6'3" (as Nemesis),
En Sabah Nur
Exiles, Horsemen of Apocalypse
• Crystalline containment armor grants superhuman strength and enormous resistance to damage while housing his quasi-energy form, channeling his power through the arm-cannon as bio-genetic microwave blasts and thrust for flight
• Remotely absorb life energy from living things, causing them to age prematurely or disintegrate entirely, using this energy to temporarily revitalize himself into an organic, human form; crystal armor can improve the process and let him assume the appearance of others instead of his own
In the reality known as the Age of Apocalypse, En Sabah Nuhr awoke early from his regenerative slumber, due to the unprecedented mutant activity that took place in Israel twenty years before the present. Taking this as a sign that the race for mutant supremacy had begun, Apocalypse began pursuing active steps years before he would have normally. One of his earliest known operatives was an eager young man named Nemesis, who claimed to be the son of Apocalypse.
With Charles Xavier dead, Magneto became Apocalypse's greatest opponent, gathering mutants in the name of peaceful coexistence, instead of the Eternal One's survival of the fittest dogma. Magneto created an isolated citadel atop Mount Wundagore, where he began training young mutants as his X-Men to oppose Apocalypse. Although the citadel was initially a secret, Apocalypse determined its location shortly before launching a strike on the humans' nuclear stockpile at Cape Citadel and dispatched Nemesis to Wundagore. Nemesis gleefully turned his powers on the mountain retreat, causing devastation among Magneto's younger students while the Master of Magnetism and his X-Men were engaged with Apocalypse in the States. Resistance came only from Magneto's daughter, the Scarlet Witch, and Rogue, the X-Men's latest recruit. Nemesis was cocky and assured of his own invincibility, but Wanda's probability-altering hexes injured even his toughened skin, marking her as a threat. In the struggle that followed, Rogue got most of the younger students to safety, but Nemesis brutally murdered the Scarlet Witch after a prolonged battle, leaving her for Magneto to find when he returned. [X-Men Chronicles #1]
Nemesis remained one of his father's most trusted lieutenants over the years that followed, as he continued to prove he was one of the strong. When Apocalypse's forces initiated a Culling of the islands of Japan, Nemesis held down the helpless national hero Sunfire as he watched his people slaughtered by the thousands. Nemesis and Apocalypse nearly killed Sunfire by drowning him in the lake of blood left by his countrymen, but Shiro somehow survived. [Astonishing X-Men (1st series) #2]
Nemesis was destined to meet someone stronger than him in battle, however. Magneto sought vengeance for his daughter's death and engaged Nemesis in a devastating, personal fight. While Magneto was permanently weakened by the energies unleashed in the struggle, Nemesis undeniably suffered the worse of the two. His physical form was reduced nearly to ash, sustained only by the mutant energies racing through his system. Nemesis was surprisingly still alive in this state, an unexpected aspect of his mutation, and could use his lifeforce-absorbing abilities to reconstruct his body. Like a vampire, however, Nemesis required a prohibitive amount of lifeforce to maintain his solid state, a practical weakness for the mutant supremacist, if not a moral one.
