Mister Sinister

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Mister Sinister
Mister Sinister 1989.png
Mister Sinister on the cover of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update '89 #5 (November 1989). Art by Ron Frenz.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearance
  • First mentioned: Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 #212 (1986)
  • First seen in silhouette: Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 #213 (1987)
  • First full appearance: Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 #221 (1987)
Created byCharacter: Chris Claremont
Origin: Peter Milligan
In-story information
Alter egoNathaniel Essex
SpeciesBorn: Human, later given powers
Clone Body: Mutant
Team affiliationsMarauders
Nasty Boys
Intelligencia
PartnershipsApocalypse
Notable aliasesNathan Milbury, Robert Windsor, Mike Milbury, Nosferatu, Sinister
Abilities
  • Superhuman strength and durability
  • Limited telepathy
  • Limited telekinesis
  • Concussive energy projection
  • Agelessness
  • Molecular manipulation of body and mass

Mister Sinister (Nathaniel Essex) is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Chris Claremont, the character was first mentioned as the employer behind the team of assassins known as the Marauders in The Uncanny X-Men #212 (December 1986), then seen in silhouette in The Uncanny X-Men #213, with both issues serving as chapters of the 1986 "Mutant Massacre" crossover. Mr. Sinister then made his first full appearance in Uncanny X-Men #221 (September 1987), his appearance designed by artist Marc Silvestri.[1]

A villain who usually prefers to act through agents and manipulation, Nathaniel Essex was originally a human scientist born in Victorian London who was inspired by the work of his contemporary Charles Darwin and became obsessed with engineering humanity into a new, perfect race of superhumans. As he learns about mutants (human beings born with the X-gene), Essex allies with the mutant villain Apocalypse, who uses alien technology to transform the British scientist into Mr. Sinister, an ageless being with super-powers.[2] In the modern-day, he repeatedly clashes with the X-Men and related teams, while showing interest and a protective attitude towards the mutant heroes Cyclops and Jean Grey, believing their DNA can create the ultimate mutant. Sinister's body has been destroyed more than once, but he survives by commanding his body to repair itself or by transferring his mind into new host bodies and/or clones. Several co-existing Mr. Sinister clones (all with a copy of the original's memories and basic personality) later formed a community, with at least one clone having an X-gene (making him a mutant like the X-Men) and assuming leadership. This community was later destroyed, but one clone (apparently the one who carries the X-gene) survived and continues to operate to this day. Along with Cyclops and Jean Grey, he is often associated with the characters Apocalypse, Cable, and Madelyne Pryor, and is leader of the team of trackers and assassins known as the Marauders.

Making frequent appearances in the X-Men comics and related spin-off titles, Mr. Sinister has also featured in associated Marvel merchandise including animated television series, toys, trading cards, and video games. IGN's list of the "Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time" ranked Sinister as #29.[3] In 1993, Mr. Sinister made his television debut on the animated series X-Men in the first two episodes of season 2, voiced by Christopher Britton, exposing the character to a wider audience. Mister Sinister appears in the 2009 animated series Wolverine and the X-Men, voiced by Clancy Brown. In the 20th Century Fox films movies X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), a private company called the Essex Corporation is seen obtaining mutant biological samples. This was originally meant to tie-into a live-action appearance of Mr. Sinister in the movie Logan (2017), but the film's script was later changed to not include him. The Essex Corporation is seen again in The New Mutants (2020), with a diamond logo that resembles the diamond design on Mr. Sinister's forehead.

Publication history[edit]

Writer Chris Claremont conceived Sinister as a new villain for the X-Men. Having felt "tired of just going back to Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and the same old same old" Claremont recalled:

Dave Cockrum and I went over ideas, and what we were coming towards was a mysterious young boy—apparently an 11-year-old—at the orphanage where Scott (Cyclops) was raised, who turned out to be the secret master of the place. In effect what we were setting up was a guy who was aging over a lifespan of roughly a thousand years. Even though he looked like an 11-year-old, he'd actually been alive since the mid-century at this point—he was actually about 50 [...] He had all the grown-up urges. He's growing up in his mind but his body isn't capable of handling it, which makes him quite cranky. And, of course, looking like an 11-year-old, who'd take him seriously in the criminal community? [...] So he built himself an agent in a sense, which was Mister Sinister, that was, in effect, the rationale behind Sinister's rather—for want of a better word—childish or kid-like appearance. The costume... the look... the face... it's what would scare a child. Even when he was designed, he wasn't what you'd expect in a guy like that.[4]

Mister Sinister was first mentioned by the assassin Sabretooth as the employer behind the team of assassins known as the Marauders in The Uncanny X-Men #212 (December 1986), which was part of the 1986 "Mutant Massacre" storyline, in which Sinister ordered the Marauders to kill the Morlocks living beneath New York City.[5] In the next issue, Mr. Sinister is first glimpsed in silhouette when the telepathic X-Man Psylocke scans Sabretooth's mind.[6] Mister Sinister finally appeared on-panel in issue #221 (September 1987), drawn by Marc Silvestri. The character plays a major role in the "Inferno" storyline, where it is revealed he created the character Madelyne Pryor, estranged wife of Scott Summers (the mutant hero Cyclops), by cloning Scott's former lover Jean Grey, who was believed dead at the time. Sinister sent Madelyne into Scott's life in the hopes that the combined DNA of Grey and Summers would result in the birth of a powerful mutant.[7] Soon after "Inferno", Sinister is also revealed to have manipulated Cyclops' life since early childhood and who at times has influenced his behavior from afar. After a battle with the X-Men and X-Factor, the villain is apparently destroyed by Cyclops' optic beam, leaving behind only bones.[8]

Months after his apparent death, backup stories by Claremont published in the reprint series Classic X-Men #41–42 (Dec. 1989) detailed the role Mister Sinister played in Cyclops' early life at an orphanage in Nebraska. The stories feature a boy named Nate who is roommates with the young Scott Summers. Despite Scott saying he doesn't particularly like Nate, the boy appears to be unhealthily attached to him and is aggressively protective, blocking Scott from having other friends. Claremont intended Nate to actually be Mister Sinister, revealing this was his true form and the armored villain simply an illusion he used to threaten others. However, Claremont left the X-Men comics before this origin was revealed to readers. Fans later considered "Nate" to be Sinister in disguise as a boy, whereas his adult, armored appearance was his true form.[9] The 2009 series X-Men Forever (vol. 2) showed an alternate timeline, beginning at roughly the same point where Christ Claremont left as head writer of the X-Men years before. Written by Claremont, the series revealed how he would have continued the stories and what revelations he would have made about different characters. The 2010 sequel series, X-Men Forever 2 features Mr. Sinister as a character who is over a century old yet still physically an adolescent boy, using a robot called Mr. Sinister to act as a proxy.

