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|First appearance||New Mutants #16 (Jun 1984)|
|Created by||Chris Claremont and Sal Buscema|
|Alter ego||Manuel Alfonso Rodrigo de la Rocha|
|Team affiliations||Hellfire Cult|
|Notable aliases||Mr. Roache|
|Abilities||Psionic ability to sense and control emotions of others|
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Fictional character biography
Manuel de la Rocha was born in Castile, Spain. He is a mutant who attended school at the Massachusetts Academy, where he was one of the original students of then villain, the White Queen. Frost's students, who were known as the Hellions, were rivals of Charles Xavier's students, the New Mutants. Manuel fancied Frost so much that during the night, he attempted to take one peek in her mind but she detected instantly, deciding to show him everything about her. De la Rocha described her as cold as ice.[volume & issue needed] De la Rocha was one of the few Hellions, along with James Proudstar, Amara Aquilla, and Angelica Jones to survive an attack by time-travelling villain Trevor Fitzroy (although Empath's former teammate, Tarot would eventually be resurrected).[volume & issue needed]
The White Queen once used Empath to manipulate Magneto into allowing the New Mutants to join the Hellions.[volume & issue needed] This was made easier as the New Mutants had been deeply traumatized by a powerful energy being called the Beyonder.[volume & issue needed] During the course of this plan, he met two of Xavier's allies, Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedlander.[volume & issue needed] He took the opportunity to attack them mentally, changing a subtle attraction to full blown obsessive sexual desire between the two.[volume & issue needed] They would show up several days later, severely traumatized.
During his tenure with the Hellions, de la Rocha met and fell in love with Amara Aquilla, the New Mutant known as Magma. Aquilla eventually left her team and became a member of the Hellions, so that she could be close to de la Rocha, and de la Rocha even accompanied her back to her home in Nova Roma. The romance ended, however, when Aquilla began to suspect that de la Rocha was using his abilities to control her emotions, which he in fact was. When the colony of Nova Roma was discovered to be a ruse by the witch Selene, Empath used his abilities for a time to convince Magma that this was a hoax. This set a bond of mistrust between the two that would never be broken.[volume & issue needed]
Later, Empath joined X-Corporation, where he became the Communications Director for the Corporation's Los Angeles chapter along with his former love Magma. However, after M-Day, Cyclops ordered the closure of the X-Corporation headquarters to better focus all available resources on protecting their members and allies. Empath was one of the few mutants to retain their powers in the wake of House of M.[volume & issue needed]
After M-Day, Emma Frost used Empath immediately to reel in Magma who, in her devastation over the death of her boyfriend because of the decimation, had wrecked a South American village. Empath stayed at the Xavier Institute along with some of the other 198, however his shared history with Magma makes her suspicious that he is still toying with her emotions. Later, when Johnny Dee uses his powers to control Magma and Leech and make them kill Mister M, Amara becomes aware that someone was controlling her, and, thinking it is Empath, blames him.[volume & issue needed]
Empath resurfaces in San Francisco leading a new group of regular humans calling themselves the Hellfire Cult who are conducting vicious attacks on mutants, despite him retaining his own mutant powers. However, he himself appears to be under the control of a mysterious woman called the Red Queen, with whom he shares an S&M sexual relationship. In the next issue she asks him about Emma Frost and then telepathically makes herself appear as Emma Frost as she sexually dominates Empath. When the X-Men discover the Hellfire Cult's base, she flees leaving Empath behind.
Empath makes a run for it, and his powers seem to be going out of control. While being chased by various X-Men, he takes them down until Pixie appears and beats him savagely. She then stabs him in the head with her soulknife, weakening his powers and blinding him. He is held in prison-like quarters in the X-Men's HQ, frustrated over his condition and angry against the X-Men. Despite this and the deeds he has committed against her friends and herself, Amara takes pity upon him; hers is the only company Empath accepts.
It is later revealed that Empath was meant to be a Trojan Horse, whose rejuvenated powers disabled many of the X-Men, while the Red Queen and her Sisterhood took a locket of Jean Grey's hair. Pixie then attacked him again with her soulknife, shattering his consciousness.
Empath was moved to the X-Men's new Utopia prison, made out of Asteroid M, alongside Sebastian Shaw and Donald Pierce. He was trapped in a psychic illusion where he is with Amara, before the illusion is shattered when Selene's minions appear on Utopia's shores.
Powers and abilities
Empath possesses the psionic ability to sense and manipulate the emotions of others. He can affect large groups of individuals at a time and can exert varying levels of empathic control over them, ranging from subtle manipulations that others are generally unaware of, to a complete negation of emotion that reduces them to a zombie-like state in which he can command them with little effort. His power operates by means of Empath's own brainwaves overriding the parts of the brain that govern emotion in others.
Age of Apocalypse
In the Age of Apocalypse reality, Empath was held hostage by Mikhail Rasputin, who attached the young mutant to a computer system in order to amplify his empathic abilities to control the human population of Eurasia. This caused Empath incredible agony, and when his handler, Keeper Murdock (the Age of Apocalypse's version of Daredevil), accidentally touched him, Murdock realized the horrific pain the young man was in and ended his life.
- Uncanny X-Men #501
- New Mutants Vol. 1 #38
- Uncanny X-Men #502
- Uncanny X-Men #503
- New Mutants Vol. 3 #1
- Uncanny X-Men #510
- Necrosha one-shot