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X-Men: En Sabah Nur AKA Apocolypse Has a Lot of Names, But Most Just Know Him as Death

6 Minute Read
Jun 5 2024

Apocalypse has certainly earned his designation as one of the most dangerous entities in the Marvel Universe. Who is En Sabah Nur and how is he related to the X-Men?

Any fan of the X-Men knows the grey-skinned mutant known as Apocalypse. Believed to be the very first mutant, this formidable foe has bested not only the X-Men, but the Fantastic Four and even Kang the Conquerer. But he wasn’t always the being of limitless power that he is today. In fact, if not for his unique abilities, he likely would have died in infancy.

An animated image of En Sabah Nur in his full metal Apocolypse gear.

En Sabah Nur: Raised by Wolves

The boy who would become the Apocalypse was born in the small village of Akkaba in Egypt nearly five thousand years ago. Born with grey skin, blue tattoo-like markings, and a deformed mouth, he was viewed with fear and revulsion by his countrymen. The villagers left him in the unforgiving desert to die, interpreting him as an ill omen.

Luckily for the infant, he was found by the ruthless Sandstormers tribe. Their leader, Baal of the Crimson Sands, recognized the child’s potential and decided to raise him as his own. He gave him the name En Sabah Nur, which means “The Morning Light” or “The Seven Lights,” depending on the translation.

An image of a comic book drawing of a young En Sabah Nur decked out in Egyptian garb
A Young En Sabah Nur

En Sabah Nur grew quickly in both body and esteem. His unique mutant physiology allowed him to grow stronger than his fellows, and he was wise beyond his years. He followed the ruthless tenants of the Sandstormers who raised him, believing that only the strong deserved to live. Like his adoptive father, he abhorred weakness in himself and his enemies.

The pharaoh at the time, Rama-Tut, was actually the time-traveling Kang the Conquerer, and Baal instilled distrust in his divinity early in the young Nur. They traveled to a sacred cave where Rama-Tut’s time ship rested, but a cave-in trapped them. Baal did not survive the ordeal, but with his last words, he told Nur that he believed him to be the fulfillment of a prophecy about a great conqueror that would bring all the world to heel.

Facing the Conquerer

Nur swore vengeance against Rama-Tut and all his followers, who he blamed for Baal’s death. When he finally escaped from the underground chamber, Rama-Tut’s guards captured him. They threw him into a pit of vipers, but his mutant powers activated. Nur grew in size and strength and crawled out of the pit, but Rama-Tut’s guards attacked him. He easily defeated them and made his way to Rama-Tut’s throne room.

The pharaoh revealed himself as a traveler from the future and offered to make Nur his heir. Nur refused and attacked Rama-Tut, who attacked him with a depowering weapon. The pharaoh left Nur to die, but his mutant immortality activated, bringing him back to life. Rama-Tut, in the meantime, retreated to his own time, pursued by the Fantastic Four.

Nur defeated the rest of Rama-Tut’s guards, turning his right hand, Ozymandias, into living sand. However, he abandoned the pharaoh’s guards, viewing them as too weak. He traveled into the desert, returning fifty years later to a civilization overrun by enemies. He took rulership of his lands, calling himself and his descendants the Clan Akkaba.

En Sabah Nur on Okkara, Island of Strength

Some years later, Nur took a wife named Genesis. She bore him four children: two sons and two daughters. Nur named them his first Horsemen, and they took ownership of the island nation of Okkara. Before long, a force of interdimensional demons attacked the island, and Nur and his family fought them for many years. He was finally able to push them back by allying himself with the Moon Knight, but it was clear that the mutants would eventually lose. Devising a plan, he sealed half of Okkara, along with his family, to hold off the demons indefinitely. Before she left, Genesis made him promise to usher the mutants into an age of prosperity.


Eventually, Apocalypse, as he was now called, defeated the armies of the Pharaoh. He led Egypt into an age of prosperity. When Alexander the Great brought his army to conquer Egypt, Apocalypse used it as an opportunity to cull the weakness from his forces. When Egypt fell, Apocalypse took himself to Rome. As time went on, he gathered warriors from every nation in the world to form a perfect army, his Dark Riders. These warriors were so skilled that they even took down Vlad the Impaler twice, once as a man and again as the vampire Dracula.

An image of Apocalypse floating in a meditative position

Apocalypse and the Gifts of the Celestials

Sometime later, the Celestials approached Apocalypse to be one of their mortal guardians.They augmented his already formidable skills with Celestial cybernetics and infected him with technoviruses to bond them to his body. His powers were so great that he bent the virus to his own will, growing even stronger. Before long, he was the strongest being on Earth and began gathering other Omega-level mutants to his side.

Apocalypse has crossed paths with many of Marvel’s greatest heroes and always seems to survive. His ruthless nature, combined with his formidable powers, make him a deadly foe to even the strongest of Marvels fighters. He seems to awaken at times of great strife, and it is rumored he has directed the flow of history since his birth.

What Can Apocalypse Do?

Apocalypse has a wide suite of powers that make him a terrifying force to be reckoned with. His physical strength is variable, thanks to his mutant ability to reorganize his molecules. However, he possesses superhuman strength and has even been able to restrain the Hulk. He also has the ability to generate new powers, again thanks to his ability to reorganize his atoms. Thanks to his form-shifting abilities, Apocalypse can grow to extraordinary size, move with incredible speed, and even fly.

Apocalype’s powers aren’t all physical, however. He is also a formidable psychic, able to project his thoughts into the minds of others or read their thoughts. Apocalypse even defeated Jean Grey in her own psyche, though she was slightly weakened at the time. He can also interface psionically with machinery, thanks to the Celestial technology infused into his body. His mental abilities extend beyond telepathy, and he is also a powerful telekinetic. He can levitate, shift the bodies of others, and even manipulate energy with just his mind.

An image of actor Oscar Isaac playing En Sabah Nur appearing to be destroying a city
Apocalypse as portrayed by Oscar Isaac

The Externals and Celestial Tech

Apocalypse is a member of a subset of mutants called Externals. These entities are functionally immortal and able to heal from all but the most devastating of injuries. Thanks to the rest of his abilities and his Celestial tech, Apocalypse is able to regenerate from a single drop of blood, so long as he has the energy to do so. However, if he should suffer an injury even he can’t recover from, he can enter a coma-like state to heal his physical form.

His Celestial tech also gives him access to energy manipulation, and he has an unknown grasp of sorcery. He even has the power to turn his enemies to dust simply by touching them, though the extent of this power is unknown. Perhaps his greatest asset, however, is not born of his mutation or his tech. Apocalypse is a genius-level intellect and a master tactician and can understand every spoken language, even dead ones.

Is Apocalypse the God of Mutants?

Though he has many powers, and cannot die, Apocalypse isn’t a god in the general sense. However, given the power level of the Marvel gods like Thor and Hercules, and given that Apocalypse has defeated Thor in the past, it could be argued. He has engineered the world to follow his plan, and he has the boon of the Celestials. If that isn’t a Marvel god, I’m not sure what is.

Do you think there’s anyone that can take Apocalypse down for good?

Author: Danni Danger
Author: Clint Lienau
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