid who’s super nice, but he’s such a giant that, even when he smiles warmly, people fear they’re about to die. We all know what you do. You grab Batman in round two, when he will still be available and is probably two or three rounds too soon, and you get yourself the genetically gifted freak—cause you can pencil it in the moment he steps to your side of the gym.
Nate Gray, the X-Man, is a guaranteed W.
Visit Justin Ordonex at http://www.sykosa.com