Mister Sinister
File:Mister Sinister Uncanny X-Men 544.png
Mister Sinister in Uncanny X-Men #544 (Dec. 2011)
Art by Greg Land and Jay Leisten
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceUncanny X-Men #221 (Sept. 1987)
Created byChris Claremont
Marc Silvestri
In-story information
Alter egoNathaniel Essex
SpeciesHuman Mutate
Team affiliationsMarauders
Nasty Boys
Notable aliasesNathan Milbury, Robert Windsor, Sinister
  • Superhuman strength, durability, and longevity
  • Telepathy
  • Telekinesis
  • Concussive energy projection
  • Manipulation of body at molecular level

Mister Sinister (Nathaniel Essex) is a fictional character, a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #221 (Sept. 1987) and was created by writer Chris Claremont and artist Marc Silvestri.

Mister Sinister has appeared in a number of X-Men titles including spin-offs and several limited series. The character has also featured in associated Marvel merchandise including animated television series, toys, trading cards, and video games.

IGN's list of the Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time ranked Mister Sinister as #29.[1] In 2008, Sinister was ranked #6 at Marvel.com on their list of Top 10 X-Men villains.[2]

Publication history


Writer Chris Claremont conceived Sinister as a new villain for the X-Men. Having felt "tired of just going back to Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and the same old same old" Claremont recalled:

Dave Cockrum and I went over ideas, and what we were coming towards was a mysterious young boy—apparently an 11-year-old—at the orphanage where Scott (Cyclops) was raised, who turned out to be the secret master of the place. In effect what we were setting up was a guy who was aging over a lifespan of roughly a thousand years. Even though he looked like an 11-year-old, he'd actually been alive since the mid-century at this point—he was actually about 50 [...] He had all the grown up urges. He's growing up in his mind but his body isn't capable of handling it, which makes him quite cranky. And, of course, looking like an 11-year-old, who'd take him seriously in the criminal community? [...] So he built himself an agent in a sense, which was Mister Sinister, that was, in effect, the rationale behind Sinister's rather—for want of a better word—childish or kid-like appearance. The costume... the look... the face... it's what would scare a child. Even when he was designed, he wasn't what you'd expect in a guy like that.[3]


Mister Sinister on the cover of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update '89 #5 (November 1989). Art by Ron Frenz.

Mister Sinister debuted in the title Uncanny X-Men, briefly mentioned by Sabretooth during the Mutant Massacre crossover as the leader of the Marauders who had sent them to slaughter the Morlock population.[4] In the following issue, the X-Men member Psylocke picks up a shadowy mental image of the Marauders' "Master" from Sabretooth's mind.[5] Mister Sinister finally appeared on-panel in issue #221 (Sept. 1987). The character plays a major role in the Inferno crossover,[6] where it is revealed that Sinister cloned Madelyne Pryor from Jean Grey for the purpose of having her conceive a child with Cyclops, their son Nathan;[6] Sinister is also revealed to have manipulated Cyclops' life since early childhood. After a battle with the X-Men and X-Factor, the villain is apparently destroyed by Cyclops' optic beam.[7]

Classic X-Men #41–42 (Dec. 1989) details the role Mister Sinister played in Cyclops' life at the orphanage in Nebraska. The story features a boy named Nathan who is obsessively fixated on Cyclops — and whom Claremont intended to actually be Mister Sinister. However, as Claremont left the X-Men comics, this origin was never revealed in-story.[8]


Mister Sinister returns in the title X-Factor, leading the Nasty Boys[9] and has allied himself with the mutant terrorist Stryfe.[10] In the crossover storyline "X-Cutioner's Song", the character impersonates Apocalypse and uses his Four Horsemen to capture Cyclops and Jean Grey.[11] Sinister hands them over to Stryfe in exchange for a canister containing his genetic material,[12] but finds it empty, unknowingly unleashing the Legacy Virus in the process.[13] Afterwards, Sinister confronts Cyclops to reveal that the canister contained the deadly Legacy Virus. It was during this conversation, that Sinister said, "I care enough to wish you and your brothers to be protected from this illness", but he corrected himself in saying that he meant "brother".[14]