At the command of Apocalypse, one of his scientists, the Dark Beast, created a crystalline containment suit for Nemesis. His energy state could rest inside this armored shell without worrying about making itself solid, and the power of the armor could direct Nemesis's energies towards more aggressive purposes. Taking a new name to go with his new fearsome appearance, Nemesis was reborn as Holocaust. [X-Men Chronicles #2]
As time passed, Apocalypse and his Infinite hordes took full control of the continental United States. While Apocalypse ruled directly over Apocalypse Island (formerly Manhattan), the rest of the country was divided between his Horsemen. During the "battles of succession," Holocaust killed Candra of the New Orleans guilds on the way to becoming one of the final Horsemen. [Gambit and the X-Ternals #1] Holocaust rose to become one of the elite Four Horsemen, becoming the longest serving member of the foursome besides Sinister himself. Referred to as "truant officer of the damned" by Abyss, Holocaust had strict expectations for how the junior Horsemen should comport themselves, and was clearly interested in the opportunity to prove whether he or Sinister was the fittest. [X-Men Alpha] He commanded the American West Coast and Southwest, and led many Cullings of the human population in his zeal, from close-quarters butchery to nuclear annihilation. Holocaust harbored an immense grudge against Magneto for causing his current handicap, and once ordered an elite tracker to spy on the X-Men, learn who was closest to Magneto, and then kill that person in front of him. [X-Men Chronicles #2] Holocaust also had a special hatred for Sabretooth, the former Horseman turned X-Man, for betraying Apocalypse's cause. He once captured Creed and put him in a cell with the feral Wild Child, hoping the bestial mutant would either kill Sabretooth or force him back down to the level of an animal. Instead, Sabretooth exerted his dominance over Wild Child and the two escaped together. [X-Men: Age of Apocalypse One-shot]
Worldwide Armageddon ticked closer and closer, and Apocalypse mockingly agreed to the Kelly Pact, a ceasefire with the Eurasian human high council to avoid any additional nuisances to his plans for final extermination of the human species. Against the terms of the Kelly Pact, Holocaust led another Culling into the city of Chicago, ready to exterminate all the lingering humans who had yet to die or flee. Magneto dispatched a team of X-Men to intercede and protect the humans from Holocaust's Infinites. During the evacuation, Sabretooth decided to settle old scores and had his protégé Blink teleport him and Wild Child to Holocaust's location in order to distract the Horseman. Winding up in Indianapolis, Sabretooth was surprised to learn that the Infinite Processing Plant that produced ALL of Apocalypse's genetically engineered shock troops was located there. Creed released Wild Child to provide the other X-Men with this key intelligence, and squared off against Holocaust. The old allies did serious damage to each other, and Creed managed to rip open Holocaust's crystal armor before collapsing. Holocaust's energy form briefly flew free, but it returned to animate the armor once more, leaving Holocaust as the last man standing. [Astonishing X-Men (1st series) #1-2]
Holocaust brought the beaten and shackled Sabretooth to see the Infinite Processing Plant in all its glory, crowing about how his father's vision of evolutionary superiority was finally coming to fruition. Creed spat at the idea, brilliantly pointing out that, for all his talk about Darwinism and natural selection, the only way Apocalypse's ilk could win was to mass-produce artificial soldiers in a lab, the exact opposite of evolution. Holocaust had no defense for this flaw in Apocalypse's dream, and could only fall back on the sheer magnitude of carnage he was about to unleash. It was clear Holocaust knew only how to parrot his father's philosophies, and relished in the idea of death and destruction for their own sake. He left the heavily beaten Creed hanging from a poll, near death, where Blink found him. [Astonishing X-Men (1st series) #3]
Holocaust confronted Blink on her vengeance spree inside the processing plant, having already caused significant damage to the facility. The Horseman taunted Blink with her mentor's defeat, but the young and nimble X-Man managed to outmaneuver the larger and more powerful mutant. She dumped Holocaust into the genetic stew used to break down hapless victims before they became Infinites. Holocaust was furious at the slight when he emerged from the vat, but now faced the united X-Men team. Rogue, Sunfire and Morph joined in the beating, and Holocaust could not stand before them. Instead, he could only gloat about the capture of Magneto and his son, Charles, before teleporting his injured form back to his father's citadel. [Astonishing X-Men (1st series) #4]
Holocaust participated in the torture of Magneto, as he and Apocalypse tried to break the spirit of the X-Men's leader. They were interrupted by the arrival of Nathan Grey, Sinister's artificially engineered failsafe against Apocalypse. While Magneto and Apocalypse squared off, Nate and Holocaust battled through the citadel. Nate's psychic power temporarily overwhelmed Holocaust, and he went after Apocalypse for revenge over the death of his foster father, Forge. Nate ripped the shard of M'Kraan crystal from Apocalypse's hands before Holocaust interrupted, demanding a rematch. On impulse, Nate struck out at Holocaust with the crystal shard, driving it into his armor. [X-Men Omega]