Despite his apparent death in 1989, Sinister appeared again in X-Factor (volume 1) in 1992, now leader of the Nasty Boys team and displaying the ability to regenerate from damage. He played a major role in the 1992-1993 crossover storyline "X-Cutioner's Song", unwittingly helping to unleash the Legacy Virus on the world. In X-Men #22-23 (1993), Sinister reveals his seeming death in 1989 was a "ruse" so he could retreat rather than fight the combined X-Men and X-Factor teams. The same story depicts Sinister willing to protect Cyclops from other villains.

In X-Men Annual 1995, flashbacks reveal Sinister living in Los Angeles in the 1930s as "Nathan Essex" and depict him as an adult man during that era. In the 1996 limited series The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, writer Peter Milligan (with artists John Paul Leon and Klaus Janson) establishes Sinister's origin, revealing he was originally a Victorian-era scientist named Nathaniel Essex who later gained superhuman powers from Apocalypse, thus abandoning Claremont's idea that he was an immortal trapped in the form of a child.

The 2006 mini-series X-Men: Colossus Bloodline revealed that Mr. Sinister's powers were weakening and he hoped to restore them. Before he can restore his full power, Sinister is killed in New X-Men Vol. 2 #46 (2008). The same year, a contingency plan in X-Men: Legacy #214-215 involves him attempting to take a new host body, but fails. In X-23 vol. 3 #5-6 (2011), another resurrection contingency plan led to the creation of Miss Sinister and to Mr. Sinister's mind inhabiting a clone body of himself. In Uncanny X-Men #544 (2011), it is revealed that Sinister is now an entire colony of Sinister clones co-existing, each with minor differences. In subsequent battles, the leader Sinister and other clones were killed, only to be replaced by new clones with the same consciousness and improved genetics. The community of Sinister clones is destroyed in Uncanny X-Men vol. 2 #16 (2012). Uncanny X-Men vol. 2 #17 (2012), reveals that one copy of Mr. Sinister's mind survived, however, planting himself in the mind of X-Men public relations manager Kate Kildare. The surviving Sinister mind kills her and creates a new clone body to inhabit.

In the 2019 mini-series Powers of X, it is revealed that several years before the present-day, one of the Sinister clones created possessed an X-gene, making him a mutant like the X-Men. This mutant Sinister assumed leadership of the community of Sinister clones and seems to be the surviving version who operates today. The same mini-series involved Mr. Sinister joining the new mutant community of the island Krakoa, and joining its ruling Quiet Council alongside Magneto, Professor X, Apocalypse, and others.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Backstory[edit]

Born in Milbury House in Victorian London, Nathaniel Essex was the son of Admiral Erasmus Essex and his wife Mary Essex. Earning a full scholarship to the University of Oxford, Essex becomes a biologist in 1859 and married his wife Rebecca. A contemporary of Charles Darwin, Essex becomes highly interested in theories and research regarding evolution and "survival of the fittest." He concludes that humanity is undergoing increasing mutation, due to what he calls "Essex Factors" in the human genome. After the loss of his four-year-old son Adam due to birth defects, Essex becomes more obsessed with his work. While he dreams of evolving the human race to a greater state of being, he is also frustrated that his peers do not agree with his methods due to moral constraints, arguing that science is beyond morality. His research methods and ideas lead to mockery and finally ousting from the Royal Society and the scientific community. Angry and bitter, Essex decides he will accept becoming a "monster" in the eyes of others if that is what is necessary to achieve success in his work.[2]

Essex later hires the criminal Cootie Tremble and his gang, the Marauders. The Marauders kidnap homeless and neglected people off the streets of London as test subjects for Essex's experiments, including a man named Daniel Summers (an ancestor of the X-Man Scott Summers AKA Cyclops). Two years after Adam's death, the Marauders awaken the immortal Egyptian called En Sabah Nur ("The First One," known in later years as Apocalypse), whom Essex believes is the first of a new race of mutant humans. Holding similar beliefs regarding "survival of the fittest", the mutant villain Nur offers an alliance in order to aid Essex's research.[2]

Cyclops and Phoenix, heroes from the future, arrive via time travel to stop Nur from conquering 19th century England, though they also hope to find a way to prevent Dr. Essex's future transformation into Mr. Sinister. Nur defeats Cyclops and Phoenix, leaving them for Essex to experiment on. Phoenix explains to Essex that continuing his work with Nur will lead to worldwide destruction. Sensing truth in her words, Essex decides to leave behind his research and dedicate his life to family instead, as his wife Rebecca is pregnant once again. Unknown to him, Rebecca Essex investigates his lab and is shocked to discover imprisoned human test subjects and the remains of their son being experimented on. Freeing the prisoners and reburying her son, the strain and stress evidently cause Rebecca to go into premature labor. When Nathaniel arrives to explain he is leaving behind his unorthodox research, he finds that the unborn child has died in stillbirth and Rebecca is now dying as well. Nathaniel asks for forgiveness, but Rebecca refuses, saying with her dying breath, "To me, you are... utterly… and contemptibly… sinister!" Following Rebecca's death, Essex allies with En Sabah Nur, becoming the villain's first "prelate." Using alien technology at his disposal, Apocalypse subjects Essex to a painful genetic transformation, turning him into an ageless being with chalk-white skin and gifting him with a form of telekinesis. When En Sabah Nur tells the transformed scientist to shed his past identity and choose another, Essex decides he will now be "Sinister."[2] While claiming his humanity has now been carved out of him, Essex continues to carry Rebecca's photo until 1882.[2]

Another encounter with Cyclops convinces Sinister that the hero knows him from the future. Cyclops and Jean Grey then leave before Sinister can get further answers. When Apocalypse demands Sinister create a deadly plague that they can unleash on Earth, the scientist refuses, arguing that cruelty without purpose is ignorance, thus the enemy of science. Appreciating that Sinister has shown strength through defiance, Apocalypse returns to his hibernation state but promises that when he returns Essex will be his servant and they will reshape the world.[2] Following the death of Charles Darwin, Sinister travels to America and assumes the identity of obstetrician "Nathan Milbury" (taking the name of his ancestral home), head of the Essex Clinic in New York in the 1890s. There he continues secret experiments on people in order to learn more about genetic manipulation and improve his own biology. He comes to understand more and more that certain people are born with an "X-factor gene" or "X-gene", making them mutants whose powers and abilities often manifest during puberty or trauma. One early test subject is a mutant with a long lifespan named Amanda Mueller. To see how her children will be affected by her genes, Sinister has Amanda marry his former test subject Daniel Summers (who recently became the first of his family to immigrate to America). With each birth, Amanda feigns a miscarriage and secretly brings the baby to Sinister, who compensates her. Seeing great potential in the Summers family line, Sinister monitors the family for over a century to come.