In 1996, Mister Sinister's origin story was told in the limited series, The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix. It established the character as Nathaniel Essex, a scientist from the 19th century obsessed with evolution who made a pact with the ancient mutant Apocalypse to become a virtually immortal being.[15] It is furthermore established that Mister Sinister created Cyclops's son Nathan (who became the time-traveling soldier Cable) to destroy Apocalypse.[16]

It was also revealed that Sinister had initiated the Morlock Massacre because he saw his signature in them (as many of them were experiments of Dark Beast, a student of Mr. Sinister from an alternate timeline known as the Age of Apocalypse), and he would not allow unauthorized use of his theories, so they were slaughtered.[17] Though some of his Marauders did not survive the battle, many of them returned thanks to Sinister's genetics mastery and the fact that he had multiple clones of all of them.[18] He also considered doing the same with the Genosha mutates, who were experiments of Sugar Man (another student of his Age of Apocalypse counterpart). Yet in the end he did not because the mutates were sterile and so in his opinion, they were not a tainting of his work.[17]

Another running storyline for the character was his mysterious ties to the X-Man Gambit; these ties were first introduced in X-Men v2 #6 when Sabretooth encountered Gambit and the X-Men and implied that the two had a history working together.[19] When Rogue briefly absorbed Gambit's memories,[20] she realized the relationship between the two: that Gambit had been an agent of Mister Sinister, recruiting Sabretooth and several other villains, to serve as Sinister's Marauders.[21] Furthermore, he had served as a guide for the group in the tunnels, before abandoning the villains upon discovering their plans on wiping out the Morlocks. His payment for these deeds would be Mister Sinister's services as a scientist, to correct a genetic defect regarding Gambit's powers that was causing him to slowly lose control over them.[22]


Mister Sinister appears in the title Gambit;[23] besides revealing the connection between the two characters, Mister Sinister would provide Gambit with a chemical compound designed to neutralize the genetic modification process that the Skrulls were using as part of their infiltration process of Earth, as the alien shapeshifters had formed an alliance with Apocalypse to conquer Earth.[24] It was also revealed that Mister Sinister had genetically altered the villain the Living Monolith, allowing him to access Havok's power, in order to serve as replacement for Havok in Apocalypse's plan to harvest the power of The Twelve.[volume & issue needed] Following Apocalypse's defeat, Sinister attempts to use the High Evolutionary's space station to mutate the human population but is stopped by the X-Men.[25]

Sinister's actions would have worldwide repercussions: by helping High Evolutionary strip all of mutantkind of their powers, Sinister unknowingly wiped out a community of evolved mutants known as The Neo.[26] The surviving Neo began hunting Sinister down, forcing Sinister to go into hiding as the Neo known as Domino (whose daughter was one of the dead) kills over 17 Sinister doppelgangers left behind by Sinister as he goes into hiding.[27]

Sinister would resurface in the pages of Weapon X, experimenting on mutants under the guise of Dr. Robert Windsor.[28] It is revealed that the character worked alongside the Nazis during World War II and created a clone of Namor called N2 which was destroyed by Captain America.[29] He would be accompanied by the Marauder Scalphunter in the series, with Scalphunter serving as his bodyguard.

Mister Sinister reappears in the "X-Men: Endangered Species" storyline, sending the Marauders and Acolytes out to murder all those who have knowledge of the future;[30] In the "X-Men: Messiah Complex" storyline, Sinister, leading a mob of many of the remaining evil mutants, seeks out the first mutant child born since Decimation (also known as "M-Day", when the Scarlet Witch de-powered most of the world's mutant population). However, the character is apparently killed by Mystique, who presses his face onto an unconscious Rogue, whose powers had been amplified into an instantaneous death-touch.[31]

Miss Sinister

Miss Sinister in X-Men Legacy #214 (September 2008). Art by Scot Eaton.

