X-MAN #34-38 (1998): Flag Smasher dies

Nate is a cult hero now.

Not sure I get why he would be an MC5 or Pixies fan, but whatever. I think that was Marvel’s way of trying to appear hip and edgy. He uses his mind powers to find some petty thieves and tell their mothers.

Meanwhile, he’s stalked by Purple Man, who has also tried to use mind powers to become a cult hero. We get a bunch of introspection from Purple Man, lamenting how he treated his daughter, and he reveals his plan…To take over Nate’s mind and use Nate’s powers and influence as his own.

Another cult leader type, Flag Smasher, is allied with Purple Man…Until he disappoints his partner.

Then Purple Man makes him jump off a cliff.

In their big confrontation, Purple Man realizes the massive scope of Nate’s power, and forces him to mentally project his origin into Purple Man’s mind.

Purple Man sees Apocalypse destroy everything, and everything reborn. In the process, Nate realizes he is only a source of power and that the “miracles” he has performed are mere psychic projections–he hasn’t changed anything. He also realizes that someone like Purple Man can manipulate him and change him into a source of destruction rather than a savior.

It makes Nate want to mind wipe everyone.

Issue #37 picks up with Spider-Man seeing Nate appear as if he’s about to jump off a bridge–something that is understandably triggering for Spider-Man. The issue serves as a kind of epilogue to the Purple Man story. Despite a solid effort to try to get Nate to change his mind, he does in fact start to mindwipe New York City. So Spider-Man does the only thing he can do…

He hits Nate in the nuts with the proportionate strength of a spider. It should have ended there, but it didn’t. Instead, Spider-Man and Nate get interrupted by an attacking force called the Psi-Ops.

They have armor that can do cool stuff and protects them from Nate’s mind powers.

Nate and Spider-Man fend them off, but they will be the enemy for the next year-and-a-half of issues.

At the end of #38, Madelyne shows up to tell Nate he needs help and…


I really like some of the ideas here–cult heroes crashing into each other–but I didn’t really understand Nate’s big crisis of conscience at the end. I mean, I guess he had himself believing he was a God but when Purple Man forced his memories out of his mind, the truth of his existence became clear–that he was just a pawn of Apocalypse.

I don’t love the reborn Madelyne Pryor (who I think will be ultimately be revealed as a Phoenix Force creation or something like that).

Overall, this has been a consistently very good comic. I’m surprised there isn’t more written about it on the interwebs.

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