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Horsemen of Apocalypse

For the Biblical reference, see Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. For the Metallica demo, see Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Horsemen of Apocalypse
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance X-Factor #15
Created by Louise Simonson
Walt Simonson
In-story information

Sanjar Javeed
Grim Reaper

Autumn Rolfson
Jeb Lee


Abraham Kieros
Decimus Furius

Apocalypse: En Sabah Nur

The Horsemen of Apocalypse are a team of fictional supervillain characters that appear in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The team is first mentioned in X-Factor #10 (vol. 1, November 1986), and makes their full appearance in X-Factor #15 (vol. 1, April 1987). They were created by writer Louise Simonson and artist Walt Simonson.

The first comic book characters of this name were a team of aliens from the race known as the Axi-Tun that attacked Earth in ancient and modern times. They appeared in Giant Size Fantastic Four #3 (November 1974).

Fictional biography

The group consists of four individuals (usually mutants) that have been genetically altered and brainwashed to serve the ancient mutant, Apocalypse, either willingly or forcibly. They are enhanced or endowed with new abilities, and are always given the same titles based upon the biblical Four Horsemen (Death, Famine, Pestilence (replacing the biblical Conquest), and War). While Apocalypse has empowered other individuals to do his bidding, the Four Horsemen remain his elite minions, always playing a key role in his plans.

Before Apocalypse assembled his first set of Horsemen in the modern age, there were other, lesser known groups of Horsemen.

11th Century incarnation

Apocalypse sends his Horsemen of Apocalypse to kill a pagan named Folkbern Logan in medieval London. Thor comes to Folkbern's aid and kills the Horsemen of Apocalypse.[1]

19th Century incarnation

In X-Men: Apocalypse vs. Dracula #1, it was revealed that a Horseman of War led the Riders of the Dark, and single-handedly defeated the pre-vampire Dracula's army as well as Dracula himself.

First modern incarnation

Fall of Mutants

The original Four Horsemen of Apocalypse. Panel from X-Factor #24. Art by Walt Simonson.

In the 20th century, Apocalypse recruits Plague, a member of the Morlocks, during the "Mutant Massacre" to fill the role of Pestilence. He approaches ex-soldier Abraham Lincoln Kieros and grants him the position of War. An anorexic girl named Autumn Rolfson is Apocalypse's third choice and Autumn is given the position of Famine. Apocalypse afterwards saved the dewinged Angel from his sabotaged, exploding plane and chooses him to be his fourth and final Horseman, Death.

The Four Horsemen were forced to battle one another for leadership, and Death emerges victorious. In their first battle against X-Factor, the Horsemen were nearly defeated until Death appeared, shocking his former comrades. While X-Factor is strapped down, the Four Horsemen are sent out by Apocalypse to destroy New York City. Meanwhile, Caliban confronts Apocalypse and asks for power to avenge his fellow Morlocks.

X-Factor frees themselves and take on the Four Horsemen; Pestilence is accidentally slain by Power Pack in the battle and Archangel comes back to his senses after assuming he killed his former comrade, Iceman. Apocalypse retreats with his remaining Horsemen and the newly recruited Caliban.

X-Cutioner's Song

While Apocalypse heals from his recent defeat on the moon, Mister Sinister disguises himself as Apocalypse and orders the Horsemen War, Famine, and Caliban, who was transformed by Apocalypse and replaced Angel as Death, to capture Jean Grey and Cyclops. The X-Men later defeat the Horsemen when they discover their hideout.


After a battle with the X-Men in their mansion, Hulk is taken by Apocalypse and becomes the third incarnation of War, being supplied with weaponry and a helmet that shields Hulk from his father's abusive and severely distracting spirit. Apocalypse set Hulk against the Juggernaut to test the latter's strength. Hulk was able to stop and overcome the Juggernaut, after being empowered by energy from Franklin Richards' "Heroes Reborn" pocket universe. He likewise overloaded the Absorbing Man, but came to his senses after he had injured his friend Rick Jones.

Second incarnation

The Twelve

Second incarnation of the Four Horsemen: War (Deathbird), Pestilence (Caliban) and Famine (Ahab). Panel from X-Men #97. Pencils by Alan Davis.