Because the M'Kraan Crystal was directly tied into the reordering of reality, Nate Grey's impetuous action tied him and Holocaust to that process as well. They somehow "skipped" over the reality wave that restored Earth-616 to its natural state, and emerged in orbit around the planet. While Nate Grey crashed back to the world below, Holocaust remained in orbit, trapped in a chunk of ice and crystal. His armor destroyed during transit, Holocaust was reduced to an emaciated and skeletal human frame out of necessity. Drifting through the void, his crystal prison came to the attention of the Acolytes on their orbital space station, Avalon. The Acolytes' leader Exodus sent a small party out to investigate. A strong believer in signs and portents, Exodus ordered the Acolytes to bring the mysterious figure back inside the station for study. [X-Men Prime]
While the Acolyte called Milan examined Holocaust, his electropathy connected to the Horseman's mind through his life support system, stirring Holocaust awake. Instinctively, Holocaust reached out with his powers and consumed Milan's living energy, disintegrating the Acolyte as his lifeforce fed Holocaust's recovery. When the next Acolyte came to check in on him, Holocaust was prepared. By consuming Rusty Collins, the Scion of Apocalypse had enough energy to move around and challenge his rescuers even without his armor. Dazed and confused by his travels, Holocaust initially thought Exodus was the X-Man he remembered from his reality. He soon realized his mistake, but declared that the Magneto of any reality deserved to feel his wrath. Dining on more Acolytes' life essences, Holocaust proved more than a match for Exodus's faith-fueled psionics. Both of them, however, were stronger than the space station itself, and Avalon began breaking apart under their combined fury. Holocaust emerged the victor in their struggle, but it was a hollow victory, as the chunk of space station they battled atop of fell from orbit and crashed into the South Seas. [X-Men (2nd series) #42-43]
Hungry to replenish his energies after the ordeal, Holocaust consumed the population of an entire island as fuel for his might. He was located by Sebastian Shaw, who sought a powerful ally to help him reestablish his position in mutant affairs after a long rehabilitation. [X-Force (1st series) #48] As part of their alliance, Sebastian had his technicians rebuild Holocaust's crystal armor, apparently from the Horseman's own knowledge of the design. Shaw's telepath Tessa may have helped the recovery process, and also used her psychic abilities to keep the volatile Holocaust in line. Working as Shaw's muscle for the moment, Holocaust helped him capture X-Force. As a show of strength, Shaw intended to brainwash X-Force into eliminating their own leader, Cable. After a week of indoctrination to Tessa's psychic will, Shaw's X-Force tried and failed to execute Cable, but he broke Tessa's hold over them. [X-Force (1st series) #49-50]
It wasn't until Holocaust felt a wave of psychic energy pass over the Earth that he realized Nate Grey had jumped realities with him. [Cable (1st series) #31] He was soon given the opportunity to seek revenge on Grey when the mysterious entity known as Onslaught arrived and disposed of Shaw and Tessa. Onslaught had his own need for Grey, and was willing to empower Holocaust as his agent to retrieve the powerful psychic. Onslaught provided Holocaust with telepathic immunity, both to detection or manipulation, and dispatched the Horseman to the Greek isles where Grey was vacationing. Holocaust struck hard at Nate and his friend Threnody, causing serious damage to the beach ruins and threatening the lives of the swimmers. When it came down to a head-to-head display of pure power, however, Holocaust broke first against Grey. His armor cracked and broken again, Holocaust fled to fight another day. [X-Man #15-17]
Holocaust remained in Onslaught's service for his campaign against humanity. In Manhattan, Holocaust and Onslaught's herald, Post, confronted the Avengers during the takeover to confiscate the psi-shields their techie members had developed against Onslaught. Despite the villains' considerable power, Captain America maneuvered Holocaust into taking out Post for them, and then the rest of the Avengers dog-piled on Holocaust until he was done for. [Avengers (1st series) #402]
Holocaust began having difficulties with his armor and was forced to seek out assistance from the Dark Beast, another survivor from the Age of Apocalypse. While conducting experiments on Holocaust's exoskeleton, the villains were assaulted by Shi'ar shock troopers, who took them into custody. Along with Nate Grey and the Sugar Man, they learned that their bodies carried a "shimmering" of energy from the M'Kraan Crystal after passing through it, drawing some of the crystal's infinite power away. The Shi'ar considered this blasphemous and a desecration of their sacred crystal. Holocaust's crime was considered the most heinous, as he still hosted an actual fragment of the crystal from another dimension inside his armor.
