X-Men Legacy (1st series) #214
Mister Sinister (partial genetic template)
• Telepath able to sense thoughts,
communicate with others psionically,
cast illusions, project her astral form,
and dominate the thoughts and
behavior of others
• Latent genetically-encoded
abilities from her template,
Nathaniel Essex, give her
the potential for encoded
and other attributes, but
at the risk of losing her independent identity
A brilliant geneticist and master of cloning techniques, Mr. Sinister has discovered ways to conquer death itself. Throughout his centuries-spanning, sordid career as a scientist, Nathaniel Essex, aka Mr. Sinister, implemented various fail-safes into test subjects that would activate should he meet his demise. These fail-safes, which became more advanced over time, were coded into the very genetic makeup of individuals, imprinting them with Sinister’s own DNA. Upon Sinister’s death, they would trigger, and the victim would transform, inheriting Mr. Sinister’s memories, knowledge, and abilities and thus allow Sinister to overtake the victim's mind and live again in a new body. When Mr. Sinister was killed at the hands of Mystique during the war over the mutant messiah, his perverse genetic machinations went into effect. Due to Professor Xavier's efforts, many of Sinister’s former test subjects, including Professor X himself, were ultimately saved from being forced to house Mr. Sinister’s essence. However, at least one of these fail-safes was successful…
Little is currently known about Claudine Renko prior to her transformation. At some point in her life, Claudine, like so many others, found herself an unwilling test subject of Mr. Sinister’s experiments. During this time, Mr. Sinister etched his very DNA into Claudine’s genes, so she could serve as a vessel for his reincarnation upon his death. And so, one day Claudine awakened to find that her body now resembled her former captor, and she had gained a limited amount of his memories and abilities. However, this would not prove to be a complete rebirth for Sinister as Claudine was still in control of her body and mind.
Taking the name Miss Sinister, Claudine immediately allied herself with Sebastian Shaw. Like Xavier, Shaw learned that he had also been experimented on by Mr. Sinister as child and his father had taken precautionary measures to prevent Sinister from taking control of his son. It is likely that he used his father’s knowledge of Sinister’s contingency plans to find Claudine. Shaw was currently embroiled in a deadly power struggle for control of the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle and offered Claudine the role of his Black Queen. [X-Men Legacy #211-214]
The pair soon took an interest in Wolverine’s son, Daken. Just as dangerous and ruthless as his father, Daken would be the perfect weapon to use against Shaw’s rivals. And Daken was currently experiencing partial amnesia and was ripe for manipulation at the hands of Miss Sinister. Claudine approached him in San Francisco and after convincing him that she was an old friend, promised to restore his memories if he followed her.
Claudine took Daken to Shaw’s mansion in Panama where she used her telepathy to enter his broken mind, only to encounter a “psychic trap.” Planted there by Daken’s former master, the elusive Romulus, this trap was to prevent anyone else from taking control of his brainwashed pawn. Claudine discussed this obstacle with Shaw and the two decided to trick Professor X, whom Wolverine had recruited to find and assist his son, into springing the trap. Claudine would then enter Daken’s mind afterwards and rewrite Daken’s memories at her whim. However, Daken’s patience was running thin and in an effort to keep him appeased, Claudine seduced him.
Having been deliberately clued in to Daken’s whereabouts, Professor Xavier and Wolverine arrived in Panama. While Wolverine traded blows with Shaw, Claudine entered psychic combat with Xavier. Despite her boasting, she was severely outmatched by the seasoned telepath and Xavier made his way to where Daken was being held. Just as Shaw and Claudine anticipated, Professor Xavier entered Daken’s troubled mind, triggering Romulus’ psychic trap. Xavier’s intrusion had the unexpected side effect of Daken regaining his memories. Sinister failed to realize this and as she entered his mind to plant false memories, she was brutally stabbed in the stomach by Daken. [X-Men: Original Sin crossover]
Claudine survived but her wounds made her weaker to Mr. Sinister’s influence, which laid dormant within her mind. He mentally compelled her to go to one of his old bases in a small town in Arizona. There Claudine found dozens of children in stasis, presumably clones that Mr. Sinister used as stock for his experiments during World War II. She also found a device that she felt an irresistible urge to use. Placing it on her head and activating it, Mr. Sinister began to completely overtake her mind. Realizing what was happening, Claudine stopped the device but it was too late… She had opened the door and now her very existence was threatened. At random, she would transform into Mr. Sinister mind, body, and soul and while she would be able to fight back and gain control, she knew it was only a matter of time before he overpowered her.
