- "If I had known he meant that much to you then I would have killed him sooner."
By 1859, Essex had become a respected biologist in the London area. He developed advanced theories on human evolution and was obsessed with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, though he felt Darwin and his contemporaries were shackled by too many moral constraints and that science was beyond morality. Dr. Essex dreamed of bringing the perfection of the evolution of the human race to the masses.
After the death of his son, Adam, at the age of four from numerous birth defects, including crooked bones and haemophilia, Dr. Essex was driven deeper into his work. A member of London's Royal Society, Dr. Essex was regarded, by some, to be the greatest scientific mind of his generation, and, by others, as a dangerous man twisted by the obsession of his own research. Dr. Essex own discoveries led him to believe that humanity was undergoing increasing mutation, due to what he called “Essex Factors” in the human genome. Dr. Essex also believed that, in the offspring of certain racially superior individuals, these parcels would, within a hundred years or so, mutate. Dr. Essex's theories were mocked, making him bitter, and his revealing of an unorthodox experiment resulted in his ousting from the Royal Society. Even Darwin himself suggested that Dr. Essex see a physician due to the trauma of losing his son. Angry, Dr. Essex stated to Darwin that if becoming a monster was what was required for science to progress, then he would become a monster.
After meeting Cootie Tremble, Dr. Essex was taken underground, where freaks, fools, and all types of misshapen folk were being collected off the streets of London. Dr. Essex then decided that he would perform experiments on them in the name of science. The victims of his tests included his four year old son, whom he exhumed only days after his death to perform experiments on, hoping to resurrect him. Growing more curious of her husband's work, Rebecca Essex checked in Dr. Essex's lab, to find the body of their son in an incubation tube. After digging-up Adam's grave to prove her suspicions, Rebecca passed-out, after she found the coffin empty. It was at this time that Dr. Essex forged an alliance with Clan Akkaba, a cult that worshiped and were the descendants of the immortal extraterrestrial mutant, En Sabah Nur. After being awoken from centuries of hibernation in an underground chamber, Nur ordered Clan Akkaba to take him to Dr. Essex.
- Apocalypse: "My name is En Sabah Nur. I would be of use to you and you to me."
- Nathaniel: "Very well, I will show you my work. Though I warn you, you might find some of it... shocking."
- Apocalypse: "Oh, I doubt that."
- ―En Sabah Nur and Nathaniel Essex, during their first meeting[src]
Left with the choice of continuing his work or his wife shunning him, Dr. Essex allied himself with Nur. After taking Nur to the Hellfire Club, Nur demonstrated his power before the men and explained that Dr. Essex's theories of mutation were more near than he believed. Not long after this, Essex briefly changed his mind and decided to leave his life of unorthodox science and dedicate his life to his wife and unborn child. Dr. 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.
Nur then offered to transform Essex into a long-lived superhuman being himself, to give him the time to further his research, but at a cost: his servitude. Dr. 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. Apocalypse painfully transformed Dr. Essex into an ageless being of extraordinary pallor in his Alien Ship, asking him to shed his past name and choose another. With his new abilities that had previously laid dormant and dispassionate outlook, Dr. Essex took the new name, "Sinister", Rebecca's last words to him.
In 1882, Sinister was present at Darwin’s funeral, reveling in the irony that the man who was once vilified was being buried in Westminster Abbey, the highest church of England. As he walked away, Sinister wondered why he kept the small box which contained a picture of his wife if he truly left Nathaniel Essex behind. Reminding himself that Essex was gone and that his wife and children were dead, he threw away the box.
Dealing with Dracula
In the 1920s, Essex encountered a man named Herbert Edgar Wyndham, who dreamed of doing what Sinister had already accomplished—breaking the genetic code for human DNA. Essex worked side by side with Wyndham, who would later become better known as the High Evolutionary. By 1928 Wyndham had begun crude experimentation's on lab animals with radiation exposure with little success. During a trip to an international conference on genetics in Geneva, Switzerland, Wyndham suddenly felt ill. Stumbling out into the street he met the hypnotic gaze of a man in a top hat and coat, shrouded in darkness. From this stranger Wyndham was handed a gift that should not exist in that time—a blueprint for breaking the genetic code. Whether Wyndham's benefactor is Sinister or not remains unrevealed.
