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Dr. Nathaniel Essex was a brilliant Victorian era scientist who was obsessed with deterministic interpretations of natural evolution, predicting the emergence of mutants in the near future.[1] Essex's intellect caught the attention of Apocalypse, a powerful mutant, the very embodiment of Essex's predictions. Apocalypse genetically mutated Essex, transforming him into his first prelate, known as Mister Sinister.[9] He became determined to reach Dominion status and thus escape the bounds of time itself.[10]

After his death,[7] his work continued via four clones—Mister Sinister (♦️), Doctor Stasis (♣️), Mother Righteous (♥️), and Orbis Stellaris (♠️)—who were secretly being used to create Enigma (👑).[11]


Early Life[]

Nathaniel Essex (Original) (Earth-616) and Rebecca Essex (Earth-616) from X-Men Before The Fall - Sinister Four Vol 1 1 001

Nathaniel proposes to Rebecca.

Nathaniel Essex was born into nobility in England in the 19th century. As a child, when observing the traffic of people in Greenwich Park over looking the University of Greenwich, he was amazed at how they followed what he believed to be preordained paths. His fascination with predicting the course of things led him to pursue a career as a scientist, studying at Oxford University and becoming one of the greatest minds of his generation.[12] In 1852, upon his return to London, he met a young woman from Essex named Rebecca, whom he fell head over heels in love with. On a stroll down the River Thames, she surprised him with her knowledge of pagan mythology. It was on that day he proposed to her and within a year the two were married.[5] In 1853, they moved into Milbury House, where she gave birth to their son Adam. However, Adam was plagued by various birth defects and did not live long, passing away at the age of four. The death of his son drove Dr. Essex deeper into his work.[1]


Nathaniel Essex (Original) (Earth-616) from Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix Vol 1 1 001

Dr. Nathaniel Essex prior to meeting Apocalypse.

In 1859, following the release of the Origin of Species, he became obsessed with Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Essex wished to push science to its limits, believing his contemporaries were shackled moral constraints. His unorthodox methods put his membership in the Royal Society at risk, as he became regarded as a dangerous man. During a lecture, he claimed that humanity contained the potential of rapid evolution, due to what he called “Essex Factors”, predicting the emergence of mutants as an evolutionary breakthrough. This was followed by the disclosure of one of his unscrupulous experiments, which resulted in his humiliating ouster from the Royal Society. As he angrily left, Dr. Essex stated that if becoming a monster was what was required for science to progress, then that is what he would become.[1]

En Sabah Nur (Earth-616), Nathaniel Essex (Original) (Earth-616) and Rebecca Essex (Earth-616) from Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix Vol 1 1 001

Greeted by En Sabah Nur

Later that year, Essex met and hired Cootie Tremble and his Marauders, who collected all types of misshapen folk off the streets of London to be victims of Essex’s experiments. The Marauders unexpectedly awoke the immortal mutant known as Apocalypse, who ordered them to take him to their employer. While digging up his own dead son to experiment on, Essex was approached by Apocalypse, who claimed to be interested in his work.[1] They visited the Hellfire Club, where Apocalypse revealed his mutant powers, a living proof of Essex’s theories. Essex and Apocalypse were then confronted by time-travelers from the future, Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops and Jean Grey a.k.a. Phoenix, who had been sent by Madame Sanctity of the Clan Askani to prevent an early rise of Apocalypse. Essex was fascinated by the young couple in all senses. Summers and Grey failed in their mission, and were defeated and captured by Apocalypse.[6]

Nathaniel Essex (Original) (Earth-616) from Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix Vol 1 4 001

The birth of Sinister

The confrontation led Essex to decide to dedicate his life to his wife and unborn child, but, as he returned home, he learned that his wife had freed all of his captives, prematurely had their baby, and was dying of the strain. Denying him forgiveness, as she died in disgust, Rebecca stated he was utterly and contemptibly sinister. Crushed, Essex agreed to become Apocalypse's prelate and was painfully transformed from Dr. Essex into an ageless being of extraordinary pallor with Celestial technology. As Apocalypse asked Essex to shed his past name and choose another, he took the name "Sinister," his wife's last word to him.[2]

Becoming Mister Sinister[]

Nathaniel Essex (Original) (Earth-616) from Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix Vol 1 4 002

Confronting Cyclops and Phoenix

As Mister Sinister, he willingly allowed whatever humanity he had to be carved out of him granting him objective clarity and freeing him from human morality. Cyclops and Phoenix battled Mister Sinister, who was confused by their despair. During the fight, Mister Sinister realized Apocalypse to be a madman and that their objectives were not compatible. Intrigued by Cyclops and Phoenix, instead of unleashing a deadly plague as Apocalypse had requested, Sinister ultimately betrayed him, infecting him alone with it. As Apocalypse returned to his hibernation, Mister Sinister stated that cruelty for no purpose was ignorance, and ignorance was the greatest enemy of science. Cyclops and Phoenix were transported back to the future, but became Mister Sinister's main interest going forward, something that would eventually result in the birth of Nathan Dayspring, as was Madame Sanctity's true objective.[9]

Darwin passed away on the 19th April, 1882. His funeral took place at Westminster Abbey. Mister Sinister attended the event honoring his hero amused in the irony that the man who was once vilified was being buried in the highest church of the land.[9]

Going to America[]

Mister Sinister abandoned Milbury House and, under the identity of Dr. Nathan Milbury, started operating an obstetrics clinic, Essex Clinic, in New York City in the late 19th century, performing research on society's deviants. Sinister had unrestricted access to an abundance of generational genetic material to study, including that of the adult Daniel Summers, the first Summers in America and a former victim of his experiments in London, and his wife, Amanda Müeller. It is assumed Sinister experimented on Müeller and several of her newborn babies.[13]

