David Alleyne grew up in Chicago, Illinois with his parents Dorothy and Christopher and his younger sister, Kim. David was a bright student growing up, but in adolescence he started to know the answers without even studying for his tests. David realized he was absorbing knowledge from the minds around him, becoming just as informed on any subject as his teachers, as long as they were nearby. Worried about being outed as a mutant and feeling like something of a cheater, David kept his abilities a secret and studied even harder to prove his intelligence was his own. After reaching high school, David was already accelerated enough in his classes that he started taking courses at the University of Chicago while preparing his transcripts for his dream school, Harvard.
David’s powers intermittently triggered the X-Men’s mutant detection system, Cerebro, and Charles Xavier sent out the Xavier Institute’s recruiter Danielle Moonstar to locate him. A former student of Xavier’s named Xi’an Coy Manh was a librarian at the University and was already familiar with David when Dani came looking for him. Moonstar came on too strong at first with David, driving him away. However, he was identified as a mutant by the anti-mutant group Purity, and targeted on the streets with his sister, Kim. Mirage and Karma defended them and fended off the attackers. Back at David’s house, his parents struggled to understand his status as a mutant. Xi’an spoke up for the school, saying an openly mutant learning environment would make it easier to address David’s unique challenges learning new information permanently. David’s parents ultimately accepted their son for who he was and agreed with his decision to transfer to Xavier’s. [New Mutants (2nd series) #4]
At school, David joined a self-defense class to prepare himself for the next time Purity attacked him or his family. The popular crowd’s Julian Keller warned David away from sitting next to Kevin Ford, a mutant with a death touch. David rejected Julian’s attitude and sat with Kevin anyway. David’s ability made him an unanticipated sparring partner for Mr. Logan, and he ended up dropping Wolverine on the mat. After class, Kevin invited David to sit with him, Laurie Collins and Sofia Mantega. Sofia’s family friend Derek was meeting her in New York that afternoon, so all four of them accompanied Dani when she left for another recruiting mission in Manhattan.
Donald Pierce and his Reavers had detained Derek and were hunting the mutant students. A fight broke out and Laurie was impaled on one of Pierce’s arm blades. It turned out the mutant Dani was looking for had joined the Reavers, not knowing he was a mutant. Named Josh Foley, he healed Laurie with his newfound powers, but initially refused to accept he was a mutant. Josh showed up at the school later, having been beaten by his friends and abandoned by his parents. David had little sympathy for a bigot, but he ended up with Josh as a roommate after Charles Xavier accepted him at the school. Nevertheless, he had no patience for Josh’s newfound desire to embrace being a mutant and kept his roommate at a distance. [New Mutants (2nd series) #5-6]
David continued to bond with Laurie and Sofia, but he remained cold with Josh and his roommate eventually fell in with Julian Keller’s crowd. Dani was a teaching assistant to both boys and she asked David to make an effort with Josh. After David confided in Josh about Dani’s friend Magma being in a coma, though, Josh and Julian snuck into the infirmary to try and wake her up with Josh’s healing powers. Magma came out of her coma in a geothermal eruption, injuring the school nurse. Josh got detention and David trusted his roommate even less after that. [New Mutants (2nd series) #7]
At Parents’ Day, David kept Josh at a distance while showing his folks around the school and Salem Center. However, David’s father told David that he spoke with a friend on admissions at Harvard, and the university apparently had a policy against taking students from the Xavier Institute, for security reasons. David was forced to accept he might have to give up his dream school or else leave his friends at Xavier’s. While David was pondering his options, word got around school about Josh’s past as a Reaver. Julian and his other new friends turned on Josh, but David came to his defense. Josh got a lesson about what real friends were like and David decided to remain at Xavier’s. He still had a lot to learn about his powers and, if Harvard couldn’t accept that, he could find a new dream school. [New Mutants (2nd series) #8]
David and Josh became closer, but his roommate still caused problems for David. A homeless mutant girl with electrical powers injured their favorite barista at the Grind Stone. Josh wanted to go looking for her, but Dani shut him down because it was too dangerous. When Dani’s old classmate Rahne wanted to go anyway, Josh leapt at the chance to impress the older Rahne, and David, Laurie and Sofia got dragged along. They found Noriko living on the streets, using drugs to try to control her electrical overcharge. David and the others brought her back to the school unharmed, but they got detention from Dani anyway for disobeying her. David lashed out at Josh but, when he tried to help Nori fit in, she wasn’t interested. After hearing him with Josh and getting lectured about her pills, Noriko saw David as too judgmental to befriend.