Around this same time, Sinister encounters Courier and Gambit, two mutants from the future. Sinister takes a cell sample from the shape-shifting Courier and is able to implant its genetic traits into his own body, gaining complete control of his form's appearance and allowing himself to regenerate from damage. Before Courier and Gambit leave, Sinister sees evidence that he has (or will) perform surgery on Gambit at some point in the future.[10]

In 1899, Apocalypse emerges from hibernation again and is pleased with Sinister's work, including the development of a deadly techno-organic virus. Sinister then injects the virus into Apocalypse, but it only weakens the villain. As Apocalypse returns to hibernation to heal, he promises to kill Sinister when next they meet. Sinister decides his genetic research must now include the possible creation of a mutant who can kill Apocalypse.[11]

20th century[edit]

In 1907, Sinister works at the Ravencroft Institute and employs the mutant killer Sabretooth as an agent. Sabretooth brings him the mutant called Logan. Sinister experiments on Logan, but the man is then freed by coworker Dr. Claudia Russell (ancestor of the werewolf Jack Russell). Sinister then leaves Ravencroft and Logan's powerful mutant recovery abilities eventually heal the damage he suffered.[12] In 1912, Sinister encounters Grigory Rasputin and encourages him to father many children, promising they will have superhuman potential. These descendants later include the mutant warrior siblings Colossus, Magik, and Mikhail Rasputin.[13] A few years later, Sinister grants shape-shifting abilities to Jacob Shaw (father of the X-Men villain Sebastian Shaw).[14] It has been implied that during the 1920s, Sinister gave Dr. Herbert Edgar Wyndham information regarding how to map and break a human genetic code. Sinister's information combined with the information that Herbert received from Phaeder leading to his career as the master geneticist called the High Evolutionary.[15]

During the 1920s, Sinister lives in Los Angeles as "Nathan Essex" and befriends radio comedian Faye Livingstone. Realizing Faye's genetic potential to have mutant children, he keeps her prisoner and experiments on her for some time, then one day releases her. Faye never has children and develops cancer. When both her mind and body break down, she become a patient at a hospital in San Diego for the rest of her life, her treatment apparently provided for by Sinister himself, who visits her once a year in his human guise of Essex.[16]

During World War II, Sinister works with the Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele. Others who see Sinister nickname him "Nosferatu." A young Max Eisenhardt (who will grow to be Magneto) encounters him at this time and realizes that Sinister is experimenting on children, then killing those he deems failures or no longer needed. During this time, Sinister sometimes plays a favorite piece by Franz Shubert. Decades later, Magneto still associates him with the music.[17] During his work with the Nazis, Sinister creates a clone of the Atlantean warrior Namor. The clone N2 is defeated by Captain America and Sinister soon concludes that it's time for him to leave the Nazis behind as they will soon lose the war. Sinister's research during World War II is later recovered and used by the scientists behind the Weapon X project.[18]

Following World War II, Sinister adopts the name "Dr. Nathan Milbury" again and works on Project: Black Womb with Dr. Kurt Marko (the father of Juggernaut) and Dr. Alexander Ryking (who, like Marko, is a friend and colleague of Brian Xavier, father of Charles Xavier), as well as the precognitive mutant Irene Adler. They conduct research on many mutant children and take note of several families that may produce mutant children later, allowing Sinister to monitor them for decades.[19]

In 1968, during the Vietnam War, Scalphunter brings soldiers and civilians to Sinister's new lab in Saigon for experimentation. Sabretooh, working as a mercenary, is hired to find the truth about the "White Devil" and his connection to reports of missing people, as well as the rumors of "monster men" appearing. Scalphunter tells Sabretooth to leave him and Sinister alone, offering money and teasing that he will let the authorities know the mercenary has been killing prostitutes during his investigation. Sabretooth agrees to leave with the money and Scalphunt indicates that he and Sinister will recruit him in the future.[20] Some years later, Sinister returns to England as Dr. Milbury, becoming a professor at the University of Oxford. His students include Moira MacTaggert and the mutant telepath Charles Xavier, who realizes he cannot sense Dr. Milbury's mind or read his thoughts.[21][a]

Years after Sinister's time back at Oxford, and during the time that Charles Xavier is first befriending Magneto while both are living in Israel, a version of the heroic mutant Hank McCoy from an alternate timeline (known as the "Age of Apocalypse") enters the mainstream Marvel reality. Known as the Dark Beast, this version of McCoy is an amoral geneticist who worked for years under the mentorship of his reality's version of Sinister. Dark Beast eventually makes his way to New York City and experiments on many mutants, using techniques Sinister taught him. Several of his surviving test subjects become deformed or disabled by their own abilities as a result, choosing to hide underground and join a sewer-dwelling mutant community known as the "Morlocks" (taking the name from the subterranean race of the novel The Time Machine). Years later, Dark Beast's experiments indirectly lead to Sinister ordering the "Mutant Massacre."

Jean Grey and Scott Summers[edit]

Returning to America, Sinister creates an orphanage to help him monitor some of the children of families he first observed during Project: Black Womb. The State Home for Foundlings in Omaha, Nebraska hides a high-tech laboratory underneath the orphanage. Later, young Jean Grey's mutant telepathy prematurely activates when she witnesses the death of her best friend. Sinister becomes aware of Jean's presence and power and initially intends to kill her parents then bring her to the orphanage. But the Grey's recruit the now adult Charles Xavier, known as a leading geneticist and expert in trauma cases. Xavier acts as Jean's therapist and mentor. Not wishing to be detected by Xavier, who at this point has fought terrorists, alien warriors, and superhuman menaces, Sinister keeps his distance but still acquires a DNA sample from Jean in order to create a clone of her to act as his own agent.[7]

Soon afterward, Sinister discovers that a recently orphaned mutant boy released the same optic blasts displayed by the time-traveling hero Cyclops. Tracking the boy down quickly, Sinister realizes this is Scott Summers, the latest of the Summers line, who along with his younger brother Alex survived a fall from a crashing plane that seemingly killed their parents. Sinister is present when Scott awakes in the hospital and accidentally releases another optic blast, unable to shut off his power (perhaps due to brain-damage suffered during the fall). To experiment on the boy and see if he can control the optic blasts, Sinister causes Scott to slip into a coma. He brings both Summers boys to his orphanage, arranging for Alex to be adopted by people he can easily monitor. Over the next year, Sinister conducts many experiments on the comatose Scott and concludes he cannot restore the boy's ability to control his power. Instead, he temporarily tempers them by creating mental blocks and learns he can block the blasts themselves with ruby quartz lenses. When an amnesiac Scott awakens after his year-long coma, he experiences migraines until he is given ruby quartz glasses.[8]

