Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Roger Cruz (penciler), Bud LaRosa & Wellington Diaz (inkers), Mike Thomas (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering)
Summary: In an abandoned orphanage in Nebraska, a young Nathan Grey emerges from one of Mr. Sinister’s devices. While Sinister speaks to McCoy via videoscreen, Nathan disappears. Sinister searches the orphanage for Nathan, who is psychically pulling up images from the building’s past. Sinister eventually finds Nathan, and shows him footage of America in the Age of Apocalypse. When Nathan sees video of a genetic processing plant, he creates a psychic replica inside the orphanage. Sinister triggers a telepathic failsafe in Nathan’s mind and stops the illusion. He creates a teddy bear to placate Nathan, and then places him back inside his mechanical cocoon. Sinister decides that Nathan is too powerful, and makes plans for a genetic time bomb he can use to kill him if necessary.
Continuity Note: Obviously this story takes place in the Age of Apocalypse’s past, but it’s hard to discern when exactly. Since Fantastic Four #1 didn’t exist in X-Man’s world, I’m assuming this title isn’t following the rule that the Flashback titles take place pre-FF #1. Aside from that, I have a hard time believing that it took Mr. Sinister the equivalent of 35 years worth of comics to age Nate Grey from childhood to teen-hood. The orphanage in the story is the one Cyclops grew up in, which is a lab Sinister is keeping secret from Apocalypse in this world.
Review: This is probably the most awkward of the Flashback titles - a Silver Age-style story for an alternate reality character who debuted in 1995. He has no association with the early days of Marvel, didn’t exist in the main Marvel Universe until recently, and, chronologically, was only created in a lab a few years ago. Stan Lee can’t even come up with a clever intro to the comic; he’s left explaining the AoA concept and recapping X-Man’s “dead by twenty-one” dilemma. The story really has nothing for X-Man (or X-five-year-old) to do, so he spends the entire issue wandering around, displaying his powers, and then going back into gestation. The end of the story teases another genetic problem for X-Man, which I assume was a setup for a future X-Man storyline. It’s not entirely boring, but it’s obviously padded, and literally goes nowhere. Cruz’s art helps to liven things up. This is his strongest work at this point, as a lot of the busyness and sloppiness is gone. It’s a cleaner, more attractive look that suits his cartooning influences well.