Rise of Apocalypse #1

Issue Date: 
October 1996
Story Title: 
Hammer & Chisel

Terry Kavanagh (writer), Adam Pollina (penciler), Mark Morales & Harry Candelario (inkers), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Chris Lichtner (colorist), Malibu (enhancement), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (chief)

Brief Description: 

A long, long time ago, in a place called Akkaba, Egypt, a tribe of Sandstormers massacre a group of villagers without mercy. Their leader, Baal, soon finds what he is after. It’s a strange-looking baby, who he feels is destined for greatness. He murders his own men and takes the baby to bring up as his own. Years later, the baby is tested in combat by three of his own tribesmen, and successfully defeats them. He asks his father why the people hate him so, and Baal replies that they are weak and foolish. He points to a totem in the distance that holds the secrets to the mysteries surrounding the pharaoh, Rama-Tut, and takes En Sabah Nur to see what they can find. At the royal palace, Rama-Tut is informed by his grand vizier, Logos, that a strange young outlander has been seen with Baal and his kinsmen. Rama-Tut knows this child must be the man who will one day become Apocalypse, and he orders Ozymandias to retrieve him by the next moon. Ozymandias takes Logos and his armies into the desert to confront the Sandstormers, but they are ambushed. Meanwhile, Baal and En Sabah Nur enter an underground chamber near the totem. Baal explains that the chamber is a fragment of Rama-Tut’s vessel. He actually found the man when the vessel crashed, and his tribe helped him recover from his injuries. He repaid the tribe by enslaving and torturing them in order to reveal the whereabouts of this part of his vessel. No one told him anything. He takes his son further into the chamber and they find a strange artifact that astonishes En Sabah Nur. Baal warns him to be careful with it, but En Sabah Nur feels that, if Rama-Tut fears the object, then he will fear him. Above ground, the battle is brought to an abrupt end when a gaping pit swallows everyone into it. Logos makes his way back to the palace and informs Rama-Tut of the deaths of his armies and of the one he seeks. However, Rama-Tut knows that En Sabah Nur will survive, and he will be waiting for him when he emerges.

Full Summary: 

(Akkaba, Egypt, circa 3000 BC)

Akkaba is a forgotten place; a lone settlement on the farthest outskirts of the Valley of Kings. A group of men are sitting around campfires, discussing whether it was right to cast out the beast-child, when someone notices a sandstorm approaching. Riding in the wake of this storm come the Sandstormers. They are a tribe of warriors who arrive on horseback with only evil intent. Their leader, Baal, calls for his men to spare the livestock and secure the meats and woven wools. However, nobody shall remain alive. The slaughter is swift indeed.

Soon, one of Baal’s soldier’s remarks on the fact that they have bloodied the Amentet from border to boundary, and dare to tread royal soil itself, yet there is still no trace of the creature he seeks. Perhaps the gods are telling him to abandon his search? Baal replies that the soldier should be cowering with their women. He will be in the next village they vanquish, or the next after. The pharaoh must not find him before they do. Suddenly, Baal calls for his men to hold still. He can sense something, and he approaches a small group of rocks. There lies a small baby.

He picks up the abandoned child, and the others see the child’s strange facial features and discolored skin. One of Baal’s men feels that it’s detestation, and the Akkabans must have put it out to die. It was meant as a sacrifice, and one they should finish if they are wise. Baal stretches out his arm, which holds a long scythe. He informs his men that this child of destiny will not die. Where they see a demon, he sees a god in the making. This child is meant for greatness. As he speaks, he massacres his own men and leaves their bodies in the desert for the birds.

(nearly two decades later)

Egypt is now ruled by Pharaoh Rama-Tut; a man who holds many secrets. He came from the heavens and subjugated all of Egypt. Inside his palace, where only his trusted aides dare tread, Ozymandias blocks the path of the vizier, Logos. Logos insists he has important news for the pharaoh, but Ozymandias asks what a scholar like he could possibly have that would interest a conqueror. He tells him to come back later with his fool theories of the moon and the sun, for he and the pharaoh are discussing matters of war.