Scott spends a few years in the care of the State Home for Foundlings. Hoping to make Cyclops an isolated warrior who can be easily manipulated later, Sinister takes on the guise of Nate, another orphan who acts as Scott's overly territorial friend while sometimes bullying him.[22] As part of his long-term plan, Sinister then allowed Scott to be adopted by a criminal Jack Winters who used the boy in his crimes. Rather than be molded into a criminal, Scott resisted and was discovered by FBI agent Fred Duncan and his ally Prof. Charles Xavier. With Duncan's help, Scott became Xavier's ward and the first official recruit of the X-Men.[23] Sinister continues to monitor from afar but keeps his distance so Xavier and the other X-Men don't become aware of him and interfere with his plans. It is later revealed that during the early days of the first X-Men team that Sinister hires Blob and Spider-Man villain Kraven the Hunter to fight and wound each of the young mutant heroes. After a battle with the original X-Men and Spider-Man, Kraven brings the blood samples back to Sinister for study and provides a sample of his own DNA.[24]

Sinister comes to believe that the mutant offspring of Jean Grey and Scott Summers could be the ultimate stage in a mutant's superhuman potential, possibly the kind of mutant needed to destroy Apocalypse. His clone of Jean Grey is artificially aged into a young woman, but does not exhibit any powers or presence of the X-gene. Disappointed, Sinister leaves her in her hibernation chamber. Later on, Jean Grey suffers catastrophic radiation poisoning but is saved by the cosmic Phoenix Force, who desires her to be a host. With her increased power, Jean creates a new body for her and the cosmic Phoenix Force to occupy, while creating a healing cocoon for her original body. As the Phoenix, she becomes a more powerful hero. She is later temporarily corrupted, causing the Phoenix Force itself to become a corrupt and deadly entity, burying Jean's personality and becoming the Dark Phoenix. Eventually, Jean's persona is back in control and she kills herself rather than allow her power to destroy any more lives. The Phoenix Force feels remorse for its role in affecting Jean's personality and corrupting her. To make amends, it restores Jean's consciousness to her original body, but then simultaneously causes a spark of life in the clone Sinister created.[7]

Madelyne Pryor and Nathan Summers[edit]

Deciding that his clone may be useful after all, Sinister influence's the clone's personality so she will be receptive to Cyclops and will be someone he will be attracted to. He then creates the cover identity of Madelyne Pryor for her (a joke on the fact that she was birthed from a "prior existence", a cell sample taken from a previously existing person). "Maddie", unaware that she is a clone who has been given false memories, accepts a job as a pilot and works alongside Scott Summers' grandparents in Alaska.[7] The two soon meet at a Summers family reunion and Scott is shocked by the resemblance Maddie has to Jean. After learning that Maddie survived a plane crash that occurred at the same time Jean died (part of her false history), Scott wonders if Pryor is somehow his first love reborn. Maddie convinces Cyclops to accept her as a different person with her own personality. As the two get to know each other better, they fall in love. Soon after Scott and Maddie marry, they have a son, Nathan Christopher Charles Summers. While Christopher was Scott's father's name and Charles was Professor Xavier's first name, it is later said that Sinister influenced Scott and Maddie to name their son after him as well. Scott decides to leave behind the dangerous world of the X-Men so he can raise his family in peace in Anchorage, Alaska, nearby his grandparents.[8]

Sinister decides that the sewer-dwelling mutant community known as the Morlocks represents the worst kind of mutants possible and should not be allowed to risk mixing with the gene pool of other mutants and humans. He is further angered when his studies reveal that several Morlocks bear signs of genetic manipulation based on his own research (due to the fact that many of them were experimented on by Dark Beast). Disgusted that someone has used his "signature" without his permission, Sinister decides to wipe out the Morlocks living in Manhattan's sewers. He hires the mutant thief Gambit to recruit a new team of Marauders who will work with Sabretooth and Scalphunter. In exchange, he performs surgery on Gambit to correct a defect that would have ensured the mutant thief would one day lose control of his powers.[25]

Before sending his Marauders against the Morlocks, Sinister learns the Avengers have discovered Jean Grey is alive and well and that her former X-Men comrades have been contacted with the good news. Shocked by the news of Jean's reappearance, Scott leaves Alaska to see for himself that it's actually her. Rather than return home to his wife and child, Scott remains with his old teammates as they form a new team called X-Factor.[26] It is later said this is because Sinister uses his mental influence over Cyclops to encourage him to leave behind Madelyne and Nathan, making them easy targets.[8] With Cyclops gone, Sinister then sends his newly formed Marauders to attack the now undefended Summers house in Alaska. The Marauders kidnap Nathan, leaving Maddie injured and near-death. While Nathan is taken to Sinister's orphanage, all records of Maddie are erased and the furniture from her home in Anchorage is removed. Unbeknownst to Sinister, she survives the ordeal, is taken to a hospital and slips into a coma.[27]

"Mutant Massacre" and "Inferno"[edit]

Returning to New York, the Marauders are sent after the Morlocks. Using his stealth and tracking skills, Gambit leads the group to the secret Morlock community in the sewers but abandons the group when he learns they intend to murder the people living there. The Marauders dismiss Gambit and begin their slaughter, causing the "Mutant Massacre" event, a series of battles that include the X-Men, X-Factor, and other heroes such as Thor. Some of the Marauders are killed in action. Scanning the mind of Sabretooth, the X-Man called Psylocke learns that the massacre was ordered by someone called "Sinister", alerting the X-Men to his presence for the first time.[28]

Soon afterward, Cyclops returns to Alaska to make amends and be a father but discovers the now empty house with no furniture. He concludes Maddie must have left with Nathan, but cannot find a trace of where she might have gone. He is then created by Master Mold, the robot whose primary task is to create other mutant-hunting Sentinels. During the battle, Master Mold refers to Cyclops as one of "the Twelve" who must be destroyed.[29] Later on, Master Mold encounters the mutant Franklin Richards and explains that the Twelve are "The dozen mutant humans who will one day rise up and lead all of mutantkind in war against Homo sapiens in the twilight of Earth."[30]

Months after Nathan's kidnapping, Maddie awakes from her coma, amnesiac.[31] After regaining her memory, she contacts and reunites with the X-Men, now bitter and increasingly erratic, not knowing who has her child and believing Scott completely abandoned them, never caring enough to ever check in again.[32] She later joins forces with the demons S'ym and N'Astirh, who further corrupt her, turning her into the Goblyn Queen and leading into the "Inferno" storyline. During this storyline, the mutant precog Irene Adler (now calling herself Destiny) sends the X-Factor team to Sinister's lab, where they discover and rescue Nathan along with other children. But Maddie retrieves Nathan and several other babies to use as sacrifices for a demonic ritual.

Having reformed his Marauders, and resurrected the fallen ones through his now perfected cloning technology, Sinister finally confronts Madelyne and reveals her true origins. Madelyne dies during "Inferno", her life-force merging with Jean Grey's, who also now has Maddie's memories of raising Nathan. As the X-Factor and X-Men teams fight Sinister, the villain reveals his many manipulations of Scott Summers over the years and his quest to create offspring from his and Jean's DNA. The heroes conclude that Sinister may be vulnerable to Cyclops's power. In the end, Cyclops releases a high-intensity blast that seems to atomize Sinister, leaving only charred bones. The battle over, Scott and Jean decide to raise the baby Nathan together. However, he is later infected by a techno-organic virus, leading Cyclops to send him into the future where treatment exists or watch him die. Cyclops and Sinister later learn that Nathan grew up to become Cable, a powerful mutant time traveler and one of Apocalypse's most persistent enemies.

