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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
En Sabah Nur
a powerful enemy of the X-Men
Although born in ancient Egypt, Apocalypse has never been an adherent of Egyptian classical religion. Apocalypse was raised by nomadic tribesmen; he was not raised in a family or culture that worshipped the ancient Egyptian deities that were worshipped in Egypt at the time.
Apocalypse has often co-opted the reputation of local deities and manipulated worshippers toward his own ends. He has posed as a number of different gods from different pantheons, including Aten, Sauru, Set, Kali and Huitzilopochtli. Apocalypse is not known, however, to have actually worshipped any of these deities himself.
Apocalypse regularly cultivates religious awe and devotion in followers who he uses to carry out his will. He has established followers, worshippers, high priests and descendants in groups such as Clan Akkaba. His servants, often named the "Four Horsemen of Apocalypse" (after a passage from the Book of Revelation from the New Testament) typically serve Apocalpyse with religious fervor.
The motivations of Apocalypse are complex, sometimes seem to shift depending on the writer or story, but are always entirely his own. Apocalypse's religious beliefs are not derived from any traditional religion or organized denomination. His religious affiliation can not be neatly or easily be classified.
Apocalypse may be classified as a Transhumanist, but he should not be classified as only or principally a Transhumanist. "Transhumanism is an emergent philosophy analyzing or favoring the use of science and technology, especially neurotechnology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology, to overcome human limitations and improve the human condition." (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transhumanist)
Apocalypse is also an extreme Social Darwinist whose belief in "survival of the fittest" is central to his worldview and goals. Apocalypse desires to use eugenics to cull and thus "improve" the human race. Apocalypse has clearly practiced Transhumanist principles to improve himself, but he seems less keen on using Transhumanist ideas to transform humanity. He seems to favor radical eugenics as a means of reshaping all of humanity.
Perhaps one could say that Apocalypse passed through a strongly Transhumanist phase himself by which he achieved immense power and a sort of "perfection." Having done this, he desires to impose his Darwinist ideal of human perfection or greatness on all of humanity, through whatever means are necessary. Social Darwinism may now be his principle motivational philosophy (i.e., his "religion"). In saying this, one should keep in mind that the Social Darwinian beliefs of Apocalypse were certainly never taught by Charles Darwin himself and are no more "scientific" or "rational" than were the eugenics programs of the Nazis.
From: "Apocalypse (comics)" page on Wikipedia.org website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalypse_%28comics%29; viewed 29 June 2007):
Apocalypse's goal and motivations have been depicted differently through out the years from writer to writer. Most incarnations simply depict him as a malovent and power-hungry tyrant, bent on enslaving the world. However in his original appearances in the X-Factor comics, Apocalypse was written as a Messiah-like character, with no desire of simply ruling the world, but of making it a stronger place; wanting what he considered the best for humanity and mutant-kind, achieved through brutal and barbaric ways.
In all incarnations, Apocalypse believes in the survival of the fittest, that the weak shall be culled from the strongest to rule over the planet. Apocalypse is not above engineering events to weed out the unfit. He views the X-Men and their allies (as well among others) as pawns in a game he will ultimately win.
From: "Apocalypse (comics)" page on Wikipedia.org website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalypse_%28comics%29; viewed 29 June 2007):
Apocalypse (En Sabah Nur) is a very powerful supervillain in the Marvel Comics Universe, one of the foremost enemies of the X-Men. Apocalypse was created by Jackson Guice and Louise Simonson and first fully appeared in X-Factor #6 (June 1986).
Apocalypse is a virtually immortal mutant bonded with extraterrestrial technology. He is one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel Universe...
Apocalypse is most often accompanied by four servants, the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, a nod to the Horsemen of the Book of Revelation, and named after each.
Apocalypse is the second earliest known mutant (the first being Selene), born in mid-30th century BC Egypt. After coming to mutant power, he appears as a death god in several ancient mythologies. However, he has been most active in the late 20th and early 21st centuries AD when mutants became a sizable part of the human population. He sees this as an age to implement his extreme Social Darwinist eugenic philosophy: only the fittest have the right to survive - and he gets to define who is fittest...
In the 1990s, Apocalypse had his own limited four-issue comic book miniseries, Rise of Apocalypse, by writer Terry Kavanagh and penciler Adam Pollina. This miniseries was a detailed origin, telling of En Sabah Nur's rise and how he became Apocalypse. He had another limited miniseries in 2006 titled X-Men: Apocalypse vs. Dracula, which takes place in the 1800s...
Apocalypse's story begins with his birth in mid-30th century BC Egypt during the First Dynasty. He was born gray-skinned and somewhat disfigured, a sign of doom, in the settlement of Akkaba and abandoned by his original parents. The child was left to die in the harsh desert sun. However, a roving band of feared nomad raiders, the Sandstormers, slaughtered the population. Their ruthless leader, Baal, found the child crying in rage, and believed him to have the potential to be a god. He raised the child as his own, naming him En Sabah Nur ("The First One") in anticipation of others like him. The tribe lived and died by the philosophy of survival of the fittest, with "fittest" being the toughest, most ruthless and pitiless.
As En Sabah Nur grew, he surpassed the other tribesmen in intelligence and strength. Everyone in the tribe except for Baal hated and feared him for his inhuman looks and great abilities. Nur did not understand their fear, but hardened his heart against it. Moreover, he believed in the principle that Baal and the tribe lived by, that only the fittest, tested by hardship, would, and should, survive. En Sabah Nur earned the right to adulthood at seventeen by surviving an endurance test in the desert: Nur killed three armed warriors of the tribe using only his bare hands. He and Baal were the only Sandstormers to survive when General Ozymandias attacked their camp.