Pharaoh Rama-Tut calls for his general to be silent, and to not forget his station. His grand vizier is always welcome at his side. He reminds Ozymandias that he has seen places he couldn’t imagine, but Logos never fails to bring him fresh perceptions. Logos thanks him, before explaining that he has news on Baal and his barbarous kinsmen. There is a rumor of a young outlander of bizarre appearance in Baal’s tribe - one of tremendous strength of will and body… one called En Sabah Nur. Rama-Tut says this cannot be allowed. If they have found the child of destiny, Baal must not be allowed to shape his future.

(miles away, in the desert)

En Sabah Nur has grown up to be a powerfully built slave, and he is facing three warriors in a duel to the death. If he is to be truly accepted into the tribe, he must return their blood to the sands. Is he worthy? Is he fit? This is survival of the fittest! He has felt the burning glares of the tribesmen on his back for years, and since infancy he has been an object of scorn and hate and fear. The three warriors don’t feel he will be up to the task, but watching from the sidelines, Baal thinks otherwise. He hopes their taunts will not distract him.

The first warrior launches an attack, and En Sabah Nur throws up handfuls of sand into his face to blind him. However, being a Sandstormer, this ploy doesn’t work too well. He slashes at the youth with his sword, and En Sabah Nur feels his skin broken by the blade. He manages to grab the sword and remove it from his assailant’s hand. En Sabah Nur ignores their scathing words and forces one of them to accidentally kill his partner. He then takes hold of both their swords and faces the third.

Meanwhile, at the palace, Rama-Tut calls for the boy to be brought to him, and tells Ozymandias to use all the gathered armies of Egypt herself if need be. If this En Sabah Nur is truly the immortal he knows of, the one who in the fullness of time will become the most powerful being on the planet, then he must be his. His secrets must be closely guarded, and Baal already knows too much. He demands Ozymandias deliver him by the next moon. He will be Ozymandias’ wedding gift to him and his lovely sister, Nephri.

(in the desert)

The third warrior has fallen, and En Sabah Nur stands victorious. He asks his father, Baal, why they hate him so. He has endured every indignity and passed every trial set before him. Why is he different? Why must he be an outcast even among nomads? Baal replies that it’s because they fear him. They are weak and foolish. Patience is a hunter’s tool, and his sharpest weapon. He points at a stone totem in the distance, which marks the place where Rama-Tut was found. All his mysteries lie there, and he tells his son that his fate will also be found below.

(shortly, outside the camp of the people of the storm)

Ozymandias and his army arrive at the outskirts of the Sandstormer’s village. Logos accompanies him. Ozymandias wonders why Rama-Tut hates Baal so much. Could it be their god-king fears a mere barbarian? Logos hears sarcasm in his voice. He reminds Ozymandias that he offered up his sister to the pharaoh as part of a personal bid for power.

The general warns Logos to measure his words carefully. This is a dangerous place, and it is all too easy for tragic accidents to occur; even to a god’s right hand. He suggests that Logos stays at a safe distance and watch as the world’s greatest army wipes this rabble from existence. Logos says that the pharaoh didn’t order that. He simply wants the boy. “Oh, I’ll find him,” replies Ozymandias, “Have no worries about that.”

Meanwhile, Baal leads the way to the totem, with En Sabah Nur struggling to keep up with him. Baal explains that the ground in this region has never been as solid as it appears. Fault-lines shift and stir with regularity. In fact, he adds, their temple builders mapped out the patterns carefully, and built the Hound of the Hill (the totem) to reflect these changes for eternity. En Sabah Nur manages to catch up with Baal and they arrive at a hole in the ground. This, they enter in hopes of finding the key to defeating their enemy.

About two hundred feet underground, they soon arrive at a large cavern. It has long walls with archways and sculptures of laughing faces leading to tunnels in every direction. En Sabah Nur asks what this place is. Baal replies that it’s a place of wonders and miracles pertaining to the pharaoh. En Sabah Nur fells they shouldn’t be there. What if Rama-Tut senses their presence? Baal tells him not to fall victim to the misconceptions of the ignorant. Rama-Tut is no god. He is a man; mysterious, but a man nonetheless. Baal knows this because he discovered him.

