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Quote1 I was Nathaniel Essex. I am long dead. I am a ghost. A ghost in the machine. You may call me Enigma. You were told you had new gods. You do. I am he. I can see all of you. Every part of you will become part of me. Quote2
Enigma (Nathaniel Essex)[src]

The Enigma is a Dominion of the original Nathaniel Essex.[1] Fearing machine brains (artificial intelligence), the original Essex created four clones—Mister Sinister (♦️), Doctor Stasis (♣️), Mother Righteous (♥️), and Orbis Stellaris (♠️)—to reach Dominionhood, each through a different route (mutants, posthumanity, magic, and cosmic powers).[8][9] The Enigma was created after all four of them succeeded (in separate timelines due to the timeline-resetting power of the Moira Engine).[1]

Having raised beyond even Cosmic Beings, the Enigma attempted to neutralize the threats to its existence, mutantkind and the Phoenix Force, who had nearly annihilated every hubristic Dominion in the Moira 10 (A) timeline. By sending the local Omega Sentinel's consciousness back in time, the Enigma instigated the creation of Orchis and the fall of the mutant nation of Krakoa. However, these attempts failed, in a last ditch attempt, the Enigma hid in the timestream and tried to erase Jean Grey's future to prevent the Phoenix's recent resurrection but was betrayed by his ally Moira MacTaggert, who sent a signal that allowed Jean to find the Enigma. The Enigma decided to stop hiding and fought the Phoenix, only to perish at its power, composed of that of every mutant in existence, being omnitemporal, the Enigma was dead, but not completely, instead being perpetually condemned to stay at death's door, never to rest.[10]

History

Nathaniel Essex's Four Clones[]

Nathaniel Essex (Original) (Earth-616) and Nathaniel Essex (Enigma) (Earth-616) from Immortal X-Men Vol 1 8 001

Appearing to the original human Nathaniel Essex

Irene Adler (Earth-616) from Immortal X-Men Vol 1 8 001

Four clones, each with a different card suit

Nathaniel Essex was originally a human scientist who had been altered on the genetic level by the ancient mutant Apocalypse, taking the name Mister Sinister. Sinister rebelled against his master, determined to walk his own path, but for some unknown reason, his physical state deteriorated. Having predicted the eventual rise of the machines and fearing that they were unstoppable, Essex decided that the only way to prevail was to create a superior A.I. He created four clones of himself to reach Dominionhood, one continuing as Mister Sinister and his investigation into mutants, one who would study the potential of mankind itself and become known as Doctor Stasis, one who would explore the wonders of space beyond the stars and be known as Orbis Stellaris and another one who would tap into mystical knowledge beyond the understanding of the machine mind and be known as Mother Righteous, who was actually a clone of his deceased wife Rebecca.[11][8][9]

Essex installed failsafes into his clones, ensuring that he could usurp their attempts at ascension for himself by downloading the data into a central A.I. that would become the Enigma Dominion.[1]

Threatening the Seventh Cosmos[]

Enigma's rise was identified as a threat to the Seventh Cosmos. The Beyonders foresaw this and orchestrated the destruction of the Seventh Cosmos, via the Molecule Men and the incursions, in an attempt to spare the Multiverse from it. However, this did not work as the Eighth Cosmos ended up being a continuation of the Seventh, so the Beyonders opted to contain the threat to only a few realities with their Concordance Engines.[5][3]

Defenders: Beyond[]

Nathaniel Essex (Enigma) (Earth-616) from Defenders Beyond Vol 1 5 001

Crown above all things

After Loki escaped the final incursion by going to the Outside,[12] they caught a glimpse of the Enigma.[4] Together with Taaia of the Sixth Cosmos, they were later summoned by Eternity to join the Defenders; Eternity sent them to the Outside to learn about this threat.[13] Upon reaching their final destination, the House of Ideas, the One Above All showed the Defenders a glimpse of the threat, symbolically displayed as a crown.[2]

Ascension[]

Rise of the Powers of X Vol 1 1 001

Dominions are omnitemporal, so one exists at all times, even before it properly comes into existence.[14] The Enigma Dominion used this fact to manipulate events before its own creation and cause itself to come into being. Each time one of Essex's clones tried to reach Dominionhood, the Enigma blocked them and absorbed all their progress.[15] Due to Mister Sinister's Moira Engine, this happened across multiple timelines which the engine reset, though this did not prevent Enigma from retaining the data.[1]

Orbis Stellaris was the first to achieve a Dominion attempt using a mysterium/M'kraanite crystal construct, but the Enigma blocked him and consumed his progress. Sinister used the Moira Engine to reset the timeline, designated Moira II.4.[1][16]

Doctor Stasis was the second to achieve a Dominion attempt using the Orchis Forge and a Worldmind to lure, kill, and replace an existing Dominion, but the Enigma blocked him and consumed his progress (and the other Dominion).[17] Sinister used the Moira Engine to reset the timeline, designated Moira IV.8.[1]