1990s[edit]

Mister Sinister returns alive and well months later, later explaining that his death was a "ruse" because he realized it was better to retreat rather than continue to fight both the X-Factor and X-Men teams at once.[33] By this time, Gambit has joined the X-Men team, though it is some time before his connection to Sinister and the Mutant Massacre is revealed. Sinister now leads the Nasty Boys[34] and is allied with the mutant terrorist Stryfe (a clone of Cable).[35] In the storyline "X-Cutioner's Song", the character impersonates Apocalypse and uses his Four Horsemen to capture Cyclops and Jean Grey.[36] Sinister hands the two over to Stryfe in exchange for a canister that supposedly contains a sample of the terrorist's own genetic material.[37] When Sinister opens it, he is angered to find it empty, but realizes later he unknowingly unleashed the Legacy Virus into the atmosphere, a "pox on mutants."[38] Afterwards, Sinister (initially disguised as Mike Milbury, a neighbor of Scott Summers' grandparents) confronts Cyclops to warn him about the existence of the Legacy Virus. When the Dark Riders appear and are ready to attack, Sinister declares that Cyclops is under his protection and will not be killed.[33] Not long afterward, Scott and Jean Grey are married, leading Sinister to monitor them in hopes that new offspring will result.

Not long after Scott and Jean's wedding, the X-Men learn that due to an alteration to history, their reality is about to be replaced by another. Believing they are about to die, the X-Man Rogue kisses her teammate Gambit, something she had not done before due to the risk that her energy absorbing abilities could harm him. During the kiss, she sees his memories and learns of his relationship with Sinister in the past.[39] The alteration to the timeline is due to Xavier's powerful mutant son Legion traveling back in time in order to kill Magneto before the X-Men have even formed, but accidentally killing Charles Xavier instead. This creates a new "Age of Apocalypse" reality where Apocalypse was able to conquer much of the Western hemisphere and Magneto forms his own team of X-Men rebels, naming them in honor of his fallen friend Charles. In this reality, Sinister helps Apocalypse rule over his dominion, with Dark Beast acting as his lab assistant. He directly acts as adopted father to both Alex and Scott Summers after they are orphaned, and both become Sinister's primary soldiers. Believing Apocalypse will ultimately destroy the Earth in his quest to eliminate the weak, Sinister still seeks to create a living weapon against him. Using DNA from Scott Summers and Jean Grey, he creates a powerful teenage mutant who later takes the name Nate Grey.

Later on, the timeline is restored, and the original timeline X-Men are relieved to discover that their reality has not been wiped out. Some inhabitants of the Age of Apocalypse reality are transported to the original timeline. Dark Beast is transported to the past, eventually experimenting on the Morlocks. Nate Grey winds up in the modern day Marvel Universe, appearing on Earth only days after the X-Men thought their world would wink out of existence. Around this same time, Sinister is working with a new recruit named Threnody, a mutant who can sense the dying and draw energy from them. Learning of Nate Grey and his similarity to Cable, Sinister assigned Threnody to earn the young man's trust. When Threnody decides to leave Sinister's employ, the Marauders are sent after her. Nate Grey intervenes, killing the team except for Prism (though Sinister clones the fallen again).[40]

Rogue is disturbed by Gambit's connection to Sinister, which is later revealed to the rest of the X-Men, driving a wedge between them for some time.[25]

2000s[edit]

Apocalypse gathers the Twelve, now revealed to be twelve powerful mutants he can use to ascend to a god-like state of power, with Nate Grey acting as a new host. After this plan fails, Sinister takes on the appearance of an elderly man and then, as "Dr. Essex", visits the High Evolutionary. He influences the powerful geneticist to use his advanced space station to remove the powers of all mutants on Earth, causing widespread injury and several deaths, including most of the community of evolved mutants known as the Neo.[41] Sinister then reveals his true nature and takes over the High Evolutionary's satellite, intending to use it to alter the genetics of people at his discretion, making Earth a giant lab where he could create the ultimate race of superhumans. Sinister's plan is then stopped by the X-Men, who restore mutant powers to all of those with the X-gene.[42] The surviving Neo then hunt Sinister to avenge their fallen members, killing 17 clone doppelgangers.[43] Sinister later resurfaces as Dr. Robert Windsor, experimenting on mutants again, with Scalphunter acting as his bodyguard.[44] Later on, an encounter with Colossus and the hero's brother Mikhail Rasputin reveals that Sinister's powers are weakening and he is becoming desperate to find a way to restore them.[13]

During the storyline "X-Men: Endangered Species", Sinister sends the Marauders and Acolytes to murder all those who have knowledge of the future.[45] Due to the event known as M-Day, most mutants lose their powers overnight and there is no sign of new mutant births occurring anywhere on Earth. Later on, a mutant named Joe Buggs is murdered by a mysterious mutant hunter. His friend Ed seeks the X-Men for help, claiming the killer is Kraven the Hunter (believed dead at the time). The X-Men call on Spider-Man to consult and the heroes discover the true hero is Sinister's later creation, Xraven, a telepathic hunter. Realizing Xraven believes he is Sinister's "favorite son," Cyclops invites the hunter to read his own mind and see his experiences with the villain. Seeing Cyclops' memories and that Sinister treats even his own soldiers and creations like pawns, Xraven flees with DNA samples taken from the X-Men Shadowcat, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Wolverine. Later, Mister Sinister tells Xraven than he plans to create a new generation of mutants through cloning. Realizing Sinister will use these mutants as slaves, Xraven destroys the samples and engages Sinister which results in the collapse of Sinister's hideout. Sinister survived, but Xraven's fate is unknown.[46]

Some time later, the first new mutant since M-Day is born. Sinister recruits agents to kidnap the child in the storyline "X-Men: Messiah Complex." However, Sinister (whose powers are still weakened) is then confronted by Mystique, who presses the villain's face against an unconscious Rogue. Rogue's energy absorption abilities are amplified at the time, causing her skin-to-skin contact with Sinister to kill the villain almost instantaneously.[47]

Miss Sinister[edit]

Miss Sinister in X-Men Legacy #214 (September 2008). Art by Scot Eaton.

