The barbershop in my mind has conversations that sound a little bit like –
“His momma named him ‘En Sabah Nur!’ I’m callin’ him ‘En Sabah Nur!’
“He converted! He calls himself “Apocalypse” now! Respect the man’s beliefs!”
“I heard he changed his name to a symbol..the boy’s Krakoan now!”
“What? He’s on crack now?! Bast help us!”
Call him what you like, but the first mutant, the fittest of the fit, the beginning and the end, Apocalypse himself is worthy and stands amongst the chosen of the BNP Top 5 Dead or Alive. Since the new status quo of mutant nationhood at the X-offices, Apocalypse has been reinvigorated as a character. Instead of a one-note villain built on destruction, Tini Howard (writer of Excalibur) and Jonathan Hickman have groomed a more fully realized, and amazingly empathetic character.
I. "Sometimes I don't want to be bothered Sometimes I just want a quiet life, with Me and my babies, me and my lady Sometimes I don't want to get into no war"
The Dawn of X and X of Swords accomplished something under “Head of X,” Jonathan Hickman that no other storylines have come close to touching – making Apocalypse a sympathetic character…a tragic hero even. In the recently concluded storyline, Apocalypse is forced to battle his estranged wife Genesis to stop the forces of Amenth (a dark dimension existing in a rift between Krakoa and its own estranged island Arakko). Initially the X of Swords was teased as merely a mystical battle of the realms, its emotional arc, however, focused on the journey of Apocalypse to reunite with his wife and children, the original Horsemen.
II. "Ten, let the countdown begin Nine, I was born in the mind Eight, take the head of a snake Seven, behold Armageddon Six, ain't no love for the rich Five, only strong will survive Four, 'cause we live by the sword Three, plus sixty degrees Two, for the black and the blue One, for the sun, step into millennium"
The character name, “Apocalypse,” comes from the Greek word Apokalupsis meaning “to uncover” or “to reveal.” Imagine the New Testament concluding with a section entitled the “Book of Apocalypse” and that epic, psychedelic chapter takes on a whole new meaning. From that perspective, En Sabah Nur is not a harbinger of destruction. Rather he is a prophet of a new era in which mutants will not bow to genetically inferior humans. In the classic “Age of Apocalypse” event, the mutant monolith achieves his goal after Professor Xavier’s son, Legion, accidentally kills his own father before he forms the X-Men. In this alternate timeline, Apocalypse rises to power with only a battered team of X-Men led by Magneto to keep his absolute domination at bay. He remained undefeated, the absolute global authority, until the M’kraan crystal consumed that reality…
III. "There's a war goin' on outside no man is safe from
You could run but you can't hide forever"
Maybe the likes of the once human-friendly X-Men judge Apocalypse too harshly. He is the oldest mutant alive after all. Generation gaps are always going to create tension. His ways are harsh, but perhaps the lessons are justified. He sees all mutants as his children and only wants them to take their place as the rightful inheritors of the Earth. He pushes them, challenges them, and sometimes forces them to the edge of death. If you asked him, he would say it’s all in the name of making room for the fit. Respect your elders when they have a few millennia of experience over you.
IV."God bless my soul before I put my foot down and begin to stroll And to the drama I built, and all unfinished beef."
Everyone in the Multiverse got beef with En Sabah Nur. Cable got beef because Apocalypse injected him with the techno-organic disease while he was a baby. Angel got beef for being kidnapped and warped into Apocalypse’s Horseman of Death (and far better character), Archangel. Bishop got beef with E.S.N. due to him being the only person in the 616 with memories from that timeline. Cyclops and Jean Grey got beef for Apocalypse trying to kill their son since birth and forcing them to send the young Nathan Summers into the future for protection. Gambit…Sunfire…Polaris…the list goes on. Everybody got beef with Apocalypse. Ask him if he cares.
V. "All a part of this great nation I got my fist I got my plan I got survivalism"
The realization of a mutant nation saw Apocalypse turn from a villain into a ranking member of Krakoa’s ruling body, The Body Council, and leader amongst the X-Men. Before sacrificing himself to live amongst Arakko as part of the terms of surrender in the X of Swords tournament, he turned his attention to re-establishing a mutant specific system of magick. Love or hate him, Apocalypse is about that mutant unity. Humans are just a nuisance in the way of Homo Superior progress.
The concluding chapter X of Swords: Destruction saw Apocalypse leave Krakoa to be with his family on Arrako, signaling that the character may be set aside for a moment to let other “X-villains” take the stage during the upcoming Reign of X. While his current journey is complete, En Sabah Nur will surely rise again. Who doesn’t want an Apocalypse & Genesis series set in Arakko??
Crucial “En Sabah Nur” Lockdown Reading
- “Age of Apocalypse”
- “X-Ecutioners Song
- “Fall of the Mutants”
- “Messiah War”
- “Rise of Apocalypse”
- “The Apocalypse Solution”