The title X-Men: Legacy reveals that Mister Sinister had been anticipating his physical death for some time, putting events in motion that would lead to his resurrection. It was even revealed that besides the Summers family, Mister Sinister had also been manipulating for some time events in the Xavier family as well as the Marko, Ryking and Shaw families. By using the Cronus Device, he manages to implant within their DNA the seeds through which to ensure his own rebirth. Then he transferred his own consciousness and powers to the machine which after his death would activate itself and his consciousness would take control over the body with his DNA imprint.[32] When that happened, Sinister's consciousness took control over Professor Xavier's body to save him from a gunshot wound.[33] However, the combined efforts of Sebastian Shaw and Gambit destroy the machine, enabling Xavier to successfully drive Sinister's consciousness from his mind and body. At the end, a female character appears called Miss Sinister.[34] Her name is revealed to be Claudine Renko, and she possesses telepathy and a healing factor similar to Sinister, but not the memories or mind due to the fact that she was engineered to be Mister Sinister's fail-safe in the event of the Cronus Device would fail. When that ultimately occurred, Claudine was activated.[35]

Claudine later on approaches Gambit and X-23 (Laura Kinney), the latter having left the X-Men's base to strike out on her own, seemingly asking for the former's help. Claudine at this point seems to be suffering from injuries inflicted earlier by Wolverine's son Daken. A near fatal strike from X-23 reveals the nature of the injury as Claudine's body morphs into that of Mister Sinister.[36]

X-23, flanked by Gambit, encounters a young girl named Alice and witnesses her being murdered, though the next day Alice appears to them somehow alive. Encouraging them to follow her to a peculiar desert laboratory, Alice introduces them to her employer/owner/adoptive mother, Claudine. Revealing herself openly to X-23, Claudine explains that Alice is also a clone, fourth of a series of five created by Essex as another experiment alongside several other children that live in the complex. She then expands upon her own origins, stating that the process of becoming what she is left her with vague, but invasive memories of Essex's life and that as a malignant presence within her mind, he is slowly killing her as a means of self-resurrection; he even manages to manifest briefly before being re-absorbed back into her. Claudine then incapacitates Gambit and straps X-23 to a peculiar chair, stating her aim to switch their bodies, thus inheriting Laura's healing factor, something she has wanted after her stabbing, and thereby free herself of Essex. The plan backfires when Essex controls Laura's body and uses her to mortally wound Claudine again. Laura manages to overcome Essex's presence in her mind, expelling it through force of will. Laura, Alice and Gambit manage to escape the laboratory as it collapses and arrange for the children to be given new homes before setting off on their journey again. However, in the wreckage left behind, Claudine is still alive, although just barely, and is being watched over by the fifth Alice clone, the new host of Essex.[37]


Mister Sinister in Extraordinary X-Men #2 (January 2016). Art by Humberto Ramos and Victor Olazaba.

Now dressed in Victorian era garb, Mister Sinister resurfaced in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #544. Using his knowledge gained from Apocalypse, he merges with the Dreaming Celestial and warps its head to match his own, using the power he gained as a result to turn San Francisco's residents into doppelgangers of himself resembling 19th century England, where he believes society was perfect. His plan is to disturb the Celestials so that they would come to Earth and eradicate all life, leaving only his perfection to rebuild the planet. However, Sinister is defeated and forced out from San Francisco.[38]

During the "Avengers vs. X-Men" storyline, Mister Sinister is discovered to have built his own city (based on Victorian-era London) in the Moloids' underground tunnels within Subterranea. The city is inhabited solely by clones of Mister Sinister and his various acquaintances, including Cyclops, Madelyne Pryor, Gambit, Mystique and Krakoa. Also populating the city are clones of the Phalanx, clones of Sabretooth called "Hounds", and clones of the Marauders, who function as Battalion Guards. After disposing of a rebel clone, he explains to one of his other clones that he has foreseen that the Phoenix Force would come after Hope Summers, and that the Avengers would try to stop it and clash with the X-Men, resulting in the Phoenix Five. He also knows that the Phoenix Five will soon come after him and intends to take the Phoenix energy away from them by using a group of Madelyne Pryor clones.[39]

During a meeting of the Extinction Team, the Phoenix Five reveal to Magneto, Storm, Psylocke and Danger (who is still controlled by UNIT) that Mister Sinister is the one who told Hope about the Phoenix Force, and ponder on the danger that his goals may represent to the world. The Phoenix Five leave their teammates behind and track Mister Sinister to Anchorage, Alaska (Cyclops's birthplace) finding out that he built his city in the underground tunnels beneath Anchorage. Mister Sinister has also formed his cloned army. He then orders his clones to enter into war against the Phoenix Five.[40] One by one, the Phoenix Five members are taken down by Mister Sinister's cloned creatures (including a clone of Krakoa) until only Cyclops remains, and even he is eventually defeated by the Madelyne Pryor clones. Shortly after, Magneto, Storm, Psylocke and Danger arrive at Mister Sinister's city and find out that their teammates were captured.[41] However, the Phoenix Five are able to escape and decide to kill each and every clone of Sinister, ending the threat he posed to mutantkind.[42]

File:Sinister London.png
Sinister London in Uncanny X-Men vol. 2, #14 (August 2012). Art by Dustin Weaver.

