Since their debut in 1963, the X-Men have sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them. But you know what? Here at AiPT!, we’ve got nothing but love for Marvel’s mighty mutants! To celebrate the long-awaited return of Uncanny X-Men, AiPT! Brings you UNCANNY X-MONTH: 30 days of original X-Men content. Hope you survive the experience…If there’s one thing superheroes usually aren’t, it’s ordinary. Their over-the-top flair extends not only to their powers and morals, but to their fashions as well. There are few super teams where this is more the case than the X-Men. Each Friday during Uncanny X-Month, we’ll be discussing the best and worst fashion moments of one of Marvel’s merry mutants. This week, we’re discussing the many looks of the singular X-Man: Nate Grey. Before we enter the “Age of X-Man,” we ask, which of his looks is the best? AiPT!’s panel of fashion judges, Manga Editor Eric Cline, Uncanny X-Month Curator Chris Hassan, contributor Jason Segarra and special guest judge Zack “Xavier Files” Jenkins of the Battle of the Atom podcast decide.
The classic costume
Art by Steve Skroce
Eric: This is a solid look. The yellow and blue color scheme is simple, but there are a lot of interesting little details that help the outfit stand out. I particularly dig the jacket, and the kneepads are such a random design choice that they’re charming.
Chris: When X-Man burst onto the comics scene, I was in elementary school and definitely knew more about comic books than fashion. Now that I’m in my 30s, I’d like to think I know a little more about fashion (and a whole lot more about comics, of course), and this, my dear Nate Grey, is not a good look. There’s a lot going on here, from the puffy knee pads to the–what are those? Stomach straps? It’s bad enough you have to loosen your belt after a big meal–imagine loosening your belt and two stomach belts! Sorry, Nate, it’s an iconic look for you, but also a mess to look at.
Jason: Hard to put my finger on why, but I enjoy Nate’s BDSM drum majorette for the University of Michigan (Go Wolverines) look. It’s a solid color scheme and the jacket sort of speaks to Cable’s militaristic lifestyle (though not this version of Cable), but how exactly do those knee pads function? They just outline his kneecaps. I’m also a touch confused about the unflattering codpiece and the belt that isn’t entirely pouches. Was he not created in the ’90s? Give him like 30 goddamn pouches and a bulging… uh… nah, you know what? This is fine.
Zack: I don’t want to judge this boy too hard because he grew up in a tube during an apocalyptic hellscape and didn’t have time to learn about fashion. I’m working under the impression that these are literally the first clothes he has ever seen. That is the only explanation for ab straps, babies-first kneepads and a codpiece that looks like he is wearing a thong on the outside of his pants. He couldn’t have known better right?
Overall score: 7/10
The multiple necklaces costume
Art by Roger Cruz
Eric: This is horrible. There’s so much going on, yet it’s so pedestrian at the same time. The sunglasses are especially tacky.
Chris: X-Man… if he was part of Guy Fieri’s posse… I guess? Is this supposed to be a casual look? There’s nothing casual about this look. It gives me a headache just thinking about how long it takes Nate to get into all of this. The fingerless gloves with–are those tiny straps? (Nate loves his straps!) The tacky vest, the two necklaces… is that seriously a cross? Is Nate a Christian? Did they have Christianity in the Age of Apocalypse? Also, cool shades, bro!
Jason: Nate fell out of the local Old Navy and took one of everything. Cargo pants? Check. Tech vest? Check. Puka shell necklace? Shoot, gimme a gaudy metal cross chain to go with that bad boy! Top the look off with a short-sleeve deep V raglan shirt, some fingerless gloves and sunglasses at night and you’ve got the gritty Marvel Comics reboot of Kid Vid from the Burger King Kids Club. Points given for the stylish shoes, though.
Zack: I’m glad he decided that a vest with a vaguely tribal pattered shawl was the right choice to pull together his jerk boyfriend in ever ’90s teen movie look. A better choice was tucking all of it into his chunky belt. Imagine seeing this person in real life and how hard it would be to talk about anything else for the rest of your day.
Overall score: 1.66/10
The mesh shirt costume
Art by Roger Cruz
Eric: I love a mesh shirt, especially with a bold jacket overtop of it. Everything matches really well here.
Chris: This looks like an update of Nate’s original look, just streamlined across the board. So props there, Nate. What is that? A leather jacket/leather pants combo? Alright. And then we have the mesh shirt. I feel like mesh isn’t the best material for a superhero who could be out late on cold nights. But I admire that the mesh shirt matches the mesh on his metal glove thing. You gotta coordinate!
Jason: So you ditched the gold piping on the jacket and found a somehow LESS practical form of chest covering? I’m sure that stainless steel ove glove will make all the girls at the INXS show notice you, Nate. They may even compliment your highlights.
Zack: I’ve never seen a mesh shirt in real life. I refuse to believe that a character who is taking himself this seriously would walk around in a mesh shirt. At least he realized it was too cold to leave home without a jacket.
Overall score: 4.25/10
The short-sleeve jacket costume
Art by Roger Cruz
Eric: Meh. This could pass for just standard everyday wear if not for the gloves. It’s not bad but it’s boring.
Chris: All of Nate’s outfits look so uncomfortable. I know the Age of Apocalypse was no picnic, but we’ve definitely got comfier looks here, man! Is this a short-sleeve jacket? Is that what’s going on here? Or are the sleeves rolled up? If it’s the latter, how does he roll such tight sleeves up over those giant arms? It’s making me feel uncomfortable just thinking about it! But nice turtleneck!