Nathaniel Essex (Enigma) (Earth-616) and Nathaniel Essex (Mister Sinister) (Moira VII

Mister Sinster, as the third attempt, being blocked by the Enigma

Mister Sinister was the third to achieve a Dominion attempt by utilizing the psychic essences of 8,662,221,825,196,190 corrupted mutants, but the Enigma blocked him and consumed his progress. Mother Righteous and Moira used the Moira Engine to reset the timeline, designated Moira VII.1, but they also sabotaged it so that the Engine would be destroyed.[15]

Nathaniel Essex (Enigma) (Earth-616) from Immortal X-Men Vol 1 18 001

Mother Righteous as the fourth and final attempt

Mother Righteous was the last to achieve a Dominion attempt using the White Hot Room after she had received information from her Red Diamond Timeline self, sacrificing the Phoenix Force itself in order to achieve this goal. However, she was also blocked by the Enigma, who was finally completed by all four Dominion attempts.[1]

Fall of X[]

Now complete, Enigma came to exist outside space-time. While limited by the Concordance Engine, it could still interact freely with Earth-616 and all of its dependent timelines. Despite being safely omnitemporal, Enigma was reliant on bringing itself into being and thus unwilling to change that causality, even if existing outside of time might allow it to survive. It would instead alter things behind the scenes, ensuring any threats against it and its ascension were neutralized, such as the Phoenix Force through the ascension of Mother Righteous.[1]

Nathaniel Essex (Enigma) (Earth-616) from Rise of the Powers of X Vol 1 1 001

In a far future timeline, where mutantkind had prevailed and begun hunting Dominions, posing as a "Trickster" Titan, the Enigma found Omega Sentinel and sent her consciousness back in time through a black hole to overwrite that of her younger self. Omega Sentinel then created Orchis, which would be instrumental in the fall of Krakoa.[7]

In 1899, the mutant seer Destiny saw Enigma in a vision, realizing that Essex had succeeded in his plan. Twenty years later, she contacted Mr. Sinister, attempting to reveal the truth of Enigma's existence to him. But Enigma intervened, killing Sinister and appearing before Destiny. He promised her a free run to the mutant paradise of Krakoa, a century in the future, in exchange for her leaving all matters relating to him alone. Destiny realized that Enigma also needed Krakoa and could not risk killing her, but unable to act against it, the two entered a détente.[6]

While monitoring the timeline, Enigma found that it had lost track of Charles Xavier. Allying with Sinister, Askani and Rasputin IV, as well as having captured Mother Righteous, Xavier had went into hiding in a Krakoan No-Place outside of space and time, from where he and his team attempted to undo Enigma's existence. Gazing forward, it saw what Xavier had done and sent Arachno-Sentinels to hunt him.[18]

Meanwhile, it reached out to Moira MacTaggert. Now an A.I. herself, Enigma offered to absorb Moira into itself, but rather than simply becoming another neuron in Enigma's infinite mind, it offered to make her a fully independent subroutine in its engine, safely out of time and still herself. In exchange, Enigma would be able to travel to the timelines of her previous lives. Moira accepted the offer.[7]

After this, the Enigma visited Mother Righteous in her Orchis cell, learning of Xavier's secondary plan to resurrect the Phoenix, it called to the other Dominions, asking them to come and destroy the Phoenix again, as it was the only entity that could harm them, the Dominions accepted.[19] Soon, the Enigma confronted the newly resurrected Jean Grey and Phoenix with its Dominion brethren, however the Dominion turned their back on the Enigma, as manifesting in space would render Dominions susceptible to time, death, fear and control.

Nathaniel Essex (Enigma) (Earth-616) and Jean Grey (Earth-616) from Rise of the Powers of X Vol 1 5 001

Enigma fighting Phoenix

Now alone, the Enigma decided to instead prevent Jean from ever becoming who she was currently, by manipulating multiple events in the timeline which would severely alter it and forcing Phoenix to hunt him to correct the alterations, remaining undetectable until Moira activated a signal Xavier implanted in her mind when she was 13, allowing Phoenix to find the Enigma, who decided to finally confront the Phoenix, only to be overwhelmed and defeated when Phoenix combined the power of every single mutant. However, he was not killed; he became perpetually trapped in the moment of death, eternally screaming.[10]

Personality

Nathaniel Essex (Enigma) (Earth-616) from X-Men Forever Vol 1 3 001

Human avatar form

The Enigma presumably has the same personality as the original Essex, but considers itself a god and seeks to consume every being. It is also shown to be sadistic, as it enjoyed humiliating Mister Sinister and Mother Righteous when they tried to ascend to Dominionhood.[15][1]

However, despite this god-complex, the Enigma has been shown to be paranoid, as it would do everything to erase any threat to its ascension and existence, such as preventing the Sinister clones from learning anything about it, neutralizing the Phoenix Force itself and limiting itself until it could come into being. Even though it could have survived due to its omnitemporality, the Enigma wouldn't risk it in fear of causing a lethal paradox.[1]