In the 1940s Sinister worked with the Nazis, earning at Auschwitz the nickname “Nosferatu,” due both to his pale skin and his habit of taking blood from everyone; he frightened even the Nazis. He often gave children candy in exchange for their blood as a means of bribery.
In 1968, Sinister was present in Vietnam, where he kidnapped both soldiers and villagers to perform experiments on. There, Sinister became known as the White Devil. Sabretooth and Wolverine were hired to investigate the disappearances. However, their contact was beheaded by Sinister, and they never managed to track him down.
In the 1980s, Essex spent some time in California, gathering subjects for his experiments; while in Los Angeles, he met and fell in love with radio comedienne Faye Livingstone, though he never admitted his feelings. Discovering his secret laboratory one night, Essex confronted her with the truth—she carried the x-factor in her genes, and her offspring would produce special children, children that would be more than human. Horrified, Faye tried to leave, but Essex kept her prisoner.
Months passed, filled with degrading examinations and Essex broke her in mind and spirit. Then, in the middle of a raging storm one night, Essex released her and the two made love, resulting in her pregnancy.
For decades, Sinister secretly observed the development of mutant children as they grew. He cruelly manipulated their childhood developmental processes and even tried to control their adult lives so they might become his minions. Scott and Alexander Summers were among his subjects.
Powers and Abilities
Telepathy: He can read minds and project his own thoughts into the minds of others within a radius of 250 miles (on Earth). With extreme effort he can greatly extend that radius.
- Mental Paralysis: Sinister has the ability to induce temporary mental or physical paralysis.
- Mind Control: He is capable of controlling the minds of others but only one at a time and if the target is in his physical presence.
- Dilate Power: He also has the ability to mentally paralyze a foe he's touching and the ability to psionically "turn off" the superpowers of any mutant.
Telekinesis: Sinister possesses telekinetic abilities enabling him to levitate and manipulate living beings, inanimate objects, and to some extent energy, psionically. He can “lift” as much as 10 tons of weight and possibly even more and can enable himself to “fly” at great speed.
Regenerative Healing Factor: Mister Sinister is able to rapidly regenerate damaged or destroyed tissue with much greater speed and efficiency than an ordinary human. Sinister can fully heal from injuries that result in massive tissue damage or loss such as multiple gunshot wounds, slashes, puncture wounds, broken bones, and severe burns within a matter of moments.
Superhuman Stamina: Mister Sinister's muscles produce considerably less fatigue toxins than the muscles of ordinary humans. He can exert himself at peak capacity several hours before fatigue begins to affect him.
Superhuman Strength: Sinister possesses superhuman strength, and is able to press lift within 2 to 10 ton range.
Superhuman Reflexes: Mister Sinister's reflexes are enhanced to levels that are beyond the human body's natural limits.
Cellular Shapeshifting: Sinister has the ability to control every molecule of his body, allowing him to assume the form of any one he wishes.
Concussive Blasts: Sinister can fire blasts of concussive force from his hands.
Genius-Level Geneticist: Sinister is a genius and a geneticist of the highest order, able to predict genetic mutations and splice DNA.
Master Surgeon: He is also a master surgeon.
Master Manipulator: He possesses a good deal of knowledge in psychology, and is a skilled manipulator.
Personality and traits
- "And experiments, when deemed to be failures... are discontinued."
Nathaniel Essex was a ruthless man who has no compunctions about ruining the lives of others to get what he wants. He prefers to operate in the shadows, letting lackeys and unsuspecting dupes do his dirty work. He is arrogant, confident, and expects total obedience from his underlings. He is known to have collaborated with members of the Nazi party.