They found refuge in a sacred cave before it collapsed. After a week of wandering without food or water, they found the remnants of a timeship inside an underground Egyptian tomb. Baal told En Sabah Nur to continue, spreading the Sandstormers' doctrine, with the ultimate goal being the removal of Rama-Tut, a man from the future who had arrived in a fantastic ship and had become the Pharaoh of Egypt. Baal told Nur that he believed him to be a conqueror whose coming was foretold in ancient prophecies, and that Nur was in fact destined to overthrow Rama-Tut.
When Baal died from lack of nourishment, Nur, whose mutant physiology kept him alive, vowed to take revenge on Rama-Tut and claim his destiny. When Nur reached the surface, he was quickly enslaved. While a slave, he kept his disfigured lips constantly covered, and Ozymandias' sister, Nephri, became attracted to the mysterious slave. Eventually he experienced a vision of the Egyptian death god Set, who urged him to become a conqueror.
En Sabah Nur caught the attention of the Pharaoh Rama-Tut, who was actually the time traveling Kang the Conqueror, who had come back in time in order to locate the young Apocalypse and take him under his wing. Kang knew that Apocalypse, one of the most powerful mutants who ever lived, and the one who was destined to rule the world, had been born in ancient Egypt. Hence, Rama-Tut had gone back in time to find Apocalypse as a child, raise him, and thereby become the master of the most powerful being on the planet. Since Rama-Tut's mission failed, he decided to keep Apocalypse as a slave.
En Sabah Nur was thrown into a pit of snakes, but survived when his powers activated. He revealed his face to Nephri, who rejected him for his appearance, and refused to bow to Rama-Tut, who also captured the Fantastic Four, who had traveled back in time. En Sabah Nur was shot by the Pharaoh with the same weapon he used to depower the Fantastic Four. En Sabah Nur was again left to die, but survived with the sudden emergence of his mutant immortality and mass shifting...
Years later, he revisited Nephri, now an ancient Egyptian Queen, and he mocked her dying beauty, as he was still as he had been years before. He walked away, leaving Egypt.
For centuries, En Sabah Nur traveled around the world, worshipped as a god wherever he went. He was worshipped as Aten, Sauru, Set, Kali and Huitzilopochtli; although these beings also exist as separate entities in the Marvel Universe, Apocalypse's powers are such that he was easily confused with them.
It is most likely during this time that Nur began to beget progeny, who faithfully followed him as the Clan Akkaba. Offspring of Apocalypse receive a portion of his power, those closest related having near identical abilities. He also frequently acted as a conqueror, raising armies to do his bidding...
In the animated series X-Men: Evolution... The last half of the third season focused on the battle to stop Apocalypse from waking, and he became the main villain for the fourth and final season of the series... The origin of this version of Apocalypse is largely the same as the one created in the comics. In the series, Apocalypse had discovered a device left by Rama-Tut (never explicitly said to be Kang) called the Eye of Ages that would turn all humans on Earth into mutants (similar to the device used by Magneto in the X-Men movie, but on a global scale).
When Apocalypse tried to power the device, he was weakened, and his high priests, afraid of his power, imprisoned him inside the Eye of Ages and then took him to the top of the Himalayan Mountains and imprisoned him behind three doors...
In the series, Apocalypse was originally depicted as a god-like pharaoh with an ethereal white glow. Unlike his comic book counterpart, this version of Apocalypse never spoke, and his powers were never defined. He displays high levels of telekinetic and telepathic abilities, as well as various energy-based powers, molecular manipulation, teleportation, and size-alteration. In the final episodes of the series, Apocalypse used Rama-Tut's technology to become a cybernetic being closer to the comic book version, and he began to speak in the grand, self-important tone with which older fans were familiar. Some critics felt the producers had done this to pander to traditionalist fans, feeling that the silent, god-like Apocalypse felt more like a real menace than the talkative, cyborg version he reverted to.
From: "OT: Religious superteams" forum discussion, started 13 February 2007 on "Soap Operus" website (http://www.gossiping.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=167&view=previous&sid=98473f5c220e5dd12ab4c10df9d53477&mforum=so; viewed 29 June 2007):
Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:15 pm
Religious superteams: Your favorite superheroes, sorted by faith. [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html]
Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:55 pm
That was kinda cool. People have written entire essays on the religious denominations of various super-powered folks...
Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 1:32 am
I'll repeat my criticisms of this list as I've done every time it's posted...
Apocalypse doesn't worship the Egyptian gods. He was raised in a nomadic tribe who had their own beliefs and he has posed so often as gods (Egyptian or not) over the years and his actions against Loki on what he deemed outsiders meddling in human affairs make a strong case that he's not into worshipping any deity...
[Editor of Adherents.com website responds to poster Dizzy D's comment: I wasn't aware of these points. I will remove Apocalypse from our collage page picture depicting comic book characters who are adherents of Egyptian classical religion.]
From: "Religious Super Heroes PC or otherwise" forum discussion, started 17 September 2003 on "HERO Games" website (http://www.herogames.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-8036.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
Sep 17th, '03, 09:38 PM
Another thread got me to thinking a bit about religious super heroes. They do occur in comic books. Some it barely gets mentioned, some few are quite devout in their faith...
How much or little does your typical super human in your campaign (or game if you are a player) let his/her faith affect his/her life especially AS a super hero?
Sep 18th, '03, 07:40 AM
Should also mention that my games take place in an alternate Marvel universe, one player did worship Apocalypse as a god, another was a time traveler (and Magneto's great-great-granddaughter) who had a religion founded by Sam Guthre worshiping Professor X, Magneto, Cable and Apocalypse.
Webpage created 29 June 2007. Last modified 12 July 2007.
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