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Divided We Stand
Ink is one of the founding members of the current team of the Young X-Men. He is a loud-mouthed and rude teenager with a criminal past. He is introduced when two police officers attempt to arrest him in a tattoo parlor. He fights back using his newly-acquired ability to make others violently ill with a touch by utilizing a new tattoo on his hand of a biohazard symbol, but is arrested anyway. While Ink waits in jail, a prison guard releases him, in the process revealing himself to be Cyclops, leader of the X-Men. In short order, Eric is recruited into Cyclops' junior X-Men team. The teens are assembled in the Danger Cave, a training facility where they train for their first mission: assassinating the original members of the New Mutants who has gone rogue. Cyclops sends Ink and another recruit, Blindfold, to attack Moonstar. After Blindfold renders Moonstar unconscious, Ink betrays her and knocks her out. He delivers the two women to Donald Pierce, who refers to him as a mercenary. Ink then acquires additional tattoos, granting him additional abilities, such as flight and telepathy. "Cyclops" is later revealed to be Pierce in disguise, whose goal is to manipulate the Young X-Men into killing the former New Mutants. Upon learning this, Ink appears to suffer a crisis of conscience and leads the Young X-Men and New Mutants to Pierce's hideout. They subdue Pierce, but not before Wolf Cub is killed, leaving Ink to deal with his own feelings of guilt over his involvement.
Later, it is revealed that Ink is actually a normal human being, and that his tattoo artist, Leon Nunez is a mutant. Presumably, the tattoos he draws gave Ink his powers because Ink explains the desired functions of each tattoo prior to getting them from Nunez. Emma Frost runs a scan on him at Dani Moonstar's request that confirmed him as a baseline human, and Pierce knew this before he recruited him. Ink takes the knowledge hard and quits the team, feeling unwelcome already for his involvement with Pierce. Next he is seen wandering San Francisco drunk. He is then attacked by the Hellfire Cult, a mutant-hating gang. Ink easily defeats them, telling them that he's not a mutant and they wasted their time. Then a girl appears and tells him he's still an X-Man and his friends are being attacked by the Y-Men, a group of gang members similarly empowered like Ink by his tattoo artist. Together they go to Nunez and force him to give Ink two new tattoos, a Caduceus symbol on his left palm and the Phoenix Force symbol over his eye like Phoenix hosts and X-Men Jean Grey and Rachel Summers. They then go save the Young X-Men from the Y-Men. Ink saves and heals Dani Moonstar with the Caduceus and defeats the Y-Men with his Phoenix powers, explaining that he believed the Phoenix Force to be omnipotent thus granting him the ability to remove the Y-Men's tattooed powers. It is decided later that Ink will stay with the X-Men and train, Cyclops not wanting someone to run around with Phoenix-like powers. Moonstar and Sunspot explain that inking powered tattoos saps Nunez's willpower and that adding the Phoenix Force tattoo to Ink pushed him too hard, leaving Nunez comatose. In this state, he is barely conscious enough to maintain Ink's powers, though if he ever wakes up, Ink will revert back to a normal tattooed human. Graymalkin later offers his friendship to Ink, noting that he too understands what it feels like to be different and ostracized. When Dust begins to die, Ink attempts to heal her with his caduceus tattoo, but fails. Her death upsets him, causing the others to realize that he now cares about the team. He later speaks to her prepared body, stating that she is the last person to deserve death and he is the first. Knowing that his Phoenix tattoo is untested, he uses it to revive her. He is successful, but the strain leaves him comatose, Beast stating that his mind has activity, but is subdued, "as if it's been overcharged". Beast also postulates that his current state is due to the fact that his tattoo could only approximate the powers of the Phoenix and that he never actually contained the true energies associated with the Phoenix Force, making his actions an incredible strain. His actions may have ramifications for the future, with the last two issues depicting a dystopic future and a villainous and powerful Dust seeking to kill all mutants and Ink in particular for "killing her soul" by reviving her. He appears, unexplained fully recovered, containing the San Francisco mutant riots.
Powers and Abilities
Ink has no powers of his own. Instead, he had access to a mutant tattoo artist, Leon Nunez, with the power of granting superpowers to other beings by tattooing iconic power symbols on them, evocative of the power he wants to bestow. The downside to this is that it takes away a little bit of his will every time he does it. Nunez made Ink believe that his powers were his own, purposely misleading him into believing he was a mutant. Since granting Ink his last tattoo--the omnipotent Phoenix Force symbol around his eye--Leon Nunez has been in a catatonic state.
So far Ink has the following tattoos and powers:
- The tattoo on his right palm in the shape of a biohazard symbol which cause his victims to become extremely ill.
- The tattoo on his left hand gives him super strength. The lines look similar to the banding on Colossus' flesh when he transforms, indicating a toughening of Ink's flesh also.
- The two lightning bolt tattoos on his head give him the ability to telepathy, but can be blocked by psi-shields, taken from a comic book depiction of psychic abilities (actually an early Marvel Comics publication image of Professor Xavier).
- The tattoos of wings on his back grant him flight.
- The "explosive" symbol tattooed on his right bicep allows him to blow up objects and punch through walls.
- The Caduceus symbol on his left hand allows him the ability of healing others.
- The Phoenix symbol over his eye allows him to use the Phoenix Force.
- The circular tattoo with a serrated interior on Ink's left shoulder. It has not been revealed if this tattoo has a corresponding power or if it was even made by Leon Nunez.
According to writer Marc Guggenheim, “When Ink gets a new tattoo, he gets a new power. What’s cool about him, from a visual standpoint, is he’s constantly evolving as we give him more and more tattoos. But as a result, his powers are also constantly evolving."
On the cover of Young X-Men #1, Ink is shown as being bald, even though he has hair inside the book.