Yet in the aftermath of "Avengers vs. X-Men," it is revealed that the threat of Sinister still goes on as he appears alive and well when he engages in a tête-à-tête with an imprisoned Cyclops. Sinister tells Cyclops that he had actually thought he could indeed keep the Phoenix chained, yet as confident as he was it was always possible there were holes in his data set. And so, before all that, at some point he surprised Katie Kildare, Cyclops' PR agent, and killed her. He then created a para-personality of her, took Katie's position in Utopia and left a secondary Sinister in charge of his kingdom. Sinister also reveals that the para-personality he created of Katie would only dissolve once the Phoenix had gone and his own would reemerge. Sinister even provides a final dilemma for Cyclops to think about: Sinister may have lost his empire, his blessed creation engines, his backups, his Madelynes. He is on his own, but Cyclops just knows that no one else can stop him.[43]

It is later revealed that Sinister had acquired a mole inside the Jean Grey School in the form of Ernst, who had a natural immunity to telepathic probing, Ernst providing Sinister with DNA samples of the mutants at the school in return for him creating a new body for her friend Martha Johannesen.[volume & issue needed] However, Logan had become aware of the existence of a mole, and left a note in his will for Spider-Man to teach a 'Special Class' at the school consisting of the mutants that Logan had identified as the most likely suspects, wanting an outsider's perspective on the students who would be untainted by prior emotional ties.[volume & issue needed] Although Sinister's work allowed him to transplant Martha's brain into a clone of Storm (Albeit one that he could control), while also creating a team of clones of Nightcrawler, Beast, Wolverine, Iceman and Firestar, the Special Class were able to come together and defeat him thanks to Spider-Man's instruction.[volume & issue needed] Although Sinister escaped, his plan was thwarted when Spider-Man tricked the Firestar clone into destroying his DNA samples, Storm noting in the aftermath that for a team of students to defeat Sinister with the only casualty being the mall he was using as a base was an impressive achievement.[44]

During the "Last Days" part of the Secret Wars storyline, it was mentioned months ago that Mister Sinister was among the scientists that Magneto's right-hand person Briar tried to contact in order to make a special cocktail to augment Magneto's powers for the upcoming incursion between Earth-616 and Earth-1610.[45]

All New, All Different

With the release of the Terrigen Mist in the atmosphere of the Earth, it was discovered the substance was actually incredibly toxic with long-term exposure for mutants.[46] Mr. Sinister began experimenting on unwilling subjects, trying to make Inhuman and Mutant DNA co-exist in order to allow the creation of a genetically superior species of mutants. Sinister caught the attention of the X-Men after the disappearance of Colossus and Magik at the hands of the Marauders. When Sinister was confronted by the group of mutants, he deployed his only successful specimen, the seemingly-revived Cyclops. It is also revealed that he has several clones of Gambit, Cyclops, Cannonball, Sabretooth, Mystique, and several others which he maintains locked as his prize collection.[47] The revived Cyclops was, however, revealed to be actually another experiment of Sinister who combined Scott Summers' genetic material with Inhuman DNA.[48]

Fictional character biography

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (May 2017)

Born Nathaniel Essex in Victorian London, Sinister became a biologist in 1859. He was a contemporary of Charles Darwin and became obsessed with Darwin's theories. However, Essex believed his peers were shackled by too many moral constraints and that their research should be beyond morality. Essex believed that humanity was undergoing increasing mutation, due to what he called “Essex Factors” in the human genome. He dreamed of bringing the perfection of the evolution of the human race to the masses. After the loss of his young son due to birth defects, he delved deeper into his work. Essex's theories were mocked, making him bitter, and his revealing of an unorthodox experiment resulted in his ousting from the Royal Society. Angry, Essex stated that if becoming a monster was what was required for his work to progress, then he would become a monster.[49]