Jason: Casual Nate mostly works, even if what he’s wearing sends the message that “My palms are freezing, but my fingers and forearms are burning up!” Points for the sandwich, though. Lunch is the second most important meal of the day.
Zack: The turtleneck tee sure is a choice and I wish he would have put the money he spent on that sandwich toward some fingers for his gloves. Otherwise this just looks like a guy I wouldn’t actively make fun of.
Overall score: 3.5/10
The Pixies fan costume
Art by Roger Cruz
Eric: Holy s--t, every part of this outfit is as tight as humanly possible. The clothes may be kind of generic, but the way Nate’s wearing them is flamboyant enough to keep them from being boring. I dig it. Score: 6/10
Chris: Ugh, more tight clothing. That shirt is so tight it’s about to rip. It’s already started with the pants! Why the fingerless gloves again? And is Nate really into the Pixies, or did he pick this up at an Urban Outfitters or something? I got to see the Pixies this summer, and I’ll tell ya, not one person in the audience looked like this. But I’m glad Nate’s adoring fans dig this look. I’m sure many of these people went home after and discovered the Pixies for the first time because of that shirt. The Pixies thank you, Nate!
Jason: This look screams “I’m the cool, newly single dad in town.” He brought back the stylish shoes from the second look on this list, put on baby’s first Pixies t-shirt, probably got those jeans pre-ripped and is wearing his nicest snap on fingerless gloves. Wearing an MC5 belt and a Pixies shirt does make you seem like the biggest poser at the CMJ Music festival, though (’90s!). Nice try, Narc.
Zack: Nate Grey knows one Pixies song and it is only because it plays at the end of Fight Club. He thinks “Doolittle” just sounds like a bunch of noise. Honestly, though, I’m shocked that Baby Gap even carries Pixies apparel.
Score: Pile of poo Emoji/10
Overall score: 5/10
The X-Men costume
Art by Mike Miller
Eric: I don’t come to Nate Grey for generic suits that literally any other X-Man could wear. There’s no personality here. Even as far as standard X-uniforms go, this one is forgettable.
Chris: It’s the outfit that defined Cyclops for a generation of fans who picked up that first action figure ToyBiz made of Cyclops, Nate’s dad. Of course, when Nate puts it on, it become super tight and the collar we never knew existed pops up. I also appreciate the formal gold belt. This is the X-Men’s definition of business casual. The big white X actually goes nicely with the white in Nate’s hair. I kind of dig this. Sorry, but am I the only person who thinks a character that goes by “X-Man” should have at least one “X” somewhere on his costume?
Jason: Fittingly for a suit based on a design from the ’80s, this is the one time where he doesn’t look too aggressively ’90s. He’s got a prominent “X” on his uniform, there’s a family lineage angle to explain his donning of the flight suit, and he finally put some goddamn fingers on his goddamn gloves. It’s still super tight to show the chicks that he lifts (which he clearly likes) and it’s got enough pouches for his 616 counterpart to not complain so much (“sure he’s got a few on his belt, but where are the leg pouches?”). I get Eric’s complaint, but honestly, this is the most “super-heroic” Nate has ever looked.
Zack: Just like anything else designed by the City of Heroes Character Creator, I have no feelings about this basic look. There is nothing to it. It is the Toyota Yaris of superhero costumes, sure it is ugly but not enough to make me care.
Score: Neutral face Emoji/10
Overall score: 6.33/10
The X-tattoo costume
Art by Ariel Olivetti
Eric: This is quintessential X-Man for me. It’s simple, sleek and has just enough uniqueness to stand out. The all black looks good, and going shirtless with a long, flowing jacket is a bold choice. Also bold: that X-tattoo on Nate’s chest. And why the hell is he barefoot?
Chris: Nate really took a liking to those nicer belts. This time around, he’s rocking a silver one! Nate seems to be going through some type of pouty, Hayden Christensen phase here, coupled with a runway fashion style. Can’t you just picture Nate strutting down the runway in this chic, barefoot, unbuttoned look? And that X tattoo? Damnnn, bro, you really are the X-Man! Overall, it’s good to see the clothes aren’t so tight, but this is more of a “be right there, let me just throw some clothes on” look than a full-time costume.
Jason: I’m not surprised that Nate cosplays as Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode in his off-time. This look is pretty inoffensive but the high-and-tight Johnny Unitas undercut does NOT work for me. I hate to say it, but I preferred when he was rocking the Rachel. It also has to be said that the tattoo is tacky–it’s like getting your own name on your chest. Still, I’d be tempted to enjoy his “ad execs for Camel Cigarettes in the ’80s re-imagine what Jesus looks like” look if he DIDN’T DROP THOSE STYLISH SHOES FROM BEFORE!
Zack: Only the gestalt combination of Nate Grey and Warren Ellis could look at Spider Jerusalem and see a fashion icon. This is an outfit the screams “BAM! POW! Comics aren’t for kids anymore!” The tattoo, representing a team he has hated for years and a code name he has used like twice really pushes it over the edge. Only his Disturbed CDs understand him because Scott and Jean took one look and said, “Well he isn’t really our kid is he?” A perfect look.
Overall score: 7.5/10
Final verdict: The X-tattoo costume
Art by Ariel Olivetti
Our favorite of Nate Grey’s fashions is his shirtless look with the black coat and X-chest tattoo. It wasn’t a unanimous decision, but love it or hate, this is an outfit that grabs one’s attention. And really, what defines X-Man more than being polarizing?
What’s your favorite X-Man costume? Let us know in the comment space below!
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