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NewMutants 62.jpg
Cover to New Mutants #62 featuring Magma and Empath, April 1988. Art by Jon J. Muth.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance New Mutants #16 (Jun 1984)
Created by Chris Claremont and Sal Buscema
In-story information
Alter ego Manuel Alfonso Rodrigo de la Rocha
Species Human Mutant
Team affiliations Hellfire Cult[1]
The 198
Notable aliases Mr. Roache[1]
Abilities Psionic ability to sense and control emotions of others

Empath (Manuel Alfonso Rodrigo de la Rocha), is a fictional mutant in the Marvel Universe.


Publication history

Empath was created by Chris Claremont and Sal Buscema and first appeared in New Mutants #16-17 (June-July 1984) as a member of Emma Frost's original Hellions.

The character subsequently appears in The Uncanny X-Men #193 (May 1985), Firestar #2-4 (April-June 1986), The New Mutants #26 (April 1985), The Uncanny X-Men #193 (May 1985), The New Mutants #28 (June 1985), #31 (September 1985), Firestar #2-4 (April-June 1986), The New Mutants #38-40 (April-June 1986), #43 (September 1986), #53-54 (July-August 1987), #56 (October 1987), #62 (April 1988), The New Mutants Annual #4 (1988), The New Mutants #81 (November 1989), The Uncanny X-Men #281 (October 1991), The New Warriors #31 (January 1993), #45-46 (March-April 1994), X-Force #32-34 (March-May 1994), X-Universe #1-2 (May-June 1995) by Scott Lobdell and Terry Kavanaugh, X-Treme X-Men #31-35 (November 2003-January 2004), The X-Men: 198 Files (March 2006) by Eric J. Moreels, Marc-Oliver Frisch, and Brian E. Wilkinson, X-Men: The 198 #1-5 (March-July 2006), and The Uncanny X-Men #500-501.

Empath appeared as part of the "Hellions" entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition #5.

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 make 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. 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).

The White Queen once used Empath to manipulate Magneto into allowing the New Mutants to join the Hellions. This was made easier as the New Mutants had been deeply traumatized by a powerful energy being called the Beyonder. During the course of this plan, he met two of Xavier's allies, Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedlander. He took the opportunity to attack them mentally, changing a subtle attraction to full blown obsessive sexual desire between the two. 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.


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.


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 is stayed at the Xavier Institute along with some of the other 198, however his shared history with Magma has 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 Mr.M, Amara becomes aware that someone was controlling her, and, thinking it is Empath, blames him.

Manifest Destiny

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.[1] 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.[2]
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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5]


Empath was moved to the X-Men's new Utopia prison, made of 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.[6]

Powers and abilities

Empath possesses the psionic ability to sense and manipulate the emotions of other sentient life forms. He can affect a large group of individuals at one 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 others 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.

Other versions

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.


  1. ^ a b c Uncanny X-Men #501
  2. ^ Uncanny X-Men #502
  3. ^ Uncanny X-Men #503
  4. ^ New Mutants Vol. 3 #1
  5. ^ Uncanny X-Men #510
  6. ^ Necrosha one-shot

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