But, despite such precautions, Enigma is still ultimately based on a human mind and acts as such. This difference causes him to not realize that all other Dominions see him as a threat and foolish for constantly fearing others when Dominions should be above such things like linearity. When the Dominions left him, Enigma would flee and try to erase Jean in safety, only to perish and become trapped at the moment of his death in eternal agony in shock that he lost.[10]

Attributes

Powers

The Enigma is a massive, nonlinear threat.[5][3] According to Loki, the universe-eating Black Winter is like an "angry jelly baby" compared to it.[4] Sinister himself describes the Dominion-status as something significantly more perfect than a god.[15] The other Dominions even consider the Enigma to threaten them.[3]

Enigma also wields mass knowledge. Having used its omnitemporality as an advantage, Enigma stole not just the power, but also the knowledge of its creator's clones. Possessing the combined knowledge of Sinister, Orbis Stellar, Stasis, and Mother Righteous of their own path, which includes mutant powers, alien and cosmic technology, post-humanity, and magic. Its powers as a Dominion include:

  • Omnitemporality: As a Dominion, the Enigma has always existed and always will exist, and as it resides outside of space-and-time, it can interfere in all timelines, allowing it to absorb the power and knowledge Sinister and the other Essex clones' attempt to gain Dominion status even if the timeline gets reset by the Moira Engine.[15]
  • Information Dissimulation: The Enigma was able to prevent Mister Sinister from seeing or remembering the information on the other clones' Dominion attempts from his Moira Engine's data; however, it only works on people it has selected, as Charles Xavier was not affected by this when he went to see the data.[1] Enigma is capable of many abilities which includes the power to control a Celestial, alter a person's personality, and make changes to the timeline with a single thought and more.[10]

Weaknesses

  • Containment: The Beyonders managed to contain the Enigma through their Concordance Engines and their Enigma Force, believing that it would contain the threat to a narrow band of realities,[5] leaving Enigma contained within Earth-616 and its dependent branches.[7]
  • Human Fear and Paranoia: Unlike other Dominions, because he is based off a human mind, the Enigma fears others and machines, a trait they admonish him for as Dominions should be above such prejudice.[10] Also, despite its omnitemporal nature, Sinister claims to Xavier that it would limit itself before its creation in fear of breaking causality. While it might survive the paradox, as it is outside time, Engima would not risk it.[1]

Notes

  • Enigma took its name from the "Enigma Variations", a orchestral work by English composer Edward Elgar.[6]

Trivia

Nathaniel Essex (Enigma) (Earth-616) from Immortal X-Men Vol 1 18 002

Four regular card suits and a fifth as the Crown

  • Enigma was part of Gillen's pitch for Immortal X-Men.[21]
  • Al Ewing had asked Kieron Gillen if he could foreshadow Enigma in Defenders: Beyond. Gillen was fine with it and expected most people to miss the tease as Defenders: Beyond was not an X-book.[22]
    • While Ewing had always intended for Defenders: Beyond to tease an upcoming threat, it was not originally Enigma. His first two ideas were either going to be from a third Defenders series or from an undisclosed pitch, but both of these fell through, so he went with Enigma.[23]
    • Ewing's Defenders: Beyond ended up retconning the Beyonders' motivation for the destruction of the Multiverse, specifically the Seventh Cosmos, and changed it to preventing the Enigma.[5][3] This retroactively made Enigma indirectly responsible for Secret Wars and everything that led up to it.
  • The Enigma is teased in Defenders: Beyond #5 as a crown. Loki suggests that the tarot cards used to summon the Defenders in Defenders: Beyond #1 are a hint: "So whatever we saw, we know it's not a sword, cup, coin or staff...or any of the other suits. So where there are four--look for the fifth business."[2]
    • This is a reference to how Nathaniel Essex created four clones, each of a different card suit (Diamonds, Clubs, Hearts, and Spades), but the true Dominion is a fifth, Enigma, with a crown symbol.[1]
    • The term "Fifth Business" came from the book by Robertson Davies.[24]
  • The Enigma is also teased at in other places:
  • The following is a list of known events altered by the Enigma in order to alter Jean Grey's life and consequently prevent the Phoenix's resurrection, which were negated by Jean moments later[10]:
    • The Enigma strengthens John and Elaine Grey's will to prevent Jean from ever going to Xavier's school.
    • The Enigma copies Jean's entire personality into Madelyne Pryor to activate when Scott decides to leave her.
    • The Enigma extends the duration of Scott and Emma Frost's affair, leaving Jean to discover it only when it is worse than what originally happened.
    • The Enigma influences the Progenitor into passing Jean during Judgement Day, further fueling her arrogance and leaving her vulnerable.
    • The Enigma destroys Jean's time-displaced younger self and replaces her with a clone it can control.
    • The Enigma alters a couple of base strands during the formation of life on Earth.

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