- "We have to save humanity from itself--whatever it takes."
- —Xander Payne
Xander Payne is a character from the Mega Man comic series by Archie Comics. He is a short-tempered man that used to be a military recruit, but after an incident that caused the loss of his left eye and his extreme hatred of robots, he became a member of the terrorist group Emerald Spears.
Xander is, at his core, a man of determination that dips into obsession. Once he sets his sights on something, he goes at it with everything he has. Thanks to his military training, he also is capable of intelligent planning and is skilled at hand-to-hand combat. His obsession is also his greatest weakness, as it blinds him at crucial moments, such as Mega Man distracting him during the New Year's party by showing off.
Xander's hatred for robots is also shown to be a consuming factor. It gives him an "us vs. them" mentality that causes him to believe that all humans who aren't with him are against him, making him guiltless in civilian casualties in enacting his schemes. Upon seeing the Reploid-filled future of 21XX, these factors have pushed him to go even farther to stop robotics technology.
As a result of his time travel experience, Xander became a fatalist. His actions, particularly those in the Worlds Unite crossover, are all believed by him to be preordained and unchangeable. His fatalism was severe enough that he even states he must follow it even if he dislikes the route he must take.
He once had a pet dog in his youth, but he ended up having to euthanize it by shooting it when it got caught in an accident.
When the city was attacked by Dr. Wily in Let the Games Begin!, Xander disobeys his orders to stay put and attacks Elec Man to protect the people. Xander is no match for Elec Man and is injured by his electricity, and is taken to a hospital. As his left eye could not be saved, his young brother Theo Payne allowed the hospital staff to implant a cybernetic eye so he can see with both eyes. Xander covers his robotic eye with an eye-patch and becomes obsessed in eradicating robots, considering them a threat to humanity that must be destroyed at any cost, even if that results in the death of other people. Later, Xander becomes the second-in-command of the Emerald Spears, being responsible for most of the group's organization and logistics with his leader, Harvey Greenleaf a figurehead.
The Emerald Spears made their first strike by taking over the A.R.T.S. convention and set up bombs in several parts of the area. Xander was not pleased with the way the leader of the group, Harvey Greenleaf, was dealing with the situation, so he knocked him down with a kick and promoted himself the leader of the Emerald Spears, planning to explode the convention with Dr. Light, Dr. Cossack, Dr. Noele Lalinde and all robots inside. He almost succeeds, but Mega Man, Rush, Elec Man, Pharaoh Man and Quake Woman disarmed most of the bombs and captured several members of the group. When Xander explodes the remaining bombs and tries to stop Mega Man, Pharaoh Man, and Quake Woman from digging to save the doctors underneath the lecture hall, he sees Elec Man and becomes enraged, attacking him. He is stopped and Elec Man apologizes for what he had done, as he wasn't himself at the time, and he leaves Rush in charge of looking over him. While the robots where busy, Xander shoots Rush, referring to the death of his dog just before doing so, and escapes with the members Theo and Simone.
In Countdown, Simone Miller and Theo Payne, disguised as construction workers via uniforms they had stolen, including badges, that allowed them to get past security, returned to Xander and confirmed the arming and the placing of the bomb according to Xander's specifications. Theo, however, questions why they needed to do the attack, as the people didn't do anything wrong. However, Xander stated they were indeed guilty by using a machine to celebrate New Year's Eve, and he intended to demonstrate exactly how they were guilty. He declares that with the "weapon" they worship, he'll purge the symbol, robots, and the foolish humans who cannot live without them. A federal-class Blader appears to investigate, but Theo and Simone manage to send it away.
Simone suggests that they should leave the area, but Xander thinks that the Blader's appearance means that the cops are suspicious, and they can't allow them to find the bomb. Xander orders to take down the surveillance robots and anyone or anything that threats the mission. Mega Man is flying with Rush Jet and using his buster to create fireworks, and it calls Xander's attention. Angry, Xander hits Mega Man's helmet with an auto-targeting blaster, and Mega Man spots him. The blue bomber contacts Agent Krantz and starts pursuing Xander. After the communication, Theo knocks down the officer with Krantz, and she is unarmed by Simone. Krantz and Simone know each other and they discuss, but when Theo asks Simone if she knows the cop, Krantz throws Theo on Simone and captures them. In another place, Xander is running away from Mega Man and is surprised by Gilbert, who is pointing a gun for him. Xander puts his blaster in the floor and rises his hands. The two appear to agree that robots are bad for humans, but Stern also believes in law, justice, and the fact that Xander is "a few bricks shy of a load". Xander kicks his weapon on Gil and they fight. Xander throws Gil from the building, but he manages to hold the edge. Mega Man and Rush help Agent Stern, and he tells them to go after Xander. With ten seconds left, Mega Man enters the lightball and Xander tries to stop him, but Mega Man breaks his weapon and throws the bomb to Rush, who flies high and throws it, and Mega Man blasts the bomb, the explosion creating fireworks in the last second. Xander was then captured and arrested along with Theo and Simone.
