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Is Mr. Sinister the First Truly Manufactured Mutant?

Is Mr. Sinister the First Truly Manufactured Mutant?

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The upcoming release of X-Men ’97 , based on what we know so far, Nathaniel Essex (aka Mister Sinister) serves as the main villain for the first season of the show, alongside the Sentinels.

It’s no secret that Mister Sinister is one of the most enigmatic mutants in the entirety of the X-Men universe and perhaps in all of mutant-kind. However, what many of those who enjoyed the original X-Men: The Animated Series apart from die-hard fans — don’t know is that Mister Sinister isn’t really a mutant in the sense that he wasn’t born with the X-Gene that would trigger his mutation.  

In fact, he was a really bright and driven scientist who ended up becoming a mutant through extensive experimentation. So, with the upcoming series basically knocking on the inside of our TV screens, it’s high time for us to take a deep dive into the origins and nature of one of X-Men‘s most fascinating mutants. We’ll explore his past, dissect the nature of his mutations, and introduce the younger, newer audiences to one of the major villains who we all loved to hate on those Saturday cereal-filled mornings.

Mister Sinister is actually one of three self-clones created by Nathaniel Essex, along with Doctor Stasis and Orbis Stellaris. Of all three clones, Sinister is the most similar to the original Nathanial Essex and maintains the original’s deep interest in mutants. Throughout the years, Mister Sinister became one of the greatest geneticists to have ever lived, skilled in cloning, both mutant and human DNA manipulation, and even in creating new life. However, he wasn’t always such a powerful threat. In fact, he was human once.

Nathanial Essex was born in Victorian England in the 19th century. Following the death of his ill child, this brilliant biologist became obsessed with the theory of evolution and foresaw the emergence of mutants long before mutants became publicly known. He managed to identify the random element in the human genome that caused the mutations, which he then called the “Essex factor” — which was later shortened to the X-factor. His contemporaries from the scientific community ridiculed him, but that didn’t deter Essex’s work.

Essex continued his pursuit of knowledge, often through rather cruel experimentation that shattered both moral and ethical boundaries, all done in the name of science. Essex’s knowledge, paired with his “unrestrained” approach to experimentation, eventually drew the interest of Apocalypse, the first and ancient mutant, who had recently awakened from his centuries-long hibernation. He was so impressed with Essex’s work that he offered him immortality and massive power in exchange for Essex using his knowledge in Apocalypse’s service.

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Reluctant at first, Essex eventually agreed to Apocalypse’s offer following the death of his wife and his second child, whose passing plunged Essex further into amorality. Apocalypse used the alien Celestial technology to transform Essex into Mister Sinister, altering him at the cellular level and thus granting him enhanced durability and an extended lifespan. However, his alliance with Apocalypse didn’t last long, as he infected the ancient mutant with a techno-organic virus that he actually bred at Apocalypse’s request.

Apocalypse was saved by his own ability to alter his molecular structure, but not before Mister Sinister managed to escape. Sinister acted on his desire to find, create, and perfect powerful mutants, free of any flaws, to combat and defeat Apocalypse later on. He went on through the following decades, spreading his influence, performing horrific experiments, and creating more mutants along the way. He even worked as a Nazi geneticist alongside Josef Mengele in concentration camps, which provided him with easy access to a larger number of genetic samples.

In the meantime, he also altered himself by tampering with his own genetic material and adding more and more powers that he “acquired” from other mutants. This included telepathy, telekinesis, superhuman strength, energy projection, shapeshifting, and rapid healing. But it wasn’t all bad and illegal experimentation; Mister Sinister took some actions that ultimately benefited mutant kind. One of those was his large library of genetic samples, which he donated to Charles Xavier and Magneto when the two were founding the mutant nation Krakoa.

His collection of mutant genes aided the development of the Krakoan Resurrection Protocol, which can revive almost any deceased mutant. He did, admittedly, use this to his own benefit and as a means of reaching an end. The end he had in mind was the creation of perfect mutants for a world in which mutants are the dominant species, free from the flaws he perceives in natural evolution. This positions Mister Sinister in a rather unique category, as he uses his research and experimentation to redefine what it means to be a mutant.

This makes him arguably the first of his kind, a mutant not by nature but by design. Sure, he wasn’t born with an X-gene, so he’s not a mutant in the true sense of the word since there was initially no gene that would have caused the mutation. Does the fact that he’s the first manufactured mutant make him less of a threat to X-Men? No, a mutant with his level of power and knowledge is very much a threat to anyone not sharing his vision of a future shaped by scientific precision.

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