One-Shot: The Wraith

Jason and I have had such grand plans for this website, and there have been suggested commentaries on Grant Morrison, James Robinson, the state of hot writers, and the recent cancellations of various comics that we have vowed (to each other) that we would bring to our readers. Sadly, I have been buried under various projects at work, and just as busy (if not busier) in my personal life when I am not on the job. Jason has also been busy, as well as fighting a series of winter illnesses. Unfortunately, these circumstances have combined to make our postings much quicker than intended.

Currently, I have a window of time in which to post, and was planning on starting a deep and philosophical discussion. However, I quickly realized that while I have time now, I won’t have much more today, tomorrow is going to be busy, and Friday and Saturday I will be out of town on business. Therefore, if I start something deep and meaningful today, I won’t likely have the time to follow up on it until next week. Hence, the One-Shot: we can get some content on the blog, and still make our other commitments.

The Wraith is a character from Marvel Team-Up who first appeared in the late 1970s. He is the brother of policewoman Jean DeWolff, an important part of Spider-Man’s supporting cast before she was killed off in the appropriately titled “Death of Jean DeWolff” storyline. Brian DeWolff, our focus for this one-shot, was a policeman who was shot by criminals. His father found him, and used an experimental process to nurse his son back to health; this process also endowed Brian with psionic powers. For a time, Brian had no control over himself, and his father used him as a puppet, making the Wraith a criminal. Brian finally was able to regain his senses and wanted to become a hero, but wasn’t seen much in that capacity. Finally, he was killed by Scourge, without ever getting the opportunity to really show what he could do.

Brian DeWolff (Earth-616)
Personally, I’ve always liked the Wraith, and regretted his death at the hands of Scourge. However, did he really die? His powers made it quite easy for him to fake his death, and I’d love to see this character return to the Marvel Universe (although Marvel does have a cool looking new Wraith in their cosmic comics, so this one might need a name change). I’d be curious to see what a creative person like Jason might do with him. So, have at it Jason! Make me proud!

Ah, right…the ol’ “cop shot by criminals is conveniently rescued by dad who zaps him with experimental technology that gives him brain powers” origin. Classic Marvel. The interesting part about this character was that he had the ability to read minds, induce illusions in others, zap folks with mind bolts and even possess someone, but he himself was also susceptible to being controlled. He was the monkey in the middle. He could have been the puppet master and the puppet at the same time…which really begged the question of who was truly in control of the third person. Was it Wraith or the person controlling Wraith? That’s weird.

Sadly, Marvel saw to it that this unique anomaly was removed from the character as he developed, which left him as just another bland mind-powered dude in a funny costume whose Spider-Man-obsessed sister was killed by a bad guy. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen a bajillion of ’em.

Regardless of his abilities, bringing him back from the dead is no big hurdle. He had already transferred his consciousness from one body to another after he was killed by Scourge, so there’s no reason to believe that he couldn’t have done the same exact thing right before he was killed A SECOND TIME by Morbius. Yes, that’s right, Morbius.

See, John left out the part where Wraith went cuckoo after Sin-Eater killed his sister. He decided to take it out on the entire NYPD, because whenever I drop a quarter down a manhole I send scathing emails to Microsoft too (see how much sense that made?). He showed up at a random police station which just happened to be the same random police station that Scourge was hanging out in, dressed as a policeman, waiting for a chance to shoot Flash Thompson (because evidently Flash Thompson was some secret third or fourth-tier supervillain whose costume was out-of-date or something). Nothing about this makes any sense, so I’m just winging it. Oh, and then he led some sort of anti-vampire clubhouse gang which ticked off Morbius enough to cause the good doctor struggling with his inner demon to commit cold-blooded murder on an obviously mentally impaired man. I guess a restraining order was just too much paperwork.

To recap: A cop is shot by criminals. His dad saves his life with a super brain machine. He becomes a quasi-superhero. His sister gets killed by a crazy dude, so he goes crazy in return and is killed by Scourge. However, he transfers his spirit into another body only to then be killed by Morbius. That’s where we stand.

My solution? Well, obviously, he transfers his spirit to another less-dead body (perhaps one that is bulletproof and teeth-proof). Let’s assume that each time he transfers his consciousness that there is some degradation and that degradation takes the form of reverting back to his previous mental susceptibility. Boom! Problem solved. Wraith is back, baby! And he’s only one of, technically, four Wraiths currently operating in the Marvel Universe. That shouldn’t be too confusing.

The angle I would take would be to make this “consciousness jumping” a prominent power. He previously had the ability to possess up to one mind at a time, but I say we take it a step further and say that he actually transfers his whole spirit into that body and makes it his own. Now, this could come in handy in using Wraith as a decoy or a spy…he could technically be “disguised” as anyone and still have the ability to infiltrate and use his mental powers on people.

I could see him as an ally of someone like Captain America. Cap needs a way to get inside Hydra, for example. Wraith simply possesses a Hydra operative and walks right in to the eye of the storm. Cap then guides Wraith to use his head-zapping skills to get whatever info or create whatever situation is deemed necessary. Then Wraith hops a ride back out in someone else’s brain and no one is the wiser. Talk about your Secret Invasion! ZING!

Hell, he wouldn’t even need the goofy costume shown up above. He could be anyone and anywhere at any time! It blows the mind.

Of course, that brings up the ethical issue of using someone to achieve your goal. It’s kind of a sick trick. And might be best suited for more of a horror angle. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like pursuing that.

And, I’m spent.

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