Holocaust and the Dark Beast were forced into an unlikely alliance with their rivals, Nate Grey and Sugar Man. As they tried to escape the Shi'ar starcraft, Holocaust couldn't resist turning on Grey and trying to kill him during their melee with the Shi'ar guards. Grey struck back by telekinetically ripping the crystal shard out of Holocaust's chest, tearing him up from the inside. As Grey pulverized the crystal, the implosion of M'Kraan energies sucked out the residual shimmering from the Age of Apocalypse refugees, cleansing them of their connection to the crystal. A surprising consequence was that Holocaust reverted back into his original human appearance as Nemesis, before flipping to become Holocaust again. McCoy explained that shape-changing was always a potential feature of Holocaust's armor, but he hid the exoskeleton's true potential from the Horseman because they were rivals back in the day. Holocaust and McCoy teleported away, as the Dark Beast promised to show Nemesis all that he was capable of. [X-Man Annual '97]
[Note: Some inconsistencies were presented about what was wrong with Holocaust's armor. McCoy initially said Onslaught tampered with the exoskeleton, but later the influence of the M'Kraan Crystal was supposedly to blame. Also, at no time was it addressed that Holocaust's original armor didn't make the trip to Earth-616, and the armor he had was a reconstruction somehow engineered by Sebastian Shaw to McCoy's original specifications.]
As Holocaust experimented with his armor's new capabilities, he found that the shape-changing feature was powered by his own ability to absorb life energy. With enough purloined lifeforce, he could not only assume his original appearance but also change form into any person he imagined. Holocaust's total lack of respect for human life left him no qualms about testing this ability, and he thought of the perfect test run. While Nate Grey was vacationing in Ireland, Holocaust began killing townspeople in the Dublin area by nightfall, leaving their horribly atrophied corpses behind as the after effects of his power. He used the energy he absorbed to reshape into a duplicate of Grey himself, intending to paint his rival as a murderer in the public eye. Nate Grey and Madelyne Pryor caught up with Nemesis at Trinity University, forcing him to throw off his false skin and confront them directly. As the battle continued through Dublin, Grey tricked Holocaust with a group of telekinetic projections to get in close. As Holocaust attempted to unleash his bio-plasmic energies at Grey, Nate bent the energies upward where Madelyne teleported them away, creating a funnel that drained Holocaust of most of his strength. Nemesis retreated back into his human form, swearing revenge as soon as McCoy finished preparations for some upcoming scheme. [X-Man #43-44]
That scheme never emerged, and Holocaust remained off the radar for a number of years. One day, he was unceremoniously pulled from Earth-616 and deposited back into his own timeline. The Age of Apocalypse universe had miraculously continued as a separate timestream, even after the M'Kraan Crystal restored the previous reality. Magneto's X-Men had risen as champions of a new human and mutant government after the death of Apocalypse.
Holocaust arrived thanks to an entity known as the Timebroker, who for some time had been transporting a team of Exiles around the multiverse. Claiming to be a manifestation of their collective unconscious, the Timebroker maneuvered the Exiles into fixing events that had "gone wrong" in particular realities, putting them back on track. Holocaust's old opponents, Blink and Sabretooth from the Age of Apocalypse, had been part of the Exiles for some time, but relations between them and the Timebroker had recently become strained. The Timebroker was increasingly erratic with their missions, removing members at a whim, and trying to turn the Exiles against each other. Their current mission in the Age of Apocalypse was to eliminate Magneto for some unspecified future horror he would be responsible for. Holocaust was ostensibly recruited for this mission because he would gleefully take part in its completion.
Naturally, Holocaust had little regard for taking orders. After trying to kill the Exiles, Holocaust took off, intending to rule his home reality now that his father was gone. As he flew over the United States, however, Holocaust detected a familiar energy signature and chose to investigate. He discovered the U.S. government had secreted away the M'Kraan Crystal shard that once belonged to his father, and were experimenting on the growing crystal mass to find out its true purpose. After storming the facility, Holocaust realized that the Tallus wielded by the Exiles -- their connection to the Timebroker -- shared the same resonant frequency as the M'Kraan Crystal.
Holocaust returned to the Exiles and sued for peace. He laid out his plan for combining Blink's powers with the Tallus and the M'Kraan Crystal to find the Timebroker's home base. Holocaust explained how the Dark Beast escaped into the multiverse by programming the resonant frequency of the M'Kraan Crystal and then teleporting into it. Holocaust intended for Blink to recreate the process using the Timebroker's chronal frequency found inside the Tallus to locate him. The Exiles hesitantly agreed to work with Holocaust for this purpose. While seeking out McCoy's notes in one of his labs, they were confronted by Magneto and the X-Men. Holocaust's desire to kill Magneto nearly overwhelmed his common sense, but Namora of the Exiles reminded him that Magneto's death was exactly what the Timebroker wanted. Holocaust relented, refusing to let anyone pull his strings.