When he found Rama-Tut, he was broken and sightless. The stories of his appearance have been exaggerated. He appeared in a strange vessel, or more accurately, he crashed in one. The chamber they are in is but a fragment of that vessel. Their tribe took him back to their camp, nursed him and nurtured him. They made him a survivor, much the same as he did for En Sabah Nur. Unfortunately, he betrayed them and used his strange weapons to enslave the clan. He tortured them in order to make them return him to his ship, but no one ever revealed its location. A tragic few escaped and have been hunted like animals ever since.

Nur asks why the place is so important to him. Baal informs him of an artifact or relic that lies therein that survived whatever catastrophe brought Rama-Tut there. It’s an incredible object of promise and prophecy and whispered visions. Nur asks what use these visions can be. He’s always been taught that they are tested by the world around them. He’s never known Baal to put any faith in such mystical things. Baal knows he is right, except that he’s certain he has seen En Sabah Nur’s face among these phantasms.

This surprises the young man. Perhaps it is he that the pharaoh wants? He wishes to see this artifact. They enter another chamber and come across statues of people holding aloft the artifact. Fantastic colorful images dance around them; images beyond anything even remotely conceived in this era. En Sabah Nur is in awe.

(above ground)

Ozymandias and his great army attack the Sandstormers camp. When they reach the clearing below they are met with no resistance. Ozymandias opens one of the tents and finds no one there. The only things that remain are the corpses of dead animals. Ozymandias is furious, but suddenly he finds himself surrounded as the Sandstormers spring from underneath the sand. It’s an ambush. They surround the astonished Egyptians, and this forces Ozymandias to order a retreat to the high ground.

(below ground)

En Sabah Nur notices a series of carvings; representations of Rama-Tut that litter the walls. He asks what they mean. Baal doesn’t know, but he is certain that given time they can decipher their significance, and learn all there is to know about this false ruler. Then, they can crush him. “Why wait?” replies Nur, as he looks around menacingly at the artifact. Baal asks him not to touch it, but Nur is curious and he reaches out, taking the odd-looking object in his hands. He grins, and says that if Rama-Tut fears this object for some reason, he fears him!

(above ground)

The soldiers are outflanked and outnumbered in the lap of the enemy’s land. Ozymandias is surrounded on his chariot by several Sandstormers. However, before anyone is killed, a hole opens up below them and everyone falls into a dark, gaping pit. The two men below hear the cave-in above them.

(the palace)

Soon, Logos makes his way to see the pharaoh. He bears darkest tidings from the outland. He informs Rama-Tut that they were surprised. All are lost to the deadly desert; his armies and the one they sought. Rama-Tut feels that this is unlikely. There is a grander scheme to things that are beyond Logos’ ken. He informs Logos that En Sabah Nur is a being far ahead of his time. He is an evolutionary jump-start of near infinite potential. He will be unique to nature for thousands of years yet. He will not so easily pass into the night, and he will be waiting when he emerges.

Characters Involved: 

En Sabah Nur


Sandstormers including Baal


Logos, the vizier

Ozymandias’ servants, guards and army

Pharaoh Rama-Tut



Story Notes: 

Pharaoh Rama-Tut is a malcontent from the utopian 30th century, who despised the age in which he lived, since there were “no more enemies to battle or dragons to slay.” After obtaining the plans for the ancient time machine of Dr. Doom (a possible ancestor), the malcontent transformed it into the form of the Sphinx. His arrival, as well as his adoption of the name Rama-Tut, is chronicled in this mini-series, where it is implied that he traveled to ancient Egypt to locate and raise the child that Baal named En Sabah Nur, later called Apocalypse.

Later in his personal timeline, Rama-Tut eventually chooses the identity of Kang the Conquerer and, even later, Immortus. It has also been implied that the original identity of Rama-Tut was Nathaniel Richards, a possible descendant of Reed Richards and named after Reed’s father, Nathaniel.

A vizier is a high-ranking political advisor or minister, often to a monarch or in this case, pharaoh. At the time this issue takes place, Egypt would be in its first dynasty, which ran from 3050 BC to 2890 BC.

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