Essex met with Cootie Tremble and the Marauders, the group he would eventually lead. The Marauders kidnapped homeless and neglected people off the streets of London and used them as test subjects for Essex's experiments. Essex ordered the Marauders to awaken the immortal Egyptian mutant En Sabah Nur, who would become known as Apocalypse. En Sabah Nur ordered the Marauders to take him to Essex. During this time, Essex's wife, Rebecca Essex, was pregnant with their unborn child and was shocked to find that Essex had dug up their first-born child to experiment on him. Nur met Essex and became interested in Essex's work. Nur offered an alliance with Essex in continuing his research. Left with the choice of continuing his work or his wife shunning him, Essex allied himself with Nur. Essex explained to Nur that Nur was the first born in what he believed would be a great mutation in the human race.[49]

The time-travelers Cyclops and Phoenix confronted Nur, believing that they were to prevent Dr. Essex’s future transformation into Mr. Sinister, but unaware that Madame Sanctity of the Askani had sent them to the past to stop Nur from conquering England. Essex was necessary for the birth of Nathan Summers, also known as the mutant Cable, whom Madame Sanctity worshiped. Nur defeated Cyclops and Phoenix and leaves them for Essex to experiment on. Phoenix explains to Essex that continuing his work with Nur would lead to the destruction of the world. Deciding to leave his life of unorthodox research and dedicate his life to his wife and unborn child, Essex returned home to learn that his wife had freed all of his captives, prematurely had the baby, and was dying of stress. Asking for forgiveness at her side, Rebecca denied him and stated, "To me, you are... utterly… and contemptibly… sinister!", with her dying words. Essex agreed to Nur's offer and was ordered to create a plague to destroy the weak of the world, as Nur's first prelate. In his alien ship, Apocalypse painfully transformed Essex into an ageless being of extraordinary pallor with telekinesis, asking him to shed his past name and choose another. With his new abilities and dispassionate outlook, Essex took the new name, "Sinister", Rebecca's last words to him.[49]

Sinister has shown an obsession with Scott Summers, and the Summers genetic line. This led Sinister to create a clone of Jean Grey called Madelyne Pryor, with the sole purpose of breeding with Scott. That successful quest resulted in the birth of Nathan Summers.[50]

Powers and abilities

Mister Sinister is a genetically altered human with superhuman physical and mental abilities. The character is telepathic, able to manipulate the minds of others in various ways, and is capable of energy projection through telekinesis.[51] Using genetic material from the mutant Courier, Mister Sinister gained complete control of his body at the cellular level, allowing him to shape-shift,[52] regenerate,[53] be virtually immune to injuries,[53][54] and have a prolonged lifespan.[49] The character has exhibited the ability to teleport, though Beast believes this is accomplished through his tesseract headquarters.[18]

Mister Sinister is also a scientific genius, with expertise in the fields of biology, genetics, cloning, physics, and engineering. The character is a master manipulator and planner, with decades of genetic research at his command. He goes to great lengths to preserve his powers and personality through elaborate technological means such as conditioning certain children to be his 'hosts' in the event of his future death. However, Sebastian Shaw noted that the later discovery of cloning technology would make such a plan relatively pointless, reflecting that Sinister tends to continue pursuing old plans even when future technology offers more viable alternatives.[volume & issue needed]

Other versions

Age of Apocalypse

In the fictional crossover event "Age of Apocalypse", Mister Sinister is one of Apocalypse's Four Horsemen and the foster father of Cyclops and Havok.[55] He infiltrates Forge's travelling show under the alias "Essex" in an attempt to capture Nate Grey, also known as X-Man.[volume & issue needed] To prevent X-Man from discovering his secret he murders Forge, who had figured out who he was.[volume & issue needed]

Mutant X

In the alternate universe world of Mutant X, it was revealed that Mr. Sinister had obtained the cocoon that held Jean Grey following her transformation into Phoenix. His attempts to mate Jean Grey with Professor X (who was Mr Sinister's prisoner as well and transformed into Onslaught) was foiled by Havok.[volume & issue needed]