Josh’s next screw-up cost him dearly when he “healed” the Neutralizer effect suppressing Rahne’s powers, inadvertently releasing her werewolf side. An out-of-control Wolfsbane slashed up Josh severely before fleeing, and he fell into a coma. As Nori found David watching over his roommate, David explained that Josh was like a frustrating little brother to him. Josh constantly made mistakes because he was desperate to fit in, and David understood Josh had good intentions even if he was irritating. David and Nori came up with the wild idea of waking up the dying Josh so that he could heal himself. David stood up to Doctor McCoy, arguing that Josh could die if they didn’t try this. They were successful and Josh woke up long enough to save his own life, turning his skin gold in the process. [New Mutants (2nd series) #9-12]
As the next school semester began, David continued to make an effort to include Noriko. While at lunch with their friends, Nori realized her stabilizer gauntlets were damaged. The Institute fitted her with the gauntlets to mechanically regulate her absorption of nearby electricity. When the lunchroom started having brownouts, though, she noticed a regulator knob was missing. Nori thought it had to be in the Danger Room after her campus tour, but they needed a faculty keycard to enter. David found the opportunity to help Nori by using his powers in a new manner. Because of Cyclops’ meticulous organization skills, David was able to ascertain where Mr. Summers would keep his keycard in his office from psychomimetic memory.
In the Danger Room, Nori’s excess charge accidentally set off a Sentinel training session, and David tried to guide his friends tactically through the scenario. They won but David still had no interest in becoming an X-Man. However, he was concerned about a reassignment schedule he saw on Cyclops’ computer, building independent training squads. David didn’t want to be separated from his friends, and also didn’t want to be a fighter. They spoke to Dani and she assured them that combat training was going to be defensive in nature, in light of recent attacks on the school; David still didn’t have to be an X-Man if he didn’t want to. David had developed a crush on Dani and went along with her assurances. Given the codename Prodigy, David even leaned into the design work on his team uniform, adding a visor with wireless access to information from the school’s database to supplement his powers. Dani’s student advisees remained together and were soon announced to the school as the New Mutants Squad. [New X-Men: Academy X #1-2]
Julian Keller’s Hellions were immediately at odds with David and the New Mutants. The antagonism between them (and their faculty advisors Dani Moonstar and Emma Frost) was enough for Cyclops to announce them as the first teams in Field Day, a series of competitive exercises between the different squads that would hopefully work off some of the aggression. Dani nominated Prodigy as the New Mutants’ field leader, but David chose not to accept. He still had no desire to be an X-Man and wanted to leave that experience to someone who wanted it. Sofia stepped forward and so the team accepted her as their leader, Wind Dancer. However, Sofia was impulsive and emotional, making her behave rashly in her competitive need to beat Julian during Field Day. David found that he had some strategic ideas, but backed down to allow Sofia to lead as she saw fit. Still, when she got distracted during the exercise sparring with Julian, David took the initiative and laid out a plan for the remaining team members. Julian expected this, though, and had his team neutralize David as an advantage for the New Mutants. The group’s squabbling and disorganization ultimately led them to lose to the Hellions.
Josh and Nori were down on Sofia after the loss, making her feel miserable even though David continued to support her leadership. Things became serious when the FBI arrived to arrest Kevin. Kevin had accidentally killed his father when his death touch first manifested, and the authorities intended to make him face charges in court. Sofia decided the team should help Kevin run from the FBI, and David only very reluctantly supported his team leader’s decision. They were caught before they got past the front gate, and Dani barely smoothed things over with the FBI. When the FBI finally took him away, Sofia ran off with the Hellions to break Kevin out of custody.
Icarus, one of the Hellions, came to warn the New Mutants about what their leader was doing. Prodigy finally stepped up and brought the team together to stop Sofia and the Hellions from fighting with the law. Prodigy and Wind Dancer had a confrontation during which David confessed he thought Sofia was the heart of the team. Sofia was struggling with how to help Kevin properly, and David consoled her that recognizing the situation was complicated made her a good leader, unlike Julian. Sofia reconnected with her friends, but let David call the shots as they disabled the Hellions. Kevin had his day in court and the Institute’s lawyer got the charges dismissed. Afterwards, Icarus and Kevin asked to switch squads, as Kevin thought the Hellions were more supportive of his situation than Dani and the New Mutants. David and Sofia agreed to serve as co-leaders of the New Mutants, so that their styles would compliment each other, rather than getting in each other’s way. [New X-Men: Academy X #3-6]