Comics
Published July 6, 2023

Sinister Four: Every Historic Marvel Universe Moment Witnessed by the Essex Clones

See Sinister clones Doctor Stasis and Mother Righteous make history in these moments from 'X-Men: Before the Fall - Sinister Four' #1.

Before Mister Sinister was one of the X-Men’s most dangerous villains, he cast a shadow over a century of Marvel history. Through twisted genetic experiments and creations, Sinister carried on the cruel legacy of the original Nathaniel Essex, a Victorian Era mad scientist. But as the X-Men and the leaders of the mutant nation Krakoa recently learned, Sinister was not Essex’s only clone. 

Mister Sinister is one of the Sinister Four, a group of four clones created to help Essex achieve immortality through different disciplines: mutation, mysticism, post-humanism, and the power cosmic. After Sinister watched his ultimate plan against the X-Men fail in SINS OF SINISTER, two other Sinister Four members, Doctor Stasis and Mother Righteous, set their sights on Krakoa and its mutant residents. 

Now, Doctor Stasis—a mutant-hating Orchis leader and researcher in post-humanism—and Mother Righteous—a mystical powerhouse and a clone of Essex’s late wife Rebecca—are finally getting to know each other after a century of misadventures and misdeeds. Let's take a closer look at how the lives of Doctor Stasis and Mother Righteous coincided with several important moments in the history of the Marvel Universe, as revealed in X-MEN: BEFORE THE FALL – THE SINISTER FOUR (2023) #1 by Kieron Gillen, Paco Medina, Edgar Delgado, Protobunker’s Fer Sifuentes-Sujo, and VC's Clayton Cowles.

CAPTAIN AMERICA’S REBIRTH

Before Steve Rogers became Captain America, Doctor Abraham Erksine and the greatest scientific minds of the era worked together to develop a Super-Soldier Serum for Project: Rebirth. With his post-humanist research focusing on ways to make humanity superhuman, Stasis had a deep interest in the operation’s stated goal of turning humans into super soldiers. The Essex clone was present when Rogers went after the spy that killed Erksine, as originally seen in CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS (1941) #1 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

While he was working with the American government during World War II, Doctor Stasis encountered Mister Sinister for the first time. After looking into Sinister, Stasis considered the mutant-obsessed clone to be a creation of Apocalypse and a painful reminder of a past that should be avoided.

THE HULK’S ORIGIN

Doctor Stasis was also present at the Los Diablos Missile Base when a gamma bomb test turned Bruce Banner into the Hulk. After a teenage Rick Jones accidentally drove onto the desert base, Banner ran into the New Mexico desert to save him from the bomb’s blast in INCREDIBLE HULK (1962) #1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. However, Banner’s assistant—a spy named Igor Drenkov—proceeded with the bomb test, which exposed Banner to the gamma rays that turned him into the Hulk. 

In the aftermath of the explosion, Doctor Stasis remained at the base, where he stood next to General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross as soldiers debriefed Jones and tended to the irradiated Banner. In THE SINISTER FOUR #1, Stasis put his knowledge from the base to use with a gamma ray gun that turned a small piece of meat into a “Hulk steak” during his dinner with Mother Righteous.

SPIDER-MAN’S ORIGIN

Doctor Stasis was also present at the scientific demonstration where Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider in AMAZING FANTASY (1962) #15 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. At the New York Hall of Science in Queens, General Techtronics Laboratories East put on a public exhibition where Doctor Eric Schwinner demonstrated the Isotope Genome Accelerator. After a spider crawled into a radioactive beam of energy produced by the device, the arachnid bit Parker and Cindy Moon, who would go on to become the Spider-Heroes Spider-Man and Silk, respectively.

Much like his presence at the gamma bomb test that created the Hulk, this event underscores Doctor Stasis’ persistent fascination with gamma radiation. As James Monroe Iglehart and Ray-Anthony Height revealed in MARVEL’S VOICES (2020) #1, the spider that bit Peter Parker was exposed to gamma radiation, and it was even nicknamed “Hulk-Spider” by the scientists studying it. With its proven ability to turn humans into superhumans, gamma radiation has repeatedly shown the kind of results that Stasis believes are necessary for humanity’s long-term survival.