Mister Sinister had been anticipating his physical death for some time, putting events in motion to ensure resurrection. Using the Cronus Device, he managed to implant within genetic information into the DNA strands of the Mark, Ryking, Shaw, and Xavier family lines, meaning their descendants could act as hosts for his consciousness.[48] Following his death at Mystiques hands, Sinister's consciousness inhabits Professor Xavier's body.[49] Sebastian Shaw and Gambit destroy the machine, enabling Xavier to successfully drive out Sinister's consciousness. However, Sinister's consciousness activates within another of his test subjects, a woman named Claudine Renko whose body becomes a genetic duplicate of Essex but with female sex characteristics.[50] Activated as a fail-safe in case the Cronus Device plan failed and now possessing the same superhuman abilities, Renko takes the name Miss Sinister.[51]

X-23 (Laura Kinney, created from a cloning project involving Wolverine's DNA) encounters a young girl named Alice, who then introduces her and Gambit to her owner/adoptive mother, Miss Sinister. Renko explains Alice is also a clone, the fourth of a series created by Essex as one of several experiments involving children held in a desert lab. Renko explains she only has parts of Sinister's memories and considers herself a separate person. She sees Sinister's mind as a virus attempting to overtake her and hopes that by switching bodies with X-23 she will maintain her own mind. The plan backfires when Essex's mind telepathically takes control of X-23 and uses her to mortally wound Renko. Laura overcomes Essex's presence, then escapes the lap with Alice and Gambit, freeing the other children test subjects in the process. In the wreckage left behind, Claudine Renko lives, looked over by the fifth Alice clone, the new host of Essex.[52]

Miss Sinister is next seen in the company of the reality displaced X-Men of a now-dead universe. One member of this team, Jimmy Hudson, has a genetic anomaly that could enable Renko to create and control spontaneous mutation.[53] Over the following months, Renko further researches this anomaly, calling it Mothervine, for the purpose of controlling mutant childbirths, causing further evolution in natural-born mutants, and triggering mutation in non-mutants.[54] Though she realizes the secondary and primary mutations caused by such tampering are debilitating to the point of being lethal, Renko works with Bastion, Emma Frost, and Havok to unleash Mothervine on a global scale.[55]

Mothervine bombs containing the catalyst are launched into a dozen major American cities resulting in the emergence of primary mutations in people that didn't possess the X-Gene, as well as the appearance of secondary and tertiary enhancements in mutants. The time-displaced X-Men attack but are quickly defeated and captured. Seeing the damage done by Mothervine and realizing all mutants may become subject to Miss Sinister, Emma Frost takes psychic control of the New Marauders to fight her. Miss Sinister, then activates implants in the genetic codes of the New Marauders, killing them instantly. Despite this, Emma Frost is able to free Jimmy Hudson from his metal restraints, and he seemingly slays Miss Sinister. The effects of Mothervine are then contained and reversed by Magneto and Elixir.[56]

2010s[edit]

Mister Sinister in Extraordinary X-Men #2 (January 2016). Art by Humberto Ramos and Victor Olazaba.

Mister Sinister is eventually able to fully possess the fifth clone of Alice, returning in Uncanny X-Men #544. Now dressed in Victorian-era garb and using knowledge gained from Apocalypse, he merges with the Dreaming Celestial. Using the resulting power, he turns San Francisco's residents into doppelgangers of himself and attempts to create a society resembling 19th century England, claiming that society was perfect. His true plan is to gain the attention of the Celestials so they will come to Earth and deem humanity chaotic, at which point they may eradicate all life, leaving him to rebuild the planet. However, Sinister is defeated and his efforts undone.[57]

Foreseeing that the Phoenix Force will one day return to Earth, Sinister tells the young mutant Hope Summers about its existence, knowing she would be its choice for a new host. In truth, he intends to steal the Phoenix energy by using a group of Madelyne Pryor clones.[58] When the Phoenix Force arrives on Earth during the "Avengers vs. X-Men" storyline, its power winds up divided between five people, including Cyclops, who become the Phoenix Five. The Five track down Mister Sinister, learning he has built his own city (based on Victorian-era London) within Subterranea. The city is inhabited solely by clones of Mister Sinister and some of his acquaintances, including Cyclops, Madelyne Pryor, Gambit, Mystique, and Krakoa. Also populating the city are clones of the Phalanx, clones of Sabretooth called "Hounds", and clones of the Marauders who function as Battalion Guards. Sinister orders his clones to war against the Phoenix Five.[59] At first, Sinister's forces seem to be winning against the Phoenix Five.[60] After help arrives, the Phoenix Five are able to escape and proceed to kill each and every clone of Sinister present.[61]

In the aftermath of "Avengers vs. X-Men," Sinister appears alive and visits Cyclops. He explains that some time ago he killed the X-Men public relations manager Katie Kildare, placing his own personality in the woman's mind while a secondary Sinister clone was left in charge of the city. While his clones and resources are gone, he still lives and will strike again.[62] Sinister, now again in a cloned body of his old form, then infiltrates the X-Men's original mansion home, recently renamed the Jean Grey School, through its student Ernst. Ernst provides Sinister with access to DNA samples from the mutants within the school in exchange for providing her friend Martha Johannesen with a new body. His efforts are ultimately foiled by the students and Spider-Man, whose was asked by Wolverine to help locate the school's mole. Sinister manages to escape but his samples are destroyed.[63]

All New, All Different[edit]

When the Inhumans' home of Attilan is under attack, its leader Black Bolt releases Terrigen Mist across Earth, the same mutagenic agent derived from Terrigen crystals used to unlock an Inhuman's full superhuman potential. While this causes many humans with latent Inhuman genes (due to an ancestor) to discover new powers, the mist also proves deadly mutants after sustained exposure.[64] Mister Sinister began experimenting on unwilling subjects, trying to make Inhuman and Mutant DNA co-exist in order to allow the creation of a genetically superior species. One trial subject with combined DNA is a new genetic copy of Cyclops. But Mister Sinister soon discovers the clone is unstable due to the Inhuman DNA taking over enough to mutate it and a combined race would therefore be doomed. After the Cyclops clone explodes upon being lifted by Storm and the time-displaced Jean Grey to a safe height, Mister Sinister is defeated by Colossus and Magik, and handed over to the authorities.[65]

During the "Hunt for Wolverine" storyline, Mister Sinister attacks a "thief" attempting to auction the genetic material of the original Wolverine. During the attack, the mutant hero X-23 fights Mister Sinister and slices off his left hands, causing him to retreat.[66] The auction attendees are evacuated to South Korea's National Intelligence Service Helicarrier as Iron Man, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, and X-23 interrogate the seller Declan Fay. He directs them to the Kerguelen Islands where Mister Sinister is putting together a database. Upon arrival, the group discovers that Sinister has collected the genetic make-up of every person on Earth.[67] Sinister attacks them and reveals a kill team recently showed up and stole his work. Iron Man, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, and X-23 destroy the database before escaping.[68] Soon after this, Sinister becomes highly interested in Iceman's increased power and control.[69]

The Quiet Council[edit]

