WARNING: This article contains spoilers for X-Men Black: Magneto #1, specifically the backup storyline “Degeneration,” by Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler, Geraldo Borges, Rachelle Rosenberg and VC’s Cory Petit, out now.
The first issue of the five-part X-Men Black event arrived today, and like each issue to follow, this one-shot focuses in on a particular villain to the X-Men to establish their place in the world before the relaunch of Uncanny X-Men in November. This first issue focuses on perhaps the greatest enemy of the mutant superheroes, Magneto, but it's in the comic's backup story in which the biggest development if found -- shocking revelation about another prominent X-villain.
Entitled “Degeneration,” this story (which will continue throughout subsequent issues of X-Men Black) centers around En Sabah Nur, aka Apocalypse, and his attempts at gaining immortality. You would think that a being who’s widely regarded as the "first mutant," a being born under the Pharaonic rule of Ancient Egypt, would already be immortal, but no. Through his narrative, Apocalypse tells us of his plans to create a body that will live forever, but in reaching for what some would consider impossible, En Sabah Nur succumbs to an accident that leaves him less than he formerly was.
First appearing in 1986’s X-Factor #5, Apocalypse fast became a deadly new villain for the X-Men, becoming the central focus of the universe-altering event Age of Apocalypse, which saw history rewritten when Professor X was killed in the past before he could form the X-Men, allowing Apocalypse to rule over the Earth. Born almost five thousand years ago, En Sabah Nur was rescued from death as a baby by a tribe of Sandstormers and raised to become the ruler of the Clan Akkaba and destined to take over the world.
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Despite having lived for so long, his body is not immortal. As Apocalypse tells us in X-Men Black, while his consciousness has survived for thousands of years, he has inhabited many bodies over this time, each one eventually succumbing to the ravages of age.
His original body was destroyed by gunshot to the head by a being called the Traveler, whose techno-organic blood mixed with that of the dead Apocalypse. It was this circumstance that allowed En Sabah Nur to be resurrected as an entirely new being, one capable of controlling the molecules throughout his body and living for a much longer period of time.