THE CHILDREN OF THE VAULT

Doctor Stasis can also be seen standing outside of the entrance to the Children of the Vault’s compound. Created by Mike Carey and Chris Bachalo in X-MEN (2004) #188, the Children of the Vault are a highly evolved race of superhumans who live in the Vault, an enclosed environment where time moves at an accelerated rate. After experiencing thousands of years of independent biological and technological evolution, the Children of the Vault do not consider themselves humans or mutants and see themselves as Earth’s future dominant species. 

Since the Children of the Vault began their evolutionary process as baseline humans, they stand as an ideal example of the post-humanism that Doctor Stasis studies. The Children of the Vault have also captured the attention of the mutant nation Krakoa and the X-Men, who view them as an existential threat to the long-term existence of mutantkind. As FALL OF X gets underway, CHILDREN OF THE VAULT will see Cable and Bishop take on these hyper-evolved humans in a new limited series by Deniz Camp and Luca Maresca.

APOCALYPSE

Born thousands of years ago, Apocalypse must occasionally go into deep hibernation to restore his power, which stems from both his mutant abilities and the Celestial technology he uses. During one of his most recent awakenings, Apocalypse transformed the original Nathaniel Essex into his servant and gave him several powers. Essex worked with and against Apocalypse before creating the clones that would become Mister Sinister, Doctor Stasis, Orbis Stellaris, and Mother Righteous. 

During one of Apocalypse’s hibernation periods, Mother Righteous approached the slumbering mutant on her quest to understand and amass mystical power. After the formation of Krakoa, Apocalypse joined the island’s ruling Quiet Council, where he took up a renewed interest in mutant magic. Ultimately, Apocalypse’s mystical pursuits brought the long-lost mutants of Arakko to Krakoa, after which he voluntarily exiled himself to the hellish Amenth dimension.

SCARLET WITCH’S CHILDREN

Mother Righteous also once read to Tommy and Billy Maximoff, the doomed children of Scarlet Witch and the Vision. Wanda gave birth to the twins in VISION AND THE SCARLET WITCH (1985) #12 by Steve Englehart and Richard Howell. Although they seemed to be normal children, they were magical constructs; with her hex powers, Wanda had subconsciously taken pieces of Mephisto’s essence to give life to the twins. Through his agent Master Pandemonium, Mephisto reabsorbed the parts of himself that were used to create the twins in AVENGERS WEST COAST (1985) #52 by John Byrne.

Tommy and Billy were not around in this form for very long, but their existence had profound ramifications for the X-Men and the rest of the world’s mutants. Although Wanda’s memories of the twins were erased, the trauma of remembering the event eventually drove her to create the HOUSE OF M reality, which led her to depower most of the world’s mutants.

THE DARKHOLD

Representing the mystical knowledge of the dark Elder God Chthon, the Darkhold has been one of the most powerful mystical artifacts in the Marvel Universe since it debuted in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT (1971) #4 by Gerry Conway and Mike Ploog. Naturally, Mother Righteous has spent some time studying and recording some of the book's arcane mystical knowledge. 

In the SINS OF SINISTER timeline, Mother Righteous increased her power by gathering the Darkhold and other mystical artifacts while Mister Sinister and his corrupted X-Men conquered the Earth and much of the universe during a vicious, millennia-long campaign. Although that timeline ultimately collapsed, Mother Righteous sent her collected mystical knowledge back to her modern-day counterpart, including her studies on the Darkhold.

BELASCO

Over time, Mother Righteous has expanded her power by making mystical deals with powerful mutant leaders like Sebastian Shaw and Selene. At some point in the past, Righteous also met with Belasco, the deposed leader of the hellish Limbo dimension. Created by Bruce Jones and Brent Anderson in KA-ZAR (1981) #11, Belasco is a sorcerer who used his power to conquer Limbo. Belasco also captured the young Illyana Rasputin and made her his apprentice. However, Illyana evolved into the powerful X-Man Magik and became the first of several leaders to replace Belasco as Limbo’s ruler. 

While an exiled Belasco continued to look for ways to regain control, Magik ceded her power over Limbo to Madelyne Pryor, a powerful mystic and errant clone of Jean Grey. After Limbo’s forces attacked New York in DARK WEB, Belasco found his way back in, although he now serves under the demon S’ym.

Relive Marvel Universe history alongside Doctor Stasis and Mother Righteous in X-MEN: BEFORE THE FALL – THE SINISTER FOUR #1, on sale now!

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