In the 2019 Powers of X series, it is revealed that at some point in the past, Sinister created his first clone community on an island in the South Pacific, calling it Bar Sinister. While here, he was approached by Professor Xavier and Magneto regarding the genetic collection of mutant DNA that he had acquired over the years. Xavier asks for Sinister's help in prioritizing cataloging mutant DNA in order to create a comprehensive database that would be safe, secure, and redundant. He offers to provide samples that Sinister would have trouble getting on his own. The lead Mister Sinister clone is not interested in the deal but was suddenly killed by another Sinister clone who reveals he has a functional X-gene, making him a mutant too. This Sinister clone becomes the leader of the community, agreeing to have his memories of this deal and encounter telepathically repressed until the day Xavier and Magneto tell him to remember.[70] It is apparently revealed that this version of Sinister is the clone that survived the slaughter of the Phoenix Five. This meeting between the mutant Sinister clone, Magneto, and Xavier may have taken place soon before the first X-Men team was formed (in which case, the mutant Sinister clone has been the primary version of Sinister who has fought the team over the years), may have happened during the early 1980s era of X-Men stories (during which time Magneto and Xavier were more open to acting as allies again and Xavier was still using a wheelchair, which he did not need from 1983 to 1991), or may have happened during the early or late 1990s era of stories (indicated by Xavier using a Shi'ar hover chair he started using in 1991, Moira MagTaggert's journal revealing the meeting happened before her apparent death in 2001, and Magneto operating openly as he did in 1991 and from 1997 to 2001, whereas he was believed dead from 1992 to 1993, was catatonic from 1993 to 1995, and was operating in secret as Erik the Red from 1995 to 1997).[71] The existence of this mutant-version of the Sinister clone helps explain why the villain is classified as an "Alpha-level mutant" in X-Men #94 (1999) despite previous stories establishing that Nathaniel Essex was granted powers by Apocalypse and not born with them.[original research?][citation needed]

Sometime later, along with other mutants, the X-gene Sinister is welcomed to the new mutant community existing on the island Krakoa. At the invitation of Xavier, Magneto and Apocalypse, he joins the Quiet Council that governs Krakoa, agreeing to not continue his schemes to harvest the DNA of mutants.[71] In Marvel's 2019 relaunch of its X-Men franchise, Dawn of X, Sinister finds himself already bored with his new status on Krakao, and decides to resume his schemes by utilizing a loophole in the Quiet Council rules. To begin, he starts a file concerning Franklin Richards, the mutant son of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman.[72]

Powers and abilities[edit]

As a result of undergoing genetic engineering at the hands of Apocalypse,[2] Mister Sinister became an ageless man with chalk-white skin and red eyes. He also gained limited telepathy and a limited form telekinesis, allowing him to project energy attacks. Though he cannot directly control the actions and thoughts of people like some telepaths, he can slightly influence their perceptions, and repeated use of his power on a person can allow him to influence their decisions later in life, causing them to temporarily act against their normal character (though this much influence seems to take years of manipulation). He is also resistant to telepathic probes from others unless he allows such connection to take place (Professor Xavier wasn't able to scan his mind normally but was able to repress some of Sinister's memories with the villain's permission). Due to using genetic material from the mutant Courier, Mister Sinister has complete control of his body at the cellular level, allowing him to shape-shift and regenerate from injury.[10]

On rare occasions, Mister Sinister has exhibited the ability to teleport, but it was indicated that this was not an inherent power and was accomplished through the technology of his tesseract headquarters.[73]

The original Mister Sinister is a genetically-altered human who was given superhuman abilities by an outside force, and so is not a mutant. However, by the late twentieth century, Sinister's mind had been copied into the bodies of others, as well as clones of his own creation. Since no clone is completely perfect on a cellular level, some differences emerge in biology and personality. At least one clone of Mr. Sinister developed the X-gene in his DNA (apparently as a result of integrating a DNA sample from the deceased X-Man Thunderbird), making him a mutant or, in the view of Moira MacTaggert, a "mutant chimera." This mutant version of Mr. Sinister became the leader of the many versions of the clone community and has been the primary Sinister to encounter the X-Men since.[70] According to one story, the mutant Sinister is classified as "Alpha-level."[74]

Mister Sinister is a scientific genius, with expertise in the fields of biology, genetics, cloning, physics, and engineering. The character is a master manipulator and planner, with decades of genetic research at his command. However, his upbringing as a Victorian during the 19th century, his obsessive nature, his fear in the face of any foe who may be able to harm him, and his enjoyment of manipulation all seem to make him reliant on complicated plans and old, familiar ways of operating rather than finding the simplest solution, taking direct action even when it may be easiest, or quickly adapting to new methods and strategies. The villain Sebastian Shaw noted this when he pointed out it was unnecessarily complicated for Sinister to biologically condition certain people to become potential "hosts" in the event of his future death when he already had the technology to simply create clone bodies.

Other versions[edit]

"Age of Apocalypse"[edit]

In the alternate timeline of the 1995–96 "Age of Apocalypse" storyline, Nathaniel Essex is one of Apocalypse's Four Horsemen, making him one of the ruling council that oversees the villain's dominion. He calls himself simply "Sinister" rather than "Mr. Sinister." In this world where Earth's general population became aware of the power and abundance of mutants over a decade earlier than they would have otherwise, Sinister does not bother with manipulating Alex and Scott Summers from the shadows via his orphanage. Instead, he adopts them directly after they are orphaned, becoming their foster father, encouraging their training as warriors and teaching them that their mutant genes place them above the non-mutant "flatscans" who inhabit the Earth. Scott becomes Sinister's obvious favorite son, creating great resentment and animosity in Alex. Later on, Sinister recruits the amoral scientist Hank McCoy, the Dark Beast, as his lab assistant. Though impressed with Dark Beast's abilities, Sinister is disturbed and at times angry with McCoy's habit of enhancing and altering mutations just for the enjoyment of seeing the results, rather than having a true purpose or benefit for his research.[75]

As the years go on, Cyclops comes to doubt the path of Apocalypse. Though publicly he enforces Sinister's will, fighting criminals and rebels such as that timeline's X-Men, in secret he aids humans and others who need to escape Apocalypse's territory or Sinister's holding pens. Unknown to Cyclops, his "father" Sinister is disillusioned with Apocalypse's empire, convinced the mutant conqueror's actions will simply cause the destruction of Earth eventually, leaving no possibility for a master race to live. Wishing a living weapon he can use against Apocalypse, Sinister clones a powerful mutant from the combined genetic codes of Scott Summers and the X-Man rebel named Jean Grey. Sinister names the genetically engineered boy "Nathan Grey", deciding that while Jean Grey was the boy's mother, he himself was the father. Sinister accelerates Nathan's aging and the boy quickly becomes a teenager, his mutant X-gene granting him incredible telekinetic and telepathic power. Realizing the boy's raw power could easily burn out his life and body prematurely, Sinister becomes desperate to gain full control of Nathan's mind and abilities in order to use him as a weapon.[76] One night, not knowing the boy's intended purpose or their connection to each other, Cyclops finds and frees Nathan Grey from Sinister's secret lab in the Blightlands. Before Cyclops can lead him to safety, the impulsive teenager immediately unleashes his power and leaves on his own, eventually meeting a group of traveling entertainers called the Outcasts, led by the mutant inventor Forge. The Outcasts accept "Nate" into their ranks.[77]

