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  • May 20, 2024 7 min read

    X-Men '97's season 1 finale throws a major wrench into the X-Men's world, setting the stage for two lesser-known storylines from the comics' rich history. This twist offers a deep cut for longtime X-Men fans, while also leaving newcomers with an exciting cliffhanger that paves the way for future seasons.

    A Time-Traveling Split:

    The action-packed finale sees the X-Men team fractured. One group finds themselves inexplicably hurled back in time to the heart of Ancient Egypt. Here, they come face-to-face with a young En Sabah Nur, the mutant destined to become the villainous Apocalypse, as depicted in the 1991 miniseries "The Rise of Apocalypse." This encounter raises a multitude of questions: Will the X-Men try to alter history and prevent Apocalypse's rise? What impact will their presence have on this pivotal moment in time?

    A Familiar Face in a Distant Future:

    The other half of the X-Men finds themselves flung far into the future, landing in a dystopian wasteland. In this desolate landscape, they encounter the enigmatic Mother Askani, a powerful telepath with a mysterious connection to Charles Xavier. They also meet a young Nathan Summers, a mutant with a troubled past and a potentially bright future. This scenario echoes the events of "The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix," a 1994 miniseries that revealed Nathan Summers' true identity as Cable, a time-traveling soldier destined to play a crucial role in the X-Men's future.

    Unveiling Apocalypse: A Descent into Darkness from Abandoned Outcast to Vengeful Mutant Lord

    Unearthing the origins of Apocalypse, a villain who has cast a long shadow over the X-Men, takes us back to the unforgiving sands of ancient Egypt. Chronicled in "The Rise of Apocalypse," this tale delves into his formative years, revealing a transformation fueled by hardship, betrayal, and a thirst for power.

    Marked by Difference, Forged in the Desert:

    Born different, En Sabah Nur was ostracized by his tribe for his unusual appearance. This ostracization, a cruel hallmark of intolerance, foreshadows the future conflicts he will face as a mutant. Left for dead in the unforgiving desert, fate intervened when a rival tribe, the Sandstormers, discovered him. Seeing his tenacity as a sign of strength, a quality they valued highly, they took him in, raising him as one of their own. This act of acceptance, though born out of pragmatism, becomes a pivotal moment in shaping En Sabah Nur's worldview.

    Whispers of Power and Pharaohs' Plots:

    Years passed, and rumors of a powerful young warrior with a strange visage reached the ears of Pharaoh Rama-Tut. This seemingly benevolent ruler was in fact Kang the Conqueror, a villain from a distant future who had traveled back in time. Desiring to control this enigmatic figure, Rama-Tut dispatched his forces to capture En Sabah Nur. This act of manipulation sets the stage for a series of betrayals that will ultimately shape En Sabah Nur's destiny.

    Betrayal and Loss: A Catalyst for Vengeance

    The truth about Rama-Tut's identity was revealed by Baal, a Sandstormer who had aided the time traveler in the past. Baal's act of loyalty exposes the hypocrisy that often lies beneath seemingly benevolent actions. Tragedy struck as a cave-in claimed Baal's life, igniting a fire of vengeance within En Sabah Nur. Seeking revenge and answers, he ventured into the heart of Egypt, his path now marked by a burning desire for retribution.

    Twisted Loyalties and Forbidden Love: A Precipice of Change

    En Sabah Nur's journey led him to Nephri, sister of Rama-Tut's betrothed, and Logos, a high-ranking official who harbored a grudge against the pharaoh. Logos saw En Sabah Nur as a weapon to use against Rama-Tut, manipulating him for his own gain. Despite this, a forbidden romance blossomed between En Sabah Nur and Nephri. This glimmer of tenderness amidst the growing darkness hints at a potential for a different path, a life not consumed by vengeance.

    Chaos and Transformation: The Seeds of a Villain are Sown

    The arrival of the Fantastic Four further complicated matters, fracturing the fragile alliances within Rama-Tut's court. En Sabah Nur was ultimately captured and presented to the pharaoh. A surge of power contorted his features, causing Nephri to recoil in horror. This rejection, fueled by fear of the unknown, becomes a turning point. The acceptance he once craved is replaced by a burning resentment.

    Birth of a Villain: Embracing the Darkness

    This rejection fueled a firestorm within En Sabah Nur. Embracing the name Apocalypse, he vowed to destroy Rama-Tut and claim his secrets for his own. His first act of defiance was transforming Ozymandias, a former ally, into his loyal servant. This act of domination foreshadows his future as a tyrant who believes in the supremacy of the strong over the weak.

    Vengeance Fulfilled, Yet Incomplete: A Haunting Reminder

    Apocalypse confronted Rama-Tut, only to find the pharaoh escaping after a battle with the Fantastic Four. While everyone believed the Time Sphinx's destruction was Rama-Tut's doing, it was actually Apocalypse who had claimed victory. Years later, a vengeful Apocalypse found Nephri on her deathbed, a chilling reminder of the path he had chosen. Her death serves as a permanent marker of the humanity he cast aside in his pursuit of power.