During "The Twelve" saga, Apocalypse selected a new group of Horsemen to collect the chosen mutants written in Destiny's Diary. This new group featured the cybernetic mutant Ahab as Famine, the Shi'ar Deathbird as War, and the Morlock, Caliban, this time as Pestilence. As the Horseman of Death, Apocalypse had abducted Wolverine and pitted him against Sabretooth. The winner of the battle, Wolverine, became his Horseman of Death, and Apocalypse strips the adamantium from Sabretooth and bonds it to Wolverine's skeleton.[2] As Death, Wolverine battles the X-Men and kills his Skrull imposter, who had replaced him to prevent his absence being noted.

When Death captured Mikhail Rasputin and failed to teleport out with him, he was chased into the Morlock Tunnels by the X-Men. He battled them and regained his memory, thanks to the efforts of Jubilee, Shadowcat, Archangel, and Psylocke. The rest of the Horsemen are teleported to another dimension by Mikhail.

Third incarnation

Blood of Apocalypse

Following the House of M and M-Day, Apocalypse resurrected, assembling a new cadre of Horsemen with the purpose of wiping out 90% of the baseline human population. Apocalypse's new Horsemen were Gazer as War, Sunfire as Famine, Polaris as Pestilence, and Gambit as Death.

Gazer was saved from death and forced to battle an archeologist for the mantle of War, which he won with the aid of Apocalypse's scribe, Ozymandias. Both Sunfire, who had lost his legs at the hands of Lady Deathstrike and his powers to Rogue, and Polaris, an M-Day victim, were captured, and reluctantly altered into Famine and Pestilence, respectively. Gambit, however, submitted himself willingly to be transformed into Death, as he had come to believe Apocalypse could be helpful to the mutant cause, though he would need to be watched. Sunfire was able to break free of Apocalypse's control with the help of Emma Frost, although he was weakened by the experience, and Gambit retained a large portion of his former self, stating to Apocalypse, "I'm both Death and Gambit", and he also remembered his love for Rogue as he could not bring himself to kill her. Polaris was knocked out by Iceman in the final battle. She was abandoned, saved by Havok, and freed from her brainwashing by the X-Men. Gazer died defending Apocalypse, having been stabbed in the back by Ozymandias.

Fourth incarnation

The Final Horsemen

When the Clan Akkaba finally resurrects En Sabah Nur, albeit in the form of a child, it is revealed that centuries ago Apocalypse had created the self-proclaimed "Final Horsemen". This cadre of Horsemen had been assembled one by one through time by Apocalypse and Ozymandias and would only be awoken when all other approaches had failed. They comprise the following members:

  • Decimus Furius - The son of a philosopher that was originally alive in Rome during the 200's. When his father committed suicide and his mother died shortly after, he was left homeless, without any money. While slowly starving to death in an alley, he transformed into his mutant self, the mythological Minotaur. When he was seen, the human civilians attempted to kill him. He slaughtered dozens before being brought down. Eventually, after being imprisoned for years, he was offered freedom, providing he was able to defeat all others in the arena. With his axe, he slaughtered all who opposed him. He was then worshipped as the Dark God Minotaur. He was found by Apocalypse and Ozymandias and he was appointed as War. Along with immense strength and durability, War's axe seems to psionically infect all it touches with a berserker rage and a cold thirst for destruction. His hide seems resemblant to that of stone that makes him look like a statue when not moving. Decimus was later killed by the Apocalypse Twins.[3]
  • Sanjar Javeed - The bastard son and servant of the once king of Persia Shapur II. When the King could not let out that he had this son, Sanjar turned to thievery to get the attention of his father. However, this was when Sanjar's powers developed. He gained an ailment aura that could transmit a spectrum of terminal diseases depending on what variety of metal he touches. He began to poison the entire kingdom by spreading diseases through the stolen treasures. On his deathbed King Shapur named his son the "The Seraph of Death". Soon Sanjar was collected by Apocalypse as his horseman, Death. Death was killed by Deathlok while they tried to prevent Archangel's plans.
  • Jeb Lee - A Confederate spy that fought during the American Civil War. He marched behind enemy lines disguised as a Union drummer, gathering information. After the war he returned home, mistakenly wearing his Union uniform. The Confederates believed him to be a traitor and burned his family alive in front of him. This stimulated his latent mutant powers, the ability to use percussive sound to create a bioauditory cancer, a "living sound" that feeds on the flesh of those who hear it. He was approached by Apocalypse and Ozymandias and appointed as Famine. Famine was later captured by X-Force and tortured by Deathlok for many hours while his host took control, revealing the location of Archangel to the team. Wolverine then cut off his hands, effectively removing his ability to use his powers. Jeb has since been given robotic replacement hands[4] but was eventually killed by the Apocalypse Twins.[5]
  • Ichisumi - A geisha that first lived in Kumamoto, Japan in the year 1893 AD. Ichisumi was jealous of all the more beautiful and intelligent women around her; as she suffered from a severe inferiority complex. Her father was a samurai who would get mad whenever she would fail. Stemming from her repressed rage and the disapproval of her father, she savagely ravaged the other geishas after releasing a swarm of "yume beetles" from her mouth. The beetles consume thoughts and memories along with flesh and Ichisumi gains these when the beetles return to her. This is when Ichisumi's powers first manifested leading to her "collection" by Apocalypse, as his Pestilence. Pestilence was later seen in some intimate moments with Archangel who assigned her to guard Psylocke. Pestilence was later taken out by her after being stabbed through the mouth with her own parasol. Pestilence was later revealed to be pregnant with Archangel's child which apparently will be the new Apocalypse. She has since given birth to twins, Eimin and Uriel, known as the Apocalypse Twins.[4]
  • Psylocke - She was chosen by Archangel to replace Sanjar Javeed. For that Archangel used the Celestial tool known as the Death Seed to transform Betsy into the new Horseman of Death. The "Age of Apocalypse" version of Jean Grey invades her mind to release Betsy from Archangel's control.

Fifth incarnation

The Four Horsemen of Death

As part of the Marvel NOW! event, a new incarnation of Horsemen of Apocalypse will appear that comprises Banshee, Daken, Grim Reaper and The Sentry - all dead characters resurrected by the Apocalypse Twins and each one will be selected to accomplish a still-unknown mission.[6] Their precise goals are unknown, but so far each member has expressed a specific interest in targeting a key member of the Avengers Unity Squad that they have some personal ties to, with Banshee going after Havok (the brother of his killer Vulcan), the Grim Reaper targeting his brother Wonder Man, the Sentry attacking his killer Thor, and Daken naturally after his father Wolverine.[7] Their goal is to destroy Earth and teleport all mutants to Planet X.[8] Although this plan succeeds, the Avengers Unity Squad are able to undo their victory by transferring their minds into the body of their past selves after the Horsemens' victory, providing Rogue with sufficient power to force the Celestial away while her teammamtes confront Daken, the Reaper and Banshee, also resulting in Sentry's Horseman programming being broken so that he takes the Celestial's body away from Earth after their victory. While Sentry takes the dead body of the Celestial Executioner into deep space somewhere far away from Earth, Daken and Grim Reaper get away while Banshee ends up in the X-Men's custody as Beast concludes that healing Banshee of the Death Seed energy that made him a Horseman of Death will take years and highly advanced technology.[9]

Other versions

Age of Apocalypse

In the alternate reality known as the "Age of Apocalypse", the four Horsemen also existed but didn't use any titles, with some exceptions such as Death and War. The only member who was also a Horseman in the main Marvel Universe was Abraham Kieros, also known as War. The first group of Horsemen consisted of Candra, Gideon, Death (an unknown female, speculated to be Selene or Lifeforce), and War. Later members included a never-seen Horseman named Bastion and Maximus as the second Death. Ultimately, Apocalypse announced the War of Succession, a battle between all his Horsemen. The four remaining Horsemen would rule North America alongside him. These four were Holocaust, Mikhail Rasputin, Bastion, and Mister Sinister. It is mentioned that Candra was killed by Holocaust, and Bastion was killed after the war by Abyss, making Abyss the newest horsemen and first recruit after the war. In a flashback, it is revealed that Mikhail was chosen after he defeated War during Apocalypse's attack on Russia.