Claudine figured the only way to save herself was to transfer herself into a new body, and she was particularly interested in inhabiting one with a healing factor. And so she struck a deal with Malcolm Colcord, the head of the new Weapon X program. She would provide him with the child clones she found in Sinister’s lab, and he would experiment on them, attempting to give them healing factors. Blissfully unaware of the true reason she had woken them up, the children adored Claudine and before long, she was running the entire town using mind control. However after many failures, Claudine took matters into her own hands and using a clone named Alice, lured X-23 to Sinister’s Arizona base. Claudine told the young X-Man that she was protecting the children from Concord and although X-23 didn’t believe her, she fell into her trap all the same. Strapping X-23 to the device, Claudine attempted to transmit her mind into X-23’s body but unexpectedly, Mr. Sinister entered X-23’s mind instead. X-23 was powerful enough to force Mr. Sinister out of her, destroying the device in the process. Both ladies were freed from being hosts of Nathaniel Essex but Claudine was still angry about her plans being ruined. She attacked Alice for trying to help X-23 escape and was left behind as the lab self-destructed. Luckily, she was saved by one of the other Alice clones… [X-23 (2nd Series) #4-6]
Miss Sinister soon found new playthings to experiment on when Earth-1610, an alternate reality referred to as the Ultimate Universe, was destroyed. A handful of its mutant inhabitants ended up in Earth-616 and Miss Sinister was quick to collect them for her studies. She eventually discovered that unlike the mutants of her own universe, Earth-1610’s mutantkind had been artificially created, the result of genetic tampering via a biotech formula called Mothervine. Best of all, she found a pure strain of Mothervine within one of her new captives, Jimmy Hudson. In a lab in Colorado, Miss Sinister brainwashed these mutant castaways into becoming her new team of Marauders, but Jimmy, who had natural defenses against telepathy, escaped. He was found by the X-Men, specifically the time-displaced original five X-Men who were working under Magneto. Miss Sinister sent the rest of the Marauders after him and joined the ensuing fight herself, unable to resist having a telepathic private chat with young Jean Grey. In the end, Miss Sinister ultimately decided to let Jimmy go, having already extracted everything she needed from him. [X-Men: Blue #4-5, 11]
Miss Sinister was fascinated by Mothervine and began theorizing how it could be used to control and weaponize the mutant population. Realizing her plans were too ambitious for her alone, she allied herself with the likes of Emma Frost, Havok, and Bastion, all of whom had separate agendas but shared a common interest in revitalizing mutantkind.
When Hydra, led by a twisted version of Steve Rogers, took over the United States, they sought a way to neutralize potential mutant threats by giving mutantkind a portion of California to use as a homeland. Named New Tian, Steve appointed Emma as ruler and mutants both flocked there and were rounded up by Hydra and forcibly sent there. Miss Sinister used this opportunity to test her Mothervine findings further, triggering secondary mutations in the many mutants at her disposal. [X-Men: Blue #9, Secret Empire crossover]
Though New Tian didn’t last long, it allowed Miss Sinister to gather enough data to advance her and her partners’ plan to the next stage. By releasing Mothervine into the atmosphere, via virus-containing bombs, spontaneous mutation would occur in normal humans. This would quadruple the number of mutants instantly, ensuring that mutantkind would become the dominant species on the planet within a year. While Emma and Havok genuinely thought they were doing what was best for mutantkind and Bastion bizarrely wanted mutant numbers to rise simply so he could achieve his prime objective of wiping them out, Miss Sinister had her eyes on obtaining a mutant army. Using built-in command protocols, all mutants affected by Mothervine would fall under Miss Sinister’s control. Claudine assured Emma that she would relinquish control once the initial chaos of what they were achieving settled down but mistrust was abundant within this unlikely alliance and it was clear that betrayals would occur as soon as the cabal’s plan was realized.
Mothervine also triggered dangerous and unstable secondary mutations in existing mutants. Seeing these mutations firsthand, the X-Men, including Jimmy Hudson, set out to stop Mothervine’s global release but were captured. Mothervine was sweeping the Earth and Miss Sinister once again had her hands on the mutant who made it all possible. She couldn’t resist strapping Jimmy down and seeing what other secrets she could unlock from his DNA. It was at this moment that Emma Frost finally decided to turn on her and released Jimmy from his restraints so he could enact vengeance on his tormentor. The X-Men ultimately found a way to reverse Mothervine’s effect, crushing another one of Claudine’s schemes. [X-Men: Blue #23-28]
Though relatively new to the scene, Claudine had settled in nicely to the super villain lifestyle. She began to hang out at The Bar With No Name, an establishment in New York City frequented by super villains. She happened to be there looking for potential henchmen when Logan stopped by, seeking information on the whereabouts of Mysterio. Logan didn’t find the answers he was looking for but Miss Sinister learned some priceless information when she seized the opportunity to read Logan’s mind. This Logan, commonly referred to as Old Man Logan, was from an alternate future where various super villains joined together to carve up the world. Mysterio was instrumental in ushering in this new age when he used to illusion abilities to trick Logan into killing the X-Men. With his days numbered, Old Man Logan had made it his mission to kill Mysterio to prevent him from ever accomplishing what he did in his native timeline. Miss Sinister however was now determined to make this vision a reality.
Miss Sinister found Mysterio at a psychiatric hospital and shared with him what she saw in Old Man Logan’s head. Since Red Skull was a major player in Old Man Logan’s future, Miss Sinister took Mysterio to Sin, the daughter of Red Skull and leader of the criminal organization, Neo-Hydra. Sin was more than eager to get involved but argued with Miss Sinister over the best course of action. While Claudine wanted to recruit more villains and come up with a strategic plan, Sin had no patience and used Mysterio to initiate a fight between Logan and the Avengers in Times Square. Miss Sinister wasn’t the only one frustrated and Mysterio, realizing he was no more than a pawn, betrayed the group by leading Logan and the X-Men to their Neo-Hydra base. In the ensuing battle, Mysterio ultimately escaped but Miss Sinister wasn’t so lucky and was placed in Avengers custody. [Dead Man Logan #1-5]
Since then, the X-Men have established the mutant nation of Krakoa, granting amnesty to former mutant villains and even giving Mr. Sinister a seat on the ruling council. It remains to be seen whether Claudine is welcome in this new mutant paradise as well.