Nathaniel Essex (Original) (Earth-616) and Jacqueline Gavin (Earth-616) from Gambit Vol 3 13 001

Capturing Courier

In 1891, Sinister came across another pair of time traveling mutants from the future, the X-Man Gambit and a shape-changer called Courier. Gambit searched for Sinister as a way of preventing the Thieves Guild from meeting him on the orders of Candra, who hoped to learn about Apocalypse from Sinister. Courier, disguised as a female patient, attempted to infiltrate Sinister's clinic. Almost immediately, Sinister identified Courier's shape-shifting powers and captured him, intending to study his mutant abilities.[3] Gambit made a deal with Sinister: in exchange for the lives of the captured Thieves' Guild members and information about Apocalypse's hidden sanctuary, Sinister could have a sample of Courier's genome. Mister Sinister incorporated Courier's abilities into his own and helped Gambit stop Candra. The Guild members' memories were erased by Sinister, who disappeared soon afterward, leaving Gambit and Courier to fend for themselves.[14]

Return to Milbury[]

Nathaniel Essex (Original) (Earth-616) from Immortal X-Men Vol 1 8 002

Sinister unleashed

In 1895, Essex returned to Milbury House to continue his experiments, reassuming his ordinary and frail human persona. He had lost control of his condition as Sinister and developed a feral split personality. Following an outing into the streets of London, he was found at the scene naked and battered but with no memory of the attack. The mutant shapeshifter Raven Darkhölme, in the guise of "Sherlock Holmes", and her partner, the clairvoyant Irene Adler, approached him to investigate the incidents. Darkhölme lured him by masquerading as a potential victim, but he escaped across the rooftops to his home. Darkhölme and Adler followed him to witness him turn back into his frail sickly form. Essex revealed to them that his condition was deteriorating, but he was determined to survive to see not only the 20th but also the 21st century, when machines were expected to become the dominant beings on the planet. He envisioned four possible routes that could be explored as a solution to the ascension of the artificial intelligence: the Essex-men, the latent potential of mankind itself, the wonders of space beyond the stars and mystical knowledge beyond the understanding of the machine mind. Darkhölme and Adler had him arrested and sent away to Bedlam where overnight he was murdered by his Dominion self, the Enigma.[7]

Dominionhood in death[]

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


Prior to his death, Essex decided that the only way to beat the machine brains was to create the "apex A.I." first.[11] He created four separate clones marked with different playing card suits, none of whom had knowledge of the others and three of whom believed themselves the original Essex, with no knowledge of his death in Bedlam. The clone of diamonds continued to operate as Mister Sinister, further pursuing his knowledge of mutant genetics. The clone of clubs resurfaced in New York City with a distaste for mutants, operating as Doctor Stasis.[15] The clone of spades ventured into the stars, becoming a galactic arms dealer specializing in xenogenetics known as Orbis Stellaris.[16] The fourth clone, however, was not of Nathaniel but of his late wife Rebecca.[17] The clone of hearts, she became a mystic trader deeply connected to the Astral Plane, dealing in spells, dreams, and gods as Mother Righteous.[18] Because Dominions are omnitemporal, one exists at all times, even before it properly comes into existence.[19] The Enigma Dominion, a Dominion of Essex himself, used this fact to manipulate events before its own creation and cause itself to come into being. Each time one of his clones ascended to Dominionhood, the Enigma blocked them and absorbed all their progress,[20] which, due to the Moira Engine, happened across multiple timelines that got reset. The progress was then downloaded into a central A.I. created by Essex which would be the basis for the Enigma.[11]



Nathaniel Essex (Original) (Earth-616) from Gambit Vol 3 14 001

Manifesting Courier's powers

Genetic Enhancements Using Mutant DNA: Following genetic alteration by Apocalypse, Nathaniel Essex was transformed from human into superhuman..[21][14]

  • Endopathy: Nathaniel Essex possesses the ability to control every molecule of his body, enabled via the implanted X-gene taken from the bio-molecular meta-morph Courier.[14]
    • Cellular Shape-Shifting: Nathaniel Essex is a powerful metamorph, being able to assume the form of most anyone or near anything he wishes and to reduce himself into a semi-liquid state, or harden his body like living armor.[14]
    • Regenerative Healing Factor: Nathaniel Essex is able to rapidly regenerate damaged or destroyed tissue with much greater speed and efficiency than an ordinary human. As an extension of the cellular control he derived from Courier, Sinister's healing factor is such that he no longer requires the functionality of his brain or other internal organs to survive.[14][7]
    • Superhuman Strength
    • Superhuman Durability
    • Superhuman Reflexes
    • Superhuman Stamina


  • Genius Intelligence: Considered the most brilliant mind of his time, Dr. Essex was already a genius with a PhD and an M.D and other honors in biology and genetics and was a member of the British Royal Society. His intellect later grew to new levels after his time with Apocalypse and the advanced Celestial technology he had access to, mastering not only this and all technology from Earth (allowing him considerable expertise in cybernetics, robotics and computers) but also new sciences to aid him in his goals to create the perfect mutant.[22]
  • Genius-Level Geneticist: Mister Sinister is a genius and a geneticist of the highest order, able to predict genetic mutations and splice DNA. It is quite probable his powers are the result of self-experimentation - his shape-shifting power is due to a procedure he performed on himself with help from a time-traveling Gambit.[14]
  • Master Surgeon: He is a master surgeon, having excised a portion of Gambit's brain, only to later restore it. Besides this area he is also a skilled doctor, one of the best from his time in England with honors in medicine and later in biology.[14]


X-Men Before The Fall - Sinister Four Vol 1 1 Textless

Essex's four clones

See Also

Links and References