Monday, April 22, 2013

Secretly Sinister Mind Control Part I: Lil' Orphan Nattie

We all know who Mr. Sinister really is, right?

The man who would be Sinister was a British geneticist called Nathaniel Essex. Born in the mid-1900s, he survives until the present day thanks to a chance encounter with Apocalypse who used stolen Celestial technologies to turn Nathan into an immortal (and decidedly immoral) avatar of En Sabah Nur. Well, forget all that because this entry still focuses on the alternate reality series X-men Forever. 

In other words: whatever happened after Chris Claremont left in 1991 doesn't count. Especially the things Chris did to Sinister before!

Here we have Cyclops apparently blasting Mr. Sinister to bits at the end of the Inferno crossover, thinking he had finally dealt with the manipulating mastermind behind the massive Morlock murdering mutant massacre and the Marauders. 

But who was Mr. Sinister, really? He always seemed a little goofy looking, what, with his chalk white skin and Eddie Munster style widow's peak... heck, in his first appearance back in Uncanny X-men # 221, artist Mark Silvestri even drew him with dark red lipstick and razor sharp, piranha like teeth. 

"You failed me, Marauders! And failure is something MR. SINISTER does not tolerate."

Not to mention the fact that a codename like 'Mister Sinister' sounded like something only a kid would come up with. But that was just what Claremont was heading for... Even several years before the villain would make his first appearance, a fact he revealed in an interview posted on

"Dave Cockrum and I were over ideas and what we were coming towards was a mysterious young boy - apparently an 11-year-old - at the orphanage where Scott (Cyclops) was raised, who turned out to be the secret master of the place. In effect what we were setting up was a guy who was aging over a lifespan of roughly a thousand years. Even though he looked like an 11-year-old, he'd actually been alive since the mid-century at this point - he was actually about 50 [...] He had all the grown up urges." 

Initially, none of this proposed origin made it into Uncanny X-men or was even remotely hinted at. And, with Sinister apparently dying during the Summer of 1989, there didn't seem to be any need for an origin story. That is, until a few months later the back up strip in Classic X-men # 41 showed a young Scott Summers growing up at the Nebraska orphanage and sharing a room with a rather obnoxious and arrogant boy called Nathan...

"You got some mouth on you, buster."

The dark haired woman berating Nathan is doctor Robyn Hanover, the orphanage's newly appointed physician. She takes an immediate liking to Scott, who was still suffering from amnesia after his parents tossed him out of an airplane as a kid. Unaware of all this, Robyn tried to befriend him with a little chitchat...

Robyn takes an active interest in Scott's plight and even tries to get him adopted by local pilot Rick Bogart and his wife. Their first meeting at a local airshow goes off without a hitch and Scott expects to be leaving the orphanage any day now. When Nathan finds out about this, he isn't very pleased and shows doctor Hanover just who is boss...

"I was in my room... asleep... I must be dreaming!"

... Wait for it, wait for it!

"You've become quite a nuisance (...) The time has come for that to end."

And just how was 'Mr. Sinister' planning to ensure doctor Robyn would tow the proverbial line? 
Well, mind control of course! A few days after this fateful encounter, Robyn was approached by Scott who wanted to know if there was any news on his promised adoption. 

You can see Sinister's influence in more ways than one...

Yup... Sinister was in total control of Scott's fate by manipulating doctor Hanover and having his prospective adoptive parents suffer an unfortunate, 'accidental' plane crash. The story in Classic X-men # 41 and 42 ended with professor Xavier and Jean Grey arriving at the orphanage, after sensing his emerging mutant powers. 

And the rest, as they say, is history.

After Claremont's departure, his successors tried their best to incorporate the events of these two issues in their story. Fabian Nicieza had the X-men fight a bunch of cloned Marauders in a secret lab underneath the orphanage and the Claremont coined name 'Nathan' would eventually be used to reveal Sinister's full name Nathan Essex.

Yet, nothing of Chris' original origin for this illustrious baddie seemed to have survived... That is, until this scene from X-men Forever vol. 2 # 3. In which Corsair (Christopher Summers)'s breakfast with his grandson Nate is interruped by the arrival of an unexpected guest...

"Robyn Hannover. I was hoping to rent a plane."


More on Robyn, robbing minds and plans most sinister in part two of Secretly Sinister Mind Control: Return Of The Back Issue Babe. 

1 comment:

Luis Olavo Dantas said...

Is it just me, or does this story make it look like Jean is at least a couple of years older than Scott? I wonder if that is canonical.