Realizing his creation has fled, Sinister abandons his labs to quickly recapture Nate before he is discovered and killed, knowing Apocalypse will consider his sudden departure a sign of betrayal regardless. Changing his appearance and calling himself simply "Essex," Sinister joins the Outcasts and is present when they are attacked by Apocalypse's assassin Domino. When Forge realizes that Essex has a dark plan for Nate, Sinister kills him and reveals himself. Sinister explains Nate's origin and purpose to be the destroyer of Apocalypse. Nate defeats and dismisses Sinister, choosing to be an individual rather than a weapon. He then leaves to face Apocalypse on his own. Events then lead to Nate Grey being transported into the original timeline of the mainstream Marvel Universe.[78]

Mutant X[edit]

In the alternate universe of the series Mutant X, Mr. Sinister is responsible for Christopher Summers and his wife Katherine Anne Summers meeting, ensuring that the powerful mutants Cyclops and Havok would be born. Sinister joins forces with a villainous Xavier and clashes with this reality's version of Apocalypse, who becomes allies with Jean Grey and Magneto. Sinister and Xavier create the clone Madelyne Pryor, guiding her to meet and fall in love with Havok, leading to a son named Scotty. Sinister also creates another Summers clone called X-Man (a version of Nate Grey). He and Xavier hope to control the evolution of humanity, but Sinister turns on Xavier when he realizes the telepath has his own agenda. Xavier kills Sinister but his plans are then stopped by that reality's heroes and the Havok of the mainstream Marvel timeline.[79]

X-Men: The End[edit]

A trilogy of mini-series under the banner X-Men: The End was published from 2004 to 2006, taking place in a possible future timeline, roughly "fifteen years" forward from where the X-Men stories were in 2004. Sinister is featured in the first mini-series, and then in the second mini-series he blackmails Gambit into bringing him the children of Scott Summers and Emma Frost as well as his own children that he conceived with Rogue.[80] Sinister reveals Gambit is not a natural-born mutant but actually a clone of himself with some of Cyclops's DNA imprinted into his code. The purpose had been to create a "son" with Cyclops's abilities. Knowing Sinister's plan to transplant his own mind into this potentially powerful mutant form, Apocalypse arranged for the boy to be kidnapped and then sent to be raised by the Thieves Guild in New Orleans.

Growing up, Gambit only developed a variation of Scott's powers, giving him red eyes and the ability to charge things with explosive force instead of releasing great kinetic force from his body.[81] Taking on Gambit's appearance, Sinister kills Rogue when she arrives to rescue the children. In the end, Rogue's adopted mother Mystique murders Sinister in vengeance.[82]

Earth X[edit]

In Paradise X, an alternate universe first introduced in the 1999 miniseries Earth X, an older Colossus reveals that he was Mister Sinister all along. After years with the X-Men, he fell in love with Jean Grey and then traveled back in time to learn how to preserve her as a clone, leading to his transformation into the psychopathic geneticist Mr. Sinister who then fought the X-Men, including his younger self.[83]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

Sinister as depicted in Ultimate X-Men #46 (July 2004). Art by Brandon Peterson.

In the Ultimate X-Men series, taking place in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Nathaniel Essex is reimagined as a heavily tattooed street thug nicknamed "Sinister" due to his tattoo. He is a former OsCorp scientist who experiments on himself. He seemingly suffers from hallucinations of a being called "Lord Apocalypse" who orders him to kill a number of mutants to complete his transformation.[84] After committing suicide,[85] Sinister returns to life and transforms into the Ultimate Marvel version of Apocalypse himself.[86] However, the Phoenix Force appears and destroys his form.[87]

After the Ultimatum Wave, he reforms his body and gets a job at Roxxon as part of their "brain trust."[88] He then allies with Layla Miller and the two embark on a mission to find four specific mutants, at least one of whom is Alex Summers.[89] Their mission and full agenda never come into fruition, as the entire Ultimate Universe soon ends due to a universal incursion depicted in the 2015 Secret Wars event.[90]

X-Men Forever[edit]

The 2009 series X-Men Forever volume 2 featured stories and canon Chris Claremont would have established had he continued working on the X-Men comics after 1991. In the 2010 sequel series X-Men Forever 2, Nathaniel Essex is a mutant who is over a century old but stuck in the body of a ten-year-old child. Reasoning that no one would be intimidated by his true appearance, Essex uses creates the robot Mr. Sinister, using it as an avatar to command the Marauders.

In this timeline, mutants do not live long lives (with rare exceptions) because their mutant abilities cause "burn-out" in their bodies, leading to death later on (which happens earlier if more power is used as they approach middle age). Essex's genetic research and interest in the X-Men is because he believes they may be a key to finding a cure for X-gene burn-out.[91]

Sinister's Mauraders attack Cyclops's family in Alaska, including his son Nate. In this reality, Sabretooth joins the X-Men after Wolverine is killed, but Sinister then clones both of them to create Marauder versions loyal to him. After the Marauders are defeated, Cyclops and Nate befriend a new neighbor named Robyn, who is actually one of Sinister's agents. The series ends before resolving this storyline.[92]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • Mister Sinister appeared in X-Men: The Animated Series, voiced by Christopher Britton.[93] As in the comics, this version was Nathaniel Essex, a scientist born in the Victorian era who works toward pushing humanity to its next stage of evolution, believing mutants are the answer, though he acquired his abilities from experimenting on himself rather than Apocalypse. He also harbors a lifelong focus on Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Professor X, having met their ancestors during the 19th century.
  • Mister Sinister appears in the Wolverine and the X-Men animated series, voiced by Clancy Brown.[93] This version was born a mutant, became obsessed with creating the "ultimate mutant" to use as a weapon, and works for Apocalypse. In the episode "eXcessive Force", Sinister has his Marauders collect mutant DNA by force and encounters Cyclops while the latter is searching for the missing Jean Grey. In the episode "Guardian Angel", Sinister turns Warren Worthington III into Archangel. In the episode "Foresight" [Pt. 3], Sinister is shown in a possible future that resembles the "Age of Apocalypse" reality, still working for Apocalypse.
  • Mister Sinister will appear in the upcoming animated series, Marvel's M.O.D.O.K., voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson.[94][95]

Video games[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This encounter with Xavier and MacTaggert was originally meant to take place during the 1950s, before Xavier joined the army and fought in Korea. However, the sliding timeline of Marvel Comics means that Xavier's military days now happened years later during the fictional conflict known as the Siancong War, as revealed in History of the Marvel Universe #2 (2019).

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