Holocaust and the Exiles were successful in using the M'Kraan Crystal to trace the Timebroker to his origin point. They found a vast Crystal Palace connected to a variety of pocket dimensions and multiversal locales. In the control center, they met a group of sentient bugs responsible for gathering the original Exiles and creating the Timebroker simulation as an interface with their chosen agents. Before they could learn more, however, the Exiles were confront with the reason for the Timebroker's erratic behavior: Hyperion. A renegade member of a past team of Exiles, Hyperion was barely defeated by two teams combined months earlier. Like all the fallen Exiles, his corpse was brought back to the Crystal Palace and held in stasis. When he unexpectedly revived, he took control of the Crystal Palace and used the Timebroker interface to toy with his former opponents, adding Holocaust to the team in the hope that he would kill some of them.
Holocaust was furious at being used like this, and declared that the scion of Apocalypse was no man's pawn. He began brutally beating on Hyperion with both his crystal hardened fists and bio-plasmic cannon blasts. Hyperion literally laughed off the attacks, however, and explained to Holocaust just how hopeless his assault was. Hyperion's strength was drawn from absorbing solar energy, and Holocaust's energies just made him one big battery. To demonstrate, Hyperion shattered Holocaust's helmet with a head butt and aggressively soaked up the energies inside. By the time Hyperion was done consuming Holocaust's energy, there wasn't anything left of Nemesis the First, Scion of the High Lord, First Horseman of the Apocalypse. He died as nothing more than fuel for someone else's power. [Exiles (1st series) #60-62]
Holocaust was among several characters who made their first appearance in the altered reality of the Age of Apocalypse. Others such as Abyss, the Bedlam Brothers, and Damask would surface in the main Marvel Universe after the AoA ended, but an undeniable counterpart for Holocaust has yet to emerge, even though several very similar candidates have been seen.
Stryfe's Strike File was an epilogue of sorts for the X-Cutioner's Song. Essentially a series of profiles compiled by Stryfe and reviewed by Charles Xavier after the villain's apparent death, it included records of several characters the X-Men had yet to encounter at that point in their timeline, such as Threnody, several Upstarts and Holocaust. Unlike the others, Holocaust of Earth-616 never made an appearance. He strongly resembled the armorless form Holocaust appeared in during the Fall of Avalon, but a greater connection between the two was never made.
Fever Pitch was a mutant cursed with radioactive fire, who burned himself down to a charred fiery skeleton. One of the Gene Nationals serving Dark Beast, his similarity to Nemesis was remarked upon by Nate Grey. When Abyss and Fever Pitch fought during the X-Corps storyline, at the time it looked like a nod to the AoA Horsemen Abyss and Holocaust. No deeper connection between Fever Pitch and Holocaust has ever been made, however, besides their basic looks. When Apocalypse addressed the 198 in X-Men (2nd series) #183, he and Fever Pitch did nothing to acknowledge each other, either.
Genocide was designed as a deliberate, explicit counterpart to Holocaust: A living atomic furnace, reduced to a skeletal form, encased in a Dark Beast-built exoskeleton, claiming to be the son of Apocalypse. William Rolfson was a very different character than Nemesis, though -- a naive and trusting fifteen year old boy, the son of Apocalypse's former Famine, Autumn Rolfson. The timelines for Holocaust and Genocide simply don't add up either. To begin, Genocide is allegedly fifteen years old. Apocalypse recruited Genocide's twelve year old mother to be a Horseman during the Mutant Massacre, which cannot have been fifteen years ago Marvel-Time. Meanwhile, Nemesis debuted in the Age of Apocalypse in at least his late teens several years prior to that point in the timeline, when the original X-Men were still teens and Autumn Rolfson had not yet reached puberty.
Artificially engineered children and age acceleration are certainly technologies available to Clan Akkaba on both sides of the timeline. Instead of inferring all that, however, it seems more likely that Nemesis and Billy (like Cable, Rachel and Nate Grey) are just cross-dimensional siblings with similar powers. Apocalypse, it seems, carries the "radioactive explosive death" gene.