After the fall of Apocalypse and the ascension of Weapon X as the heir of Apocalypse, a new cadre of Horsemen was chosen, however the team was renamed as Ministers instead of Horsemen, and only Azazel and the resurrected Summers brothers are revealed to be among this group, Azazel as the Minister of Death,[10] Cyclops as the Minister of Famine and Havok as the Minister of War.[11]

Ages of Apocalypse

In one of the alternate realities created by Apocalypse during the "Ages of Apocalypse", Davan Shakari was the Horseman of Death.

Cable & Deadpool

In Cable & Deadpool, the "Enema of the State" story arc, Deadpool went to find the disappeared Cable and was forced to travel to alternate universes in his search. In the first universe, Deadpool found a new group of Horsemen. An eight-armed Spider-Man was Pestilence, Blob was Famine, and Archangel was Death. The three fought Deadpool, Siryn and Cannonball. When Deadpool figured out there was still one more Horseman left, a superpowered Cable (as War, the fourth Horseman) appeared and defeated all of them. Deadpool teleported to another universe when he realized he couldn't win.


One of the original members of the Exiles was Thunderbird of Earth-1100, who was transformed into Apocalypse's Horseman, War. As War, Thunderbird has lost his humanity and sense of taste but had enhanced senses. He managed to break through Apocalypse's mind control and rejoined his allies, the X-Men. When he went into battle-mode, he could even overpower the Hulk.

House of M

When the Scarlet Witch altered reality and created the House of M, Apocalypse was brought back to life. He was a former enemy of Magneto, who became his subordinate, ruling North Africa. Magneto had sent him to kill Black Panther. He went to Wakanda, along with his Horsemen. Only one of his Horsemen was shown, which was Iceman.

Marvel Mangaverse

In the Marvel Mangaverse comic, Avengers Assemble, Apocalypse was a tokusatsu-esque villain that grew in size and battled with the Iron Avenger (four vehicular machines that can transform together in the form of a giant Iron Man) piloted by the Avengers team (Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Vision). The Horsemen included Archangel, Juggernaut, Mister Sinister, and the White Queen.

Mutant X

In the Mutant X series, Angel was chosen as Apocalypse's Horseman of Death, but went through a dramatically different transformation with bat-like wings and the ability to breathe fire. To signify his transformation, he changed his name to The Fallen and sided against Apocalypse with Havok's group known as the Six. Eventually his treachery got the best of him and Fallen betrayed his teammates to realign himself with the Horsemen against an evil Professor X. The other Horsemen were all new characters except for War, who resembled Abraham Kieros.

Ultimate Horsemen

In the Ultimate Universe, Sinister is mentioned to be the first Horseman. He is later transformed into Apocalypse. Sinister has since revealed himself since the Ultimatum Wave, and is now, along with Layla Miller, tracking four specific mutants. Havok is revealed to be one and it's speculated that Quicksilver is also one of them. According to Layla, Havok knows the identity of the fourth which indicates they already had found three of them. It remains to be seen, however, if this four mutants have any relation to the Horsemen.

Avengers/Alternate Age of Apocalypse

While waging war against Ultron in the near future, Kang accidentally breaks time itself in an attempt to gather an army from various time periods, to aid him in defeating Ultron. As a result of this, an alternate universe version of the "Age of Apocalypse" Apocalypse and his Horsemen ended up in the present day Avengers Tower. A battle ensues between the Avengers and the Horsemen (Spider-Man, Wolverine, Scarlet Witch and Red Hulk, who have been infected with the techno-virus and fused with their mounts). Due to the temporal chaos, the fight ends when the villains are teleported away back into the timestream.[12]

What If...?

  • In one alternate reality, Wolverine was turned into the Horseman of War (he was known as Death). He turned against Apocalypse and killed him, then began slaughtering Earth's criminals and villains. Eventually, he became the peaceful Brother Xavier.
  • In the reality depicted in What If Legion Had Killed Xavier And Magneto?, the Horsemen of Apocalypse were Storm, Juggernaut, Namor, and Hulk.

