Exiles #25 – Warpath

You thought I was dead, didn’t you!?  No, I was just working a lot of hours while the capitalist pigs who run my country had a lover’s spat with the lazy communist workers on the East coast.

Anyway, this character is something of a hybrid.  I’ve never ready a story directly involving him (partially because he had such a short career) but I knew of him before coming across him in the Marvel Universe listing.  I was a big X-Men fan for most of my comic reading time and Thunderbird was referenced pretty often, especially in the early days of my reading.

Then, of course, I read X-Force during the X-plosion of the 90’s and Warpath was an important part of that team.  So, I’m pretty familiar with the character of the name and less familiar with the character adopting the name.

It’s kind of hard to tell how interesting Thunderbird and Warpath would have been if the former had lived and the latter been in a decent comic.  On one level, they’re fairly generic strong guy characters.  On another, they, like most Native American characters, are little more than stereotypes.  It would be interesting to see their superhuman abilities better explored and differentiated from, say, Colossus, and their personalities go beyond “I’m an Apache warrior!  You can tell because I wear feathers and fringe.”

Warpath

John Proudstar

Fighting: RM

Agility: EX

Strength: IN

Endurance: RM

Reason: GD

Intuition: RM

Psyche: RM

Health: 120

Karma: 70

Resources: PR (4)

Popularity: 13

Powers:

Invulnerability: Good resistance to physical and energy attacks.

Tracking: Remarkable ability

Talents: Tracking, Hunting and Survival Skills

Contacts: Apache nation

Background: John Proudstar was born on the Apache reservation at Camp Verde, Arizona. During his childhood and adolescence, he proved to be an exceptionally strong and vigorous athlete. Proudstar, however, regarded himself throughout his life as a loner and an outcast. He wished to prove himself to be a warrior in the tradition of his ancestors, and he was dissatisfied with what he regarded as the complacent lives led by his fellow Apaches on their reservation.

Although too young to join the armed forces, Proudstar lied about his age and entered the United States Marines, intending to lead the kind of active life he desired. He became a corporal and earned a number of medals. But Proudstar was still dissatisfied with his life once his term of duty was over and he had returned to the reservation.

Proudstar’s mutant superhuman strength first manifested itself when, at the age of twenty, he wrestled and threw a charging bison bare-handed to save a little girl. This feat earned Proudstar fam among his tribespeople, but the true nature of his abilities remained unknown until Professor Xavier discovered him through the use of Cerebro.

Proudstar accepted Xavier’s invitation to join six other recruits to form the new X-Men. The first mission they undertook was the rescue of the original X-Men from the “living island” of Krakoa. Except for Sunfire, these new recruits, including Proudstar, became the “new” X-Men team. Xavier gave Proudstar the code name “Thunderbird.”

On their next mission, the new X-Men went to Cheyenne Mountain in the Colorado Rockies, the location of a North American Air Defense command center which had been taken over by Count Luchino Nefaria in an international extortion scheme. After the X-Men had ruined his plans, Nefaria attempted to escape in a small aircraft. Thunderbird managed to climb onto the plane as it took off. Defying Xavier’s telepathic warnings to get off the plane, Thunderbird asserted that he was finally going to prove that he was a true Apache warrior. Using his superhuman strength, Thunderbird ripped open the cockpit and began a fierce melee with Nefaria. Their brawl caused extensive damage to the aircraft until it finally exploded. Nefaria managed to teleport to safety and unwillingly took Thunderbird with him.

They resumed their combat on the ground but Nefaria soon got the better of Thunderbird and was prepared to kill him when the remaining X-Men found them and he was forced to retreat.

When Proudstar awoke, he was even more determined to prove himself as a warrior than before. Not having chosen his code name himself, he decided to select a new one that better fit his attitude. Taking the name Warpath, he lived up to it, often competing with teammate Wolverine for savagery when it came to combat.

Eventually, Proudstar left the X-Men, finding their message of peaceful coexistence overly naïve. Though he spent a brief time with Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, he eventually came to work with the Hellfire Club after they recruited his younger brother James Proudstar into their young group of mutants, the Hellions. While they were not close as children, John felt that he needed to watch over and protect his brother.

