The Bible tells us that the end of the world will be foretold by the coming of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, known as Pestilence, Famine, War, and Death. To fans of Marvel Comics, however, the only thing the coming of the Four Horsemen foretells is a major upcoming X-Men storyline. Marvel’s Four Horsemen are apocalyptic in a more literal sense, as they almost always work for the villain Apocalypse, the oldest and most deadly mutant of all time.
To up the dramatic stakes, Marvel writers usually have Apocalypse recruit his Four Horsemen from the ranks of popular Marvel superheroes and supervillains. Since Apocalypse and his Horsemen are defeated each and every time they make an attempt at world domination, there have been plenty of “rosters” in Apocalypse’s stable of Horsemen over the years. Characters as diverse and important as the X-Men, Morlocks, and even Avengers have served as the avatars of Pestilence, Famine, War, and Death, undergoing a transformation that always comes with a power boost and a (generally silly) new outfit.
Appeared In: Louise and Walter Simonson’s Run On X-Factor
Horsemen Represented: DeathWhat Happened: Founding X-Man Warren Worthington III lost his mutant angel wings during the Morlock Massacre, and spiraled into a deep depression. This led to him accepting Apocalypse’s offer of new, metal wings in exchange for servitude as a Horseman, a role that he would continue to serve in an on-again, off-again basis well into present continuity.
Appeared In: The Twelve crossover
Horsemen Represented: DeathWhat Happened: Wolverine lost his adamantium skeleton when Magneto ripped it from his body. The new Death made his debut by seemingly murdering Wolverine, but that proved to be a Skrull imposter, allowing for a later dramatic reveal that Wolverine had joined Apocalypse in return for regaining his adamantium. The X-Men would later help him escape the brainwashing.
Appeared In: Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force run
Horsemen Represented: DeathWhat Happened: Psylocke was made into the Horseman of Death by Archangel (her lover) as he attempted to ascend to the role of Apocalypse. She was later rescued by her X-Force teammates through the use of a “Life Seed.”
Appeared In: Peter David’s lengthy Incredible Hulk run
Horsemen Represented: WarWhat Happened: The Hulk was nursing wounds from a brutal defeat, and agreed to become Apocalypse’s Horseman if Apocalypse could remove shrapnel from the Hulk’s brain. Under the mental control of Apocalypse, War Hulk battled against foes like the Juggernaut, until he accidentally hit his friend Rick Jones and injured him, causing him to break free from the mind control.