Xander later escaped custody during the global blackout caused by Ra Moon. He then used the fake name of Mr. Wells to land himself a job at the Chronos Institute as a lab assistant with the claim that he lost everything in the blackout. However, his true identity was eventually exposed via a news report detailing his escape, resulting in one of the researchers, Dr. Shou Kouin, calling in Agents Roslyn and Stern to apprehend Payne. Unwilling to surrender, he accessed a prototype time travel machine with the intend of traveling to the past to stop the robot revolution before it occurs. After a series of rapid events, including the events of the Worlds Collide crossover and being blasted through time by the destruction of the anomaly from Issue 20, he eventually ended up traveling through time to the future, stopping in 21XX. He arrived just in time to see the Maverick Hunters starting to fight the then-recently reactivated Wily Walker, and erroneously believed that he had warped to the actual starting point of the robot revolution.
After Vile blew up part of a highway with people on it in an attempt to prevent the Wily Walker from reaching the city, Xander almost fell to his death, but he was saved by X. Xander, believing that he is the original Mega Man, accused him of being responsible for the current situation, and X recognized him as an Emerald Spears. This caught Xander off-guard, making him aware that the Emerald Spears had actually survived into the next century, and further frightened him at the idea of robots having turned on each other as well. He was then placed under arrest, and Xander, feeling guilt about his views not doing enough to stop the revolution, promised to make amends when he suddenly warps away. He was then transported back to his time, not long after he left, and was taken by the two agents. However, the experience changed him for the worse, making him unhinged and causing him to plan more dangerous plans to stop robotics. He began etching images into the walls of his cell.
He later appeared in Issue 43, where, after overhearing some of the police expressing disbelief about Wily's claims about Ra Moon, Payne mentions ominously that Wily, like all people, will have his reckoning, and that worlds will collide again. It was also revealed during this time that Payne had to be relocated to different cells due to his clearly unhinged actions posing a danger to his cellmates, although he somehow always managed to find or make a new shiv to continue his etching.
As the Unity Engines created by Sigma began to fuse Xander's world with that of Sonic the Hedgehog, the prison in which Xander was confined was fused with a chemical plant and other areas from the other world. In the process, Xander was surprised to discover that his time travel experience had exposed his robotic eye to Tachyons, granting him the ability to open Genesis Portals. Eager to fulfill his quest, Xander stepped through the portal and escaped. He emerged on the Lost Hex, where he helped Dr. Eggman and Wily escape from the Deadly Six, who were being controlled by Sigma-1. The unlikely trio then traveled through a portal to the Sky Patrol, where they were briefly imprisoned by the various heroes. However, when Eggman and Wily demanded to be released in exchange for their help, Xander chose to remain in his cell, claiming that "Destiny has no need for me right now." He did end up engaging in a conversation with Sticks the Badger, the two of them discussing such groups as the Illuminati, Freemasons, and Templars; Xander was of the opinion that the first group was a front created by the latter two.
After the heroes of Mega Man and Sonic's worlds fended off the Deadly Six and Sigma's Maverick forces, Dr. Eggman and Dr. Wily decided to use this time to get at the Master Unity Engine and take its power to control all worlds. Xander aided them in their goal by using his power to open a portal and warp the three directly into the Lost Hex, though he apparently went home and changed out of his prison garb and into his regular clothes between then. However, the doctors nonetheless are slightly suspicious of Xander's motives for aiding them in trying to find the Master Engine, largely due to his reputation as an anti-technology zealot. Xander then explains that while he may be driven to do what destiny tells him to do, that doesn't mean he actually likes the destiny he has to follow, although he privately concedes that he'd probably be fine with his destiny and path if it mandated that Drs. Eggman and Wily are to be sacrificed as a result. They eventually discover the Master Engine, although to Xander's dismay, the doctors were more concerned with rewriting reality to match their own desires—regardless of its readings revealing that reality is under catastrophic damage—rather than actually stopping Sigma. This caused Xander to realize that what he had predicted about advanced technology killing off all humans was going to come to pass, but then realized there was still a missing piece of the puzzle for him to save the world. Ultimately, Xander Payne points a gun to the doctors to make them get away from the Master Engine and borrows some of its energy to open a Genesis Portal to the past, shooting Sigma to ensure he does not travel to Sonic's world and infect Orbot, thus erasing the events of the crossover. Afterwards, Dr. Wily returns to Mr. X's hideout with some memories of the event and realizes that Mr. X and Xander are the same person, an apparent result of the time alteration he did.
- See also: Mr. X
Later, Mr. X explains to Wily that after he fired into the Genesis Portal, he had fallen almost thirty years in the past. To his frustration, he could not change past events, a flashback showing him observing from the distance a younger self crying the death of his pet dog in a farm. Using his knowledge of past events, such as lottery results, stock markets, and long-shot gamblings, he was able to fund the X Corporation, bringing him to where he is now. He plans to change the future to make it a place humanity is no longer menaced by machines.
- Mega Man Issue 16 retconned Xander Payne's first appearance in Mega Man Issue 2 (in opposition of Mega Man Issue 13), replacing Unknown Soldier Blue with Xander.
- In "The World of Payne" story, the art adds a mustache to Unknown Soldier Blue and slightly changes his hair, giving him the likeness of Xander.
- One of the variant covers for Mega Man Issue 50 depicts Xander Payne in the background, reflecting his appearance in the issue.