Warpath clashed with his former teammates on the X-Men several times both with the Brotherhood and the Hellfire Club, though he retained enough loyalty to them that he never did any of them any serious harm.

John actually took a mentoring role with James and the two brothers grew closer. That changed when they were sent to recruit a newly discovered mutant into the Hellions. Danielle Moonstar was a young Cheyenne woman who was capable of projecting images of her opponents’ worst fears.

The two Proudstars arrived at the same time as Scott Summers and Sam Guthrie, representatives of the Xavier school who were there to recruit Moonstar into their school’s newly formed student class. Tempers flared and the two groups briefly clashed but were stopped when Moonstar used her powers on both groups.

Though she was not impressed by either group’s irrational display, she decided that she needed training and preferred the other Native Americans as opposed to the representatives from the Xavier school. She had also developed an instant crush on John Proudstar.

Likewise, James had found himself immediately attracted to Danielle. The two teenagers were soon classmates together and living at the same boarding school while the elder Proudstar returned to his life as a bodyguard and enforcer for the Hellfire Club. He dropped in on the Hellions only periodically to serve as a guest teacher.

Moonstar continued to harbor her crush on the elder Proudstar, though he barely noticed the teenaged girl and his brother continued to pursue her. Things became even more complex when a new Black Queen joined the Hellfire Club. Whether through her mutant powers or simply her natural beauty and charisma, Selene bewitched Warpath.

He became her dedicated bodyguard and her primary tool in advancing her plans and machinations. This included abducting Amara Aquilla, the New Mutant known as Magma, who was a runaway from Selene’s home of Nova Roma. Warpath attempted to do just this several times, going so far as to sneak into his old home but he failed each time, much to his own consternation and his Queen’s disappointment.

Things with Moonstar came to a head on the night of her 18th birthday. Having decided that the object of her crush had not reciprocated only because he thought of her as a kid, she decided to voice her feelings to him now that she was an adult. She actually did manage to get into their New York Headquarters and found Proudstar. Summoning her courage and tamping down her self-consciousness, she told John everything. Or started to. James, having grown suspicious, followed Danielle and interrupted her mid-confession.

A heated conversation followed between the three of them and whether or not John would have eventually reciprocated Danielle’s feelings would never be known. A commotion in the next room attracted John’s attention and he went to check on his charge.

He arrived just in time to catch Wolverine in Selene’s antechamber. A heated battle followed. Warpath’s fury was so great that he actually defeated his former teammate, pummeling him into unconsciousness.

Little did he know that Wolverine had actually come to save the Black Queen from his teammate, Rachel Summers. The battle had given Rachel enough time to slay Selene. Horrified by what she’d done, Rachel was still standing over her victim. Warpath’s arrival snapped her out of her trance and she escaped.

James and Danielle caught up then and John, furious over his loss, blamed the two teenagers for distracting him and keeping him from protecting his Queen. He attacked them, knocking Moonstar unconscious with a single blow. James, now equally enraged because of the attack on the girl he loved attacked his older brother in return.

The two Proudstars fought savagely, both of them surrendering to their festering rages. John eventually proved the victor, his experience and slight advantage in strength giving him the advantage.

In the meantime, Rachel’s psychic turmoil over killing Selene was the catalyst necessary for the Phoenix Force inside her to come to the fore. Only the arrival of the rest of the X-men, the aide of the rest of the Hellfire club and the appearance of the Exiles kept the cosmic entity at bay.

John, emotionally and physically exhausted, almost reluctantly joined the fray, only his vision of himself as an Apache warrior pushing him on. His assistance was what pushed the battle over the edge and her combined enemies were just enough to force the Phoenix force to flee, abandoning Rachel Summers.

Looking at the ruins of his life, the woman he loved dead, the girl who loved him seriously injured at his hands, his brother also mortally wounded because of him, Warpath saw little to live for. The Universal Majestrix in her vast wisdom saw potential in the man and offered him a place in her Exiles. Seeing the potential for a new purpose, and drawn to such a powerful woman, he agreed.

And as usual, if you’ve read this far (or just skipped to the end)…you can buy my novels and games at blackguardpress.com