Other media


  • In the X-Men Animated Series, the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse were the same ones as in the X-Factor comics. The lineup was composed of mutants that submitted themselves to the so-called Mutant Cure, developed by Dr. Adler (actually Mystique in disguise). The "Cure" process transformed the four mutants: Autumn Rolfson (Famine), Plague (Pestilence), Abraham Kieros (War), and Angel (Death) into altered mutants under the control of Apocalypse. The four-part episode Beyond Good and Evil featured another team of Horsemen, created by Apocalypse during his time in Ancient Egypt. The style of these Horsemen reflected their Egyptian origins. In the episode The Fifth Horseman, Fabian Cortez (at that point a follower of Apocalypse) creates a team called Hounds rather than Horsemen. One of them is Caliban, who resembled his appearance as "Death" in the comic books.
  • In X-Men: Evolution, Apocalypse enslaves two major heroes and two major villains to be his Horseman. Professor X became Death, with enhanced telepathy, telekinesis, agility, and strength, and the ability to conjure a "mental scythe" similar to Psylocke's daggers or knives. As War, Magneto had far more powerful magnetic abilities, including being able to survive in the vacuum of space by surrounding himself in a bubble of magnetized air, and reconstructing and controlling a destroyed Sentinel. Storm, as Famine, had enhanced abilities, generating lightning capable of overpowering Bezerker, as well as gaining increased stamina. Mystique served as Pestilence, having enhanced shape-shifting abilities, now able to transform into more than one object, such as a group of bats or snakes. Like Apocalypse, she gained the ability to manipulate her form on a molecular level, transforming her hands into blades, and turning into a puddle of water. She was also given enhanced speed and agility, as well as gaining an advanced healing factor, being able to replace a large portion of her stomach that was destroyed by Cyclops.
  • In Wolverine and the X-Men, there is a direct reference to the Horsemen of Apocalypse. After Angel lost his wings because of his father having them amputated (this was due to Angel's wings getting broken beyond repair following an ambush by Colonel Moss and the Mutant Response Division), Mister Sinister offered to get back Angel's wings. However, despite giving back his wings, Sinister transforms Angel into Archangel. Archangel was sent to kill his father, but is stopped by Wolverine, Cyclops, and Storm. After that, Sinister sends Archangel to kidnap Jean Grey after she uses her powers by accident. Cyclops and Emma Frost tried to protect Jean from Sinister, but Archangel captures both Cyclops and Jean. Later on, the X-Men save them from Sinister, Archangel, and the Marauders. The Marauders were captured, but Mr. Sinister and Archangel escaped.


Video Games

  • The Horsemen of Apocalypse are referenced in X2: Wolverine's Revenge. After watching Wolverine in action, Apocalypse and Mister Sinister prepare the Horseman of Apocalypse.
  • In X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse were Abyss, Mikhail Rasputin, Holocaust, and Archangel. Mister Sinister was a kind of "fifth" horseman, working as Apocalypse's right-hand man, although before recruiting Archangel he was one of the main four according to Grizzly. During the fight with Apocalypse in the Vault of Ages, the Egyptian Statues based on the Four Horseman will come to life as clones of the Four Horseman.
  • The Horsemen of Apocalypse appear in the browser-based game Marvel: Avengers Alliance on Facebook. In the 16th Spec-Ops, Apocalypse selects four new Horsemen: X-23 as War, Rogue as Famine, Beast as Pestilence, and Iceman as Death.


  1. ^ Uncanny Avengers #6
  2. ^ Wolverine vol. 2, #145
  3. ^ Uncanny Avengers vol. 1 #7
  4. ^ a b Uncanny Avengers #5
  5. ^ Uncanny Avengers vol. 1 #7
  6. ^ Uncanny Avengers #09
  7. ^ Uncanny Avengers #10
  8. ^ Uncanny Avengers #19
  9. ^ Uncanny Avengers #22
  10. ^ Age of Apocalypse #01
  11. ^ Age of Apocalypse #02
  12. ^ Avengers (Vol. 4) #3
  13. ^ "'X-Men: Apocalypse': Oscar Isaac Nabs Villain Role". Variety. November 24, 2014. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 

External links