En Sabah Nu was born in a region of present-day Khandaq called Akkaba. He displayed his mutant powers from birth and was left by his tribe to die, his inhuman appearance terrifying them. En Sabah Nu's powers allowed him to live long enough for a rival tribe called the Sandstormers to find him, though, where he was raised by their leader Baal
It is believed by many En Sabah Nu was the "First Mutant" but this is incorrect. Apocalypse is a "mere" 5,000 years old while Hyborean Age mutant Selene is 13,000. Likewise, the Atlanteans were born from a mutant offshoot of humanity. This isn't even beginning to address the fact the Inhumans have a history dating in the millions.
The "true" first mutant is probably Moon Boy, a homo erectus ancestor of virtually the entire human race. Another possibility is Vandal Savage, whose latent mutant genes may have been triggered by the meteorite he encountered. If so, that would make his tireless efforts against the mutant race doubly ironic.
Despite this, Apocalypse often claims to be the "creator" of the mutant race and its ancestor--a bald faced lie.
En Sabah Nu would eventually receive training from Rama-Tut
, the past incarnation of Kang the Conqueror
and helped drive that figure out of the past. This would result in him taking the name Apocalypse
. Apocalypse would later duel with Black Adam
during said figure's heroic phase. Imbued with the power of the Egyptian gods, Black Adam drove the Akkaba clan from Egypt and ended Apocalypse's tyrannical rule of the region.
Apocalypse would also do battle with the first incarnations of Hawkman
, and the Blue Beetle
. All these individuals found Apocalypse to be too formidable to defeat, despite Black Adam's success against him. These encounters caused Apocalypse to abandon his clan, however, determining them to be too weak to serve. Likewise, he hoped to find more of his kind.
Apocalypse eventually discovered the mutant Eternals
, those blessed with immortality as part of their gift, and one lead him to a crashed alien ship. This vessel was a "seed ship" of the Celestials
and it was here that Apocalypse encountered the ancient race. The Celestials were impressed with Apocalypse's Darwinist ideals and enhanced his mutation to the "Level 5" capacity, giving Apocalypse the power to regenerate from anything but complete destruction, super-strength near Kryptonian levels, and the ability to manipulate energy to a great level.
Apocalypse was notably NOT made into an Omega-level mutant like Jean Grey, Iceman, Nathan Grey, Chamber, or others. Apocalypse is deeply aware of this "snub" and it has driven him to strike at figures like them in complete contradiction to his philosophy. They are fully capable of killing Apocalypse as a result, his Celestial technology not protecting him from their power.
Mister Sinister and a few others are aware of this "weakness" and seek to exploit it.
The price for this enhancement would be Apocalypse continually encouraging racial warfare, technological enhancement, and genetic arms races amongst Earth's various ethnic groups. Apocalypse adopted elements from the then-new Christian religion's end-of-times prophecies and proceeded to wage war against what he perceived as "human weakness."
The travels of Apocalypse would result in him in leaving destruction and death wherever he went. He would encounter Vandal Savage during this time and assist the ancient cave man in assuming power over countless civilizations, always leading them to wars of conquest that shattered civilizations. Gods like Vishnu
, and Hercules
would battle Apocalypse during this time as would the Amazons
. Merlin the Magician
and other heroes would invoke great powers to defeat Apocalypse, even if they could not defeat him but for a time.
Apocalypse would eventually influence the early Darwinist movement and transform fringe scientist Nathaniel Essex
into the hateful Mister Sinister
. His early plans to create a mutant empire were thwarted by Dracula
, of all people, who transformed the majority of his 19th century mutant army into vampires. Vampires, being sterile corpses, were useless for Apocalypse's purposes and he destroyed them all.
Apocalypse would sleep through much of the early 20th century, missing out on a chance to influence WW2 (though some stories tell of the Red Skull attempting to revive him from a tomb n Egypt--only to be thwarted by the Justice Society). In the end, he only returned when he sensed the rising power of Magneto
and Professor Xavier
. Unfortunately, the past 30 years have been a miserable failure for Apocalypse and his ambitions.
At heart, Apocalypse is a bully and he approves of "strength above all" only when he's the strongest. The X-men
have continually defeated him and his plans despite his "superiority" due to their ability to work together. Likewise, he's suffered hands at the Avengers
and Justice League
with individuals like the Martian Manhunter
, and the Green Lanterns
capable of defeating him. These events have rattled his confidence tremendously and the fact he's "died" a couple of times means he's less likely to go after them directly.
It doesn't help Apocalypse's understanding of evolution is rather outdated as well. After all, beings working together to be stronger than the individual is one of the most basic elements of evolution. It's also anthetical to a dictator like Apocalypse who only knows about relationships through the context of master and slave.