X-Men: The End

Mr Sinister was one of the main villains of "X-Men: The End", blackmailing Gambit into kidnapping the children of Scott Summers and Emma Frost as well as his own children that he conceived with Rogue.[volume & issue needed] During the storyline, Mister Sinister reveals that Gambit is a clone of himself and that his powers are a variation of Cyclops's, as Mr. Sinister implanted some of Cyclops's DNA into Gambit in hopes of duplicating Cyclops's powers.[volume & issue needed] Mr Sinister shows himself to be capable of turning into an exact duplicate of Gambit,[volume & issue needed] a power he uses to kill Rogue when the X-Men seek to rescue the kids.[volume & issue needed] In the end, Mystique murders Mr. Sinister, avenging her adopted daughter's death.[volume & issue needed] Gambit ultimately then takes it upon himself to impersonate Mr. Sinister in order to find out the identity of his accomplice,[volume & issue needed] though he is quickly exposed.[volume & issue needed]

House of M

A version of Mister Sinister appears in the House of M storyline and fights a dimension-hopping Deadpool over an infant Cable.[56]

Sinister as depicted in Ultimate X-Men #46 (July 2004). Art by Brandon Peterson.

Earth X

In the alternate universe title Earth X, an older Colossus reveals himself to have been Mister Sinister; in love with Jean Grey, he traveled back in time to preserve her as a clone.[57]

Ultimate Marvel

In the Ultimate X-Men series, Sinister/Nathaniel Essex is reimagined as a heavily tattooed street thug nicknamed after his tattoo. He is a former OsCorp scientist who experimented on himself and appears schizophrenic, hallucinating of a "Lord Apocalypse" who orders him to kill a number of mutants to complete his transformation.[58] After committing suicide,[59] Sinister returns to life, completes his mission and transforms into Apocalypse.[60] However, the Phoenix Force appears and destroys Apocalypse's body, revealing Sinister inside.[61] After the Ultimatum Wave, he reformed his body and got a job at Roxxon as part of their "brain trust",[62] but once again appears talking to Apocalypse.[63]

What If?

The character features in the alternative universe title What If? issues #46 - 47 (Feb. – Mar. 1993); #74 (June 1995) and #100 (Sept. 1997).


Mister Sinister appeared as the main antagonist in the four issue limited series "X-Men/Spider-Man". In the first issue, set in the 1960s comics, he hires Kraven the Hunter, who, along with the Blob, fight Spider-Man and the original X-Men. Kraven obtains blood samples of each of the X-Men and escapes while The Blob is frozen by Iceman. Kraven brings the blood samples to Sinister, who asks Kraven for his own DNA.[64] In the second issue, taking place after the Kraven's Last Hunt storyline, Spider-Man, wearing the black costume, searches the now-dead Kraven's files and finds mention of Mister Sinister. He brings the files to the new X-Men, who, along with Spider-Man, fight the Marauders while investigating the location where Kraven and Sinister last met in search for further clues to their connection. At the end of the issue, Sinister is seen visiting Kraven the Hunter's grave.[65] In the third issue, set during the time while Ben Reilly had taken up the mantle of Spider-Man, Sinister is first seen fighting the X-Men. Mister Sinister attempts to obtain some of Carnage's DNA, but both are interrupted by Spider-Man and the X-Men. Sinister escapes, and Carnage is returned to his prison cell.[66] In the fourth and final issue, Mister Sinister creates a clone of Kraven, using the DNA of himself, Kraven, and the original X-Men. The clone calls itself Xraven. After fighting Spider-Man and the X-Men, only to be confronted by Spider-Man about his lack of honor compared to his template, Xraven battles Mister Sinister.[67]

X-Men Forever

In the X-Men Forever series, Essex is still an immortal over a century old. However, he is stuck in the body of a ten-year-old child. Sinister is actually a combination of armored suit/hologram used by Essex to command the Maurauders, reasoning no one would follow his true appearance. He poses as a child at a science lab that uses young mutants and targets Scott Summers's son, Chris. The series ends with Chris being kidnapped on orders from Sinister.[volume & issue needed]

In other media



Video games


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Mister Sinister at the Marvel Universe wiki