Comic Book Supervillian Origin: Apocalypse

Apocalypse (En Sabah Nur) is a fictional supervillain appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. He is the world’s very first mutant, and is usually portrayed as one of the archenemies of the X-Men. Created by writer Louise Simonson and artist Jackson Guice, Apocalypse first appeared in X-Factor #5 (May 1986).

Since his introduction, the character has appeared in a number of X-Men titles, including spin-offs and several limited series. Apocalypse has also been featured in various forms of media. In 2016, Oscar Isaac portrayed the villain in the film X-Men: Apocalypse. IGN ranked Apocalypse as the #24 greatest comic book villain of all time.

The being who would later be called Apocalypse was born thousands of years ago in Aqaba. He is born with the mutant X-gene, possibly the first living being on Earth to express the gene (though that has been disputed with new characters developing in the Marvel multiverse) and a side-effect of this gives him gray skin and blue lips. Because of this, his people abandoned him as an infant. He is rescued by Baal of the Sandstormers who sees the child’s potential power and will to survive. Baal names him En Sabah Nur (Arabic for “the Morning Light”), which Marvel translates as “The First One”. The Sandstormers live by the credo of survival of the fittest, believing that only those who are strong enough to survive hardship and direct conflict are worthy of life.

Around this time, the time-traveller Kang the Conqueror arrives in Egypt and assumes the identity of Pharaoh Rama-Tut. Knowing who En Sabah Nur is fated to become and where he is, Rama-Tut sends his General Ozymandias and an army to destroy the Sandstormers and find the young Apocalypse. En Sabah Nur and Baal are injured and seek refuge in a cave. Before he dies, Baal reveals advanced alien technology hidden in the cave, left behind by the deity-like aliens known as Celestials. Vowing revenge on Rama-Tut, En Sabah Nur enters the Pharaoh’s city posing as a slave and draws the romantic attention of Ozymandias’s sister, Nephri. On seeing the mutant’s true appearance, Nephri rejects him and turns to her brother for protection. Heartbroken by this final rejection, En Sabah Nur’s rage causes his mutant abilities to fully emerge. Rampaging, he renames himself Apocalypse. Rama-Tut flees and En Sabah Nur uses the Celestial technology to transform his former tormentor Ozymandias into a blind clairvoyant made of living stone, now enslaved to Apocalypse. As the years go on, Apocalypse finds he no longer ages.

It is revealed in the series S.H.I.E.L.D. that Apocalypse at some point in the days of Ancient Egypt joins forces with the Brotherhood of the Shield to successfully fend off a Brood invasion. Also present are Imhotep and a man who is either the moon god called Khonshu or his first Moon Knight avatar/champion.

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